Page images

AKE not anxious thought as to the results of your work nor of our work. If you are doing all that you can, the results, immediate or eventual, are not your affair at all. Such seed of truth as we plant can but grow. If we do not see the fruits here, we know nevertheless that here or somewhere they do spring up.

It would be great if we could succeed now; it will be greater if we patiently wait for success, even though we never see it ourselves. For it will come. Do not be fretted by abuse. Those who abuse you do not know what they are doing. We also were at one time deluded and cruel, therefore forgive.

Do not be worried by bigotry. We can not help it, we are not responsible for it —we are responsible to ourselves and for ourselves and for no one else. Do not be angry at opposition either; no one can really oppose the order of Nature or the decrees of God, which are one and the same. Our plans may be upset-there are greater plans than ours.

They may not be completed in the time we would wish, but our works and the work of those who follow us, they will be carried out.

Do not grieve over your own troubles: you would not have them if you did not need them. Do not grieve over the troubles of others;" there are no others


Therefore let us keep God in our hearts and quiet in our minds, for though in the flesh we may never stand upon our edifice, we are building that which shall never be pulled down.-Bolton Hall.


Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.-Mark Twain.

LITTLE while ago, I stood by the grave of the old Napoleon-a magnificent tomb of gilt and gold, fit almost for a dead deity-and gazed upon the sarcophagus of rare and nameless marble, where rest at last the ashes of that restless man. I leaned over the balustrade and thought about the career of

the greatest soldier of the modern world.

I saw him walking upon the banks of the Seine, contemplating suicide. I saw him at Toulon-I saw him putting down the mob in the streets of Paris-I saw him at the head of the army of Italy-I saw him crossing the bridge of Lodi with the tricolor in his hand-I saw him in Egypt in the shadows of the pyramidsI saw him conquer the Alps and mingle the eagles of France with the eagles of the crags. I saw him at Marengo-at Ulm and Austerlitz. I saw him in Russia, where the infantry of the snow and the cavalry of the wild blast scattered his legions like winter's withered leaves. I saw him at Leipsic in defeat and disaster-driven by a million bayonets back upon Paris-clutched like a wild beastbanished to Elba. I saw him escape and retake an empire by the force of his genius. I saw him upon the frightful field of Waterloo, where Chance and Fate combined to wreck the fortunes of their former king. And I saw him at St. Helena, with his hands crossed behind him, gazing out upon the sad and solemn

sea 9 9

I thought of the orphans and widows he had made of the tears that had been shed for his glory, and of the only woman who ever loved him, pushed from his heart by the cold hand of ambition. And I said I would rather have been a French peasant and worn wooden shoes. I would rather have lived in a hut with a vine growing over the door, and the grapes growing purple in the kisses of the autumn sun. I would rather have been that poor peasant with my loving wife by my side, knitting as the day died out of the sky-with my children upon my knees and their arms about me-I would rather have been that man and gone down to the tongueless silence of the dreamless dust, than to have been that imperial impersonation of force and murder, known as "Napoleon the Great." -Robert G. Ingersoll.

No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his body, to risk his well-being, to risk his life, in a great cause.-Theodore Roosevelt.

unfortunate man, in no respect more depraved than hundreds whose offenses have been treated with lenity, is singled out as an expiatory sacrifice. If he has children, they are to be taken from him. If he has a profession, he is to be driven from it. He is cut by the higher orders, and hissed by the lower. He is, in truth, a sort of whipping-boy, by whose vicarious agonies all the other transgressors of the same class are, it is supposed, sufficiently chastised We reflect very complacently

on our own sever

ity, and compare with great pride the high standard of morals established in England, with the Parisian laxity. At length our anger is satiated. Our victim is ruined and heartbroken. And our virtue goes quietly

nine out of every hundred should escape; and that the hundredth, perhaps the most innocent of the hundred, should pay for all. ...

So, we'll go no more a-roving

So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,

We can not even now retrace those events without feeling something of what was felt by the nation when it was first known that the grave had closed over so much sorrow and so much glory-something of what was felt by those who saw the hearse, with its long train of coaches turn slowly northward, leaving behind it that cemetery,whichhadbeen consecrated by the dust of so many great poets, but of which the doors were closed against all that remained of Byron. We well remember that, on that day, rigid moralists could not refrain from weeping for one so young, so

And the soul wears out the breast, And the heart must pause to breathe,

And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving

And the day returns too soon, Yet we 'll go no more a-roving

By the light of the moon.

"We'll Go No More A-Roving," by Lord Byron

to sleep for seven years more. It is clear that those vices which destroy domestic happiness ought to be as much as possible repressed. It is equally clear that they can not be repressed by penal legislation It is therefore right and desirable that public opinion should be directed against them. But it should be directed against them uniformly, steadily, and temperately, not by sudden fits and starts. There should be one weight and one measure. Declamation is always an objectionable mode of punishment. It is the resource of judges too indolent and hasty to investigate facts, and to discriminate nicely between shades of guilt. It is an irrational practice, even when adopted by military tribunals. When adopted by the tribunal of public opinion, it is infinitely more irrational. It is good that a certain portion of disgrace should constantly attend on certain bad actions. But it is not good that the offenders merely have to stand the risks of a lottery of infamy that ninety

illustrious, so unhappy, gifted with such rare gifts and tried by such strong temptations. It is unnecessary to make any reflections. The history carries its moral with it. Our age has indeed been fruitful of warnings to the eminent and of consolation to the obscure Two men have died within our recollection, who at a time of life at which few people have completed their education, had raised themselves, each in his own department, to the height of glory. One of them died at the height of glory. One of them (Napoleon) died at Longwood, the other (Byron) at Missolonghi.Lord Macaulay.

If those who are the enemies of innocent amusements had the direction of the world, they would take away the spring, and youth; the former from the year, the latter from human life.


To believe with certainty we must begin by doubting.-Stanislaus.

sophical piece about morality and art. Let him study it as long as he thinks it worth his attention and he will find it utterly impossible to understand one single sentence in the paragraph: "They wrong virtue, enduring difficulties or worth in the bare imitation of nature, all the force received in some brain; but where these demands arise above mediocrity it assuredly would not

Hark you such sound as quivers? Kings be a little sacrifice

F Turner's correspondence very little is in existence, and little can have been worth preserving. He could write a simple note, especially to an intimate friend; and though his spelling was always uncertain, he sometimes, by happy accident, could get through a few sentences without a blunder Like most uneducated men, he disliked letter writing, and he carried this dislike to a degree involving positive discourtesy to others. He received a good many dinner invitations and though not what was called a diner-out, was on the other

hand frequently disposed to profit by that rule of society which allows a bachelor to receive hospitality without returning it; so that although nobody could be sure he would accept an invitation, nobody, on the

will hear,

As kings have heard, and tremble on

their thrones;

The old will feel the weight of mossy


The young alone will laugh and scoff

at fear.

It is the tread of armies marching near,
From scarlet lands to lands forever

It is a bugle dying down the gale;
Is the sudden gushing of a tear.
And it is hands that grope at ghostly

And romp of spirit-children on the

It is the tender sighing of the brave
Who fell, ah! long ago, in futile wars;
It is such sound as death; and, after all,
'Tis but the forest letting dead leaves

"November," by Mahlon Leonard Fisher

[merged small][ocr errors]

His dislike to the trouble of letter writing made him treat invitations in a very peculiar manner, and in a manner which only very kind and indulgent friends would have put up with. Sometimes he answered them, but he did n't by any means consider it an obligation to do so; and he would go to dine, and determine at the last minute not to go, just as we go to the theater, without writing anything to the provider of the entertainment. Whenever he went beyond a simple note his letters were ill-spelled and ungrammatical

The reader may find it a relief to see a specimen of Turner's prose-a philo

to those who perceive the value of the success to foster it by terms as cordial that can not look so easy away as those spoken of convey

doubts to the accepting individual. If as the line that

unites the above to
grace, and those
forces forming a
new style, not that
soul can guess as

ethics. Teach them
both, but many
serve as the body
and soul, and but
presume more
the beacon head-
land which would
be a warning to the


danger of mannerism and disgustful."

This criticism of Turner as a writer may here come to an end. Enough has been said to prove the truth of the assertion made at the beginning of this biography, to the effect that he did not know the English language. His unsuccessful attempt to learn Latin with Mr. Trimmer is a proof that he did not know Latin. His outrageous spelling of French names is equally good evidence that he never mastered French, and there is not a trace of proof that he ever knew any other tongue. The plain truth is, that he never possessed any language whatever. Hundreds of foreigners can write better English than he could. There are English letters on my table from Dutchmen at Amsterdam, at the Hague,

at Leyden, which are far superior in grammar, spelling and construction to anything that Turner could compose after living in London for fifty years, with access to the best society in England

Is there any use, it may be asked, in dwelling upon these weak points of a great genius. Would it not be at once more agreeable and more becoming to veil them gently in forgetfulness? Perhaps it might, but assuredly the agreeable and the becoming are not the only purposes of this biography. When we study the life of a man who is famous for what he has done, it is good for us to have no illusions about the range of his powers, and the degree of his cultivation. The quotations which have been made will quite certainly prevent any reader from forming in his own mind the image of an ideal Turner and worshiping it. Beyond this benefit, which is not to be despised, we have the other advantage of noting how completely, in Turner, the man was sacrificed to the artist, as gardeners sacrifice certain fruit trees to their fruit. The pruning was not done intentionally in his case One dominant faculty absorbed all the sap of his intelligence, and left him as inferior to the mass of educated men in common things as he was superior to them in the perception of natural beauty. It may be a consolation to mediocrities, to reflect that if they can not paint, they would infinitely outshine Turner at a grammar school examination; but without desiring to soothe the jealousies of artists who spell better than they paint, we may assuredly affirm that it remains, and must ever remain, an open question, whether when you compare Turner with what we call an educated gentleman, the sum of superiorities will not be on the side of the gentleman.

The case of Turner is just one of those cases which conform to the prejudice against artists, as craftsmen who have developed a special skill at the cost of more necessary knowledge and accomplishments. It throws, too, a very strong light upon the question whether artistic genius is a special faculty, or an

exceptionally high condition of all the faculties. I think that the case of Turner proves artistic genius to be a special faculty only. If all his mental powers had been of a high order he would have written his native language easily and correctly as a matter of course, and even composed good poetry, since he had feeling and imagination. On the other hand, his career proves conclusively that literary talent and the sort of education which fosters it, are now, as so many believe, absolutely essential to the attainment of distinction and success in life. The lesson which such men leave to us, when we understand both their excellence and their deficiency, is not to humiliate ourselves, not to lose our selfrespect in their presence, and on the other hand not to attach too much importance to our own superiorities over them, since they have done so easily without our accomplishments It is probable that every reader of these pages is greatly superior to Turner in what is held to be an education of the general order. At the same time, it is impossible to forget that this unpolished and illiterate being had the rarest gifts of nature of a special kind, all of which is clear proof that the knowledge of language is not necessary to the exercise of high faculties.-Philip G. Hamerton. (Life of J. M. W. Turner.)

[blocks in formation]

it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors For among us it is

When I consider Life and its few yearsA wisp of fog betwixt us and the sun; A call to battle, and the battle done

Ere the last echo dies within our ears; A rose choked in the grass; an hour of fears;

The gusts that past a darkening shore do beat;

EAR SIR:—I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For, without the belief of a Providence that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire its At present I shall only give you my opinion that, though your reasons are subtile, and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind spits in his own face.

The burst of music down an unlistening


I wonder at the idleness of tears.

Ye old, old dead, and ye of yesternight, Chieftains, and bards, and keepers of the sheep,

Loose me from tears, and make me see By every cup of sorrow that you had,


How each hath back what once he stayed

to weep;

Homer his sight, David his little lad!

"Tears," by Lizette Woodworth Reese

But were you to suceed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantage of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till

not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.

I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt un

chaining the tiger,

but to burn this

piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it; but subscribe simply yours,

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »