Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

work upon the human by the title “God's Education of Man." He presents God as a wise and patient teacher, eager to impart to man the lessons it is good for him to learn; and man as a dull and stupid, often wayward and willful, sometimes even fractious and rebellious pupil, whom the Great Teacher is trying to train for usefulness and honor and blessedness and immortality. This is no stupid, heavy book. There is no lack of freshness, pungency, virility, outspokenness, and fire. Those who do not know Dr. Hyde in his writings may find interest in making his acquaintance. The three popular chapters are headed, “Control By Law,"

,” “Conversion By Grace," and Character Through Service.” Pithy bits of modern poetry, from proper and meditative Wordsworth to unconventional Kipling, lend flash and ring to pages of strong prose. In the Conclusion the author compares differing types of idealists—Plato with Aristotle, Kant with Hegel, Matthew Arnold with Robert Browning, Garrison with Lincoln, Burne-Jones with Watts, Cyrus Hamlin with David Livingstone, President Nott with Secretary Anderson. He says, “Methodism was the restoration of grace, when law had lost its grip, and love was dragging her anchor.” A Congregational church member described the stuff given out nowadays from many pulpits as

" debris floating in dishwater.” These chapters deal with practical matters such as “How to Bring Sinners to Repentance," "Justice and Reasonableness of Justification by Faith,” “Conversion,” “The Pastor's Class,” “Prayer not Reflex Action but Vital Communion, and Its Answer Inevitable," “The Need of Christian Fellowship," "The Bane of Clericalism and Sentimentalism," "The Minister's Threefold Task,” “The Meanness of Sin,' “The Responsibility of Wealth,” “The Test of Pleasure," "The Moral Law in Politics.” A theological professor of large experience is quoted as saying recently that he knew of only two colleges which give their students a point of view which has any significance for theology. Henry George and Cardinal Manning conversing together on religious subjects, the Cardinal said, “I love men because Jesus loved them." Mr. George replied, “And I love Jesus because he loved men.” In that part of Chapter I which deals with “the Pride of the Pharisee and the Conceit of the Perfectionist,” the merely imitative, conventional, makebelieve man, with no mind or soul of his own, whose virtues are a thin veneer, whose gold is tinsel and his diamonds rhinestones, is decisively disposed of by aid of Kipling's vigorous verse. Turned from the gate of Heaven because his meretricious goodness is too cheap and mimicking for that high and holy region of Reality, he is refused admission even at the gate of Hell. The earnest robust Devil bids his deputies

Go husk this whimpering thief that comes in the guise of a man;

Winnow him out 'twixt star and star and sieve his proper worth. And Satan's attendants, having done as they were bid, come back with this report:

The soul that he got from God he has bartered clean away.
We have threshed a stook of print and book, and winnowed a chattering wind,

Apd many asqulwherefromhestole, but bis we cannot find;
Webaye handled him we have dandled him, webave seared him to the bone,

And sure, if toothandnailshowtruth, he has no soul of his own. Two English painters treat the same ideal theme of “Hope,” and Dr. Hyde contrasts the results : “Burne-Jones's 'Hope' is the same elongated, elaborated piece of woeful femininity which meets us in all his pictures, save that in this particular pose of 'Hope' her left hand is aimlessly lifted into the clouds which are but a few inches above her lofty head, and gropes helplessly about in that misty medium. Watts's 'Hope,' on the contrary, robed in the most beautiful of blues, sits firmly on the round earth from which all else has fled, clinging to the lyre which alone is left her. Only one string of this remains unbroken. Blindfolded as she is, she leans her ear close to the one unbroken string and draws from it the music that is still latent there. Sqintent is heqnthemusic that ig left that all losses are forgotten, and the whole round world is music to her ear, because her whole attention is centered on the one spot whence music can be drawn. That is the brave, true, deep form of hope, which seizes the little good there is left in a desolate and discordant life, lives so close to it and makes so much of it that the one point stands for all; and because that one point is good and we are absorbed in that, therefore the whole world becomes for us good and glorious." The above extracts prove that this is no dull, dry book of prosaic commonplaces or metaphysical abstractions. If we should say that the connective tissue is not always apparent between the parts, the author might retort that he is not responsible for the reviewer's lack of perception.

John Selden and His Table-Talk. By ROBERT WATERS, author of Shakespeare

as Portrayed by Himself, Intellectual Pursuits, etc. 12mo, pp. 251. New York: Eaton & Mains. Cincinnati: Curts & Jennings. Price, cloth, $1.

This volume opens with “Some Account of Bygone Table-Talk Books,” which is followed by a sketch of the career of John Selden, the great English constitutional lawyer and legislator, who lived in the reigns of four sovereigns (if the last, Cromwell, can be called a sovereign), and who had probably a larger share in the memorable events of his day than most of the eminent persons who figured in it. The author is not reckless in guaranteeing that he who carefully peruses Selden's Table-Talk will lay it down a wiser man than when he took it up. In this he only echoes Hallam, who said, “The Table-Talk of Selden is worth all the ana of the Continent;" and Coleridge, who said, “There is more weighty bullion in this book (Selden's Table-Talk] than I ever found in the same number of pages of any uninspired writer.” The Table-Talk of Selden confirms the saying of Lord Clarendon, that “in his conversation he was the most clear discourser, and had the best faculty of making hard things easy, and of presenting them clearly to the understanding, of any man that hath been known.” One hundred and fifty pages of Selden's table-talk on one hundred and twenty different subjects are given in this volume, with numerous comments and explanatory notes by the author. The following are Selden's remarks upon the “Law of Nature:” “I cannot fancy to myself what the Law of Nature means except it be the Law of God. How should I know I ought not to steal, and ought not to commit adultery, unless somebody had told me so ? Surely it is because I have been told so. 'Tis not because I think I ought not to do them, nor because you think I ought not; if so, our minds might change. Whence, then, comes the restraint ? From a higher Power; nothing else can bind. I cannot bind myself, for I may untie myself again; nor an equal cannot bind me, for we may untie one another; it must be a superior Power, even God Almighty. If two of us make a bargain, why should either of us stand to it? What need you care what you say, or what need I care what I say? Certainly because there is something about me that tells me Fides est seroanda [one must keep faith]; and if we after alter our minds, and make a new bargain, there's Fides servanda [faith must be kept] there, too.” Of moral honesty he says:

They that

cry

down moral honesty cry down that which is a great part of religion: my duty toward God and my duty toward man. What care I to see a man run after a sermon if he cozens and cheats as soon as he comes home? On the other side, morality must not be without religion; for, if so, it may change as I see convenience. Religion must govern it. He that hath not religion to govern his morality is not a dram better than my mastiff dog ; so long as you stroke him and please him, and do not pinch him, he will play with you as finely as may be; he is a very good moral mastiff; but if you hurt him he will fly in your face and tear out your throat.” Selden, who never married, said, “Of all actions of a man's life his marriage doth least concern other people; yet of all actions of our life it is most meddled with by other people.” On the whole, we count the most important saying, preserved to us from one of the strongest, wisest, and most learned lawyers England ever had, to be the words reported by Archbishop Usher, who attended Selden in his last illness and preached his funeral sermon, Selden, near to death, declared to the archbishop, “That he had surveyed most parts of the learning that was among the sons of men; that he had his study full of books and papers on most subjects in the world; yet at that time he could not recollect any passage out of those infinite books and manuscripts he was master of whereon he could rest his soul, save out of the Holy Scriptures, wherein the most remarkable passage that lay upon his spirit was that contained in St. Paul's Epistle to Titus: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denyivg ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.'”

HISTORY, BIOGRAPHY, AND TOPOGRAPHY.

Contemporaries. By THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON. 12mo, pp. 379. Boston

and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Price, cloth, $2.

The author of Cheerful Yesterdays, and of a dozen other volumes, has now gathered from the Atlantic Monthly, the Nation, the Century Magazine, the Chautauquan, the Independent, and other periodicals, where they first appeared, this series of sketches of Emerson, and Alcott, and Theodore Parker, and Whittier, and Garrison, Sumner, Phillips, Dr. Howe, Mrs. Child, and General Grant, Whitman, Lanier, and Helen Hunt Jackson, with a few essays and narratives of a different sort. They have the vividness and value, the naturalness and interest of personal remin. iscences, since the author was well acquainted with most of those concerning whom he writes. His finest quotation from Emerson is this verse from " Wood-Notes: "

Thou canst not wave thy staff in air,

Nor dip thy paddle in the lake,
But it carves the bow of beauty there,

And the ripples in rhyme the oar forsake.

The third sketch begins thus : “In the year 1828 there was a young man of eighteen at work upon a farm in Lexington, Mass., performing bodily labor to the extent of twenty hours a day sometimes, and that for several days together, and at other times studying intensely when outdoor work was less pressing. Thirty years after, that same man sat in the richest private library in Boston, working from twelve to seventeen hours a day in severer toil. The interval was crowded with labors, with acquisitions, with reproaches, with victories; and he who experienced all this died exhausted at the end of it, less than fifty years old, but looking seventy. That man was Theodore Parker.” Parker's grave is near that of Mrs. Browning, in the English cemetery outside the Porta Pinti, at Florence, Italy. The laborious Goethe said, “Strive constantly to concentrate yourself; never dissipate your powers; incessant activity, of whatever kind, leads finally to physical and mental bankruptcy.” Parker multiplied his channels of endeavor and exhausted his life in the effort to do too many things. He had wonderful quickness and an infallible memory, but wore his brain out early. Thackeray said of himself, when he found his intellectual fertility failing, "I have taken too many crops off the soil.” An admirable sentence is this in which Parker described the eloquence of Luther : “The homely force of Luther, who, in the language of the farm, the shop, the boat, the street, or the nursery, told the high truths that reason or religion taught, and took possession of his audience by a storm of speech, then poured upon them all the riches of his brave plebeian soul, baptizing every head anew-a man who with the people seemed more a mob than they, and with kings the most imperial man.” Parker said of Dr. Channing: “Diffuseness is the old Adam of the pulpit. There are always two ways of hitting the mark--one with a single bullet, the other with a shower

room,

of small shot. Dr. Channing chose the latter, as most of our pulpit orators have done." Whittier was so shy that in early life it was a positive distress to him to be face to face with half a dozen people in a

This shyness never left him, though somewhat moderated at times.

At the house of Governor William Claflin, which he often made his Boston home, Mrs. Claflin found difficulty in inducing him to consent to see any of her friends who were anxious to meet him; and the tactful ingenuity of that most gracious woman was put to its utmost skill in managing him and arranging inoffensive plans for gaining for her friends the privilege they desired. He would disappear beyond reach if he had warning of their coming. He had a horror of being exhibited. Once she made the daring venture of having a dozen or a score of her friends among the theologues of Boston University come in on him unannounced as he sat at ease in her library, all unsuspecting such conspiracy against him. Mrs. Claflin was happy in seeing her harmless little scheme work to a charm, for her shy guest took the sur. prise party in good part, and, instead of closing his shell like a elam or drawing in his head like a turtle, he went on with delightful talk, unconstrained and free with the young ministers who will never forget how beautifully wise, earnest, gentle, and almost tender the dear old Quaker was to them in one of the most privileged hours of their lives. Whittier was a poet of the people, and herein filled a mission apart from that of contemporary New England bards. Emerson, Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell belonged to what has been described as “Brahman blood,” representing traditions of hereditary culture. Their ancestors were largely lawyers, clergymen, or educated people of some kind. Whittier had a different ancestry, but he came of a race which had a pure high culture of its own, the culture implied by “birthright membership” in the Society of Friends. He learned at his mother's knee to go in fancy with William Penn into the wilderness, and to walk with Barclay of Ury through howling mobs. Colonel Higginson declares that “there is no better Brahman blood than the Quaker blood.” Remarķing that Whitman found most of his admirers outside of his own country, the author thinks this is no sure token of merit, especially “when we remember that this fame was mostly in England, and that it was long divided with authors now practically forgotten, with • Artemus Ward,' and •Josh Billings,' and the author of “Sam Slick,' and when we remember how readily the same recognition is still given in England to any American who misspells or makes fritters of English, or who enters literature, as Lady Morgan's Irish hero entered a drawing-room, by throwing a back somersault in at the door. It must be remembered too that all the malodorous portions of Whitman's earlier poems were avowedly omitted from the first English edition of his works; he was expurgated and fumigated in a way that would have disgusted De Maupassant, and so the first presentation of him to his English admirers showed him clothed and in his right mind." Far as the poles asunder

« AnteriorContinuar »