Health and Education
by Charles Kingsley
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The Jewish sages, I hold, taught that science was probable; the Greeks and Romans proved that it was possible. It remained for our race, under the teaching of both, to bring science into act and fact.

Many causes contributed to give them this power. They were a personally courageous race. This earth has yet seen no braver men than the forefathers of Christian Europe, whether Scandinavian or Teuton, Angle or Frank. They were a practical hard-headed race, with a strong appreciation of facts, and a strong determination to act on them. Their laws, their society, their commerce, their colonisation, their migrations by land and sea, proved that they were such. They were favoured, moreover, by circumstances, or—as I should rather put it—by that divine Providence which determined their times, and the bounds of their habitation. They came in as the heritors of the decaying civilisation of Greece and Rome; they colonised territories which gave to man special fair play, but no more, in the struggle for existence, the battle with the powers of Nature; tolerably fertile, tolerably temperate; with boundless means of water communication; freer than most parts of the world from those terrible natural phenomena, like the earthquake and the hurricane, before which man lies helpless and astounded, a child beneath the foot of a giant. Nature was to them not so inhospitable as to starve their brains and limbs, as it has done for the Esquimaux or Fuegian; and not so bountiful as to crush them by its very luxuriance, as it has crushed the savages of the tropics. They saw enough of its strength to respect it; not enough to cower before it: and they and it have fought it out; and it seems to me, standing either on London Bridge or on a Holland fen-dyke, that they are winning at last. But they had a sore battle: a battle against their own fear of the unseen. They brought with them, out of the heart of Asia, dark and sad nature-superstitions, some of which linger among our peasantry till this day, of elves, trolls, nixes, and what not. Their Thor and Odin were at first, probably, only the thunder and the wind: but they had to be appeased in the dark marches of the forest, where hung rotting on the sacred oaks, amid carcases of goat and horse, the carcases of human victims. No one acquainted with the early legends and ballads of our race, but must perceive throughout them all the prevailing tone of fear and sadness. And to their own superstitions, they added those of the Rome which they conquered. They dreaded the Roman she-poisoners and witches, who, like Horace's Canidia, still performed horrid rites in grave-yards and dark places of the earth. They dreaded as magical the delicate images engraved on old Greek gems. They dreaded the very Roman cities they had destroyed. They were the work of enchanters. Like the ruins of St. Albans here in England, they were all full of devils, guarding the treasures which the Romans had hidden. The Caesars became to them magical man-gods. The poet Virgil became the prince of necromancers. If the secrets of Nature were to be known, they were to be known by unlawful means, by prying into the mysteries of the old heathen magicians, or of the Mohammedan doctors of Cordova and Seville; and those who dared to do so were respected and feared, and often came to evil ends. It needed moral courage, then, to face and interpret fact. Such brave men as Pope Gerbert, Roger Bacon, Galileo, even Kepler, did not lead happy lives; some of them found themselves in prison. All the medieval sages—even Albertus Magnus—were stigmatised as magicians. One wonders that more of them did not imitate poor Paracelsus, who, unable to get a hearing for his coarse common sense, took—vain and sensual—to drinking the laudanum which he himself had discovered, and vaunted as a priceless boon to men; and died as the fool dieth, in spite of all his wisdom. For the "Romani nominis umbra," the shadow of the mighty race whom they had conquered, lay heavy on our forefathers for centuries. And their dread of the great heathens was really a dread of Nature, and of the powers thereof. For when the authority of great names has reigned unquestioned for many centuries, those names become, to the human mind, integral and necessary parts of Nature itself. They are, as it were, absorbed into it; they become its laws, its canons, its demiurges, and guardian spirits; their words become regarded as actual facts; in one word, they become a superstition, and are feared as parts of the vast unknown; and to deny what they have said is, in the minds of the many, not merely to fly in the face of reverent wisdom, but to fly in the face of facts. During a great part of the middle ages, for instance, it was impossible for an educated man to think of Nature itself, without thinking first of what Aristotle had said of her. Aristotle's dicta were Nature; and when Benedetti, at Venice, opposed in 1585 Aristotle's opinions on violent and natural motion, there were hundreds, perhaps, in the universities of Europe—as there certainly were in the days of the immortal 'Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum'—who were ready, in spite of all Benedetti's professed reverence for Aristotle, to accuse him of outraging not only the father of philosophy, but Nature itself and its palpable and notorious facts. For the restoration of letters in the fifteenth century had not at first mended matters, so strong was the dread of Nature in the minds of the masses. The minds of men had sported forth, not toward any sound investigation of facts, but toward an eclectic resuscitation of Neoplatonism; which endured, not without a certain beauty and use—as let Spenser's 'Faery Queen' bear witness—till the latter half of the seventeenth century.

After that time a rapid change began. It is marked by—it has been notably assisted by—the foundation of our own Royal Society. Its causes I will not enter into; they are so inextricably mixed, I hold, with theological questions, that they cannot be discussed here. I will only point out to you these facts: that, from the latter part of the seventeenth century, the noblest heads and the noblest hearts of Europe concentrated themselves more and more on the brave and patient investigation of physical facts, as the source of priceless future blessings to mankind; that the eighteenth century, which it has been the fashion of late to depreciate, did more for the welfare of mankind, in every conceivable direction, than the whole fifteen centuries before it; that it did this good work by boldly observing and analysing facts; that this boldness toward facts increased in proportion as Europe became indoctrinated with the Jewish literature; and that, notably, such men as Kepler, Newton, Berkeley, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Descartes, in whatsoever else they differed, agreed in this, that their attitude towards Nature was derived from the teaching of the Jewish sages. I believe that we are not yet fully aware how much we owe to the Jewish mind, in the gradual emancipation of the human intellect. The connection may not, of course, be one of cause and effect; it may be a mere coincidence. I believe it to be a cause; one of course of very many causes: but still an integral cause. At least the coincidence is too remarkable a fact not to be worthy of investigation.

I said, just now—The emancipation of the human intellect. I did not say—Of science, or of the scientific intellect; and for this reason:

That the emancipation of science is the emancipation of the common mind of all men. All men can partake of the gains of free scientific thought, not merely by enjoying its physical results, but by becoming more scientific men themselves.

Therefore it was, that though I began my first lecture by defining superstition, I did not begin my second by defining its antagonist, science. For the word science defines itself. It means simply knowledge; that is, of course, right knowledge, or such an approximation as can be obtained; knowledge of any natural object, its classification, its causes, its effects; or in plain English, what it is, how it came where it is, and what can be done with it.

And scientific method, likewise, needs no definition; for it is simply the exercise of common sense. It is not a peculiar, unique, professional, or mysterious process of the understanding: but the same which all men employ, from the cradle to the grave, in forming correct conclusions.

Every one who knows the philosophic writings of Mr. John Stuart Mill, will be familiar with this opinion. But to those who have no leisure to study him, I should recommend the reading of Professor Huxley's third lecture on the origin of species.

In that he shows, with great logical skill, as well as with some humour, how the man who, on rising in the morning, finds the parlour window open, the spoons and teapot gone, the mark of a dirty hand on the window-sill, and that of a hob-nailed boot outside, and comes to the conclusion that some one has broken open the window and stolen the plate, arrives at that hypothesis—for it is nothing more—by a long and complex train of inductions and deductions, of just the same kind as those which, according to the Baconian philosophy, are to be used for investigating the deepest secrets of Nature.

This is true, even of those sciences which involve long mathematical calculations. In fact, the stating of the problem to be solved is the most important element in the calculation; and that is so thoroughly a labour of common sense that an utterly uneducated man may, and often does, state an abstruse problem clearly and correctly; seeing what ought to be proved, and perhaps how to prove it, though he may be unable to work the problem out, for want of mathematical knowledge.

But that mathematical knowledge is not—as all Cambridge men are surely aware—the result of any special gift. It is merely the development of those conceptions of form and number which every human being possesses; and any person of average intellect can make himself a fair mathematician if he will only pay continuous attention; in plain English, think enough about the subject.

There are sciences, again, which do not involve mathematical calculation; for instance, botany, zoology, geology, which are just now passing from their old stage of classificatory sciences into the rank of organic ones. These are, without doubt, altogether within the scope of the merest common sense. Any man or woman of average intellect, if they will but observe and think for themselves, freely, boldly, patiently, accurately, may judge for themselves of the conclusions of these sciences, may add to these conclusions fresh and important discoveries; and if I am asked for a proof of what I assert, I point to 'Rain and Rivers,' written by no professed scientific man, but by a colonel in the Guards, known to fame only as one of the most perfect horsemen in the world.

Let me illustrate my meaning by an example. A man—I do not say a geologist, but simply a man, squire or ploughman—sees a small valley, say one of the side-glens which open into the larger valleys in the Windsor forest district. He wishes to ascertain its age.

He has, at first sight, a very simple measure—that of denudation. He sees that the glen is now being eaten out by a little stream, the product of innumerable springs which arise along its sides, and which are fed entirely by the rain on the moors above. He finds, on observation, that this stream brings down some ten cubic yards of sand and gravel, on an average, every year. The actual quantity of earth which has been removed to make the glen may be several million cubic yards. Here is an easy sum in arithmetic. At the rate of ten cubic yards a year, the stream has taken several hundred thousand years to make the glen.

You will observe that this result is obtained by mere common sense. He has a right to assume that the stream originally began the glen, because he finds it in the act of enlarging it; just as much right as he has to assume, if he finds a hole in his pocket, and his last coin in the act of falling through it, that the rest of his money has fallen through the same hole. It is a sufficient cause, and the simplest. A number of observations as to the present rate of denudation, and a sum which any railroad contractor can do in his head, to determine the solid contents of the valley, are all that are needed. The method is that of science: but it is also that of simple common sense. You will remember, therefore, that this is no mere theory or hypothesis, but a pretty fair and simple conclusion from palpable facts; that the probability lies with the belief that the glen is some hundreds of thousands of years old; that it is not the observer's business to prove it further, but other persons' to disprove it, if they can.

But does the matter end here? No. And, for certain reasons, it is good that it should not end here.

The observer, if he be a cautious man, begins to see if he can disprove his own conclusion; moreover, being human, he is probably somewhat awed, if not appalled, by his own conclusion. Hundreds of thousands of years spent in making that little glen! Common sense would say that the longer it took to make, the less wonder there was in its being made at last: but the instinctive human feeling is the opposite. There is in men, and there remains in them, even after they are civilised, and all other forms of the dread of Nature have died out in them, a dread of size, of vast space, of vast time; that latter, mind, being always imagined as space, as we confess when we speak instinctively of a space of time. They will not understand that size is merely a relative, not an absolute term; that if we were a thousand times larger than we are, the universe would be a thousand times smaller than it is; that if we could think a thousand times faster than we do, time would be a thousand times longer than it is; that there is One in whom we live, and move, and have our being, to whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. I believe this dread of size to be merely, like all other superstitions, a result of bodily fear; a development of the instinct which makes a little dog run away from a big dog. Be that as it may, every observer has it; and so the man's conclusion seems to him strange, doubtful: he will reconsider it.

Moreover, if he be an experienced man, he is well aware that first guesses, first hypotheses, are not always the right ones; and if he be a modest man, he will consider the fact that many thousands of thoughtful men in all ages, and many thousands still, would say, that the glen can only be a few thousand, or possibly a few hundred, years old. And he will feel bound to consider their opinion; as far as it is, like his own, drawn from facts, but no further.

So he casts about for all other methods by which the glen may have been produced, to see if any one of them will account for it in a shorter time.

1. Was it made by an earthquake? No; for the strata on both sides are identical, at the same level, and in the same plane.

2. Or by a mighty current? If so, the flood must have run in at the upper end, before it ran out at the lower. But nothing has run in at the upper end. All round above are the undisturbed gravel beds of the horizontal moor, without channel or depression.

3. Or by water draining off a vast flat as it was upheaved out of the sea? That is a likely guess. The valley at its upper end spreads out like the fingers of a hand, as the gullies in tide-muds do.

But that hypothesis will not stand. There is no vast unbroken flat behind the glen. Right and left of it are other similar glens, parted from it by long narrow ridges: these also must be explained on the same hypothesis; but they cannot. For there could not have been surface-drainage to make them all, or a tenth of them. There are no other possible hypotheses; and so he must fall back on the original theory—the rain, the springs, the brook; they have done it all, even as they are doing it this day.

But is not that still a hasty assumption? May not their denuding power have been far greater in old times than now?

Why should it? Because there was more rain then than now? That he must put out of court; there is no evidence of it whatsoever.

Because the land was more friable originally? Well, there is a great deal to be said for that. The experience of every countryman tells him that bare or fallow land is more easily washed away than land under vegetation. And no doubt, when these gravels and sands rose from the sea, they were barren for hundreds of years. He has some measure of the time required, because he can tell roughly how long it takes for sands and shingles left by the sea to become covered with vegetation. But he must allow that the friability of the land must have been originally much greater than now, for hundreds of years.

But again, does that fact really cut off any great space of time from his hundreds of thousands of years? For when the land first rose from the sea, that glen was not there. Some slight bay or bend in the shore determined its site. That stream was not there. It was split up into a million little springs, oozing side by side from the shore, and having each a very minute denuding power, which kept continually increasing by combination as the glen ate its way inwards, and the rainfall drained by all these little springs was collected into the one central stream. So that when the ground being bare was most liable to be denuded, the water was least able to do it; and as the denuding power of the water increased, the land, being covered with vegetation, became more and more able to resist it. All this he has seen, going on at the present day, in the similar gullies worn in the soft strata of the South Hampshire coast; especially round Bournemouth.

So the two disturbing elements in the calculation may be fairly set off against each other, as making a difference of only a few thousands or tens of thousands of years either way; and the age of the glen may fairly be, if not a million years, yet such a length of years as mankind still speak of with bated breath, as if forsooth it would do them some harm.

I trust that every scientific man in this room will agree with me, that the imaginary squire or ploughman would have been conducting his investigation strictly according to the laws of the Baconian philosophy. You will remark, meanwhile, that he has not used a single scientific term, or referred to a single scientific investigation; and has observed nothing and thought nothing which might not have been observed and thought by any one who chose to use his common sense, and not to be afraid.

But because he has come round, after all this further investigation, to something very like his first conclusion, was all that further investigation useless? No—a thousand times, no. It is this very verification of hypotheses which makes the sound ones safe, and destroys the unsound. It is this struggle with all sorts of superstitions which makes science strong and sure, and her march irresistible, winning ground slowly, but never receding from it. It is this buffeting of adversity which compels her not to rest dangerously upon the shallow sand of first guesses, and single observations; but to strike her roots down, deep, wide, and interlaced into the solid ground of actual facts.

It is very necessary to insist on this point. For there have been men in all past ages—I do not say whether there are any such now, but I am inclined to think that there will be hereafter—men who have tried to represent scientific method as something difficult, mysterious, peculiar, unique, not to be attained by the unscientific mass; and this not for the purpose of exalting science, but rather of discrediting her. For as long as the masses, educated or uneducated, are ignorant of what scientific method is, they will look on scientific men, as the middle age looked on necromancers, as a privileged, but awful and uncanny caste, possessed of mighty secrets; who may do them great good, but may also do them great harm.

Which belief on the part of the masses will enable these persons to instal themselves as the critics of science, though not scientific men themselves: and—as Shakespeare has it—to talk of Robin Hood, though they never shot in his bow. Thus they become mediators to the masses between the scientific and the unscientific worlds. They tell them—You are not to trust the conclusions of men of science at first hand. You are not fit judges of their facts or of their methods. It is we who will, by a cautious eclecticism, choose out for you such of their conclusions as are safe for you; and them we will advise you to believe. To the scientific man, on the other hand, as often as anything is discovered unpleasing to them, they will say, imperiously and e cathedra—Your new theory contradicts the established facts of science. For they will know well that whatever the men of science think of their assertion, the masses will believe it; totally unaware that the speakers are by their very terms showing their ignorance of science; and that what they call established facts scientific men call merely provisional conclusions, which they would throw away to-morrow without a pang were the known facts explained better by a fresh theory, or did fresh facts require one.

This has happened too often. It is in the interest of superstition that it should happen again; and the best way to prevent it surely is to tell the masses—Scientific method is no peculiar mystery, requiring a peculiar initiation. It is simply common sense, combined with uncommon courage, which includes uncommon honesty and uncommon patience; and if you will be brave, honest, patient, and rational, you will need no mystagogues to tell you what in science to believe and what not to believe; for you will be just as good judges of scientific facts and theories as those who assume the right of guiding your convictions. You are men and women: and more than that you need not be.

And let me say that the man of our days whose writings exemplify most thoroughly what I am going to say is the justly revered Mr. Thomas Carlyle.

As far as I know he has never written on any scientific subject. For aught I am aware of, he may know nothing of mathematics or chemistry, of comparative anatomy or geology. For aught I am aware of, he may know a great deal about them all, and, like a wise man, hold his tongue, and give the world merely the results in the form of general thought. But this I know; that his writings are instinct with the very spirit of science; that he has taught men, more than any living man, the meaning and end of science; that he has taught men moral and intellectual courage; to face facts boldly, while they confess the divineness of facts; not to be afraid of Nature, and not to worship nature; to believe that man can know truth; and that only in as far as he knows truth can he live worthily on this earth. And thus he has vindicated, as no other man in our days has done, at once the dignity of Nature and the dignity of spirit. That he would have made a distinguished scientific man, we may be as certain from his writings as we may be certain, when we see a fine old horse of a certain stamp, that he would have made a first-class hunter, though he has been unfortunately all his life in harness. Therefore, did I try to train a young man of science to be true, devout, and earnest, accurate and daring, I should say—Read what you will: but at least read Carlyle. It is a small matter to me—and I doubt not to him—whether you will agree with his special conclusions: but his premises and his method are irrefragable; for they stand on the "voluntatem Dei in rebus revelatam"—on fact and common sense.

And Mr. Carlyle's writings, if I am correct in my estimate of them, will afford a very sufficient answer to those who think that the scientific habit of mind tends to irreverence.

Doubtless this accusation will always be brought against science by those who confound reverence with fear. For from blind fear of the unknown, science does certainly deliver man. She does by man as he does by an unbroken colt. The colt sees by the road side some quite new object—a cast-away boot, an old kettle, or what not. What a fearful monster! What unknown terrific powers may it not possess! And the colt shies across the road, runs up the bank, rears on end; putting itself thereby, as many a man does, in real danger. What cure is there? But one; experience. So science takes us, as we should take the colt, gently by the halter; and makes us simply smell at the new monster; till after a few trembling sniffs, we discover, like the colt, that it is not a monster, but a kettle. Yet I think, if we sum up the loss and gain, we shall find the colt's character has gained, rather than lost, by being thus disabused. He learns to substitute a very rational reverence for the man who is breaking him in, for a totally irrational reverence for the kettle; and becomes thereby a much wiser and more useful member of society, as does the man when disabused of his superstitions.

From which follows one result. That if science proposes—as she does—to make men brave, wise, and independent, she must needs excite unpleasant feelings in all who desire to keep men cowardly, ignorant, and slavish. And that too many such persons have existed in all ages is but too notorious. There have been from all time, goetai, quacks, powwow men, rain-makers, and necromancers of various sorts, who having for their own purposes set forth partial, ill-grounded, fantastic, and frightful interpretations of nature, have no love for those who search after a true, exact, brave, and hopeful one. And therefore it is to be feared, or hoped, science and superstition will to the world's end remain irreconcilable and internecine foes.

Conceive the feelings of an old Lapland witch, who has had for the last fifty years all the winds in a sealskin bag, and has been selling fair breezes to northern skippers at so much a puff, asserting her powers so often, poor old soul, that she has got to half believe them herself,—conceive, I say, her feelings at seeing her customers watch the Admiralty storm-signals, and con the weather reports in the 'Times.' Conceive the feelings of Sir Samuel Baker's African friend, Katchiba, the rain-making chief, who possessed a whole housefull of thunder and lightning—though he did not, he confessed, keep it in a bottle as they do in England—if Sir Samuel had had the means, and the will, of giving to Katchiba's Negros a course of lectures on electricity, with appropriate experiments, and a real bottle full of real lightning among the foremost.

It is clear that only two methods of self-defence would have been open to the rain-maker: namely, either to kill Sir Samuel, or to buy his real secret of bottling the lightning, that he might use it for his own ends. The former method—that of killing the man of science—was found more easy in ancient times; the latter in these modern ones. And there have been always those who, too good-natured to kill the scientific man, have patronised knowledge, not for its own sake, but for the use which may be made of it; who would like to keep a tame man of science, as they would a tame poet, or a tame parrot; who say—Let us have science by all means, but not too much of it. It is a dangerous thing; to be doled out to the world, like medicine, in small and cautious doses. You, the scientific man, will of course freely discover what you choose. Only do not talk too loudly about it: leave that to us. We understand the world, and are meant to guide and govern it. So discover freely: and meanwhile hand over your discoveries to us, that we may instruct and edify the populace with so much of them as we think safe, while we keep our position thereby, and in many cases make much money by your science. Do that, and we will patronise you, applaud you, ask you to our houses; and you shall be clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously with us every day. I know not whether these latter are not the worst enemies which science has. They are often such excellent, respectable, orderly, well- meaning persons. They desire so sincerely that everyone should be wise: only not too wise. They are so utterly unaware of the mischief they are doing. They would recoil with horror if they were told they were so many Iscariots, betraying Truth with a kiss.

But science, as yet, has withstood both terrors and blandishments. In old times, she endured being imprisoned and slain. She came to life again. Perhaps it was the will of Him in whom all things live, that she should live. Perhaps it was His spirit which gave her life.

She can endure, too, being starved. Her votaries have not as yet cared much for purple and fine linen, and sumptuous fare. There are a very few among them who, joining brilliant talents to solid learning, have risen to deserved popularity, to titles, and to wealth. But even their labours, it seems to me, are never rewarded in any proportion to the time and the intellect spent on them, nor to the benefits which they bring to mankind; while the great majority, unpaid and unknown, toil on, and have to find in science her own reward. Better, perhaps, that it should be so. Better for science that she should be free, in holy poverty, to go where she will and say what she knows, than that she should be hired out at so much a year to say things pleasing to the many, and to those who guide the many. And so, I verily believe, the majority of scientific men think. There are those among them who have obeyed very faithfully St. Paul's precept, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life." For they have discovered that they are engaged in a war—a veritable war—against the rulers of darkness, against ignorance and its twin children, fear and cruelty. Of that war they see neither the end nor even the plan. But they are ready to go on; ready, with Socrates, "to follow reason withersoever it leads;" and content, meanwhile, like good soldiers in a campaign, if they can keep tolerably in line, and use their weapons, and see a few yards ahead of them through the smoke and the woods. They will come out somewhere at last; they know not where nor when: but they will come out at last, into the daylight and the open field; and be told then—perhaps to their own astonishment—as many a gallant soldier has been told, that by simply walking straight on, and doing the duty which lay nearest them, they have helped to win a great battle, and slay great giants, earning the thanks of their country and of mankind.

And, meanwhile, if they get their shilling a day of fighting-pay, they are content. I had almost said, they ought to be content. For science is, I verily believe, like virtue, its own exceeding great reward. I can conceive few human states more enviable than that of the man to whom, panting in the foul laboratory, or watching for his life under the tropic forest, Isis shall for a moment lift her sacred veil, and show him, once and for ever, the thing he dreamed not of; some law, or even mere hint of a law, explaining one fact; but explaining with it a thousand more, connecting them all with each other and with the mighty whole, till order and meaning shoots through some old Chaos of scattered observations.

Is not that a joy, a prize, which wealth cannot give, nor poverty take away? What it may lead to, he knows not. Of what use it may become, he knows not. But this he knows, that somewhere it must lead; of some use it will be. For it is a truth; and having found a truth, he has exorcised one more of the ghosts which haunt humanity. He has left one object less for man to fear; one object more for man to use. Yes, the scientific man may have this comfort, that whatever he has done, he has done good; that he is following a mistress who has never yet conferred aught but benefits on the human race.

What physical science may do hereafter I know not; but as yet she has done this:

She has enormously increased the wealth of the human race; and has therefore given employment, food, existence, to millions who, without science, would either have starved or have never been born. She has shown that the dictum of the early political economists, that population has a tendency to increase faster than the means of subsistence, is no law of humanity, but merely a tendency of the barbaric and ignorant man, which can be counteracted by increasing manifold by scientific means his powers of producing food. She has taught men, during the last few years, to foresee and elude the most destructive storms; and there is no reason for doubting, and many reasons for hoping, that she will gradually teach men to elude other terrific forces of nature, too powerful and too seemingly capricious for them to conquer. She has discovered innumerable remedies and alleviations for pains and disease. She has thrown such light on the causes of epidemics, that we are able to say now that the presence of cholera—and probably of all zymotic diseases—in any place, is usually a sin and a shame, for which the owners and authorities of that place ought to be punishable by law, as destroyers of their fellow- men; while for the weak, for those who, in the barbarous and semi-barbarous state—and out of that last we are only just emerging—how much has she done; an earnest of much more which she will do? She has delivered the insane—I may say by the scientific insight of one man, more worthy of titles and pensions than nine-tenths of those who earn them—I mean the great and good Pinel—from hopeless misery and torture into comparative peace and comfort, and at least the possibility of cure. For children, she has done much, or rather might do, would parents read and perpend such books as Andrew Combe's and those of other writers on physical education. We should not then see the children, even of the rich, done to death piecemeal by improper food, improper clothes, neglect of ventilation and the commonest measures for preserving health. We should not see their intellects stunted by Procrustean attempts to teach them all the same accomplishments, to the neglect, most often, of any sound practical training of their faculties. We should not see slight indigestion, or temporary rushes of blood to the head, condemned and punished as sins against Him who took up little children in His arms and blessed them.

But we may have hope. When we compare education now with what it was even forty years ago, much more with the stupid brutality of the monastic system, we may hail for children, as well as for grown people, the advent of the reign of common sense.

And for woman—What might I not say on that point? But most of it would be fitly discussed only among physicians and biologists: here I will say only this—Science has exterminated, at least among civilised nations, witch-manias. Women—at least white women—are no longer tortured or burnt alive from man's blind fear of the unknown. If science had done no more than that, she would deserve the perpetual thanks and the perpetual trust, not only of the women whom she has preserved from agony, but the men whom she has preserved from crime.

These benefits have already accrued to civilised men, because they have lately allowed a very few of their number peaceably to imitate Mr. Rarey, and find out what nature—or rather, to speak at once reverently and accurately, He who made nature—is thinking of; and obey the "voluntatem Dei in rebus revelatam." This science has done, while yet in her infancy. What she will do in her maturity, who dare predict? At least, in the face of such facts as these, those who bid us fear, or restrain, or mutilate science, bid us commit an act of folly, as well as of ingratitude, which can only harm ourselves. For science has as yet done nothing but good. Will any one tell me what harm it has ever done? When any one will show me a single result of science, of the knowledge of and use of physical facts, which has not tended directly to the benefit of mankind, moral and spiritual, as well as physical and economic—then I shall be tempted to believe that Solomon was wrong when he said that the one thing to be sought after on earth, more precious than all treasure, she who has length of days in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour, whose ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace, who is a tree of life to all who lay hold on her, and makes happy every one who retains her, is—as you will see if you will yourselves consult the passage—that very Wisdom—by which God has founded the earth; and that very Understanding—by which He has established the heavens.


I wish this lecture to be suggestive, rather that didactic; to set you thinking and inquiring for yourselves, rather than learning at second- hand from me. Some among my audience, I doubt not, will neither need to be taught by me, nor to be stirred up to inquiry for themselves. They are already, probably, antiquarians; already better acquainted with the subject than I am. They come hither, therefore, as critics; I trust not as unkindly critics. They will, I hope, remember that I am trying to excite a general interest in that very architecture in which they delight, and so to make the public do justice to their labours. They will therefore, I trust,

"Be to my faults a little blind, Be to my virtues very kind;"

and if my architectural theories do not seem to them correct in all details—well-founded I believe them myself to be—remember that it is a slight matter to me, or to the audience, whether any special and pet fancy of mine should be exactly true or not: but it is not a light matter that my hearers should be awakened—and too many just now need an actual awakening—to a right, pure, and wholesome judgment on questions of art, especially when the soundness of that judgment depends, as in this case, on sound judgments about human history, as well as about natural objects.

Now, it befel me that, fresh from the Tropic forests, and with their forms hanging always, as it were, in the background of my eye, I was impressed more and more vividly the longer I looked, with the likeness of those forest forms to the forms of our own Cathedral of Chester. The grand and graceful Chapter-house transformed itself into one of those green bowers, which, once seen, and never to be seen again, make one at once richer and poorer for the rest of life. The fans of groining sprang from the short columns, just as do the feathered boughs of the far more beautiful Maximiliana palm, and just of the same size and shape: and met overhead, as I have seen them meet, in aisles longer by far than our cathedral nave. The free upright shafts, which give such strength, and yet such lightness, to the mullions of each window, pierced upward through those curving lines, as do the stems of young trees through the fronds of palm; and, like them, carried the eye and the fancy up into the infinite, and took off a sense of oppression and captivity which the weight of the roof might have produced. In the nave, in the choir the same vision of the Tropic forest haunted me. The fluted columns not only resembled, but seemed copied from the fluted stems beneath which I had ridden in the primeval woods; their bases, their capitals, seemed copied from the bulgings at the collar of the root, and at the spring of the boughs, produced by a check of the redundant sap; and were garlanded often enough like the capitals of the columns, with delicate tracery of parasite leaves and flowers; the mouldings of the arches seemed copied from the parallel bundles of the curving bamboo shoots; and even the flatter roof of the nave and transepts had its antitype in that highest level of the forest aisles, where the trees, having climbed at last to the light-food which they seek, care no longer to grow upward, but spread out in huge limbs, almost horizontal, reminding the eye of the four-centred arch which marks the period of Perpendicular Gothic.

Nay, to this day there is one point in our cathedral which, to me, keeps up the illusion still. As I enter the choir, and look upward toward the left, I cannot help seeing, in the tabernacle work of the stalls, the slender and aspiring forms of the "rastrajo;" the delicate second growth which, as it were, rushes upward from the earth wherever the forest is cleared; and above it, in the tall lines of the north-west pier of the tower—even though defaced, along the inner face of the western arch, by ugly and needless perpendicular panelling—I seem to see the stems of huge Cedars, or Balatas, or Ceibas, curving over, as they would do, into the great beams of the transept roof, some seventy feet above the ground.

Nay, so far will the fancy lead, that I have seemed to see, in the stained glass between the tracery of the windows, such gorgeous sheets of colour as sometimes flash on the eye, when, far aloft, between high stems and boughs, you catch sight of some great tree ablaze with flowers, either its own or those of a parasite; yellow or crimson, white or purple; and over them again the cloudless blue.

Now, I know well that all these dreams are dreams; that the men who built our northern cathedrals never saw these forest forms; and that the likeness of their work to those of Tropic nature is at most only a corroboration of Mr. Ruskin's dictum, that "the Gothic did not arise out of, but developed itself into, a resemblance to vegetation. . . . It was no chance suggestion of the form of an arch from the bending of a bough, but the gradual and continual discovery of a beauty in natural forms which could be more and more transferred into those of stone, which influenced at once the hearts of the people and the form of the edifice." So true is this, that by a pure and noble copying of the vegetable beauty which they had seen in their own clime, the medieval craftsmen went so far—as I have shown you—as to anticipate forms of vegetable beauty peculiar to Tropic climes, which they had not seen: a fresh proof, if proof were needed, that beauty is something absolute and independent of man; and not, as some think, only relative, and what happens to be pleasant to the eye of this man or that.

But thinking over this matter, and reading over, too, that which Mr. Ruskin has written thereon in his 'Stones of Venice,' vol. ii. cap. vi., on the nature of Gothic, I came to certain further conclusions—or at least surmises—which I put before you to-night, in hopes that if they have no other effect on you, they will at least stir some of you up to read Mr. Ruskin's works.

Now Mr. Ruskin says, "That the original conception of Gothic architecture has been derived from vegetation, from the symmetry of avenues and the interlacing of branches, is a strange and vain supposition. It is a theory which never could have existed for a moment in the mind of any person acquainted with early Gothic: but, however idle as a theory, it is most valuable as a testimony to the character of the perfected style."

Doubtless so. But you must remember always that the subject of my lecture is Grots and Groves; that I am speaking not of Gothic architecture in general, but of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture; and more, almost exclusively of the ecclesiastical architecture of the Teutonic or northern nations; because in them, as I think, the resemblance between the temple and the forest reached the fullest exactness.

Now the original idea of a Christian church was that of a grot; a cave. That is a historic fact. The Christianity which was passed on to us began to worship, hidden and persecuted, in the catacombs of Rome, it may be often around the martyrs' tombs, by the dim light of candle or of torch. The candles on the Roman altars, whatever they have been made to symbolise since then, are the hereditary memorials of that fact. Throughout the North, in these isles as much as in any land, the idea of the grot was, in like wise, the idea of a church. The saint or hermit built himself a cell; dark, massive, intended to exclude light as well as weather; or took refuge in a cave. There he prayed and worshipped, and gathered others to pray and worship round him, during his life. There he, often enough, became an object of worship, in his turn, after his death. In after ages his cave was ornamented, like that of the hermit of Montmajour by Arles; or his cell-chapel enlarged, as those of the Scotch and Irish saints have been, again and again; till at last a stately minster rose above it. Still, the idea that the church was to be a grot haunted the minds of builders.

But side by side with the Christian grot there was throughout the North another form of temple, dedicated to very different gods; namely, the trees from whose mighty stems hung the heads of the victims of Odin or of Thor, the horse, the goat, and in time of calamity or pestilence, of men. Trees and not grots were the temples of our forefathers.

Scholars know well—but they must excuse my quoting it for the sake of those who are not scholars—the famous passage of Tacitus which tells how our forefathers "held it beneath the dignity of the gods to coop them within walls, or liken them to any human countenance: but consecrated groves and woods, and called by the name of gods that mystery which they held by faith alone;" and the equally famous passage of Claudian, about "the vast silence of the Black Forest, and groves awful with ancient superstition; and oaks, barbarian deities;" and Lucan's "groves inviolate from all antiquity, and altars stained with human blood."

To worship in such spots was an abomination to the early Christian. It was as much a test of heathendom as the eating of horse-flesh, sacred to Odin, and therefore unclean to Christian men. The Lombard laws and others forbid expressly the lingering remnants of grove worship. St. Boniface and other early missionaries hewed down in defiance the sacred oaks, and paid sometimes for their valour with their lives.

It is no wonder, then, if long centuries elapsed ere the likeness of vegetable forms began to reappear in the Christian churches of the North. And yet both grot and grove were equally the natural temples which the religious instinct of all deep-hearted peoples, conscious of sin, and conscious, too, of yearnings after a perfection not to be found on earth, chooses from the earliest stage of awakening civilisation. In them, alone, before he had strength and skill to build nobly for himself, could man find darkness, the mother of mystery and awe, in which he is reminded perforce of his own ignorance and weakness; in which he learns first to remember unseen powers, sometimes to his comfort and elevation, sometimes only to his terror and debasement; darkness; and with it silence and solitude, in which he can collect himself, and shut out the noise and glare, the meanness and the coarseness, of the world; and be alone a while with his own thoughts, his own fancy, his own conscience, his own soul.

But for a while, as I have said, that darkness, solitude, and silence were to be sought in the grot, not in the grove.

Then Christianity conquered the Empire. It adapted, not merely its architecture, but its very buildings, to its worship. The Roman Basilica became the Christian church; a noble form of building enough, though one in which was neither darkness, solitude, nor silence, but crowded congregations, clapping—or otherwise—the popular preacher; or fighting about the election of a bishop or a pope, till the holy place ran with Christian blood. The deep-hearted Northern turned away, in weariness and disgust, from those vast halls, fitted only for the feverish superstition of a profligate and worn-out civilisation; and took himself, amid his own rocks and forests, moors and shores, to a simpler and sterner architecture, which should express a creed, sterner; and at heart far simpler; though dogmatically the same.

And this is, to my mind, the difference, and the noble difference, between the so-called Norman architecture, which came hither about the time of the Conquest; and that of Romanized Italy.

But the Normans were a conquering race; and one which conquered, be it always remembered, in England at least, in the name and by the authority of Rome. Their ecclesiastics, like the ecclesiastics on the Continent, were the representatives of Roman civilisation, of Rome's right, intellectual and spiritual, to rule the world.

Therefore their architecture, like their creed, was Roman. They took the massive towering Roman forms, which expressed domination; and piled them one on the other, to express the domination of Christian Rome over the souls, as they had represented the domination of heathen Rome over the bodies, of men. And so side by side with the towers of the Norman keep rose the towers of the Norman cathedral—the two signs of a double servitude.

But, with the thirteenth century, there dawned an age in Northern Europe, which I may boldly call an heroic age; heroic in its virtues and in its crimes; an age of rich passionate youth, or rather of early manhood; full of aspirations, of chivalry, of self-sacrifice as strange and terrible as it was beautiful and noble, even when most misguided. The Teutonic nations of Europe—our own forefathers most of all—having absorbed all that heathen Rome could teach them, at least for the time being, began to think for themselves; to have poets, philosophers, historians, architects, of their own. The thirteenth century was especially an age of aspiration; and its architects expressed, in buildings quite unlike those of the preceding centuries, the aspirations of the time.

The Pointed Arch had been introduced half a century before. It may be that the Crusaders saw it in the East and brought it home. It may be that it originated from the quadripartite vaulting of the Normans, the segmental groins of which, crossing diagonally, produced to appearance the pointed arch. It may be that it was derived from that mystical figure of a pointed oval form, the vesica piscis. It may be, lastly, that it was suggested simply by the intersection of semicircular arches, so frequently found in ornamental arcades. The last cause may perhaps be the true one: but it matters little whence the pointed arch came. It matters much what it meant to those who introduced it. And at the beginning of the Transition or semi-Norman period, it seems to have meant nothing. It was not till the thirteenth century that it had gradually received, as it were, a soul, and had become the exponent of a great idea. As the Norman architecture and its forms had signified domination, so the Early English, as we call it, signified aspiration; an idea which was perfected, as far as it could be, in what we call the Decorated style.

There is an evident gap, I had almost said a gulf, between the architectural mind of the eleventh and that of the thirteenth century. A vertical tendency, a longing after lightness and freedom, appears; and with them a longing to reproduce the graces of nature and art. And here I ask you to look for yourselves at the buildings of this new era—there is a beautiful specimen in yonder arcade {304}—and judge for yourselves whether they, and even more than they the Decorated style into which they developed, do not remind you of the forest shapes?

And if they remind you: must they not have reminded those who shaped them? Can it have been otherwise? We know that the men who built were earnest. The carefulness, the reverence, of their work have given a subject for some of Mr. Ruskin's noblest chapters, a text for some of his noblest sermons. We know that they were students of vegetable form. That is proved by the flowers, the leaves, even the birds, with which they enwreathed their capitals and enriched their mouldings. Look up there, and see.

You cannot look at any good church-work from the thirteenth to the middle of the fifteenth century, without seeing that leaves and flowers were perpetually in the workman's mind. Do you fancy that stems and boughs were never in his mind? He kept, doubtless, in remembrance the fundamental idea, that the Christian church should symbolise a grot or cave. He could do no less; while he again and again saw hermits around him dwelling and worshipping in caves, as they had done ages before in Egypt and Syria; while he fixed, again and again, the site of his convent and his minster in some secluded valley guarded by cliffs and rocks, like Vale Crucis in North Wales. But his minster stood often not among rocks only, but amid trees; in some clearing in the primeval forest, as Vale Crucis was then. At least he could not pass from minster to minster, from town to town, without journeying through long miles of forest. Do you think that the awful shapes and shadows of that forest never haunted his imagination as he built? He would have cut down ruthlessly, as his predecessors the early missionaries did, the sacred trees amid which Thor and Odin had been worshipped by the heathen Saxons; amid which still darker deities were still worshipped by the heathen tribes of Eastern Europe. But he was the descendant of men who had worshipped in those groves; and the glamour of them was upon him still. He peopled the wild forest with demons and fairies: but that did not surely prevent his feeling its ennobling grandeur, its chastening loneliness. His ancestors had held the oaks for trees of God, even as the Jews held the Cedar, and the Hindoos likewise; for the Deodara pine is not only, botanists tell us, the same as the Cedar of Lebanon: but its very name—the Deodara—signifies nought else but "The tree of God."

His ancestors, I say, had held the oaks for trees of God. It may be that as the monk sat beneath their shade with his Bible on his knee, like good St. Boniface in the Fulda forest, he found that his ancestors were right.

To understand what sort of trees they were from which he got his inspiration: you must look, not at an average English wood, perpetually thinned out as the trees arrive at middle age. Still less must you look at the pines, oaks, beeches, of an English park, where each tree has had space to develop itself freely into a more or less rounded form. You must not even look at the tropic forests. For there, from the immense diversity of forms, twenty varieties of tree will grow beneath each other, forming a close-packed heap of boughs and leaves, from the ground to a hundred feet and more aloft.

You should look at the North American forests of social trees—especially of pines and firs, where trees of one species, crowded together, and competing with equal advantages for the air and light, form themselves into one wilderness of straight smooth shafts, surmounted by a flat sheet of foliage, held up by boughs like the ribs of a groined roof; while underneath the ground is bare as a cathedral floor.

You all know, surely, the Hemlock spruce of America; which, while growing by itself in open ground, is the most wilful and fantastic, as well as the most graceful, of all the firs; imitating the shape, not of its kindred, but of an enormous tuft of fern.

Yet if you look at the same tree, when it has struggled long for life from its youth amid other trees of its own kind and its own age; you find that the lower boughs have died off from want of light, leaving not a scar behind. The upper boughs have reached at once the light, and their natural term of years. They are content to live, and little more. The central trunk no longer sends up each year a fresh perpendicular shoot to aspire above the rest: but as weary of struggling ambition as they are, is content to become more and more their equal as the years pass by. And this is a law of social forest trees, which you must bear in mind, whenever I speak of the influence of tree-forms on Gothic architecture.

Such forms as these are rare enough in Europe now. I never understood how possible, how common, they must have been in medieval Europe, till I saw in the forest of Fontainebleau a few oaks like the oak of Charlemagne, and the Bouquet du Roi, at whose age I dare not guess, but whose size and shape showed them to have once formed part of a continuous wood, the like whereof remains not in these isles—perhaps not east of the Carpathian Mountains. In them a clear shaft of at least sixty, it may be eighty feet, carries a flat head of boughs, each in itself a tree. In such a grove, I thought, the heathen Gaul, even the heathen Frank, worshipped, beneath "trees of God." Such trees, I thought, centuries after, inspired the genius of every builder of Gothic aisles and roofs.

Thus, at least, we can explain that rigidity, which Mr. Ruskin tells us, "is a special element of Gothic architecture. Greek and Egyptian buildings," he says—and I should have added, Roman buildings also, in proportion to their age, i.e., to the amount of the Roman elements in them—"stand for the most part, by their own weight and mass, one stone passively incumbent on another: but in the Gothic vaults and traceries there is a stiffness analogous to that of the bones of a limb, or fibres of a tree; an elastic tension and communication of force from part to part; and also a studious expression of this throughout every part of the building." In a word, Gothic vaulting and tracery have been studiously made like to boughs of trees. Were those boughs present to the mind of the architect? Or is the coincidence merely fortuitous? You know already how I should answer. The cusped arch, too, was it actually not intended to imitate vegetation? Mr. Ruskin seems to think so. He says that it is merely the special application to the arch of the great ornamental system of foliation, which, "whether simple as in the cusped arch, or complicated as in tracery, arose out of the love of leafage. Not that the form of the arch is intended to imitate a leaf, but to be invested with the same characters of beauty which the designer had discovered in the leaf." Now I differ from Mr. Ruskin with extreme hesitation. I agree that the cusped arch is not meant to imitate a leaf. I think with Mr. Ruskin, that it was probably first adopted on account of its superior strength; and that it afterwards took the form of a bough. But I cannot as yet believe that it was not at last intended to imitate a bough; a bough of a very common form, and one in which "active rigidity" is peculiarly shown. I mean a bough which has forked. If the lower fork has died off, for want of light, we obtain something like the simply cusped arch. If it be still living—but short and stunted in comparison with the higher fork—we obtain, it seems to me, something like the foliated cusp; both likenesses being near enough to those of common objects to make it possible that those objects may have suggested them. And thus, more and more boldly, the mediaeval architect learnt to copy boughs, stems, and, at last, the whole effect, as far always as stone would allow, of a combination of rock and tree, of grot and grove.

So he formed his minsters, as I believe, upon the model of those leafy minsters in which he walked to meditate, amid the aisles which God, not man, has built. He sent their columns aloft like the boles of ancient trees. He wreathed their capitals, sometimes their very shafts, with flowers and creeping shoots. He threw their arches out, and interwove the groinings of their vaults, like the bough-roofage overhead. He decked with foliage and fruit the bosses above and the corbels below. He sent up out of those corbels upright shafts along the walls, in the likeness of the trees which sprang out of the rocks above his head. He raised those walls into great cliffs. He pierced them with the arches of the triforium, as with hermits' cells. He represented in the horizontal sills of his windows, and in his horizontal string-courses, the horizontal strata of the rocks. He opened the windows into high and lofty glades, broken, as in the forest, by the tracery of stems and boughs, through which was seen, not merely the outer, but the upper world. For he craved, as all true artists crave, for light and colour; and had the sky above been one perpetual blue, he might have been content with it, and left his glass transparent. But in that dark dank northern clime, rain and snowstorm, black cloud and grey mist, were all that he was like to see outside for nine months in the year. So he took such light and colour as nature gave in her few gayer moods; and set aloft his stained glass windows the hues of the noonday and the rainbow, and the sunrise and the sunset, and the purple of the heather, and the gold of the gorse, and the azure of the bugloss, and the crimson of the poppy; and among them, in gorgeous robes, the angels and the saints of heaven, and the memories of heroic virtues and heroic sufferings, that he might lift up his own eyes and heart for ever out of the dark, dank, sad world of the cold north, with all its coarsenesses and its crimes, toward a realm of perpetual holiness, amid a perpetual summer of beauty and of light; as one who—for he was true to nature, even in that—from between the black jaws of a narrow glen, or from beneath the black shade of gnarled trees, catches a glimpse of far lands gay with gardens and cottages, and purple mountain ranges, and the far off sea, and the hazy horizon melting into the hazy sky; and finds his heart carried out into an infinite at once of freedom and of repose.

And so out of the cliffs and the forests he shaped the inside of his church. And how did he shape the outside? Look for yourselves, and judge. But look: not at Chester, but at Salisbury. Look at those churches which carry not mere towers, but spires, or at least pinnacled towers approaching the pyrmidal form. The outside form of every Gothic cathedral must be considered imperfect if it does not culminate in something pyramidal.

The especial want of all Greek and Roman buildings with which we are acquainted is the absence—save in a few and unimportant cases—of the pyramidal form. The Egyptians knew at least the worth of the obelisk: but the Greeks and Romans hardly knew even that: their buildings are flat- topped. Their builders were contented with the earth as it was. There was a great truth involved in that; which I am the last to deny. But religions which, like the Buddhist or the Christian, nurse a noble self- discontent, are sure to adopt sooner or later an upward and aspiring form of building. It is not merely that, fancying heaven to be above earth, they point towards heaven. There is a deeper natural language in the pyramidal form of a growing tree. It symbolises growth, or the desire of growth. The Norman tower does nothing of the kind. It does not aspire to grow. Look—I mention an instance with which I am most familiar—at the Norman tower of Bury St. Edmund's. It is graceful—awful, if you will—but there is no aspiration in it. It is stately: but self-content. Its horizontal courses; circular arches; above all, its flat sky-line, seem to have risen enough: and wish to rise no higher. For it has no touch of that unrest of soul, which is expressed by the spire, and still more by the compound spire, with its pinnacles, crockets, finials, which are finials only in name; for they do not finish, and are really terminal buds, as it were, longing to open and grow upward, even as the crockets are bracts and leaves thrown off as the shoot has grown.

You feel, surely, the truth of these last words. You cannot look at the canopy work or the pinnacle work of this cathedral without seeing that they do not merely suggest buds and leaves, but that the buds and leaves are there carven before your eyes. I myself cannot look at the tabernacle work of our stalls without being reminded of the young pine forests which clothe the Hampshire moors. But if the details are copied from vegetable forms, why not the whole? Is not a spire like a growing tree, a tabernacle like a fir-tree, a compound spire like a group of firs? And if we can see that: do you fancy that the man who planned the spire did not see it as clearly as we do; and perhaps more clearly still?

I am aware, of course, that Norman architecture had sometimes its pinnacle, a mere conical or polygonal capping. I am aware that this form, only more and more slender, lasted on in England during the thirteenth and the early part of the fourteenth century; and on the Continent, under many modifications, one English kind whereof is usually called a "broach," of which you have a beautiful specimen in the new church at Hoole.

Now, no one will deny that that broach is beautiful. But it would be difficult to prove that its form was taken from a North European tree. The cypress was unknown, probably, to our northern architects. The Lombardy poplar—which has wandered hither, I know not when, all the way from Cashmere—had not wandered then, I believe, further than North Italy. The form is rather that of mere stone; of the obelisk, or of the mountain peak; and they, in fact, may have at first suggested the spire. The grandeur of an isolated mountain, even of a dolmen or single upright stone, is evident to all.

But it is the grandeur, not of aspiration, but of defiance; not of the Christian; not even of the Stoic: but rather of the Epicurean. It says—I cannot rise. I do not care to rise. I will be contentedly and valiantly that which I am; and face circumstances, though I cannot conquer them. But it is defiance under defeat. The mountain-peak does not grow, but only decays. Fretted by rains, peeled by frost, splintered by lightning, it must down at last; and crumble into earth, were it as old, as hard, as lofty as the Matterhorn itself. And while it stands, it wants not only aspiration, it wants tenderness; it wants humility; it wants the unrest which tenderness and humility must breed, and which Mr. Ruskin so clearly recognises in the best Gothic art. And, meanwhile, it wants naturalness. The mere smooth spire or broach—I had almost said, even the spire of Salisbury—is like no tall or commanding object in Nature. It is merely the caricature of one; it may be of the mountain-peak. The outline must be broken, must be softened, before it can express the soul of a creed which, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries far more than now, was one of penitence as well as of aspiration, of passionate emotion as well as of lofty faith. But a shape which will express that soul must be sought, not among mineral, but among vegetable, forms. And remember always, if we feel thus even now, how much more must those medieval men of genius have felt thus, whose work we now dare only copy line by line?

So—as it seems to me—they sought among vegetable forms for what they needed: and they found it at once in the pine, or rather the fir,—the spruce and silver firs of their own forests. They are not, of course, indigenous to England. But they are so common through all the rest of Europe, that not only would the form suggest itself to a Continental architect, but to any English clerk who travelled, as all did who could, across the Alps to Rome. The fir-tree, not growing on level ground, like the oaks of Fontainebleau, into one flat roof of foliage, but clinging to the hill-side and the crag, old above young, spire above spire, whorl above whorl—for the young shoots of each whorl of boughs point upward in the spring; and now and then a whole bough, breaking away, as it were, into free space, turns upward altogether, and forms a secondary spire on the same tree—this surely was the form which the mediaeval architect seized, to clothe with it the sides and roof of the stone mountain which he had built; piling up pinnacles and spires, each crocketed at the angles; that, like a group of firs upon an isolated rock, every point of the building might seem in act to grow toward heaven, till his idea culminated in that glorious Minster of Cologne, which, if it ever be completed, will be the likeness of one forest-clothed group of cliffs, surmounted by three enormous pines.

One feature of the Norman temple he could keep; for it was copied from the same nature which he was trying to copy—namely, the high-pitched roof and gables. Mr. Ruskin lays it down as a law, that the acute angle in roofs, gables, spires, is the distinguishing mark of northern Gothic. It was adopted, most probably, at first from domestic buildings. A northern house or barn must have a high-pitched roof: or the snow will not slip off it. But that fact was not discovered by man; it was copied by him from the rocks around. He saw the mountain peak jut black and bare above the snows of winter; he saw those snows slip down in sheets, rush down in torrents under the sun, from the steep slabs of rock which coped the hill-side; and he copied, in his roofs, the rocks above his town. But as the love for decoration arose, he would deck his roofs as nature had decked hers, till the grey sheets of the cathedral slates should stand out amid pinnacles and turrets rich with foliage, as the grey mountain sides stood out amid knolls of feathery birch and towering pine.

He failed, though he failed nobly. He never succeeded in attaining a perfectly natural style.

The medieval architects were crippled to the last by the tradition of artificial Roman forms. They began improving them into naturalness, without any clear notion of what they wanted; and when that notion became clear, it was too late. Take, as an instance, the tracery of their windows. It is true, as Mr. Ruskin says, that they began by piercing holes in a wall of the form of a leaf, which developed, in the rose window, into the form of a star inside, and of a flower outside. Look at such aloft there. Then, by introducing mullions and traceries into the lower part of the window, they added stem and bough forms to those flower forms. But the two did not fit. Look at the west window of our choir, and you will see what I mean. The upright mullions break off into bough curves graceful enough: but these are cut short—as I hold, spoiled—by circular and triangular forms of rose and trefoil resting on them as such forms never rest in Nature; and the whole, though beautiful, is only half beautiful. It is fragmentary, unmeaning, barbaric, because unnatural.

They failed, too, it may be, from the very paucity of the vegetable forms they could find to copy among the flora of this colder clime; and so, stopped short in drawing from nature, ran off into mere purposeless luxuriance. Had they been able to add to their stock of memories a hundred forms which they would have seen in the Tropics, they might have gone on for centuries copying Nature without exhausting her.

And yet, did they exhaust even the few forms of beauty which they saw around them? It must be confessed that they did not. I believe that they could not, because they dared not. The unnaturalness of the creed which they expressed always hampered them. It forbade them to look Nature freely and lovingly in the face. It forbade them—as one glaring example—to know anything truly of the most beautiful of all natural objects—the human form. They were tempted perpetually to take Nature as ornament, not as basis; and they yielded at last to the temptation; till, in the age of Perpendicular architecture, their very ornament became unnatural again; because conventional, untrue, meaningless.

But the creed for which they worked was dying by that time, and therefore the art which expressed it must needs die too. And even that death, or rather the approach of it, was symbolised truly in the flatter roof, the four-centred arch, the flat-topped tower of the fifteenth-century church. The creed had ceased to aspire: so did the architecture. It had ceased to grow: so did the temple. And the arch sank lower; and the rafters grew more horizontal; and the likeness to the old tree, content to grow no more, took the place of the likeness to the young tree struggling toward the sky.

And now—unless you are tired of listening to me—a few practical words.

We are restoring our old cathedral stone by stone after its ancient model. We are also trying to build a new church. We are building it—as most new churches in England are now built—in a pure Gothic style.

Are we doing right? I do not mean morally right. It is always morally right to build a new church, if needed, whatever be its architecture. It is always morally right to restore an old church, if it be beautiful and noble, as an heirloom handed down to us by our ancestors, which we have no right—I say, no right—for the sake of our children, and of our children's children, to leave to ruin.

But are we artistically, aesthetically right? Is the best Gothic fit for our worship? Does it express our belief? Or shall we choose some other style?

I say that it is; and that it is so because it is a style which, if not founded on Nature, has taken into itself more of Nature, of Nature beautiful and healthy, than any other style.

With greater knowledge of Nature, both geographical and scientific, fresh styles of architecture may and will arise, as much more beautiful, and as much more natural, than the Gothic, as Gothic is more beautiful and natural than the Norman. Till then we must take the best models which we have; use them; and, as it were, use them up and exhaust them. By that time we may have learnt to improve on them; and to build churches more Gothic than Gothic itself, more like grot and grove than even a northern cathedral.

That is the direction in which we must work. And if any shall say to us, as it has been said ere now—"After all, your new Gothic churches are but imitations, shams, borrowed symbols, which to you symbolise nothing. They are Romish churches, meant to express Romish doctrine, built for a Protestant creed which they do not express, and for a Protestant worship which they will not fit." Then we shall answer—Not so. The objection might be true if we built Norman or Romanesque churches; for we should then be returning to that very foreign and unnatural style which Rome taught our forefathers, and from which they escaped gradually into the comparative freedom, the comparative naturalness of that true Gothic of which Mr. Ruskin says so well:—

"It is gladdening to remember that, in its utmost nobleness, the very temper which has been thought most averse to it, the Protestant temper of self-dependence and inquiry, were expressed in every case. Faith and aspiration there were in every Christian ecclesiastical building from the first century to the fifteenth: but the moral habits to which England in this age owes the kind of greatness which she has—the habits of philosophical investigation, of accurate thought, of domestic seclusion and independence, of stern self-reliance, and sincere upright searching into religious truth,—were only traceable in the features which were the distinctive creations of the Gothic schools, in the varied foliage and thorny fretwork, and shadowy niche, and buttressed pier, and fearless height of subtle pinnacle and crested tower, sent 'like an unperplexed question up to heaven.'"

So says Mr. Ruskin. I, for one, endorse his gallant words. And I think that a strong proof of their truth is to be found in two facts, which seem at first paradoxical. First, that the new Roman Catholic churches on the Continent—I speak especially of France, which is the most highly cultivated Romanist country—are, like those which the Jesuits built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, less and less Gothic. The former were sham-classic; the latter are rather of a new fantastic Romanesque, or rather Byzantinesque style, which is a real retrogression from Gothic towards earlier and less natural schools. Next, that the Puritan communions, the Kirk of Scotland and the English Nonconformists, as they are becoming more cultivated—and there are now many highly cultivated men among them—are introducing Gothic architecture more and more into their churches. There are elements in it, it seems, which do not contradict their Puritanism; elements which they can adapt to their own worship; namely, the very elements which Mr. Ruskin has discerned.

But if they can do so, how much more can we of the Church of England? As long as we go on where our medieval forefathers left off; as long as we keep to the most perfect types of their work, in waiting for the day when we shall be able to surpass them, by making our work even more naturalistic than theirs, more truly expressive of the highest aspirations of humanity: so long we are reverencing them, and that latent Protestantism in them, which produced at last the Reformation.

And if any should say—"Nevertheless, your Protestant Gothic church, though you made it ten times more beautiful, and more symbolic, than Cologne Minster itself, would still be a sham. For where would be your images? And still more, where would be your Host? Do you not know that in the medieval church the vistas of its arcades, the alternations of its lights and shadows, the gradations of its colouring, and all its carefully subordinated wealth of art, pointed to, were concentrated round, one sacred spot, as a curve, however vast its sweep though space, tends at every moment toward a single focus? And that spot, that focus, was, and is still, in every Romish church, the body of God, present upon the altar in the form of bread? Without Him, what is all your building? Your church is empty: your altar bare; a throne without a king; an eye- socket without an eye."

My friends, if we be true children of those old worthies, whom Tacitus saw worshipping beneath the German oaks; we shall have but one answer to that scoff:—

We know it; and we glory in the fact. We glory in it, as the old Jews gloried in it, when the Roman soldiers, bursting through the Temple, and into the Holy of Holies itself, paused in wonder and in awe when they beheld neither God, nor image of God, but blank yet all-suggestive—the empty mercy-seat.

Like theirs, our altar is an empty throne. For it symbolises our worship of Him who dwelleth not in temples made with hands; whom the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain. Our eye-socket holds no eye. For it symbolises our worship of that Eye which is over all the earth; which is about our path, and about our bed, and spies out all our ways. We need no artificial and material presence of Deity. For we believe in That One Eternal and Universal Real Presence—of which it is written "He is not far from any one of us; for in God we live, and move, and have our being;" and again, "Lo, I am with you, even to the End of the World;" and again—"Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them."

He is the God of nature, as well as the God of grace. For ever He looks down on all things which He has made: and behold, they are very good. And, therefore, we dare offer to Him, in our churches, the most perfect works of naturalistic art, and shape them into copies of whatever beauty He has shown us, in man or woman, in cave or mountain peak, in tree or flower, even in bird or butterfly.

But Himself?—Who can see Him? Except the humble and the contrite heart, to whom He reveals Himself as a Spirit to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and not in bread, nor wood, nor stone, nor gold, nor quintessential diamond.

So we shall obey the sound instinct of our Christian forefathers, when they shaped their churches into forest aisles, and decked them with the boughs of the woodland, and the flowers of the field: but we shall obey too, that sounder instinct of theirs, which made them at last cast out of their own temples, as misplaced and unnatural things, the idols which they had inherited from Rome.

So we shall obey the sound instinct of our heathen forefathers, when they worshipped the unknown God beneath the oaks of the primeval forest: but we shall obey, too, that sounder instinct of theirs, which taught them this, at least, concerning God—That it was beneath His dignity to coop Him within walls; and that the grandest forms of nature, as well as the deepest consciousnesses of their own souls, revealed to them a mysterious Being, who was to be beheld by faith alone.


The scholar, in the sixteenth century, was a far more important personage than now. The supply of learned men was very small, the demand for them very great. During the whole of the fifteenth, and a great part of the sixteenth century, the human mind turned more and more from the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages to that of the Romans and the Greeks; and found more and more in old Pagan Art an element which Monastic Art had not, and which was yet necessary for the full satisfaction of their craving after the Beautiful. At such a crisis of thought and taste, it was natural that the classical scholar, the man who knew old Rome, and still more old Greece, should usurp the place of the monk, as teacher of mankind; and that scholars should form, for a while, a new and powerful aristocracy, limited and privileged, and all the more redoubtable, because its power lay in intellect, and had been won by intellect alone.

Those who, whether poor or rich, did not fear the monk and priest, at least feared the "scholar," who held, so the vulgar believed, the keys of that magic lore by which the old necromancers had built cities like Rome, and worked marvels of mechanical and chemical skill, which the degenerate modern could never equal.

If the "scholar" stopped in a town, his hostess probably begged of him a charm against toothache or rheumatism. The penniless knight discoursed with him on alchemy, and the chances of retrieving his fortune by the art of transmuting metals into gold. The queen or bishop worried him in private about casting their nativities, and finding their fates among the stars. But the statesman, who dealt with more practical matters, hired him as an advocate and rhetorician, who could fight his master's enemies with the weapons of Demosthenes and Cicero. Wherever the scholar's steps were turned, he might be master of others, as long as he was master of himself. The complaints which he so often uttered concerning the cruelty of fortune, the fickleness of princes, and so forth, were probably no more just then than such complaints are now. Then, as now, he got his deserts; and the world bought him at his own price. If he chose to sell himself to this patron and to that, he was used and thrown away: if he chose to remain in honourable independence, he was courted and feared.

Among the successful scholars of the sixteenth century, none surely is more notable than George Buchanan. The poor Scotch widow's son, by force of native wit, and, as I think, by force of native worth, fights his way upward, through poverty and severest persecution, to become the correspondent and friend of the greatest literary celebrities of the Continent, comparable, in their opinion, to the best Latin poets of antiquity; the preceptor of princes; the counsellor and spokesman of Scotch statesmen in the most dangerous of times; and leaves behind him political treatises, which have influenced not only the history of his own country, but that of the civilised world.

Such a success could not be attained without making enemies, perhaps without making mistakes. But the more we study George Buchanan's history, the less we shall be inclined to hunt out his failings, the more inclined to admire his worth. A shrewd, sound-hearted, affectionate man, with a strong love of right and scorn of wrong, and a humour withal which saved him—except on really great occasions—from bitterness, and helped him to laugh where narrower natures would have only snarled,—he is, in many respects, a type of those Lowland Scots, who long preserved his jokes, genuine or reputed, as a common household book. {328} A schoolmaster by profession, and struggling for long years amid the temptations which, in those days, degraded his class into cruel and sordid pedants, he rose from the mere pedagogue to be, in the best sense of the word, a courtier; "One," says Daniel Heinsius, "who seemed not only born for a court, but born to amend it. He brought to his queen that at which she could not wonder enough. For, by affecting a certain liberty in censuring morals, he avoided all offence, under the cloak of simplicity." Of him and his compeers, Turnebus, and Muretus, and their friend Andrea Govea, Ronsard, the French court poet, said that they had nothing of the pedagogue about them but the gown and cap. "Austere in face, and rustic in his looks," says David Buchanan, "but most polished in style and speech; and continually, even in serious conversation, jesting most wittily." "Roughhewn, slovenly, and rude," says Peacham, in his 'Compleat Gentleman,' speaking of him, probably, as he appeared in old age, "in his person, behaviour, and fashion; seldom caring for a better outside than a rugge-gown girt close about him: yet his inside and conceipt in poesie was most rich, and his sweetness and facilitie in verse most excellent." A typical Lowland Scot, as I said just now, he seems to have absorbed all the best culture which France could afford him, without losing the strength, honesty, and humour which he inherited from his Stirlingshire kindred.

The story of his life is easily traced. When an old man, he himself wrote down the main events of it, at the request of his friends; and his sketch has been filled out by commentators, if not always favourable, at least erudite. Born in 1506, at the Moss, in Killearn—where an obelisk to his memory, so one reads, has been erected in this century—of a family "rather ancient than rich," his father dead in the prime of manhood, his grandfather a spendthrift, he and his seven brothers and sisters were brought up by a widowed mother, Agnes Heriot—of whom one wishes to know more; for the rule that great sons have great mothers probably holds good in her case. George gave signs, while at the village school, of future scholarship; and when he was only fourteen, his uncle James sent him to the University of Paris. Those were hard times; and the youths, or rather boys, who meant to become scholars, had a cruel life of it, cast desperately out on the wide world to beg and starve, either into self-restraint and success, or into ruin of body and soul. And a cruel life George had. Within two years he was down in a severe illness, his uncle dead, his supplies stopped; and the boy of sixteen got home, he does not tell how. Then he tried soldiering; and was with Albany's French Auxiliaries at the ineffectual attack on Wark Castle. Marching back through deep snow, he got a fresh illness, which kept him in bed all winter. Then he and his brother were sent to St. Andrew's, where he got his B.A. at nineteen. The next summer he went to France once more; and "fell," he says, "into the flames of the Lutheran sect, which was then spreading far and wide." Two years of penury followed; and then three years of schoolmastering in the College of St. Barbe, which he has immortalised—at least for the few who care to read modern Latin poetry—in his elegy on 'The Miseries of a Parisian Teacher of the Humanities.' The wretched regent master, pale and suffering, sits up all night preparing his lecture, biting his nails, and thumping his desk; and falls asleep for a few minutes, to start up at the sound of the four o'clock bell, and be in school by five, his Virgil in one hand, and his rod in the other, trying to do work on his own account at old manuscripts, and bawling all the while at his wretched boys, who cheat him, and pay each other to answer to truants' names. The class is all wrong. "One is barefoot, another's shoe is burst, another cries, another writes home. Then comes the rod, the sound of blows and howls; and the day passes in tears." "Then mass, then another lesson, then more blows; there is hardly time to eat."—I have no space to finish the picture of the stupid misery which, Buchanan says, was ruining his intellect, while it starved his body. However, happier days came. Gilbert Kennedy, Earl of Cassilis, who seems to have been a noble young gentleman, took him as his tutor for the next five years; and with him he went back to Scotland.

But there his plain speaking got him, as it did more than once afterward, into trouble. He took it into his head to write, in imitation of Dunbar, a Latin poem, in which St. Francis asks him in a dream to become a Grey Friar, and Buchanan answered in language which had the unpleasant fault of being too clever, and—to judge from contemporary evidence—only too true. The friars said nothing at first: but when King James made Buchanan tutor to one of his natural sons, they, "men professing meekness, took the matter somewhat more angrily than befitted men so pious in the opinion of the people." So Buchanan himself puts it: but, to do the poor friars justice, they must have been angels, not men, if they did not writhe somewhat under the scourge which he had laid on them. To be told that there was hardly a place in heaven for monks, was hard to hear and bear. They accused him to the king of heresy: but not being then in favour with James, they got no answer, and Buchanan was commanded to repeat the castigation. Having found out that the friars were not to be touched with impunity, he wrote, he says, a short and ambiguous poem. But the king, who loved a joke, demanded something sharp and stinging, and Buchanan obeyed by writing, but not publishing, the 'Franciscans,' a long satire, compared to which the 'Somnium' was bland and merciful. The storm rose. Cardinal Beaton, Buchanan says, wanted to buy him of the king, and then, of course, burn him, as he had just burnt five poor souls: so, knowing James's avarice, he fled to England, through freebooters and pestilence.

There he found, he says, "men of both factions being burned on the same day and in the same fire"—a pardonable exaggeration—"by Henry VIII., in his old age more intent on his own safety than on the purity of religion." So to his beloved France he went again, to find his enemy Beaton ambassador at Paris. The capital was too hot to hold him; and he fled south to Bourdeaux, to Andrea Govea, the Portuguese principal of the College of Gruienne. As Professor of Latin at Bourdeaux, we find him presenting a Latin poem to Charles V.; and indulging that fancy of his for Latin poetry which seems to us now-a-days a childish pedantry; which was then—when Latin was the vernacular tongue of all scholars—a serious, if not altogether a useful, pursuit. Of his tragedies, so famous in their day—the 'Baptist,' the 'Medea,' the 'Jephtha,' and the 'Alcestis'—there is neither space nor need to speak here, save to notice the bold declamations in the 'Baptist' against tyranny and priestcraft; and to notice also that these tragedies gained for the poor Scotsman, in the eyes of the best scholars of Europe, a credit amounting almost to veneration. When he returned to Paris, he found occupation at once; and—as his Scots biographers love to record—"three of the most learned men in the world taught humanity in the same college," viz., Turnebus, Muretus, and Buchanan.

Then followed a strange episode in his life. A university had been founded at Coimbra, in Portugal, and Andrea Govea had been invited to bring thither what French savans he could collect. Buchanan went to Portugal with his brother Patrick; two more Scotsmen, Dempster and Ramsay: and a goodly company of French scholars, whose names and histories may be read in the erudite pages of Dr. Irving, went likewise. All prospered in the new Temple of the Muses for a year or so. Then its high-priest, Govea, died; and, by a peripeteia too common in those days and countries, Buchanan and two of his friends migrated, unwillingly, from the Temple of the Muses for that of Moloch, and found themselves in the Inquisition.

Buchanan, it seems, had said that St. Augustine was more of a Lutheran than a Catholic on the question of the mass. He and his friends had eaten flesh in Lent; which, he says, almost everyone in Spain did. But he was suspected, and with reason, as a heretic; the Grey Friars formed but one brotherhood throughout Europe; and news among them travelled surely if not fast: so that the story of the satire written in Scotland had reached Portugal. The culprits were imprisoned, examined, bullied—but not tortured—for a year and a half. At the end of that time, the proofs of heresy, it seems, were insufficient; but lest—says Buchanan with honest pride—"they should get the reputation of having vainly tormented a man not altogether unknown," they sent him for some months to a monastery, to be instructed by the monks. "The men," he says, "were neither inhuman nor bad, but utterly ignorant of religion;" and Buchanan solaced himself during the intervals of their instructions, by beginning his Latin translation of the Psalms.

At last he got free, and begged leave to return to France; but in vain. Wearied out at last, he got on board a Candian ship at Lisbon, and escaped to England. But England, he says, during the anarchy of Edward VI.'s reign, was not a land which suited him; and he returned to his beloved France, to fulfil the hopes which he had expressed in his charming 'Desiderium Lutitiae,' and the still more charming, because more simple, 'Adventus in Galliam,' in which he bids farewell, in most melodious verse, to "the hungry moors of wretched Portugal, and her clods fertile in naught but penury."

Some seven years succeeded of schoolmastering and verse-writing:—The Latin paraphrase of the Psalms; another of the 'Alcestis' of Euripides; an Epithalamium on the marriage of poor Mary Stuart, noble and sincere, however fantastic and pedantic, after the manner of the times; "Pomps," too, for her wedding, and for other public ceremonies, in which all the heathen gods and goddesses figure; epigrams, panegyrics, satires, much of which latter productions he would have consigned to the dust-heap in his old age, had not his too fond friends persuaded him to republish the follies and coarsenesses of his youth. He was now one of the most famous scholars in Europe, and the intimate friend of all the great literary men. Was he to go on to the end, die, and no more? Was he to sink into the mere pedant; or, if he could not do that, into the mere court versifier?

The wars of religion saved him, as they saved many another noble soul, from that degradation. The events of 1560-1-2 forced Buchanan, as they forced many a learned man besides, to choose whether he would be a child of light or a child of darkness; whether he would be a dilettante classicist, or a preacher—it might be a martyr—of the Gospel. Buchanan may have left France in "the troubles" merely to enjoy in his own country elegant and learned repose. He may have fancied that he had found it, when he saw himself, in spite of his public profession of adherence to the Reformed Kirk, reading Livy every afternoon with his exquisite young sovereign; master, by her favour, of the temporalities of Crossraguel Abbey, and by the favour of Murray, Principal of St. Leonard's College in St. Andrew's. Perhaps he fancied at times that "to-morrow was to be as to-day, and much more abundant;" that thenceforth he might read his folio, and write his epigram, and joke his joke, as a lazy comfortable pluralist, taking his morning stroll out to the corner where poor Wishart had been burned, above the blue sea and the yellow sands, and looking up to the castle tower from whence his enemy Beaton's corpse had been hung out; with the comfortable reflection that quietier times had come, and that whatever evil deeds Archbishop Hamilton might dare, he would not dare to put the Principal of St. Leonard's into the "bottle dungeon."

If such hopes ever crossed Geordie's keen fancy, they were disappointed suddenly and fearfully. The fire which had been kindled in France was to reach to Scotland likewise. "Revolutions are not made with rose-water;" and the time was at hand when all good spirits in Scotland, and George Buchanan among them, had to choose, once and for all, amid danger, confusion, terror, whether they would serve God or Mammon; for to serve both would be soon impossible.

Which side, in that war of light and darkness, George Buchanan took, is notorious. He saw then, as others have seen since, that the two men in Scotland who were capable of being her captains in the strife were Knox and Murray; and to them he gave in his allegiance heart and soul.

This is the critical epoch in Buchanan's life. By his conduct to Queen Mary he must stand or fall. It is my belief that he will stand. It is not my intention to enter into the details of a matter so painful, so shocking, so prodigious; and now that that question is finally set at rest, by the writings both of Mr. Froude and Mr. Burton, there is no need to allude to it further, save where Buchanan's name is concerned. One may now have every sympathy with Mary Stuart; one may regard with awe a figure so stately, so tragic, in one sense so heroic,—for she reminds one rather of the heroine of an old Greek tragedy, swept to her doom by some irresistible fate, than of a being of our own flesh and blood, and of our modern and Christian times. One may sympathise with the great womanhood which charmed so many while she was alive; which has charmed, in later years, so many noble spirits who have believed in her innocence, and have doubtless been elevated and purified by their devotion to one who seemed to them an ideal being. So far from regarding her as a hateful personage, one may feel oneself forbidden to hate a woman whom God may have loved, and may have pardoned, to judge from the punishment so swift, and yet so enduring, which He inflicted. At least, he must so believe who holds that punishment is a sign of mercy; that the most dreadful of all dooms is impunity. Nay, more, those "casket" letters and sonnets may be a relief to the mind of one who believes in her guilt on other grounds; a relief when one finds in them a tenderness, a sweetness, a delicacy, a magnificent self-sacrifice, however hideously misplaced, which shows what a womanly heart was there; a heart which, joined to that queenly brain, might have made her a blessing and a glory to Scotland, had not the whole character been warped and ruinate from childhood, by an education so abominable, that any one who knows what words she must have heard, what scenes she must have beheld in France, from her youth up, will wonder that she sinned so little: not that she sinned so much. One may feel, in a word, that there is every excuse for those who have asserted Mary's innocence, because their own high-mindedness shrank from believing her guilty: but yet Buchanan, in his own place and time, may have felt as deeply that he could do no otherwise than he did.

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