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Title: A Hero and Some Other Folks
Author: Quayle, William A. (William Alfred), 1860-1925
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Hero and Some Other Folks" ***




Author of "The Poet's Poet and Other Essays"

Cincinnati: Jennings & Pye
New York: Eaton & Mains
Copyright, 1900, by
The Western Methodist Book Concern

_To think some one will care to listen to us, and to believe we do not
speak to vacant air but to listening hearts, is always sweet.  That
friends have listened to this author's spoken and written words with
apparent gladness emboldens him to believe they will give him hearing
once again._

_May some one's eyes be lightened, some one's burden be lifted from his
shoulders for an hour of rest, some one's landscape grow larger,
fairer, and more fruitful, because these essays have been written._




A Hero and Some Other Folks


Jean Valjean

The hero is not a luxury, but a necessity.  We can no more do without
him than we can do without the sky.  Every best man and woman is at
heart a hero-worshiper.  Emerson acutely remarks that all men admire
Napoleon because he was themselves in possibility.  They were in
miniature what he was developed.  For a like though nobler reason, all
men love heroes.  They are ourselves grown tall, puissant, victorious,
and sprung into nobility, worth, service.  The hero electrifies the
world; he is the lightning of the soul, illuminating our sky,
clarifying the air, making it thereby salubrious and delightful.  What
any elect spirit did, inures to the credit of us all.  A fragment of
Lowell's clarion verse may stand for the biography of heroism:

  "When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad
      earth's aching breast
  Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east
      to west;
  And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels the soul within
      him climb
  To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime
  Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem
      of Time;"

such being the undeniable result and history of any heroic service.

But the world's hero has changed.  The old hero was Ulysses, or
Achilles, or Aeneas.  The hero of Greek literature is Ulysses, as
Aeneas is in Latin literature.  But to our modern thought these heroes
miss of being heroic.  We have outgrown them as we have outgrown dolls
and marbles.  To be frank, we do not admire Aeneas nor Ulysses.  Aeneas
wept too often and too copiously.  He impresses us as a big cry-baby.
Of this trinity of classic heroes--Ulysses, Aeneas, and
Achilles--Ulysses is least obnoxious.  This statement is cold and
unsatisfactory, and apparently unappreciative, but it is candid and
just.  Lodge, in his "Some Accepted Heroes," has done service in
rubbing the gilding from Achilles, and showing that he was gaudy and
cheap.  We thought the image was gold, which was, in fact, thin gilt.
Achilles sulks in his tent, while Greek armies are thrown back defeated
from the Trojan gates.  In nothing is he admirable save that, when his
pouting fit is over and when he rushes into the battle, he has might,
and overbears the force opposing him as a wave does some petty
obstacle.  But no higher quality shines in his conquest.  He is vain,
brutal, and impervious to high motive.  In Aeneas one can find little
attractive save his filial regard.  He bears Anchises on his shoulders
from toppling Troy; but his wanderings constitute an Odyssey of
commonplaces, or chance, or meanness.  No one can doubt Virgil meant to
create a hero of commanding proportions, though we, looking at him from
this far remove, find him uninteresting, unheroic, and vulgar; and why
the goddess should put herself out to allay tempests in his behalf, or
why hostile deities should be disturbed to tumble seas into turbulence
for such a voyager, is a query.  He merits neither their wrath nor
their courtesy.  I confess to liking heroes of the old Norse mythology
better.  They, at least, did not cry nor grow voluble with words when
obstacles obstructed the march.  They possess the merit of tremendous
action.  Aeneas, in this regard, is the inferior of Achilles.  Excuse
us from hero worship, if Aeneas be hero.  In this old company of
heroes, Ulysses is easy superior.  Yet the catalogue of his virtues is
an easy task.  Achilles was a huge body, associated with little brain,
and had no symptom of sagacity.  In this regard, Ulysses outranks him,
and commands our respect.  He has diplomacy and finesse.  He is not
simply a huge frame, wrestling men down because his bulk surpasses
theirs.  He has a thrifty mind.  He is the man for councils of war,
fitted to direct with easy mastery of superior acumen.  His
fellow-warriors called him "crafty," because he was brainy.  He was
schooled in stratagem, by which he became author of Ilium's overthrow.
Ulysses was shrewd, brave, balanced--possibly, though not conclusively,
patriotic--a sort of Louis XI, so far as we may form an estimate, but
no more.  He was selfish, immoral, barren of finer instincts, who was
loved by his dog and by Penelope, though for no reason we can discover.
Ten years he fought before Troy, and ten years he tasted the irony of
the seas--in these episodes displaying bravery and fortitude, but no
homesick love for Penelope, who waited at the tower of Ithaca for him,
a picture of constancy sweet enough to hang on the palace walls of all
these centuries.  We do not think to love Ulysses, nor can we work
ourselves up to the point of admiration; and he is the best hero
classic Rome and Greece can offer.  No!  Register, as the modern sense
of the classic hero, we do not like him.

He is not admirable, yet is not totally lacking in power to command
attention.  What is his quality of appeal to us?  This: He is action;
and action thrills us.  The old hero was, in general, brave and
brilliant.  He had the tornado's movement.  His onset redeems him.  He
blustered, was spectacular, heartless, and did not guess the meaning of
purity; but he was warrior, and the world enjoys soldiers.  And this
motley hero has been attempted in our own days.  He was archaic, but
certain have attempted to make him modern.  Byron's Don Juan is the old
hero, only lost to the old hero's courage.  He is a villain, with not
sense enough to understand he is unattractive.  He is a libertine at
large, who thinks himself a gentleman.  Don Juan is as immoral,
impervious to honor, and as villainous as the Greek gods.  The
D'Artagnan romances have attempted the old hero's resuscitation.  The
movement of the "Three Musketeers" is mechanical rather than human.
D'Artagnan's honor is limited to his fealty to his king.  He has no
more sense of delicacy toward women, or honor for them as women, than
Achilles had.  Some of his doings are too defamatory to be thought of,
much less mentioned.  No!  Excuse me from D'Artagnan and the rest of
Dumas' heroes.  They may be French, but they are not heroic.  About
Dumas' romances there is a gallop which, with the unwary, passes for
action and art.  But he has not, of his own motion, conceived a single
woman who was not seduced or seducible, nor a single man who was not a
libertine; for "The Son of Porthros" [Transcriber's note: Porthos?] and
his bride are not of Dumas' creation.  He is not open to the charge of
having drawn the picture of one pure man or woman.  Zola is the natural
goal of Dumas; and we enjoy neither the route nor the terminus.  Louis
XIV, Charles II, and George IV are modeled after the old licentious
pretense at manhood, but we may all rejoice that they deceive nobody
now.  Our civilization has outgrown them, and will not, even in second
childhood, take to such playthings.

But what was the old hero's chief failure?  The answer is, He lacked
conscience.  Duty had no part in his scheme of action, nor in his
vocabulary of word or thought.  Our word "virtue" is the bodily
importation of the old Roman word "virtus," but so changed in meaning
that the Romans could no more comprehend it than they could the
Copernican theory of astronomy.  With them, "virtus" meant
strength--that only--a battle term.  The solitary application was to
fortitude in conflict.  With us, virtue is shot through and through
with moral quality, as a gem is shot through with light, and
monopolizes the term as light monopolizes the gem.  This change is
radical and astonishing, but discloses a change which has
revolutionized the world.  The old hero was conscienceless--a
characteristic apparent in Greek civilization.  What Greek patriot,
whether Themistocles or Demosthenes, applied conscience to patriotism?
They were as devoid of practical conscience as a Metope of the
Parthenon was devoid of life.  Patriotism was a transient sentiment.
Demosthenes could become dumb in the presence of Philip's gold; and in
a fit of pique over mistreatment at the hands of his brother-citizens,
Themistocles became a traitor, and, expatriated, dwelt a guest at the
Persian court.  Strangely enough--and it is passing strange--the most
heroic personality in Homer's Iliad, the Greek's "Bible of heroisms,"
was not the Atridae, whether Agamemnon or Menelaus; not Ajax nor
Achilles, nor yet Ulysses; but was Hector, the Trojan, who appears to
greater advantage as hero than all the Grecian host.  And Homer was a
Greek!  This is strange and unaccountable irony.  Say once more, the
old hero's lack was conscience.  He, like his gods and goddesses, who
were deified infamies, was a studied impurity.  Jean Valjean is a hero,
but a hero of a new type.

Literature is a sure index of a civilization.  Who cares to settle in
his mind whether the world grows better, may do so by comparing
contemporaneous literature with the reading of other days.  "The
Heptameron," of Margaret of Navarre, is a book so filthy as to be
nauseating.  That people could read it from inclination is unthinkable;
and to believe that a woman could read it, much less write it, taxes
too sorely our credulity.  In truth, this work did not, in the days of
its origin, shock the people's sensibilities.  A woman wrote it, and
she a sister of Francis I of France, and herself Queen of Navarre, and
a pure woman.  And her contemporaries, both men and women, read it with
delight, because they had parted company with blushes and modesty.
Zola is less voluptuous and filthy than these old tales.  Some things
even Zola curtains.  Margaret of Navarre tears the garments from the
bodies of men and women, and looks at their nude sensuality smilingly.
Of Boccaccio's "Decameron," the same general observations hold; save
that they are less filthy, though no less sensual.  In the era
producing these tales, witness this fact: The stories are represented
as told by a company of gentlemen and ladies, the reciter being
sometimes a man, sometimes a woman; the place, a country villa, whither
they had fled to escape a plague then raging in Florence.  The people,
so solacing themselves in retreat from a plague they should have
striven to alleviate by their presence and ministries, were the
gentility of those days, representing the better order of society, and
told stories which would now be venal if told by vulgar men in some
tavern of ill-repute.  That Boccaccio should have reported these tales
as emanating from such a company is proof positive of the immodesty of
those days, whose story is rehearsed in the "Decameron."  Rousseau's
"Confessions" is another book showing the absence of current morality
in his age.  Notwithstanding George Eliot's panegyric, these memoirs
are the production of unlimited conceit, of a practical absence of any
moral sensitiveness; and while Rousseau could not be accused of being
sensual, nor amorous and heartless as Goethe, he yet shows so crude a
moral state as to render him unwholesome to any person of ordinary
morals in the present day.  His "Confessions," instead of being naive,
strike me as being distinctly and continuously coarse.  A man and woman
who could give their children deliberately to be farmed out, deserting
them as an animal would not, and this with no sense of loss or
compunction, nor even with a sense of the inhumanity of such
procedure--such a man and woman tell us how free-love can degrade a
natively virtuous mind.  Such was Rousseau; and his "Confessions" are
like himself, unblushing, because shameless.  These books reflect their
respective ages, and are happily obsolete now.  Such memoirs and
fictions in our day are unthinkable as emanating from respectable
sources; and if written would be located in vile haunts in the purlieus
of civilization.  Gauged by such a test, the world is seen to be
better, and immensely better.  We have sailed out of sight of the old
continent of coarse thinking, and are sailing a sea where purity of
thought and expression impregnate the air like odors.  The old hero,
with his lewdness and rhodomontade, is excused from the stage.  We have
had enough of him.  Even Cyrano de Bergerac is so out of keeping with
the new notion of the heroic, that the translator of the drama must
apologize for his hero's swagger.  We love his worth, though despising
his theatrical air and acts.  We are done with the actor, and want the
man.  And this new hero is proof of a new life in the soul, and,
therefore, more welcome than the glad surprise of the first
meadow-lark's song upon the brown meadows of the early spring.

A reader need not be profound, but may be superficial, and yet discover
that Jean Valjean is fashioned after the likeness of Jesus.  Michael
Angelo did not more certainly model the dome of St. Peter's after
Brunelleschi's dome of the Duomo than Hugo has modeled his Valjean
after Christ.  We are not necessarily aware of ourselves, nor of our
era, until something discovers both to us, as we do not certainly know
sea air when we feel it.  I doubt if most men would recognize the tonic
of sea air if they did not know the sea was neighbor to them.  We sight
the ocean, and then know the air is flooded with a health as ample as
the seas from which it blows.  So we can not know our intellectual air
is saturated with Christ, because we can not go back.  We lack
contemporaneous material for contrast.  We are, ourselves, a part of
the age, as of a moving ship, and can not see its motion.  We can not
realize the world's yesterdays.  We know them, but do not comprehend
them, since between apprehending and comprehending an epoch lie such
wide spaces.  "Quo Vadis" has done good in that it has popularized a
realization of that turpitude of condition into which Christianity
stepped at the morning of its career; for no lazar-house is so vile as
the Roman civilization when Christianity began--God's angel--to trouble
that cursed pool.  Christ has come into this world's affairs
unheralded, as the morning does not come; for who watches the eastern
lattices can see the morning star, and know the dawn is near.  Christ
has slipped upon the world as a tide slips up the shores, unnoted, in
the night; and because we did not see him come, did not hear his
advent, his presence is not apparent.  Nothing is so big with joy to
Christian thought as the absolute omnipresence of the Christ in the
world's life.  Stars light their torches in the sky; and the sky is
wider and higher than the stars.  Christ is such a sky to modern

Plainly, Jean Valjean is meant for a hero.  Victor Hugo loves heroes,
and has skill and inclination to create them.  His books are
biographies of heroism of one type or another.  No book of his is
heroless.  In this attitude he differs entirely from Thackeray and
Hawthorne, neither of whom is particularly enamored of heroes.
Hawthorne's romances have not, in the accepted sense, a single hero.
He does not attempt building a character of central worth.  He is
writing a drama, not constructing a hero.  In a less degree, this is
true of Thackeray.  He truly loves the heroic, and on occasion depicts
it.  Henry Esmond and Colonel Newcome are mighty men of worth, but are
exceptions to Thackeray's method.  He pokes fun at them even.  "Vanity
Fair" he terms a novel without a hero.  He photographs a procession.
"The Virginians" contains no character which can aspire to centrality,
much less might.  He, loving heroes, attempts concealing his passion,
and, if accused of it, denies the accusation.  After reading all his
writings, no one could for a moment claim that Thackeray was the
biographer of heroes.  He is a biographer of meanness, and times, and
sham aristocracy and folks, and can, when he cares to do so, portray
heroism lofty as tallest mountains.  With Hugo all is different.  He
will do nothing else than dream and depict heroism and heroes.

He loves them with a passion fervent as desert heats.  His pages are
ablaze with them.  Somebody lifting up the face, and facing God in some
mood or moment of briefer or longer duration--this is Hugo's method.
In "Toilers of the Sea," Galliatt, by almost superhuman effort, and
physical endurance and fortitude and fertility in resource, defeats
octopus and winds and rocks and seas, and in lonely triumph pilots the
wreck home--and all of this struggle and conquest for love!  He is a
somber hero, but a hero still, with strength like the strength of ten,
since his love is as the love of a legion.  The power to do is his, and
the nobility to surrender the woman of his love; and there his nobility
darkens into stoicism, and he waits for the rising tide, watching the
outgoing ship that bears his heart away unreservedly--waits, only eager
that the tide ingulf him.

In "Ninety-Three," the mother of the children in the burning tower is
heroine.  In "By Order of the King," Dea is heroic, and spotless as
"Elaine, the lily maid of Astolat;" and Ursus, a vagabond, is
fatherhood in its sweet nobleness; and Gwynplaine, disfigured and
deserted--a little lad set ashore upon a night of hurricane and snow,
who, finding in his wanderings a babe on her dead mother's breast,
rescues this bit of winter storm-drift, plodding on through untracked
snows, freezing, but no more thinking to drop his burden than the
mother thought to desert it--Gwynplaine is a hero for whose deed an
epic is fitting.  Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame, found, after
long years, holding in his skeleton arms a bit of woman's drapery and a
woman's skeleton--Quasimodo, hideous, herculean, hungry-hearted,
tender, a hunchback, yet a lover and a man--who denies to Quasimodo a
hero's laurels?  In "Les Miserables" are heroes not a few.  Gavroche,
that green leaf blown about Paris streets; Fantine, the mother;
Eponine, the lover; Bishop Bienvenu, the Christian; Jean Valjean, the
man,--all are heroic folk.  Our hearts throb as we look at them.
Gavroche, the lad, dances by as though blown past by the gale.
Fantine, shorn of her locks of gold; Fantine, with her bloody lips,
because her teeth have been sold to purchase medicine for her sick
child--her child, yet a child of shame; Fantine, her mother's love
omnipotent, lying white, wasted, dying, expectantly looking toward the
door, with her heart beating like a wild bird, beating with its wings
against cage-bars, anxious for escape; Fantine, watching for her child
Cossette, watching in vain, but watching; Fantine, dying, glad because
Monsieur Madeleine has promised he will care for Cossette as if the
babe were his; Fantine, dead, with her face turned toward the door,
looking in death for the coming of her child,--Fantine affects us like
tears and sobbing set to music.  Look at her; for a heroine is dead.
And Eponine, with the gray dawn of death whitening her cheeks and
gasping, "If--when--if when," now silent, for she is choked by the rush
of blood and stayed from speech by fierce stabs of pain, but
continuing, "When I am dead--a favor--a favor, Monsieur Marius [silence
once again to wrestle with the throes of death]--a favor--a favor when
I am dead [now her speech runs like frightened feet], if you will kiss
me; for indeed, Monsieur Marius, I think I loved you a little--I--I
shall feel--your kiss--in death."  Lie quiet in the darkening night,
Eponine!  Would you might have a queen's funeral, since you have shown
anew the moving miracle of woman's love!

Bishop Bienvenu is Hugo's hero as saint; and we can not deny him beauty
such as those "enskied and sainted" wear.  This is the romancist's
tribute to a minister of God; and sweet the tribute is.  With not a
few, the bishop is chief hero, next to Jean Valjean.  He is redemptive,
like the purchase money of a slave.  He is quixotic; he is not balanced
always, nor always wise; but he falls on the side of Christianity and
tenderness and goodness and love--a good way to fall, if one is to fall
at all.  We love the bishop, and can not help it.  He was good to the
poor, tender to the unerring, illuminative to those who were in the
moral dark, and came over people like a sunrise; crept into their
hearts for good, as a child creeps up into its father's arms, and
nestles there like a bird.  Surely we love the bishop.  He is a hero
saint.  To be near him was to be neighborly with heaven.  He was ever
minding people of God.  Is there any such office in earth or heaven?
To look at this bishop always puts our heart in the mood of prayer, and
what helps us to prayer is a celestial benefit.  The pertinent fact in
him is, that he is not greatness, but goodness.  We do not think of
greatness when we see him or hear him, but we think with our hearts
when he is before our eyes.  Goodness is more marketable than
greatness, and more necessary.  Goodness, greatness!  Brilliancy is a
cheap commodity when put on the counter beside goodness; and Bishop
Bienvenu is a romancer's apotheosis of goodness, and we bless him for
this deification.

The bishop was merchantman, freighting ships.  His wharves are wide,
his fleet is great, his cargoes are many.  Only he is freighting ships
for heaven.  No bales of merchandise nor ingots of iron, but souls for
whom Christ died,--these are his cargoes; and had you asked him, "What
work to-day?" a smile had flooded sunlight along his face while he,
said, "Freighting souls with God to-day, and lading cargoes for the
skies."  This is royal merchandise.  The Doge of Venice annually flung
a ring into the sea as sign of Venice's nuptials with the Adriatic; but
Bishop Bienvenu each day wedded himself and the world to heaven, and he

  "O'er my ear like the sweet south,
  That breathes upon a bank of violets,
  Stealing and giving odor."

Hugo paints with sunset tints and with lightning's lurid light; his
contrasts are fierce, his backgrounds are often as black as a
rain-cloud.  He paints with the mad rush of a Turner.  He is fierce in
hates and loves.  He does nothing by moderation.  Calmness does not
belong to him.  He is tempestuous always; but tempests are magnificent
and purifying to the air.  Hugo is painting, and painting heroes, and
his hero of heroes is Valjean.  Jean Valjean is conscience.  In
Macbeth, conscience is warring and retributive.  In Richard III,
conscience, stifled in waking, speaks in dreams, and is menace, like a
sword swung by a maniac's hands.  In Arthur Dimmesdale, conscience is
lacerative.  In Jean Valjean, conscience is regulative, creative,
constructive.  Jean Valjean is conscience, and conscience is king.
What the classic heroes lacked, Jean Valjean possesses.

The setting of this character is entirely modern.  "Les Miserables" is
a story of the city and of poverty, and can not be dissociated from
them by any wrench of thought, however violent.  Not that urban life or
poverty are new elements in the school of suffering.  They are not new,
as pain is not new.  This is the difference.  In the old ages, the city
and poverty were taken as matters of course.  Comfort was not a classic
consideration.  The being alive to conditions, sensitive to suffering,
eager for diminution of the world's woes, is a modern thought, a Christ
thought.  Sociology is an application of Christ's teaching.  He founded
this science.  Rome was the monster city of the empire, and possibly
the monster city of ancient geography, and contained approximately, at
its most populous period, two and one half millions of inhabitants.
Man is gregarious as the flocks; he seems to fear solitude, and flees
what he fears.  Certain we are that in America, one hundred years ago,
less than one-thirtieth of the population was in cities; now, about
one-third is in city communities; and European cities are outgrowing
American cities.  In other words, at the present time, cities are
growing in a ratio totally disproportionate to the growth of
population; and this, not in the New World simply, but in the Old.
London has nearly as many citizens as England had in the time of the
Puritan Revolution.  Men are nucleating in a fashion foreboding, but
certain.  A symptom of the city life is, that he who is city bred knows
no life apart from his city.  He belongs to it as essentially as the
Venetian belonged to Venice.  The community is a veritable part of the
man's self.  Note this in Jean Valjean.  It never occurs to him to
leave Paris.  Had he been a tree rooted in the soil along the Seine, he
had not been more stationary.  Men live, suffer, die, and hug their
ugly tenements as parasites of these dilapidations, and draw their
life-saps from such a decayed trunk.  This human instinct for
association is mighty in its impulsion.  Not a few, but multitudes,
prefer to be hungry and cold and live in a city to living with
abundance of food and raiment in the country.  Any one can see this at
his alley or in his neighboring street.  It is one of the latent
insanities of the soul.  The city is a live wire, and will not let go
of him who grasps it.  There is a stream of life pouring into cities,
but no stream flowing into the country.  The tide runs up the shore and
back into the deep seas; not so these human tides.  They pour into the
Dead Sea basin of the urban community.  Jean Valjean was a complete
modern in his indissoluble identification with the city.  As a matter
of course, his was the criminal instinct, superadded to the gregarious
instinct, which hides in a city labyrinth rather than the forests of
the Amazon.  Yet, taken all in all, he evidently is a thorough modern
in his urban instinct.  The world was big, and he had gold for passage
across seas; and there he had, in reason, found entire safety; but such
a thought never entered his mind.  Paris was the only sea he knew; here
his plans for escape and plans for life clung tenaciously as a dead
man's hand.

The second element of background for Jean Valjean is poverty.  The
people of this drama are named "the miserable ones."  And poverty is
modern and a modern question.  All socialists, anarchists, and
communists talk of poverty; this is their one theme.  Superficial
social reformers make poverty responsible for the total turpitude of
men.  Men are poor, hence criminal.  Jean Valjean is poor--miserably
poor; sees his sister's children hungry, and commits crime, is a thief;
becomes a galley slave as punitive result.  Ergo, poverty was the cause
of crime, and poverty, and not Valjean, must be indicted; so runs the
argument.  This conclusion we deny.  Let us consider.  Poverty is not
unwholesome.  The bulk of men are poor, and always have been.  Poverty
is no new condition.  Man's history is not one of affluence, but one of
indigence.  This is a patent fact.  But a state of lack is not
unwholesome, but on the contrary does great good.  Poverty has supplied
the world with most of the kings it boasts of.  Palaces have not
cradled the kings of thought, service, and achievement.  What greatest
poet had luxury for a father?  Name one.  Poverty is the mother of
kings.  Who censures poverty censures the home from whose doors have
passed the most illustrious of the sons of men.  Christ's was a poverty
so keen and so parsimonious that Occidentals can not picture it.  More,
current social reformers assume that the poor are unhappy; though if
such reformers would cease dreaming, and learn seeing, they would
reverse their creed.  Riches do not command joy; for joy is not a
spring rising from the depths where gold is found and gems gathered.
Most men are poor, and most men are happy, or, if they are not, they
may trace their sadness to sources other than lack of wealth.  The best
riches are the gifts of God, and can not be shut off by any sluicing;
the choicest riches of the soul, such as knowledge and usefulness and
love and God, are not subject to the tariff of gold.  Poverty, we
conclude, is not in itself grievous.  Indeed, there are in poverty
blessings which many of us know, and from which we would not be
separated without keen regret.  But penury is hard.  When poverty
pinches like winter's night, when fuel fails, and hunger is our
company, then poverty becomes harsh and unpalatable, and not to be
boasted of; though even penury has spurred many a sluggish life to
conquering moods.  When a man lies with his face to the wall,
paralytic, helpless, useless, a burden to himself and others, and hears
the rub of his wife washing for a livelihood--and he loves her so; took
her to his home in her fair girlhood, when her beauty bloomed like a
garden of roses, and promised to keep her, and now she works for him
all day and into the dark night, and loves to; but he turns his face to
the wall, puts his one movable hand against his face, sobs so that his
tears wash through his fingers and wet his pillow as with driving
rain,--then poverty is pitiful.  Or, when one sees his children hungry,
tattered, with lean faces and eyes staring as with constant fear; sees
them huddling under rags or cowering at a flicker meant for
flame,--then poverty is hard; and then, "The poor always ye have with
you," said our Christ, which remember and be pitiful!

But such penury, even, does not require crime.  Valjean became a
criminal from poverty; but himself felt now, as the days slipped from
his life-store, that crime was not necessary.  Theft is bad economics.
The criminals on the dockets are not those pinched with poverty, as one
may assure himself if he gives heed to criminal dockets.  People prefer
crime as a method of livelihood.  These are criminals.  The "artful
dodger," in "Oliver Twist," is a picture of the average criminal.
Honest poverty need not steal.  In the writer's own city, the other
day, a man accused of theft pleaded his children's poverty as
palliative of his crime; but in that city was abundant help for worthy
poverty.  That man lacked an absolute honesty.  He and his could have
been fed and clothed, and himself maintained his manly dignity and
uncorrupted honesty.  To blame society with criminality is a current
method, but untrue and unwise; for thus we will multiply, not decimate,
criminals.  The honest man may be in penury; but he will have help, and
need not shelter in a jail.  Thus, then, these two items of modernity
paint background for Jean Valjean's portrait; and in Jean Valjean,
To-day has found a voice.

This man is a criminal and a galley slave, with yellow passport--his
name, Jean Valjean.  Hear his story.  An orphan; a half-sullen lad,
reared by his sister; sees her husband dead on a bed of rags, with
seven orphans clinging in sobs to the dead hands.  Jean Valjean labors
to feed this motley company; denies himself bread, so that he may slip
food into their hands; has moods of stalwart heroism; and never having
had a sweetheart--pity him!--toils on, hopeless, under a sky robbed of
blue and stars; leading a life plainly, wholly exceptional, and out of
work in a winter when he was a trifle past twenty-six; hears his
sister's children crying, "Bread, bread, give bread;" rises in sullen
acerbity; smites his huge fist through a baker's window, and steals a
loaf; is arrested, convicted, sent to the galleys, and herded with
galley slaves; attempts repeated escapes, is retaken, and at the age of
forty-six shambles out of his galley slavery with a yellow passport,
certifying this is "a very dangerous man;" and with a heart on which
brooding has written with its biting stylus the story of what he
believes to be his wrongs, Jean Valjean, bitter as gall against
society, has his hands ready, aye, eager, to strike, no matter whom.
Looked at askance, turned from the hostel, denied courtesy, food, and
shelter, the criminal in him rushes to the ascendant, and he thrusts
the door of the bishop's house open.  Listen, he is speaking now, look
at him!  The bishop deals with him tenderly, as a Christian ought;
sentimentally, but scarcely wisely.  He has sentimentality rather than
sentiment in his kindness; he puts a premium on Jean Valjean becoming a
criminal again.  To assume everybody to be good, as some
philanthropists do, is folly, being so transparently false.  The good
bishop--bless him for his goodness!--who prays God daily not to lead
him into temptation, why does he lead this sullen criminal into
temptation?  Reformatory methods should be sane.  The bishop's methods
were not sane.  He meant well, but did not quite do well.  Jean
Valjean, sleeping in a bed of comfort, grows restless, wakens, rises,
steals what is accessible, flees, is arrested, brought back, is
exonerated by the bishop's tenderness, goes out free; steals from the
little Savoyard, cries after the retreating lad to restore him his
coin, tails to bring him back; fights with self, and with God's good
help rises in the deep dark of night from the bishop's steps; walks out
into a day of soul, trudges into the city of M----, to which he finds
admission, not by showing the criminal's yellow passport, but by the
passport of heroism, having on entrance rescued a child from a burning
building; becomes a citizen, invents a process of manufacturing jet,
accumulates a fortune, spends it lavishly in the bettering of the city
where his riches were acquired; is benefactor to employee and city, and
is called "Monsieur;" and after repeated refusals, becomes "Monsieur
the Mayor;" gives himself up as a criminal to save a man unjustly
accused, is returned to the galleys for the theft of the little
Savoyard's forty-sous coin; by a heroic leap from the yardarm, escapes;
seeks and finds Cossette, devotes his life to sheltering and loving
her; runs his gauntlet of repeated perils with Javert, grows steadily
in heroism, and sturdy, invigorating manhood; dies a hero and a saint,
and an honor to human kind,--such is Jean Valjean's biography in meager
outline.  But the moon, on a summer's evening, "a silver crescent
gleaming 'mid the stars," appears hung on a silver cord of the full
moon's rim; and, as the crescent moon is not the burnished silver of
the complete circle, so no outline can include the white, bewildering
light of this heroic soul.  Jean Valjean is the biography of a redeemed
life.  The worst life contains the elements of redemption, as words
contain the possibility of poetry.  He was a fallen, vicious, desperate
man; and from so low a level, he and God conspired to lift him to the
levels where the angels live, than which a resurrection from the dead
is no more potent and blinding miracle.  Instead of giving this book
the caption, "Jean Valjean," it might be termed the "History of the
Redemption of a Soul;" and such a theme is worthy the study of this
wide world of women and of men.

Initial in this redemptive work was the good bishop, whose words, "Jean
Valjean, my brother, you belong no longer to evil, but to good," never
lost their music or might to Valjean's spirit.  Some man or woman
stands on everybody's road to God.  And Jean Valjean, with the bishop's
words sounding in his ears--voices that will not silence--goes out with
his candlesticks, goes trembling out, and starts on his anabasis to a
new life; wandered all day in the fields, inhaled the odors of a few
late flowers, his childhood being thus recalled; and when the sun was
throwing mountain shadows behind hillocks and pebbles, as Jean Valjean
sat and pondered in a dumb way, a Savoyard came singing on his way,
tossing his bits of money in his hands; drops a forty-sous piece near
Jean Valjean, who, in a mood of inexplicable evil, places his huge foot
upon it, nor listened to the child's entreaty, "My piece, monsieur;"
and eager and more eager grows a child whose little riches were
invaded, "My piece, my white piece, my silver;" and in his voice are
tears--and what can be more touching than a child's voice touched with
tears?  "My silver;" and the lad shook the giant by the collar of his
blouse--"I want my silver, my forty-sous piece"--and began to cry.  A
little lad a-sobbing!  Jean Valjean, you who for so many years "have
talked but little and never laughed;" Jean Valjean, pity the child;
give him his coin.  You were bought of the bishop for good.  But in
terrible voice he shouts: "Who is there?  You here yet?  You had better
take care of yourself;" and the little lad runs, breathless and
sobbing.  Jean Valjean hears his sobbing, but made no move for
restitution until the little Savoyard has passed from sight and
hearing, when, waking as from some stupor, he rises, cries wildly
through the night, "Petit Gervais!  Petit Gervais!" and listened,
and--no answer.  Then he ran, ran toward restitution.  Too late! too
late!  "Petit Gervais!  Petit Gervais!  Petit Gervais!" and, to a
priest passing, "Monsieur, have you seen a child go by--a little
fellow--Petit Gervais is his name?"  And he calls him again through the
empty night; and the lad hears him not.  There is no response, and for
the first time since he passed to the galleys, Jean Valjean's heart
swells, and he bursts into tears; for he was horrified at himself.  His
hardness had mastered him, even when the bishop's tenderness had thawed
his winter heart.  Jean Valjean was now afraid of himself, which is
where moral strength has genesis.  He goes back--back where?  No
matter, wait.  He sees in his thought--in his thought he sees the
bishop, and wept, shed hot tears, wept bitterly, with more weakness
than a woman, with more terror than a child, and his life seemed
horrible; and he walks--whither?  No matter.  But, past midnight, the
stage-driver saw, as he passed, a man in the attitude of prayer,
kneeling upon the pavement in the shadow before the bishop's door; and
should you have spoken, "Jean Valjean!" he would not have answered you.
He would not have heard.  He is starting on a pilgrimage of manhood
toward God.  He saw the bishop; now he sees God, and here is hope; for
so is God the secret of all good and worth, a thing to be set down as
the axiom of religion and life.  A conscience long dormant is now
become regnant.  Jean Valjean is a man again!

Goodness begets goodness.  He climbed; and the mountain air and azure
and fountains of clear waters, spouting from cliffs of snow and the far
altitudes, fed his spirit.  God and he kept company, and, as is meet,
goodness seemed native to him as lily blooms to lily stems.  God was
his secret, as God is the secret of us all.  To scan his process of
recovery is worth while.  The bishop reminded him of God.  Goodness and
love in man are wings to help us soar to where we see that service,
love, and goodness are in God--see that God is good and God is love.
Seeing God, Jean Valjean does good.  Philanthropy is native to him;
gentleness seems his birthright; his voice is low and sweet; his
face--the helpless look to it for help; his eyes are dreamy, like a
poet's; he loves books; he looks not manufacturer so much as he looks
poet; he passes good on as if it were coin to be handled; he suffers
nor complains; his silence is wide, like that of the still night; he
frequently walks alone and in the country; he becomes a god to Fantine,
for she had spit upon him, and he had not resented; he adopts means for
the rescue of Cossette.  In him, goodness moves finger from the lips,
breaks silence, and becomes articulate.  Jean Valjean is brave,
magnanimous, of sensitive conscience, hungry-hearted, is possessed of
the instincts of motherhood, bears being misjudged without complaint,
is totally forgetful of himself, and is absolute in his loyalty to
God--qualities which lift him into the elect life of manhood.

Jean Valjean was brave.  He and fear never met.  The solitary fear he
knew was fear of himself, and lest he might not live for good as the
bishop had bidden him; but fear from without had never crossed his
path.  His was the bravery of conscience.  His strength was prodigious,
and he scrupled not to use it.  Self-sparing was no trait of his
character.  Like another hero we have read of, he would "gladly spend
and be spent" for others, and bankrupt himself, if thereby he might
make others rich.  There is a physical courage, brilliant as a shock of
armies, which feels the conflict and leaps to it as the storm-waves
leap upon the sword edges of the cliffs--a courage which counts no
odds.  There is another courage, moral rather than physical.  Valjean
possessed both, with moral courage in ascendency.  He has the agility
and strength sometimes found in criminals.  He is now in the galleys
for life.  One day, while engaged in furling sail, a sailor has toppled
from the yard; but in falling caught a rope, but hangs, swinging
violently, like some mad pendulum.  The height is dizzying.  Death
seems certain, when a convict, clad in red, and with a green cap, runs
up for rescue, lets himself down alongside of the swaying sailor, now
in the last extremity of weakness, and ready to drop like a winter
leaf.  Valjean (for it is he) oscillates violently to and fro while the
throng below watch breathlessly.  His peril is incredible, but his is a
bravery which does not falter, and a skill which equals bravery.
Valjean is swayed in the wind as the swaying sailor, until he catches
him in his arm, makes him fast to the rope, clambers up, reaches the
yard, hauls up the sailor, and carries him to a place of safety.  And
the throng below, breathless till now, applauded and cried, "This man
must be pardoned."  Then it is that he, free once more, leaps
down--falls from the dizzying height, the multitude thinks--leaps down
into the seas, and wins liberty.  Jean Valjean is heroic.  His moral
courage, which is courage at its noon, is discovered best in his rescue
of Fauchelevent, old, and enemy--an enmity engendered by Madeleine's
prosperity--to Monsieur Madeleine.  The old man has fallen under his
cart, and is being surely crushed to death.  The mayor joins the crowd
gathered about the unfortunate car-man; offers a rising price for one
who will go under the cart and rescue the old man.  Javert is
there--keen of eye and nostril as a vulture--and Jean Valjean is his
prey.  He believes the mayor to be Jean Valjean, and, as the mayor
urges some one to rescue the perishing man, says, with speech cold as
breath from a glacier, "I have known but one man who was equal to this
task, and he was a convict and in the galleys."  The old man moans,
"How it crushes me!" and, hearing that cry, under the cart the mayor
crawls; and while those beside hold their breath, he, lying flat under
the weight, lifts twice, ineffectually, and, with one herculean effort,
lifts again, and the cart slowly rises, and many willing hands helping
from without, the old man is saved; and Monsieur Madeleine arises,
pale, dripping with sweat, garments muddy and torn, while the old man
whom he has rescued kisses his knees and calls him the good God.  And
the mayor looks at Javert with tranquil eye, though knowing full well
that this act of generous courage in the rescue of an enemy has doomed
himself.  This is moral courage of celestial order.

His magnanimity is certainly apparent,--in the rescue of his enemy,
Fauchelevent; in his release of his arch-enemy, Javert; in his presence
within the barricade to protect Marius, who had, as a lover, robbed him
of the one blossom that had bloomed in the garden of his heart, save
only the passing bishop and the abiding God.  No pettiness is in him.
He loves and serves after a fashion learned of Christ.  If compelled to
admire his courage, we are no less compelled to pay homage to his

His was a hungry heart.  Love he had never known; he had never had a
sweetheart.  And now all pent-up love of a long life empties its
precious ointment on the head of Cossette.  He was all the mother she
ever knew or needed to know.  Heaven made her rich in such maternity as
his.  Mother instinct is in all good lives, and belongs to man.
Maternity and paternity are met in the best manhood.  The tenderness of
motherhood must soften a man's touch to daintiness, like an evening
wind's caress, before fatherhood is perfect.  All his youthhood, which
knew not any woman's lips to kiss; all his manhood, which had never
shared a hearth with wife or child,--all this unused tenderness now
administers to the wants of this orphan, Cossette.  His rescue of her
from the Thenardiers is poetry itself.  He had the instincts of a
gentleman.  The doll he brought her for her first Christmas gift was
forerunner of a thousand gifts of courtesy and love.  See, too, the
mourning garments he brought and laid beside her bed the first morning
he brought her to his garret, and watched her slumber as if he had been
appointed by God to be her guardian angel.  To him life henceforth
meant Cossette.  He was her servant always.  For her he fought for his
life as if it had been an unutterable good.  He lost himself, which is
the very crown of motherhood's devotion.  He was himself supplanted in
her affections by her lover, Marius, and his heart was stabbed as if by
poisoned daggers; for was not Cossette wife, daughter, sister, brother,
mother, father, friend--all?  But if his heart was breaking, she never
guessed it.  He hid his hurt, though dying of heartbreak.

Then, too, Jean Valjean is misjudged, and by those who should have
trusted him as they trusted God.  We find it hard to be patient with
Marius, and are not patient with Cossette.  Her selfishness is not to
be condoned.  Her contrition and her tears come too late.  Though
Valjean forgives her, we do not forgive her.  She deserves no
forgiveness.  Marius's honor was of the amateur order, lacking depth
and breadth.  He was superficial, judging by hearing rather than by
eyes and heart.  We have not patience to linger with his wife and him,
but push past them to the hero spirit, whom they have not eyes to see
nor hearts to understand.  Jean Valjean misjudged, and by Marius and
Cossette!  Impossible!  Javert may do that; Fantine, not knowing him,
may do that, but once knowing him she had as lief distrusted day to
bring the light as to have distrusted him.  Misjudged, and by those he
loved most, suffered for, more than died for!  Poor Valjean!  This
wakes our pity and our tears.  Before, we have watched him, and have
felt the tug of battle on him; now the mists fall, and we put our hands
before our eyes and weep.  This saint of God misjudged by those for
whom he lives!  Yet this is no solitary pathos.  Were all hearts'
history known, we should know how many died misjudged.  All Jean
Valjean does has been misinterpreted.  We distrust more and more
circumstantial evidence.  It is hideous.  No jury ought to convict a
man on evidence of circumstances.  Too many tragedies have been enacted
because of such.  Marius thought he was discerning and of a sensitive
honor.  He thought it evident that Jean Valjean had slain Javert, and
had slain Monsieur Madeleine, whose fortune he has offered as
Cossette's marriage portion.  Poor Jean Valjean!  You a murderer, a
marauder--you!  Marius acts with frigid honor.  Valjean will not live
with Marius and Cossette, being too sensitive therefor, perceiving
himself distrusted by Marius, but comes to warm his hands and heart at
the hearth of Cossette's presence; and he is stung when he sees no fire
in the reception-room.  The omission he can not misinterpret.  He goes
again, and the chairs are removed.  Marius may have honor, but his
honor is cruel, like an inquisitor with rack and thumbscrew; and then
Jean Valjean goes no more, but day by day suns his heart by going far
enough to look at the house where Cossette is--no more; then his eyes
are feverish to catch sight of her habitation as parched lips drink at
desert springs.  Misjudged!  O, that is harder to bear than all his

Then we will not say of Valjean, "He has conscience," but rather, we
will say, "He is conscience."  Valjean's struggle with conscience is
one of the majestic chapters of the world's literature, presenting, as
it does, the worthiest and profoundest study of Christian conscience
given by any dramatist since Christ opened a new chapter for conscience
in the soul.  Monsieur Madeleine, the mayor, is rich, respected,
honored, is a savior of society, sought out by the king for political
preferment.  One shadow tracks him like a nightmare.  Javert is on his
track, instinct serving him for reason.  At last, Javert himself thinks
Jean Valjean has been found; for a man has been arrested, is to be
tried, will doubtless be convicted, seeing evidence is damning.  Now,
Monsieur Madeleine, mayor of M----, your fear is all but ended.  An
anodyne will be administered to your pain.  Jean Valjean has known many
a struggle.  He thought his fiercest battles fought; but all his
yesterdays of conflict are as play contests and sham battles matched
with this.  Honor, usefulness, long years of service, love,
guardianship of Cossette, and fealty to a promise given a dying
mother--all beckon to him.  He is theirs; and has he not suffered
enough?  More than enough.  Let this man alone, that is all.  Let him
alone!  He sees it.  Joy shouts in his heart, "Javert will leave me in
quiet."  "Let us not interfere with God," and his resolution is formed.
But conscience looks into his face.  Ha! the bishop, too, is beside
him.  Conscience speaks, and is saying, "Let the real Valjean go and
declare himself."  This is duty.  Conscience speaks, and his words are
terrible, "Go, declare thyself."  Jean Valjean's sin is following him.
That evening he had robbed Petit Gervais; therefore he is imperiled.
Sin finds man out.  But the fight thickens, and Valjean thinks to
destroy the mementos of his past, and looks fearfully toward the door,
bolted as it is, and gathers from a secret closet his old blue blouse,
an old pair of trousers, an old haversack, and a great thorn stick, and
incontinently flings them into the flames.  Then, noticing the silver
candlesticks, the bishop's gifts, "These, too, must be destroyed," he
says, and takes them in his hands, and stirs the fire with one of the
candlesticks, when he hears a voice clamoring, "Jean Valjean!  Jean
Valjean!  Jean Valjean!"  Conscience and a battle, but the battle was
not lost; for you see him in the prisoners' dock, declaring, "I am Jean
Valjean;" and those of the court dissenting, he persisted, declared his
recognition of some galley prisoners, urging still, "I am Jean Valjean;
you see clearly that I am Jean Valjean;" and those who saw and heard
him were dazed; and he said: "All who are here think me worthy of pity,
do you not?  Do you not?  Great God!  When I think of what I was on the
point of doing, I think myself worthy of envy;" and he was gone.  And
next, Javert is seizing him fiercely, brutally, imperiously, as a
criminal for whom there is no regard.  With this struggle of conscience
and its consequent victory, "The Charge of the Light Brigade" becomes
tawdry and garish.  The sight moves us as the majestic minstrelsy of
seas in tempest.  No wonder that they who looked at Valjean, as he
stood declaring himself to be the real Valjean, were blinded with a
great light.

And his heart is so hungry, and his loyalty to God so urgent and so
conquering.  Jean Valjean has suffered much.  Ulysses, buffeted by wars
and stormy seas, has had a life of calm as compared with this new hero.
Ulysses' battles were from without; Valjean's battles were from within.
But if he has suffered greatly, he has also been greatly blessed.
Struggle for goodness against sin is its own reward.  We do not give
all and get nothing.  There are compensations.  Recompense of reward
pursues goodness as foam a vessel's track.  If Jean Valjean loved
Cossette with a passion such as the angels know; if she was his sun,
and made the spring, there was a sense in which Cossette helped
Valjean.  There was response, not so much in the return of love as in
that he loved her; and his love for her helped him in his dark hours,
helped him when he needed help the most, helped him on with God.  He
needs her to love, as our eyes need the fair flowers and the blue sky.
His life was not empty, and God had not left himself without witness in
Jean Valjean's life; for he had had his love for Cossette.

But he is bereft.  Old age springs on him suddenly, as Javert had done
in other days.  He has, apparently without provocation, passed from
strength to decrepitude.  Since he sees Cossette no more, he has grown
gray, stooped, decrepit.  There is no morning now, since he does not
see Cossette.  You have seen him walking to the corner to catch sight
of her house.  How feeble he is!  Another day, walking her way, but not
so far; and the next, and the next, walking; but the last day he goes
scarce beyond his own threshold.  And now he can not go down the
stairs; now he is in his own lonely room, alone.  He sees death camping
in his silent chamber, but feels no fright.  No, no! rather,

  "Death, like a friend's voice from a distant field
  Approaching, called.
       *     *     *     *     *     *
  For sure no gladlier does the stranded wreck
  See, through the gray skirts of a lifting squall,
  The boat that bears the hope of life approach
  To save the life despaired of, than he saw
  Death dawning on him, and the close of all."

But Cossette, Cossette!  To see her once.  Just once, only once!  To
touch her hand--O that were heaven!  But he says to his heart, "I shall
not touch her hand, and I shall not see her face--no more, no more!"
And the little garments he brought her when he took her from her
slavery with the Thenardiers, there they are upon his bed, where he can
touch them, as if they were black tresses of the woman he had loved and
lost.  The bishop's candlesticks are lit.  He is about to die, and
writes in his poor, sprawling fashion to Cossette--writes to her.  He
fronts her always, as the hills front the dawn.  He ceases, and sobs
like a breaking heart.  O!  "She is a smile that has passed over me.  I
shall never see her again!"  And the door dashes open; Marius and
Cossette are come.  Joy, joy to the old heart!  Jean Valjean thinks it
is heaven's morning.  Marius has discovered that Jean Valjean is not
his murderer, but his savior; that he has, at imminent peril of his
life, through the long, oozy quagmire of the sewer, with his giant
strength, borne him across the city, saved him; and now, too late,
Marius began to see in Jean Valjean "a strangely lofty and saddened
form," and has come to take this great heart home.  But God will do
that himself.  Jean Valjean is dying.  He looks at Cossette as if he
would take a look which would endure through eternity, kisses a fold of
her garment, and half articulates, "It--is--nothing to die;" then
suddenly rises, walks to the wall, brings back a crucifix, lays it near
his hand.  "The Great Martyr," he says; fondles Marius and Cossette;
sobs to Cossette, "Not to see you broke my heart;" croons to himself,
"You love me;" puts his hands upon their heads in a caress, saying, "I
do not see clearly now."  Later he half whispered, "I see a light!"
And a man and woman are raining kisses on a dead man's hands.  And on
that blank stone, over a nameless grave in the cemetery of Pere la
Chaise, let some angel sculptor chisel, "Here lies Jean Valjean, Hero."


Some Words on Loving Shakespeare

What a soul wants is to feel itself of service.  Life's chances seem
drunk up like the dews from morning flowers in burning summer times.
To risk literary adventure after these centuries of thinking and saying
(and such thinking and such saying!), requires the audacity of a
simpleton or the boldness of the old discoverers.  Every patch of
literary ground seems occupied, as those fertile valleys lifting from
sea-levels along a shining stream to the far hills and fair.  So much
has been said on Shakespeare, and he has stung men to such profound and
fertile sayings, that to speak of him seems an impertinence.  I have
never seen an essay on Shakespeare I have not run to read.  Whoever
holds the cup, I will drain it dry, if filled with wine from this rare
vintage.  Practically all our great writers have dreamed of him, and
told their dreams; and many a writer who makes no claim to greatness
has done the same.  Some people you can not keep your eyes off of; and
of these Shakespeare is one.  Who has n't talked of him?  When Alfred
Tennyson lay dying in the white moonlight, his son tells how he held
the play of Cymbeline in his dying hands, as was fitting, seeing he had
held it in his living hands through many golden years.  Than this dying
tribute, Shakespeare never had more gracious compliment paid his
genius.  Who passes Shakespeare in his library without a caress of eye
or hand?  I would apologize if I were guilty of such a breach of
literary etiquette.  Boswell's Johnson edited Shakespeare; and Charles
Lamb and Goethe and DeQuincey and Coleridge and Taine and Lowell and
Carlyle and Emerson have written of him, some of them greatly.  I
wonder Macaulay kept hands from him, but probably because he was the
historian of action rather than letters; and after reading what these
have said, how can one be but silenced?

But it has seemed to me that, while there was a wilderness of writing
about Shakespeare as a genius and as a whole, there was co-operative
dearth of writings on the individual dramas.  Authors content
themselves with writing on the dramatist, and neglect to write upon the
dramas.  If this be true, may there not be an unoccupied plot of ground
where a late-comer may pitch tent, as under the hemlocks by some
babbling water, and feel himself in some real way proprietary?  I have
discovered a growing feeling in my thought that enough has not been
said, and can not be said, about the Macbeths and Tempests and Lears
and Hamlets.

Shakespeare is too massive to be discussed in an hour.  One essay will
not suffice for him.  He is as a mountain, whose majesty and
multitudinous beauty, meaning, and magnitude and impress, must be
gotten by slow processes in journeying about it through many days.  Who
sits under its pines at noon, lies beside its streams for rest, walks
under its lengthening shadows as under a cloud, and has listened to the
voices of its waterfalls, thrilling the night and calling to the
spacious firmament as if with intent to be heard "very far off," has
thus learned the mountain, vast of girth, kingly in altitude, perpetual
in sovereignty.  We study a world's circumference by segments; nor let
us suppose we can do other by this cosmopolitan Shakespeare.  He, so
far as touches our earth horizon, is ubiquitous.  Looking at him
sum-totally, we _feel_ his mass, and say we have looked upon majesty.
But as a mountain is, in circumference and altitude, always beckoning
us on, as if saying, "My summit is not far away, but near," and so
spurring our laggard steps to espouse the ascent, and toiling on, on,
still on, a little further--only a little further--till heart and flesh
all but fail and faint, but for the might of will, we fall to rise
again, and try once more, till we fall upon the summit, and lie on
thresholds leading to the stars.  The mountain understated its
magnitude to us--not of intent, but in simple modesty.  I think it did
not itself know its mass.  Greatness has a subtle self-depreciation;
and we shall come to know our huge Shakespeare only by approaching him
on foot.  He must be studied in fragments.  His plays, if I may be
pardoned for coining a word, need not an omnigraph, but monographs.
Let Shakespeare be, and give eye and ear to his history, comedy,
tragedy; and when we have done with them, one by one, we shall discover
how the aggregated mass climbs taller than highest mountains.  This
method, in tentative fashion, I propose to apply in some studies in
this volume, or other volumes, believing that the company of those who
love Shakespeare can never be large enough for his merits, and that
many are kept away from the witchery of him because they do not well
know the fine art of approaching him.  I would, therefore, be a
doorkeeper, and throw some doors wide open, that men and women may
unhindered enter.  This essay aims to stand as a porter at the gate.
We shall never overestimate Shakespeare, because we can not.  Some men
and things lie beyond the danger of hyperbole.  No exaggeration is
possible concerning them, seeing they transcend all dreams.  Space can
not be conceived by the most luxuriant imagination, holding, as it
does, all worlds, and capable of holding another universe besides, and
with room to spare.  Clearly, we can not overestimate space.  Thought
and vocabulary become bankrupt when they attempt this bewildering deed.
Genius is as immeasurable as space.  Shakespeare can not be measured.
We can not go about him, since life fails, leaving the journey not
quite well begun.  Yet may we attempt what can not be performed,
because each attempt makes us worthy, and we are measured, not by what
we achieve, but by what we attempt, as Lowell writes:

  "Grandly begin!  Though thou have time
  But for one line, be that sublime:
  Not failure, but low aim, is crime."

The eaglet's failure in attempted flight teaches him to outsoar clouds.
We are not so greatly concerned that we find the sources of the Nile as
that we search for them.  In this lie our triumph and reward.

Besides all this, may there not be a place for more of what may be
named inspirational literature?  Henry Van Dyke has coined a happy
phrase in giving title to his delightful volume on "The Poetry of
Tennyson," calling his papers "Essays in Vital Criticism."  I like the
thought.  Literature is life, always that, in so far as literature is
great; for literature tells our human story.  Essayist, novelist, poet,
are all doing one thing, as are sculptor, painter, architect.  Of
detail criticism ("dry-as-dust" criticism, to use Carlyle's term) there
is much, though none too much, which work requires scholarship and
painstaking, and is necessary.  Malone is a requirement of
Shakespearean study.  But, candidly, is verbal, textual criticism the
largest, truest criticism?  Dust is not man, though man is dust.  No
geologist's biography of the marble from Carrara, nor a biographer's
sketch of the sculptor, will explain the statue, nor do justice to the
artist's conception.  I, for one, want to feel the poet's pulse-beat,
brain-beat, heart-beat.  What does he mean?  Let us catch this
speaker's words.  What was that he said?  Let me feel sure I have his
meaning.  We may break a poem up into bits, like pieces of branches
picked up in a woodland path; but is this what the poet would have
desired?  He takes lexicons and changes them into literatures, begins
with words, ends with poems.  His art was synthetic.  He was not a
crab, to move backward, but a man, to move forward; and his poetry is
not débris, like the broken branch, but is exquisite grace and moving
music.  Tears come to us naturally, like rain to summer clouds, when we
have read his words.  Much criticism is dry as desiccated foods, though
we can not believe this is the nobler criticism, since God's growing
fruit is his best fruit.  A tree with climbing saps and tossing
branches, fertile in shade and sweet with music, is surely fairer and
truer than a dead, uprooted, prostrate, decaying trunk.  This, then,
would I aspire humbly to do with Shakespeare or another, to help men to
his secret; for to admit men to any poet's provinces is nothing other
than to introduce them

  "To the island valley of Avilion,
  Where falls not hail nor rain nor any snow,
  Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
  Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns,
  And bowery hollows crowned with summer seas."

There is no trace of exaggeration in saying: Many people frequent
theaters ostensibly for the purpose of understanding the great
dramatists, and, leading thereto, seeing noted tragedians act Lear,
Richard III, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and at the end of years of
attendance have no conception of these dramas as a whole.  They had
heard one voice among the many; but when the many voices blended, what
all meant they can not begin to guess.  What playgoer will give a valid
analysis of King Lear?  Ask him, and his ideas will be chaotic as
clouds on a stormy night.  Not even the elder Kean is the best
interpreter of Shakespeare; for the dramatist reserves that function to
himself--Shakespeare is his own best interpreter.  Dream over his plays
by moonlit nights; pore over his pages till chilly skies grow gray with
dawn; read a play without rising from the ingratiating task, and you,
not a tragedian, will have a conception of the play.  I will rather
risk getting at an understanding of beautiful, bewitching Rosalind by
reading and rereading "As You Like It," than by all theaters and
stage-scenes and players.  A dramatist is his own best interpreter.
The most discerning critics of the great dramas are not theater-goers.
The theater runs to eyes; study runs to thought.  In a theater the
actor thinks for us; in a study we think for ourselves.  For
contemporaries of "The Letters of Junius" to attempt guessing who
Junius was, was plainly exhilarating as a walk at morning along a
country lane.  To attempt the interpretation of a Shakespeare's tragedy
for yourself is no less so.  Believe in your own capabilities, and test
your own powers.  Conceive of Shakespeare's folk, not as dead and past,
but as living.  These men and women, among whom we move, are those
among whom Shakespeare moved.  Ages change customs and costumes, but
not characters.  Bring Shakespeare down to now, and see how rational
his men and women become; and we, as central to his movement, may begin
to reckon on the periodicity of souls as of comets.  I would have
people inherit Shakespeare as they inherit Newton's discoveries or
Columbus's new world.

And as we know, we shall learn to trust, Shakespeare.  He is uniformly
truthful.  He may sin against geographical veracity, as when he names
Bohemia a maritime province; or he may give Christian reasonings to
ancient heathen; but these are _errata_, not falsehoods; and besides,
these are mistakes of a colorist, or in background of figure-painting,
and do not touch the real province of the dramatist, whose office is
not to paint landscapes, but figures--and figures not of physique, but
of soul--the delineation of character being the dramatist's business.
Here is Shakespeare always accurate.  To argue with him savors of
petulancy or childish ignorance or egotism.  Some people ourselves have
met had no sense of character, as some have no sense of color.  They do
not perceive logical continuity here, as in reasoning, but approach
each person as an isolated fact, whereas souls are a series--men
repeating men, women repeating women, in large measure, as a child
steps in his father's tracks across a field of snow in winter.  Other
people seem intuitively to read character, being able to shut their
eyes and see more than others with eyes open, having a faculty for
practical psychology, which is little less than miracle, as in
Tennyson, who was not a man among men--being shy as a whip-poor-will,
seclusive as flowers which haunt the woodland shadows--yet those
reading him must know how accurately he reads the human heart; and his
characterization of Guinevere, Pelleas, Bedivere, Enid, the lover in
Maud, à Becket, the Princess, Philip, Enoch Arden, and Dora, are, in
accuracy, as

   "Perfect music unto noble words."

Some people are born to this profound insight as storm-petrels for the
seas, needing not to be tutored, and are as men and women to whom we
tell our secrets, scarce knowing why we do.  But Shakespeare knows what
the sphinx thinks, if anybody does.  His genius is penetrative as cold
midwinter entering every room, and making warmth shiver in ague fits.
I think Shakespeare never errs in his logical sequence in character.
He surprises us, seems unnatural to us, but because we have been
superficial observers; while genius will disclose those truths to which
we are blind.  Recur to Ophelia, whom Goethe has discussed with such
insight.  Ophelia is, to our eyes and ears, pure as air.  We find no
fault in her.  Certainly, from any standpoint, her conduct is
irreproachable; yet, surprisingly enough, when she becomes insane, she
sings tainted songs, and salacious suggestions are on her lips, which
in sane hours never uttered a syllable of such a sort.  And Shakespeare
is wrong?  No; follow him.  Thoughts are like rooms when shutters are
closed and blinds down, and can not, therefore, be seen.  We tell our
thoughts, or conceal them, according to our desire or secretiveness,
and speech may or may not be a full index to thought; and Shakespeare
would indicate that fair Ophelia, love-lorn and neglected; fair
Ophelia, whose words and conduct were unexceptional, even to the sharp
eyes of a precisian--fair Ophelia cherished thoughts not meet for
maidenhood, and in her heart toyed with voluptuousness.  I know nothing
more accurate; and the penetration of this poet seems, for the moment,
something more than human.  After a single example, such as adduced,
would not he be guilty of temerity who would question Shakespeare's
accuracy in character delineation?  The sum of what has been said on
this point is, distrust yourself rather than Shakespeare; and when your
notions and his are not coincident, or when, more strongly stated, you
feel sure that here for once he is inaccurate, reckon that he is
profounder than you, and do you begin to seek for a hidden path as one
lost in a wilderness, when, in all probability, you will discover that
what you deemed inexact was in reality a profounder truth than had come
under your observation.  Nor would a discussion of Shakespeare's
truthfulness be rounded out should his value as historian be omitted.
He is profoundest of philosophical historians, compelling the motives
in historic personages to disclose themselves, while, in the main, his
historical data are correct as understood in his day.  He has not
juggled with facts, though in instances where he has taken liberty with
events he has, by such change in historic setting, made the main issues
more apparent.  Some one has said that simply as historian of England
Shakespeare has done nobly by his country, which remark I, for one,
think accurate.  Beginning with King John, he keeps the main channels
of English history to the birth of Elizabeth, where, in a spirit of
subtle courtesy, he makes the destination of his historical studies.
If the purpose of noble history be to make us understand men and,
consequently, measures, then is Shakespeare still the greatest English
historian.  Richard III never becomes so understandable as in the
drama; and Henry IV is a figure clearly seen, as if he stood in the
sunlight before our eyes, so that any one conversant with these
history-plays is fortified against all stress in solid knowledge and
profound insight into turbulent eras of Anglo-Saxon history; for
Shakespeare has given us history carved in relief, as are the metopes
of the Parthenon.  For knowledge psychologically and historically
accurate commend me to William Shakespeare, historian.

The lover is Shakespeare's main thesis; and his lovers--men and
women--never violate the proprieties of love.  What his lovers do has
been done and will be done.  Helena, in "All's Well that Ends Well," is
a true phase of womanhood; and in those days of the more general
infidelity and lordship of man, more common than now--though now this
picture is truthful--woman has a power of self-sacrifice and rigorous
self-denial when in love, which, as it is totally unconscious on her
part, is as totally inexplicable on our part.  Life is not a condition
easily explained.  The heart of simplest man or woman is a mystery,
compared with which the sphinx is an open secret.  The vagaries of love
in life are the vagaries of love in Shakespeare.  Life was his book,
which he knew by heart.  Rosalind, in "As You Like It," is a portrait
both fair and accurate.  We have seen Rosalind, and the sight of her
was good for the eyes.  To read Shakespeare is to be told what we
ourselves have seen, we not recognizing the people we had met until he
whispers in our ears, "You have seen her and him;" whereat we answer,
"Yes, truly, so we have, though we did not know it till you told us."

Shakespeare is philosopher of both sexes, though this is not the rule,
as we will readily agree, thinking over the great portrait painters of
character.  To state a single illustrative case: Hall Caine must be
allowed to have framed some mighty men, tragic, or melodramatic
sometimes, somber always, but men of bulk and character.  Pete, in "The
Manxman," is a creation sufficient to make the artist conceiving him
immortal; and Red Jason is no less real, manly, mighty, self-mastering,
self-surrendering.  Caine's men are giants; but his women do not
satisfy and seldom interest us, with an exception in a few cases--as
with Naomi in "The Scape Goat," and Greeba, wife of Michal Sunlocks;
though Naomi is little more than a figure seen at a doorway, standing
in the sun; for she has not forged a character up to the time when her
lover puts arm about her, as she droops above her dying father, when
his vast love would make him immortal for her sake.  Glory Quayle is
interesting, but unsatisfactory.  My belief is that Tolstoi has drawn
no man approaching his astonishing Anna Karenina.  Shakespeare is
ambidexter here.  All things are seemingly native to him; for he is
never at a loss.  Not words, thoughts, dreams, images, music, fail him
for a moment even.  Who found him feeling for a word?  Did we not find
them ready at his hand as Ariel was ready to serve Prospero?  Lear,
Prospero, Brutus, Cassius, Falstaff, Iago, Macbeth, Hamlet, are as
crowning creations as Cleopatra, Miranda, Lady Macbeth, Katharine the
Shrew, Imogen, or Cordelia.  We know not which to choose, as one who
looks through a mountain vista to the sea, declaring each view fairer
than the last, yet knowing if he might choose any one for a perpetual
possession he could not make decision.  We are incapable of choosing
between Shakespeare's men and his women.

Small volumes are best for reading Shakespeare, for this reason: In
large volumes the dramas get lost to your thought, as a nook of beauty
is apt to get lost in the abundant beauty of summer hills, solely
because there are so many; but when put into small volumes, each play
becomes individualized, made solitary, and stands out like a tree
growing in a wide field alone.  Do not conceive of Shakespeare's plays
as marble column, pediment, frieze, metope, built into a Parthenon, but
conceive of each play as a Parthenon; for I think it certain each one
might have stood solitary on cape or hill, as those old Greeks built
temples to their tutelar deities.  He wrote so much and so greatly as
to bewilder us, just as night does with her multitudinous stars.  Who
maps the astral globe will divide his heavens into sections, so he may
chart his constellations.  The like must be done with Shakespeare.  A
great painting is always at more of an advantage in a room of its own
than in a gallery, since each picture is in a way a distraction,
stealing a trifle of beauty from its fellow, though adding nothing to
itself thereby.  "Come," we say to a dear friend from whom we have been
parted for a long time, "come, let me have you alone," and you walk
across a field, and sit in the singing shadows of the pines--you
appropriate your friend.  Do the same with a poem; for in such a
wilderness of beauty send majesty as Shakespeare's plays this need
becomes imperative.  Pursuant to this suggestion, I recur to a previous
thought on Shakespearean criticism that, rich as it is, is defective in
this individualization--so much being written on the whole, so little
in comparison on the parts.  Each drama fills our field of vision, and
justifies a dissertation.  Each dialogue of Plato demands an essay by
Jowett.  How well, then, may each dialogue of Shakespeare demand a
separate study!  There is distinct gain in looking at a landscape from
a window, sitting a little back from the window-sill, the view being
thus framed as a picture, and the superfluous horizon cut off; and the
relevancies, as I may say, are included and the irrelevancies excluded;
for in looking at too much we are losers, not gainers, the eye failing
to catch the entirety of meaning.  Here is the advantage of the
landscape painter, who seizes the view to which we should restrict our
eyes, bringing into compass of canvas what we should have brought into
compass of sky and scene, but did not.  So these window views of
Shakespeare are what we greatly need now, and are what Hudson and Rolfe
and Ulrici and the various editors of note have given.

But after all, the best interpretation of a drama or any poem is to be
gained first hand, nothing being clearer than that every poem
challenges individual interpretation, as if saying, "What do you think
I mean?"  There is too much knowing productions by proxy, of being
conversant with what every sort of body thinks about Hamlet, but
ourselves being a void so far as distinctively individual opinion goes.
A poem, like the Scriptures, is its own best interpreter; and there is
always scope for the personal equation in judging literature, because
criticism is empiricism in any case, being opinion set against opinion.
Different people think different things, and that is the end.  Literary
criticism can never be an exact science, and everybody may have and
should have an opinion.  Great productions have never had their meaning
exhausted, since meanings are an infinite series.  So, to get an
interpretation of Cymbeline, say, get into the midst of the drama, as
if it were a stream and you a boatman in your boat.  Commit you to the
drama's flood, omitting for a time what others have thought, and read
as if the poem were a fresh manuscript found by you, and read with such
avidity as scholars of the Renaissance knew when a palimpsest of
Tacitus or Theocritus was found.  Let your imagination, as well as the
poet's, spread wings.  Become creative yourself; for this is true: No
one can rightly conceive any work of imagination and be himself
unimaginative.  Read and re-read, and at length, like the cliffs of
shore rising out of ocean mists, dim, but stable and increasingly
palpable, will come a scheme of meaning.  Miss nothing.  Let no beauty
elude you.  Odors must not waste; we, in a spirit of lofty economy,
must inhale them.  Watch the drift of verbal trifles; for Shakespeare
uses no superfluities.  His meaning dominates his method; his
modulations are prophetic.  See, therefore, that he does not elude you,
escaping at some path or shadow, but cling to his garments, however
swiftly he runs.  Such study will bear fruit of sure triumph in your
conceiving a hidden import of a great drama.  This method of
self-assertiveness in reading is logical and invigorating.  Think as
well as be thought for.

Of all poets, Shakespeare is richest in the material of simile.  He
thought in pictures, which is another way of saying he wooed
comparatives.  Thought is inert; and he is greatest in expression who
can supply his thinking with ruddy blood, flush the pallid cheek, make
the dull eye bright, and make laughter run across the face like ripples
of sunshine across water touched by the wind.  In Shakespeare's turn of
phrase and use of figure is a fertility of suggestion such as even
Dante can not approximate.  He is unusual, which is a merit; for thus
is mind kept on the alert, like a sentinel fearing surprise.  Of this
an essay might be filled with illustrations.  He does not try to use
figures, but can not keep from using them.  As stars flash into light,
so he flashes into metaphor, metonymy, trope, personification, or
simile.  Because he sees everything, is he fertile in suggestion, and
his comparisons are numerous as his thoughts.  See how his figures
multiply as you have seen foam-caps multiply on waves when the wind
rises on the sea!

  "We burn daylight."

  "Nay, the world 's my oyster,
  Which I with sword shall open."

  "I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted."

      "My library
  Was dukedom large enough."

  "Into the eye and prospect of his soul."

  "Make a swan-like end,
  Fading in music."

  "Those blessed candles of the night."

  "The schoolboy, with his satchel
  And shining, morning face."

  "Like an unseasonable stormy day,
  Which makes the silver rivers drown their shores."

  "He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines."

  "And must I ravel out
  My weaved-up follies?"

  "Give sorrow leave awhile to tutor me
  To this submission."

  "The gaudy, babbling, and remorseless day
  Is crept into the bosom of the sea."

  "There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
  Would men observingly distill it out."

  "He hath a tear for pity, and a hand
  Open as day for melting charity."

  "That daffed the world aside,
  And bid it pass."

  "He is come to ope
  The purple testament of bleeding war."

  "She sat, like patience on a monument,
  Smiling at grief."

  "That strain again; it had a dying fall:
  O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south,
  That breathes upon a bank of violets,
  Stealing and giving odor."

  "For courage mounts with occasion."

      "Here I and sorrows sit;
  Here is my throne; bid kings come bow to it."

  "Death's dateless night."

  "Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
  Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man."

    "The tongues of dying men
  Enforce attention like deep harmony."

  "Falstaff sweats to death,
  And lards the lean earth as he walks along."

  "I have set my life upon a cast,
  And I will stand the hazard of the die."

      "'T is better to be lowly born,
  And range with humble livers in content,
  Than be perked up in glistering grief,
  And wear a golden sorrow."

  "An old man broken with the storms of state."

  "Care keeps his watch in every old man's eye."

  "Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
  Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops."

  "Within the book and volume of my brain."

  "One vial full of Edward's blood is cracked,
   And all the precious liquor spilt."

In such quest as this, one is enticed as if he followed the windings of
a stream under the shadows of the trees.  Past waterfall and banks of
flowers and choiring of the birds, he goes on forever, except he force
himself to pause.  Shakespeare is always an enticement, whose turns of
poetic thought and verbiage are a pure delight.  Note this quality in
the quotations--a word naturally expresses a thought.  Shakespeare's
figures express a series of thoughts as varied landscapes seen in
pictures; in consequence, to read him is to see resemblances in things,
because we have sharpened vision and can not, after reading him, be
blind as we were before, but feel the plethora of our world with the
poetic.  After he has spoken for us and to us, the world's capacity is
enlarged; we are, in truth, not so much as those who have read poetry
as we are like those who have seen the world pass before our eyes.  We
thought the world a stream run dry; but lo! the bed is full of waters,
flooded from remote hills, where snowdrifts melt and make perpetual
rivers.  After hearing him, we expect things of our world; its
fertility seems so exhaustless.

Shakespeare has no hint of invalidism about him, but is the person, not
the picture, of perfect health.  Not an intimation of the hypochondriac
nor of the convalescent do I find in him.  He is healthy, and his voice
rings out like a bell on a frosty night.  Take his hand, and you feel
shaking hands, not with Aesculapius, but with Health.  To be ailing
when Shakespeare is about is an impertinence for which you feel
compelled to offer apology.  Does not this express our feeling about
this poet?  He is well, always well, and laughs at the notion of
sickness.  He starts a-walking, and unconsciously runs, as a schoolboy
after school.  His smile breaks into ringing laughter; and he, not you,
knows why he either smiles or laughs.  He and sunlight seem close of
kin.  A mountain is a challenge he never refuses, but scales it by
bounds, like a deer when pursued by the hunter and the hound.  He is
not tonic, but bracing air and perfect health and youth, which makes
labor a holiday and care a jest.  Shakespeare is never morose.  Dante
is the picture of melancholy, Shakespeare the picture of resilient joy.
Tennyson beheld "three spirits, mad with joy, dash down upon a wayside
flower;" and our dramatist is like them.  Life laughs on greeting him;
the grave grows dim to sight when he is near, and you see the deep sky
instead, and across it wheel wild birds in happy motion.  In Tennyson
is perpetual melancholy--the mood and destiny of poetry, as I
suppose--but Shakespeare is not melancholy, nor does he know how to be.
His face is never sad, I think, and he is fonder of Jack Falstaff than
we are apt to suppose; for health riots in his blood.  He weeps, smiles
breaking through his weeping, and he turns from the grave of tragedy
with laughter leaning from his eyes.  Aeschylus is a poet whose face
was never lit even with the candle-light of smiles; but Shakespeare,
writer of tragedy, is our laughing poet.  This plainly confounds our
philosophy of poetry, since humor is not poetry; but he binds humor to
his car as Achilles, Hector, and laughs at our upset philosophies,
crying: "This is my Lear, weep for him; this my Hamlet, break your
hearts for him; this my Desdemona, grow tender for her woe,--but
enough: this is my Rosalind and my Miranda, my Helena and Hermione, my
Orlando and Ferdinand, my Bassanio and Leontes; laugh with them"--and
you render swift obedience, saying, with Lord Boyet, in "Love's Labor

  "O, I am stabbed with laughter!"

He is court jester, at whose quips the generations make merry.  You can
not be somber nor sober long with him, though he is deep as seas, and
fathomless as air, and lonely as night, and sad betimes as autumn.  He
is not frivolous, but is joyous.  The bounding streams, the singing
trees, the leaping stags along the lake, the birds singing morning
awake,--Shakespeare incorporates all these in himself.  He is what may
be named, in a spiritual sense, this world's animal delight in life.
There is a view of life sullen as November; and to be sympathetic with
this mood is to ruin life and put out all its lights.  Shakespeare's
resiliency of spirit would teach us what a dispassionate study of our
own nature would have taught us, that to succumb to this gloom is not
natural; to feel the weight of burdens all the time would conduct to
insanity or death; therefore has God made bountiful provision against
such outcome in the lift of cloud and lightening of burden.  We forget
sleep is God's rest-hour for spirit; and, besides, we read in God's
Book how, "at eventide, it shall be light," an expression at once of
exquisite poetry and acute observation.  Our lives are healthy when
natural.  The crude Byronic misanthropy, even though assumed, finds no
favor in Shakespeare's eyes.

Shakespeare is this world's poet--a truth hinted at before, but now
needing amplifying a trifle.  There is in him this-worldliness, but not
other-worldliness, his characters not seeming to the full to have a
sense of the invisible world.  He is love's poet.  His lovers are
imperishable because real.  He is love's laureate.  Yet are his loves
of this world.  True, there are spurts of flight, as of an eagle with
broken wing, when, as in Hamlet, he faults this world and aspires
skyward, yet does not lose sight of the earth, and, like the wounded
eagle in "Sohrab and Rustum," lies at last

  "A heap of fluttering feathers."

Plainly, Shakespeare was a voyager in this world, and a discoverer,
sailing all seas and climbing tallest altitudes to their far summits;
but flight was not native to him, as if he had said:

  "We have not wings, we can not soar;
  But we have feet to scale, and climb."

I can not think him spiritual in the gracious sense.  His contemporary,
Edmund Spenser, was spiritual, as even Milton was not.  This world made
appeal to this poet of the Avon on the radiant earthly side; the very
clouds flamed with a glory borrowed from the sun as he looked on them.
His world was very fair.  In more than a poetic sense was

  "All the world a stage."

Life was a drama, hastening, shouting, exhilarating, turbulent, free,
roistering, but as triumphant as Elizabeth's fleet and God's stormy
waters were over Philip's great Armada.  Hamlet was the terribly tragic
conception in Shakespeare because he was hopeless.  Can you conceive
Shakespeare writing "In Memoriam?"  Tennyson was pre-eminently
spiritual, and "In Memoriam" is his breath dimming the window-pane on
which he breathed.  That was Tennyson's life, but was patently no brave
part of Shakespeare.  He knew to shape tragedy, such as Romeo and
Juliet; but how to send abroad a cry like Enoch Arden's prayer lay not
in him.  He compassed our world, but found no way to leave what proved
a waterlogged ship; and how to pilot to

  "The undiscovered country, from whose bourne
  No traveler returns,"

puzzles Shakespeare's will as it had Hamlet's.

So not even our great Shakespeare can monopolize life.  Some landscapes
have not lain like a picture beneath his eyes; he did not exhaust
poetry nor life, and room is still left for

  "New men, strange faces, other minds,"

for whom,

  "Though much is taken, much abides; and though
  We are not that strength which in old days
  Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are--
  One equal temper of heroic hearts,
  Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
  To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."



Your great poet is eminently sane.  Not that this is the conception
current concerning him--the reverse being the common idea--that a poet
is a being afflicted with some strange and unclassified rabies.  He is
supposed to be possessed, like the Norwegian Berserker, whose frenzy
amounted to volcanic tumult.  The genesis of misconceptions, however,
is worth one's while to study; for in a majority of cases there is in
the misconception a sufficient flavoring of truth to make the erroneous
notion pass as true.  At bottom, the human soul loves truth, nor
willingly believes or receives a lie.  Our intellectual sin is
synecdoche, the putting a part truth for a whole truth.  Generalization
is dangerous intellectual exercise.  Our premise is insufficient, and
our conclusion is self-sufficient, like some strutting scion of a
decayed house.  Trace the origin of this idea of a poet's non-sanity.
He was not ordinary, as other men, but was extraordinary, and as such
belonged to the upper rather than the lower world; for we must be
convinced how wholly the ancients kept the super-earthly in mind in
their logical processes--an attitude wise and in consonance with the
wisest of this world's thinking.  Heaven must not be left out of our
computations, just as the sun must not be omitted in writing the
history of a rose or a spike of golden-rod.  In harmony with this
exalted origin of the poet went the notion that he was under an
afflatus.  A breath from behind the world blew in his face; nay, more,
a breath from behind the world blew noble ideas into his soul, and he
spake as one inspired of the gods.  This conception of a poet is high
and worthy; nothing gross grimes it with common dust.  Yet from so
noble a thought--because the thought was partial--grew the gross
misconception of the poet as beyond law, as not amenable to social and
moral customs, as one who might transgress the moral code with
impunity, and stand unreproved, even blameless.  He was thought to be
his own law--a man whose course should no more be reproved or hindered
than the winds.  The poet's supremacy brought us to a wrong conclusion.
The philosopher we assumed to be balanced, the poet to be unbalanced.
Shelley, and Poe, and Heine, and Byron, and Burns elucidate this
erroneous hypothesis of the poet.  We pass lightly their misrule of
themselves with a tacit assumption of their genius having shaken and
shocked their moral faculties as in some giant perturbation.

I now recur to the initial suggestion, that the great poet is sane.
The poet is yet a man, and man is more than poet.  Manhood is the regal
fact to which all else must subordinate itself.  Nothing must be
allowed to disfranchise manhood; and he who manumits the poet from
social and ethical bonds is not logical, nor penetrative into the dark
mystery of soul, nor is he the poet's friend.  Nor is he a friend who
assumes that the poet, because a poet, moves in eccentric paths rather
than in concentric circles.  Hold with all tenacity to the poet's
sanity.  He is superior, and lives where the eagles fly and stars run
their far and splendid courses; but he is still man, though man grown
tall and sublime.  To the truth of this view of the great poet bear
witness Aeschylus, and Dante, and Spenser, and Shakespeare, and
Tennyson, and Browning, in naming whom we are lighting on high summits,
as clouds do, and leaving the main range of mountains untouched.
Shakespeare is absolutely sane.  Not Blondin, crossing Niagara on a
thread for a pathway, was so absolute in his balance as Shakespeare.
He saw all the world.  Nor is this all; for there are those who see an
entire world, but see it distorted as an anamorphism.  There is a
cartoon world, where everybody is apprehended as taking on other shapes
than his own, and is valued in proportion as he is susceptible of
caricature.  But plate-glass is better for looking through than is a
prism.  What men need is eyes which are neither far-sighted nor
near-sighted, but right-sighted.  Shakespeare was that.  There is no
hint of exaggeration in his characters.  They are people we have met on
journeys, and some of whom we have known intimately.  To be a poet it
is not necessary to be a madman--a doctrine wholesome and encouraging.
I lay down, then, as one of the canons for testing a poet's greatness,
this, "Is he sane?" and purpose applying the canon to Robert Browning,
giving results of such application rather than the _modus operandi_ of
such results.  I assert that he bears the test.  No saner man than
Browning ever walked this world's streets.  He was entirely human in
his love of life for its own sake, in his love of nature and friends
and wife and child.  His voice, in both speech and laughter, had a ring
and joyousness such as reminded us of Charles Dickens in his youth.
His appreciation of life was intense and immense.  This world and all
worlds reported to him as if he were an officer to whom they all, as
subalterns, must report.  The pendulum in the clock on a lady's
mantel-shelf is not more natural than the pendulum swung in a cathedral
tower, though the swing of the one is a slight and the swing of the
other a great arc.  Browning is a pendulum whose vibrations touch the
horizons.  He does business with fabulous capital and on a huge scale,
and thinks, sees, serves, and loves after a colossal fashion, but is as
natural in his large life as a lesser man is in his meager life.
"Caliban upon Setebos" is a hint of the man's immense movement of soul
and his serene rationality.

Browning will be preacher; and as preachers do--and do wisely--he takes
a text from the Scriptures, finding in a psalm a sentence embodying the
thought he purposes elaborating, as a bud contains the flower.  The
Bible may safely be asserted to be the richest treasure-house of
suggestive thought ever discovered to the soul.  In my conviction, not
a theme treated in the domain of investigation and reason whose
chapters may not be headed from the Book Divine.  In his "Cleon,"
Browning has taken his text from the words of Paul; in "Caliban upon
Setebos," his text is found in Asaph's psalm, and the words are, "Thou
thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself."  A word will
set a great brain on fire, as if the word were a torch and the brain a
pine-forest, and to thoughtful minds it must be deeply interesting to
know that this study in psychology, which stands distinctly alone in
English literature and in universal literature, was suggested by a
phrase from the Book of God.

To begin with, Caliban is one of Shakespeare's finest conceptions in
creative art.  Caliban is as certain in our thoughts as Ferdinand,
Miranda, or Prospero.  He is become, by Shakespeare's grace, a person
among us who can not be ignored.  Study his biography in "The Tempest,"
and find how masterly the chief dramatist was in rendering visible
those forms lying in the shadow-land of psychology.  As Dowden has
suggested, doubtless Caliban's name is a poet's spelling, or anagram,
of "cannibal;" and, beyond question, Setebos is a character in
demonology, taken from the record of the chronicler of Magellan's
voyages, who pictures the Patagonians, when taken captive, as roaring,
and "calling on their chief devil, Setebos."  So far the historical
setting of Caliban and Sycorax and Setebos.  In character, Caliban and
Jack Falstaff are related by ties closer than those of blood.  Both are
bestial, operating in different departments of society; but in the
knight, as in the slave, only animal instincts dominate.  Lust is
tyrant.  Animality destroys all manhood, and lowers to the slush and
ooze of degradation every one given over to its control.  A man
degraded to the gross level of a beast because he prefers the animal to
the spiritual--this is Caliban.  His mind is atrophied, in part,
because lust sins against reason.  Caliban is Prospero's slave, but he
is lust's slave more--a slavery grinding and ignominious as servitude
to Prospero can be.  Prospero must always, in the widest sense, lord it
over Caliban, with his diminished understanding and aggravated
appetites, who vegetates rather than lives.  His days are narrow as the
days of browsing sheep and cattle; but his soul knows the lecherous
intent, the petty hate, the cankerous envy, the evil discontents,
indigenous only to the soul of man.  Plainly, Caliban is man, not
beast; for his proclivities, while bestial, are still human.  In a
beast is a certain dignity, in that action is instinctive, irrevocable,
and so far necessary.  Caliban is not so.  He might be other than he
is.  He is depraved, but yet a man, as Satan was an angel, though
fallen.  The most profligate man has earmarks of manhood on him that no
beast can duplicate.  And Caliban (on whom Prospero exhausts his
vocabulary of epithets) attempting rape on Miranda; scowling in
ill-concealing hate in service; playing truant in his task when from
under his master's eyes; traitor to Prospero, and, as a co-conspirator
with villains like himself, planning his hurt; a compound of spleen,
malignancy, and murderous intent; irritated under conditions; failing
to seize moral and manly positions with such ascendency as grows out of
them, yet full of bitter hate toward him who wears the supremacy won by
moral worth and mastery,--really, Caliban seems not so foreign to our
knowledge after all.  Such is Shakespeare's Caliban.

Him Browning lets us hear in a monologue.  Whoever sets man or woman
talking for us does us a service.  To be a good listener is to be
astute.  When anybody talks in our hearing, we become readers of pages
in his soul.  He thinks himself talking about things; while we, if
wise, know he is giving glimpses of individual memorabilia.  Caliban is
talking.  He is talking to himself.  He does not know anybody is
listening; therefore will there be in him nothing theatrical, but his
words will be sincere.  He plays no part now, but speaks his soul.

Browning is nothing if not bold.  He attempts things audacious as the
voyages of Ulysses.  Nothing he has attempted impresses me as more
bold, if so bold, as this exploit of entering into the consciousness of
a besotted spirit, and stirring that spirit to frame a system of
theology.  Nansen's tramp along the uncharted deserts of the Polar
winter was not more brilliant in inception and execution.  Caliban is a
theorist in natural theology.  He is building a theological system as
certainly as Augustine or Calvin or Spinoza did.  This poem presents
that satire which constitutes Browning's humor.  Conceive that he here
satirizes those omniscient rationalists who demolish, at a touch, all
supernatural systems of theology, and proceed to construct purely
natural systems in their place as devoid of vitality and inspiration as
dead tree-trunks are of vital saps.  So conceive this dramatic
monologue, and the baleful humor appears, and is captivating in its
biting sarcasm and unanswerable argument.  Caliban is, in his own
opinion, omniscient.  He trusts himself absolutely.  He is as
infallible as the Positivists, and as full of information as the
Agnostics, absurd as such an attitude on their part must appear; for,
as Romanes has shown in his "Thoughts on Religion," the Agnostic must
simply assert his inability to know, and must not dogmatize as to what
is or is not.  So soon as he does, he has ceased to be a philosophic
Agnostic.  Caliban's theology, though grotesque, is not a whit more so
than much which soberly passes in our day for "advanced thinking" and
"new theology."

Some things are apparent in Caliban.  He is a man, not a beast, in that
no beast has any commerce with the thought of God.  Man is declared
man, not so much by thinking or by thinking's instrument--language--as
by his moral nature.  Man prays; and prayer is the imprimatur of man's
manhood.  Camels kneel for the reception of their burdens, but never
kneel to God.  Only man has a shrine and an altar.  Such things, we are
told, are signs of an infantile state of civilization and superstition;
but they may be boldly affirmed to be, in fact, infallible signs of the
divinity of the human soul.  Caliban is thinking of his god, brutal,
devilish; yet he thinks of a god, and that is a possibility as far
above the brute as stars are above the meadow-lands.  He has a
divinity.  He is dogmatist, as ignorance is bound to be.  He knows; and
distrust of himself or his conclusions is as foreign to him as to the
rationalists of our century and decade.  Caliban makes a god.  The
attempt would be humorous were it not pathetic.  If his conclusions are
absurd, they are what might be anticipated when man engages in the task
of god-making.  "Caliban upon Setebos" is the _reductio ad absurdum_ of
the attempt of man to create God.  God rises not from man to the
firmament, but falls from the firmament to man.  God does not ascend as
the vapor, but descends as the light.  This is the wide meaning of this
uncanny poem.  It is the sanity of the leading poet of the nineteenth
century, and the greatest poet since Shakespeare, who saw clearly the
inanity of so-called scientific conclusions and godless theories of the
evolution of mankind.  Mankind can not create God.  God creates
mankind.  All the man-made gods are fashioned after the similitude of
Caliban's Setebos.  They are grotesque, carnal, devilish.  Paganism was
but an installment of Caliban's theory.  God was a bigger man or woman,
with aggravated human characteristics, as witness Jove and Venus and
Hercules and Mars.  Greek mythology is a commentary on Caliban's
monologue.  For man to evolve a god who shall be non-human, actually
divine in character and conduct, is historically impossible.  No man
could create Christ.  The attempt to account for religion by evolution
is a piece of sorry sarcasm.  Man has limitations.  Here is one.  By
evolution you can not explain language, much less religion.  Such is
the lesson of "Caliban upon Setebos."  Shakespeare created a brutalized
man, a dull human slave, whom Prospero drove as he would have driven a
vicious steed.  This only, Shakespeare performed.  Browning proposed to
give this man to thought, to surrender him to the widest theme the mind
has knowledge of--to let him reason on God.  How colossal the
conception!  Not a man of our century would have cherished such a
conception but Robert Browning.  The design was unique, needful,
valuable, stimulative.  The originality, audacity, and brilliancy of
the attempt are always a tonic to my brain and spiritual nature.  With
good reason has this poem been termed "extraordinary;" and that thinker
and critic, James Mudge, has named it "the finest illustration of
grotesque art in the language."

The picture of Caliban sprawling in the ooze, brute instincts regnant,
is complete and admirable.  Stealing time from service to be truant
(seeing Prospero sleeps), he gives him over to pure animal enjoyment,
when, on a sudden, from the cavern where he lies,

  "He looks out o'er yon sea which sunbeams cross
  And recross till they weave a spider web,
  Meshes of fire,
  And talks to his own self howe'er he please,
  Touching that other whom his dam called God;"

but talks of God, not as a promise of a better life, but purely of an
evil mind,

  "Because to talk about Him vexes Prospero!
  And it is good to cheat the pair [Miranda and
        Prospero], and gibe,
  Letting the rank tongue blossom into speech."

What a motive for thinking on the august God!  He now addresses himself
to the conceiving of a divinity.  He thrusts his mother's beliefs aside
rudely, as a beast does the flags that stand along its way in making
journey to the stream to slake its thirst.  He is grossly
self-sufficient.  He is boor and fool conjoined.  Where wise men and
angels would move with reverent tread and forehead bent to earth, he
walks erect, unhumbled; nay, without a sense of worship.  How could he
or another find God so?  The mood of prayer is the mood of finding God.
Who seeks Him must seek with thought aflame with love.  Caliban's
reasoning ambles like a drunkard staggering home from late debauch.
His grossness shames us.  And yet were he only Caliban, and if he were
all alone, we could forget his maudlin speech--but he is more.  He is a
voice of our own era.  His babblings are not more crude and
irreverential than much that passes for profound thinking.  Nay,
Caliban is our contemporaneous shame.  He asserts (he does not
think--he asserts, settles questions with a word) that Setebos created
not all things--the world and sun--

  "But not the stars; the stars came otherwise;"

and this goodly frame of ocean and of sky and earth came of Setebos.

        "Being ill at ease,
  He hated that he can not change his cold
  Nor cure its ache."

His god is selfishness, operating on a huge scale.  But more, he

  "Made all we see and us in spite: how else?
  But did in envy, listlessness, or sport
  Make what himself would fain in a manner be--
  Weaker in most points, stronger in a few,
  Worthy, and yet mere playthings all the while."

Made them to plague, as Caliban would have done.  And caprice is
Setebos's method.  He does things wantonly.  No noble master passion
flames in him.  No goodness blesses him.  Such a god Caliban makes, so
that it is odds whether Caliban make God or God make Caliban.  Be sure,
a man-made god is like the man who made him.  The sole explanation of
God, "who dwelleth in light which no man can approach unto," and who is
whiter than the light in which he dwells, is, he is not myth, man-made.
God made man, and revealed to him the Maker.  Thus only do we explain
the surpassing picture the prophets and the Christ and the evangelists
have left us of the mighty God.  Caliban will persist in the belief
that the visible system was created in Setebos's moment of being ill at
ease and in cruel sportiveness.  Nature is a freak of a foul mind.  But
Caliban's god is not solitary.  How hideous were the Aztec gods!  They
were pictured horrors.  Montezuma's gods were Caliban's.  Caliban's
Setebos was another Moloch of the Canaanites, or a Hindoo Krishna.  And
the Greek and Norse gods were the infirm shadows of the men who dreamed
them.  Who says, after familiarizing himself with the religions of the
world, that Caliban or his theology is myth?  Setebos has no morals.
He has might.  But this was Jupiter.  Read "Prometheus Bound," and know
a Greek conception of Greek Zeus:

  "Such shows nor right nor wrong in him,
  Nor kind nor cruel: He is strong and Lord.
  Am strong myself compared to yonder crabs
  That march now from the mountain to the sea;
  Let twenty pass and stone the twenty-first,
  Loving not, hating not, just choosing so."

How hideous this god, decrepit in all save power!  But for argument,

        "He is good i' the main,
  Placable if his mind and ways were guessed,
  But rougher than his handiwork, be sure."

Caliban thinks Setebos is himself a creature, made by something he
calls "Quiet;" and what is this but the Gnostic notion of aeons and
their subordination to the great, hid God?  No, this brief dramatic
lyric is far from being an imagination.  Rather say it is a chapter
taken from the history of man's traffic in gods.  Setebos is creative;
lacks moral qualities in that he may be evil or good; acts from spleen,
and by simple caprice; is loveless; to be feared, deceived, tricked, as
Caliban tricks Prospero,--so run the crude theological speculations of
this man.  He gets no step nearer truth.  He walks in circles.  He is
shut in by common human limitations.  Man can not dream about the sky
until he has seen a sky, nor can he dream out God till God has been
revealed.  Caliban is no more helpless here than other men.  His
failure in theology is a picture of the failure of all men.  God must
show himself at Sinais and at Calvarys, at cross and grave and
resurrection and ascension; must pass from the disclosure of his being
the "I Am" to those climacteric moments of the world when he discovered
to us that he was the "I am Love" and the "I am the Resurrection and
the Life."  God is

        "Terrible: watch his feats in proof!
  One hurricane will spoil six good months' hope,
  He hath a spite against me, that I know,
  Just as He favors Prospero; who knows why?
  So it is all the same as well I find.
  . . .  So much for spite."

There is no after-life.

        "He doth His worst in this our life,
  Giving just respite lest we die through pain,
  Saving last pain for worst--with which, an end.
  Meanwhile, the best way to escape His ire
  Is, not to seem too happy."

Poor Caliban, not to have known that in the summer of man's joy our God
grows glad!  All he hopes is,

        "Since evils sometimes mend,
  Warts rub away and sores are cured with slime,
  That some strange day, will either the Quiet catch
  And conquer Setebos, or likelier he
  Decrepit may doze, doze, as good as die."

This is tragic as few tragedies know how to be.  Setebos is mean,
revengeful, fitful, spiteful, everything but good and noble; and his
votary will live to hope that he will either be conquered by a mightier
or will slumber forever!

So Caliban creates a god, a cosmogony, a theology; gets no thought of
goodness from God or for himself; gets no sign of reformation in
character; rises not a cubit above the ground where he constructs his
monologue; puts into God only what is in Caliban; has no faint hint of
love toward him from God, or from him toward God, when suddenly

        "A curtain o'er the world at once!
  Crickets stop hissing; not a bird--or, yes,
  There scuds His raven that has told Him all!
  It was fool's play, this prattling!  Ha!  The wind
  Shoulders the pillared dust, death's house o' the move,
  And fast invading fires begin!  White blaze--
  A tree's head snaps--and there, there, there, there, there,
  His thunder follows!  Fool to gibe at Him!
  Lo!  'Lieth flat and loveth Setebos!"

And there, like a groveling serpent in the ooze, there lies Caliban,
abject in fear, with not a ray of love.  Hopeless, loveless, see him
lie--a spectacle so sad as to make the ragged crags of ocean weep!

So pitiful a theology, yet no more pitiful than theologies created in
our own epoch.  Men, not brutal but opinionated, assume to comprehend
all things, God included.  They destroy and create theologies with the
flippant egotism of a French chevalier of the days of the Grand
Monarch.  They settle matters with a "Thus it is, and thus it is not."
Would not those men do well to read the parable, "Caliban upon
Setebos?"  Grant Allen and Huxley would be generously helped; for the
more they would lose in dogmatism, so much the more would they gain in
wisdom.  And what is true of them is true of others of their
fraternity.  This irony of Browning's is caustic, but very wholesome.
Barren as Caliban's theology is, certain contemporary theologies are
not less so.  A day to suffer and enjoy--and then the night, long,
dark, dreamless, eternal!

How sane Browning was!  What breadth of meaning is here disclosed!
What preacher of this century has preached a more inspired sermon than
"Caliban upon Setebos?"  He saw the irrationality of rationalism.  He
knew that knowledge of God came, as the new earth, "down from God out
of heaven."  Men will do better to receive theologies from God than to
create them.  A life we may live, having the Pattern "showed us in the
mount."  Christ gives the lie to Caliban's estimate of Deity.  Not
spite, nor misused might, nor caprice, nor life surcharged with either
indifference or spleen; but love and ministry and fertile thought and
wide devotion to others' good, an oblation of Himself--this is God, of
whom Caliban had no dream, and of whom the Christ was exegete.


William the Silent

Few illustrious characters are so little known as William the Silent.
His face has faded from the sky of history as glory from a sunset
cloud; though, on attention, reasons why this is so may not be
difficult to find.  Some of them are here catalogued: He did not live
to celebrate the triumph of his statesmanship.  The nation whose
autonomy and independence he secured is no longer a Republic, and so
has, in a measure, ceased to bear the stamp of his genius.  The narrow
limits of his theater of action; for the Belgic States were a trifling
province of Philip Second's stupendous empire, stretching, as it did,
from Italy to the farthest western promontory of the New World.  A
theater is something.  Throw a heroic career on a world theater, such
as Julius Caesar had, and men will look as they would on burning
Moscow.  The scene prevents obscuration.  And last, Holland has, in our
days, passed into comparative inconsequence, and presents few symptoms
of that strength which once aspired to the rulership of the oceans.

The Belgic provinces were borrowed from the ocean by an industry and
audacity which must have astonished the sea, and continues a glory to
those men who executed the task, and to all men everywhere as well,
since deeds of prowess or genius, wrought by one man or race, inure to
the credit of all men and all races, achievement being, not local, but
universal.  These Netherlands, lying below sea-levels, became the
garden-spot of Europe, nurturing a thrifty, capable people, possessing
positive genius in industry, so that they not only grew in their
fertile soil food for nations, if need be, but became weavers of
fabrics for the clothing of aristocracies in remote nations; this, in
turn, leading of necessity to a commerce which was, in its time, for
the Atlantic what that of Venice had been to the Mediterranean; for the
Netherlanders were as aquatic as sea-birds, seeming to be more at home
on sea than on dry land.  This is a brief survey of those causes which
made Flanders, though insignificant in size, a principality any king
might esteem riches.  In the era of William the Silent the Netherlands
had reached an acme of relative wealth, influence, and commanding
importance, and supplied birthplace and cradle to the Emperor Charles
V, who, for thirty-seven years (reaching from 1519 to 1556) was the
controlling force in European politics.  This ruler was grandson of
Ferdinand and Isabella, and thus of interest to Americans, whose
thought must be riveted on any one connected, however remotely, with
the discovery of this New World, which supplies a stage for the latest
and greatest experiment in civilization and liberty, religion, and
individual opportunity.  Low as Spain has now fallen, we can not be
oblivious to the fact how that, on a day, Columbus, rebuffed by every
ruler and every court, found at the Spanish court a queen who listened
to his dream, and helped the dreamer, because the enthusiasm and
eloquence of this arch-pleader lifted this sovereign, for a moment at
least, above herself toward the high level where Columbus himself
stood; and that she staked her jewels on the casting of this die must
always glorify Queen Isabella, and shine some glory on the nation whose
sovereign she was.  For such reason we are predisposed in Charles V's
favor.  He is as a messenger from one we love, whom we love because of
whence he comes.  His mother, Joanna, died, crazed and of a broken
heart, from the indifference, perfidy, and neglect of her husband,
Philip, Archduke of Austria.  Her story reads like a novelist's plot,
and reasonably too; for every fiction of woman's fidelity in love and
boundlessness and blindness of affection is borrowed from living
woman's conduct.  Woman originates heroic episodes, her love surviving
the wildest winter of cruelty and neglect, as if a flower prevailed
against an Arctic climate, despite the month-long night and severity of
frosts, and still opened petals and dispensed odors as blossoming in
daytime and sunlight of a far, fair country.

The story of Joanna and Mary Tudor read surprisingly alike.  In reading
these old chronicles, one would think woman's lot was melancholy as a
dreary day of uninterrupted rain.  Doubtless her lot is ameliorated in
these better days, when she is not chattel but sovereign, and gives her
hand where her heart has gone before.  But Queen Mary, dying alone,
longing for her Philip, who cared for her as much as a falcon for
singing-birds, turning her dying eyes southward where her Philip was,
moaning, "On my heart, when I am dead, you will find Philip's name
written!"--Mary Tudor was an echo of the pain and cry of Joanna,
Philip's grandmother, a princess lacking in beauty of person and in
sprightliness and culture of mind.  Indeed, her intellect was weak to
the verge of insanity; her love for her husband, the Archduke of
Austria, doting, and its exhibition extravagant; and her jealousy, for
whose exercise there was ample opportunity, insane and passionate.  One
thing she was, and that--a lover.  Her husband was a sun; and the less
he shined on her, the more did she pine for his light.  Than this, the
history of kingly conjugal relations has few sadder chapters.  Archduke
Philip was young, engaging, affable, fond of society, preferring the
Netherlands to Spain, and anything to his wife's companionship.  Joanna
and Philip were prospective heirs to the crowns of Castile and Aragon,
and, as was clearly wise, were urged by Queen Isabella to come to
Spain, and be acknowledged as expectant sovereigns by the Cortes of
both kingdoms.  This was done.  Here Duke Philip grew restless, eager
for the Netherlands, and, despite the entreaties of Ferdinand,
Isabella, and his wife, set out for the Low Countries three days before
Christmas, leaving his wife alone to give birth to a son, than which a
more heartless deed has not been credited even to the account of a
king.  But without him, Joanna sunk into a hopeless and irremediable
melancholy; and was sullenly restless without him till his return to
Brussels in the succeeding year.  Philip's coldness inflamed her ardor.
Three months after Joanna and Philip had been enthroned sovereigns of
Castile, Philip sickened and died with his brief months of kingship.
His death totally disordered an understanding already pitifully weak.
Her grief was tearless and pitiful.  To quote the words of Prescott:
"Her grief was silent and settled.  She continued to watch the dead
body with the same tenderness and attention as if it had been alive,
and though at last she permitted it to be buried, she soon removed it
from the tomb to her own apartment;" and she made it "her sole
employment to bewail the loss and pray for the soul of her husband."
Of such a weak though loyal and sorrowing mother was Charles V born at
Ghent, February 24, 1500, who, at the age of sixteen, was left by the
will of his godfather, Ferdinand, sole heir of his dominions; and at
the age of nineteen he was chosen Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Fortune conspired to do him homage.  Charles was little inclined to the
study of the humanities, but fond of martial exercise, and, though
neglecting general learning, studied, with avidity and success, history
and the theory and practice of government, and accustomed himself to
practical management of affairs in the government of the Netherlands,
as early as 1515 attending the deliberations of the Privy Council.  He
was, as a youth, a prince of whom a realm would naturally feel proud,
though he scarcely displayed those qualities which were afterward his
chief characteristics.  In 1516, King Ferdinand, dying, left Cardinal
Ximenes regent of Castile, thus bringing Charles into contact with one
of the foremost statesmen of Spanish history.  Ximenes was rigorously
ascetic in his life, and absolutely irreproachable in his morals, in an
age when the clergy were excessively corrupt.  He doubled his fasts,
wore a hair shirt, slept on the bare ground, scourged himself with
assiduity and ardor; became the confessor of Queen Isabella, and
therefore of great political importance, inasmuch as she followed his
counsel, not alone in things spiritual, but also in things temporal.
Severe in his sanctity, he demanded the same of his brethren, and
reformed the Franciscans, over whom he had been put despite frantic
opposition.  In the face of his own disinclination and determined
refusal to accept the office, he was impelled, by means of a second
papal bull, to accept the episcopate of Toledo, the highest
ecclesiastical honor in Spain; but under his episcopal robes still wore
his coarse monk's frock.  The nobles of Castile were agreed to intrust
that kingdom's affairs in his hands at the death of Philip, and after
the death of Ferdinand the regency devolved upon him; and in the midst
of a turbulent nobility, he ruled as born to kingship.  Charles
continued him in power after he had assumed the kingdom, but made such
lawless demands on the Spanish people as to bring Ximenes into ill
favor among those for whom he administered.  At the last he tasted that
ingratitude so characteristic of Charles, and was virtually superseded
in his regency, but had lived long enough to disclose a mind and force
which entitle him to a high rank among the statesmen of the world.  At
the beginning of his reign, Charles had begun that series of
ingratitudes and betrayals which ended only with his abdication.
Charles V was a braggadocio, a tyrant, a sensualist, without honor, and
without nobility.  The surprise grows on us, perceiving such a man
courted, fêted, honored, and arbiter of the destinies of Europe for
thirty-seven years.  I do not find one virtue in him.  In Julius
Caesar, a voluptuary and red with carnage, there were yet multitudinous
virtues.  We do not wonder men loved him and were glad to die for him.
He had a soul, and honor, and remembrance of friendship.  He was a
genius, superlative and bewildering.  We can forget and forgive some
things in such a man; but for such a sovereign as Charles V, what can
we say, save that he was not so execrable as Philip II, his son?
Charles, being Flemish in birth, both Flanders and himself considered
him less Spaniard than Belgian.  He was Emperor first and King of Spain
afterward; and in Flanders he set the pageant of his abdication.

In the court of Charles V, William the Silent was reared, being sent
hither of his father, at Charles's request, to be brought up in the
emperor's household as a prospective public servant, and was dear to
the monarch, so far as any one could be dear to him; and the emperor,
at his abdication, leaned on Orange, then a youth of but twenty-one.
To what an extent he comprehended so humane a sentiment, Charles had
been tender with the Netherlands because of his life-long relation to
its people.  He looked a Netherlander rather than a Spaniard, and felt
one, so that, so far as he showed favors, he showed them to this
opulent people.  Charles, with his many faults, had yet a rude
geniality, which softened or seemed to soften his asperity toward those
about him.

In Philip, his son, was not even this slight redemptive quality.  On
October 25, 1555, at the age of fifty-five, worn out prematurely with
lecherousness, gormandizing, lust of power, and recent defeats, Charles
V abdicated in favor of his son, Philip.  As they two stand on the dais
at this solemn ceremony, it were well to take a close look at father
and son.  They are contrasts, as pronounced as valley and mountain, and
yet possess characteristics of evil in common.  Charles was knit
together like an athlete, his shoulders were broad and his chest deep;
his face was ugly to the measure of hideousness; his lower jaw
protruded so as to make it impossible for his teeth to meet, and his
speech was for that reason barely intelligible.  A voracious eater, an
incessant talker, adventurous, a born soldier, fond of tournament,
spectacular in war and peace and abdication, now crippled in hands and
legs, he stands, a picture of decrepitude, ready to give away a crown
he can no longer wear.  Philip, the son, is thin and fragile to look
upon, diminutive in stature; in face, resembling his father in "heavy,
hanging lip, vast mouth, and monstrously protruding lower jaw.  His
complexion was fair, his hair light and thin, his beard yellow, short,
and pointed.  He had the aspect of a Fleming, but the loftiness of a
Spaniard.  His demeanor in public was silent, almost sepulchral.  He
looked habitually on the ground when he conversed, was chary of speech,
embarrassed, and even suffering in manner."  Such is the new king as we
see him; and Motley has put our observations into words for us.  But if
in looks there were manifest resemblances and extreme divergencies, in
character they were wide apart.  Charles was soldier, first and always;
Philip was a man for the cabinet, having neither inclination nor
ability for generalship.  To lead an army was Charles's pride and
delight--things Philip could not and would not attempt.  Charles was
for the open air, sky, continent; Philip was for the cloister, and
spent his life immured as if he had been a monk.  In Charles was
bravado, impudence, intolerable egotism, atrocious lack of honor, but
there was a dash about him as about Marshal Ney or Prince Joachin
Murat; Philip was stolid, vindictive, incapable of enthusiasm or
friendship.  Charles ruled Spain as a principality; Philip held the
world as a principality of Spain.  As has been indicated, Charles was
Spanish in relationship and not in disposition; Philip was Spaniard to
the exclusion of all else.  Charles, if he was anything, was brilliant;
Philip was as lacking in color as a bank of winter clouds, no more
conceiving brilliancy than he conceived of greatness of soul or manly

In Spanish character were chivalrous qualities, mixed with ferocity and
pitiless cruelty.  Pizarro and Cortes were attractive; we like to look
at them a second time.  Much we condemn, but much we admire.  Their
sagacity, their prowess, their heroic spirit, take us captive despite
their baser qualities.  In them was duplicity, revenge, bigotry,
heathenish cruelty; but these were not all the qualities the inventory
discovered.  In Philip, however, were all the Spanish villainies
without the Spanish virtues.  He is blessed with scarcely a redeeming
quality.  His excellencies were a stolid inability to believe himself
defeated, which, had it been joined to patriotism and intelligent
action, had risen to the heroic; he was loyal to his convictions; and
he was painstakingly laborious, and worked in his cabinet like a paid
clerk.  In truth, his disposition for and ability to work are among the
most marked instances in history.  Not Julius Caesar himself worked
with more unflagging industry.  But Philip had no illuminated moments.
His toil was blind, like a mole's progress.  He read and annotated all
state dispatches; wrote many long epistles with his own hand, eschewing
secretarial aid.  He had a mind capacious for minutiae; was colossally
egotistical; was as little cast down by defeat as elevated by triumph,
which is in itself a quality of heroic mold, but viewed narrowly turns
out to be imperturbable phlegmaticism and self-assurance, which simply
underrated disasters, making himself oblivious to them as if they did
not exist.  He was possessor of the greatest realm ever swayed by a
single scepter.  He affected to be proprietor of the seas; he thought
Flanders a garden to be tilled to supply his table, and its wealth,
gold for him to squander on Armadas.  Italian provinces were his, and
Spain was his; and the Western Hemisphere, by his own daring
assumption, and the generosity of the papal gift, and the toils of
Ponce de Leon and de Soto and Coronado and Pizarro and Cortes, was his.
Compared with the wide and bewildering extent of his kingdom, the Roman
Empire was a dukedom.  His empire spurred him to world-dominion, and he
used his patrimony and its fabulous wealth to attempted enforcement of
his claim to the sovereignty of England and Western Europe.  His
ambition was in nothing less than Alexander's, but his conception of
means adequate to campaigns was meager.  A task he could see and a
kingdom he could desire, but adequacy of preparation for world-conquest
never crept into his thought.  He was as niggardly in supplying his
generals and armies as Queen Elizabeth, and all but as voluble in abuse
of his servants in the field or cabinet, and as thankless to those who
had wrought his will.  Parma, and Requesens, and Don John, and Alva, he
drove almost frantic by his excessive demands and expectations, coupled
with his entire inadequacy in preparation and supplies.  His soldiers
were always on the point of mutiny for food, or clothing, or pay, or
all together.  However, this ought in fairness to be said, that the
only contemporary Government which did pay its soldiers promptly and
fairly was the Netherlands, one reason worth weighing why, under Prince
Maurice in particular, Flemish armies made such vigorous head against
Spanish aggressions.

Just two people Philip gave consideration to--himself and the pope.
His narrow nature, while not capable of enthusiasm, was capable of a
tenacious and unflagging loyalty.  What in a manly spirit or in a
martyr would have bloomed into nobility, devotion, and self-sacrifice,
in a man like Philip became a settled cruelty and bigotry which finds
few parallels in the annals of the world.  He was a creature of the
Church, as he conceived all in his dominions were creatures to him.
Free will and the right to conviction he did not claim for himself and
would not consider for others.  The world was an autocracy, universal,
necessary, the pope as chief tyrant and Philip under-lord--he must obey
the pope; the people must obey him.  To Philip these conclusions were
axiomatic, and therefore not subjects for debate.  That all his
subjects did not readily concede to him the right to be the director of
their conscience was looked upon as unreasoning stubbornness, to be
punished with block and rack, and prison and stake.

Philip is anomalous.  We can not get into a mind like his.  Statesman
he was not; for the nurture of national wealth, such as Cromwell and
Caesar planned for, he was incapable of.  His idea of statesmanship was
that his kingdom was a cask, into which he should insert a spigot and
draw.  This was government of an ideal order, Philip being judge.  The
divine right of kings was a foregone conclusion, antagonism to which
was heresy.  Here let us not blame Philip; for this was the temper of
his era, and to have anticipated in him larger views than those of his
contemporaries is not just.  To this notion was his whole nature keyed.
He commanded the Netherlands to be faithful Catholics.  What more was
needed?  Let this be the end.  So reasoned the Spanish autocrat; and
fealty to religious convictions on his subjects' part seemed to him
nothing but settled obstinacy, to be burned out with martyrs' fires or
cut out with swords swung by Alva's cruel hands.

Philip was the ideal bigot.  How far bigotry is native to the soul may
well be a question for grave discussion, demanding possibly more
attention than has been accorded it hitherto.  And how far is bigotry
to be looked on as a vice?  Though this question will be laughed down,
as if to ask it were to stultify the asker; but not so fast, since
bigotry is not all bad.  To hold an opinion is considered a virtue.  To
hold an opinion of righteousness against all odds for conscience' sake,
we rightly account heroism.  Is not a lover or a patriot a bigot?  Or
if not, where does he miss of being?  We are to hold opinion and not
become opinionated, a thing discovered to be difficult in an extreme

Bigotry is an excess of a virtue, and to pass from conscientiousness to
bigotry is not a long nor difficult journey.  All views are not equally
true.  This every sane mind holds as self-evident.  There is a
liberalism at this point which would run, if let go its logical course,
to the sophist fallacy that truth did not exist, and therefore one view
was as just as another--an attitude repugnant to all fine ethical
natures.  Now, conceiving we have the truth, we must, in reason and in
conscience, be in so far intolerant to those who antagonize the truth.
The theist is intolerant toward the atheist; truth is intolerant toward
falsehood; good is intolerant toward evil; God intolerant toward sin.
Righteousness is always intolerant; and any one advocating unlimited
intellectual tolerance is breaking down the primary distinctions
between falsehood and truth.  Some things are true and their opposites
false.  Jesus put the case in an immortal phrase: "Ye can not serve God
and Mammon."  The query, then, is, Where does this intolerance of truth
pass into bigotry?  For I think it easy to see that this passage is but
a step, nor is the dividing line so easy to discover as we might wish.
Ask this question, to illustrate our dilemma, "What is the difference
between legitimate competition and monopoly?"  An answer rises to the
lip instanter, but is no sooner given than perceived to be invalid.  A
like closeness of relation exists between the virtue of intolerance and
the vice of intolerance, a synonym of which is bigotry.  Virtue is
intolerant of vice, and there are great verities in the kingdom of God
to be held if life must pay the price of their retention.  This is the
explanation of martyrs, whose office is to witness to truth by cross
and sword and fagot.  The Reformation stands for the right of free
judgment in things appertaining to religion, thought, and politics.
Luther was liberator of Europe, and through Europe of the world, in the
three departments where life lives its thrilling story.  A tolerant
intolerance holds with strong hand to truth, but demands for others
what it demands for itself; namely, the right to interpret and follow
truth so far as such procedure does not interfere with the rights of
another.  Tolerance of this sort does not destroy, nor yet surrender,
conviction.  Bigotry demands the enforcement of its opinions upon all,
and is a reign of compulsion.  Applying this argument to Philip, a
noteworthy bigot, we see how it was his right to be a Roman Catholic
and to be a zealous propagandist, since kingship does not hinder a king
from being a man, with a man's religious rights and duties.  Philip's
fault lay in his not allowing to others the right of religious freedom
himself possessed.  He stands, to this hour, a perfect specimen of

Under sovereignty such as this was William the Silent citizen.
William, Prince of Orange, was born in Nassau, April 23, 1533, and was
assassinated at the convent of St. Agatha, in Delft, July 10, 1584,
when a trifle over fifty-one years of age.  Let us get our
chronological bearings accurately: Luther died in 1546; Lepanto was
fought in 1571; the Massacre of St. Bartholomew occurred in 1572; the
Invincible Armada was destroyed in 1588; Philip was crowned king in
October of 1555, and died at the Escurial in 1598; the Spanish
Inquisition was established in 1480 by Ferdinand and Isabella; the
Edict of Nantes was promulgated in 1598; Queen Elizabeth Tudor ascended
her throne in 1558; America received her first permanent colony in
1585, at St. Augustine, Florida.  From this assemblage of dates, we see
in what a ferment of momentous civil, religious, and political events
the Prince of Orange found his life cast.  We may not choose our time
to live, not yet our time to die; but some eras are spacious above
others, not length, but achievement, making an age illustrious.
William the Silent's age was a maelstrom of events, and there were no
quiet waters; and this appears certain: The dominant force of those
turbulent times was religious, by which I mean that religion is the key
of all movements, politics being shaped by theological dogmas and
purposes.  These dates certify to the omnipresence of religious
movement; for the Inquisition, Lepanto, the great Armada, the Edict of
Nantes, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, are all ecclesiastical in
intent, by which is not at all meant they were good, but were perverted
religious views, in which human wickedness, ambition, and bigotry
pre-empted religion, and used it as a medium of expression, and in turn
were used by the thing they had fostered.  No more prevalent
misconception prevails than that religion is the cause of outrageous
violence, disorder, and misconduct; the truth being, rather, men's
passions, under guise of religion, rush their own wanton course.  In
this particular era of history, all movements were religious, as has
been shown; and Philip thought himself the apostle of religion, chosen
of God, and was used by the Roman Catholic Church, and, as a wise
historian affirms, "In fanatical enthusiasm for Catholicism, he was
surpassed by no man who ever lived."  His religion and his ambition
were fellow-conspirators.  Philip II of Spain was a Roman Catholic
fanatic; Charles IX of France was a weak mind, of no definite religious
conviction, but used by the Catholics to bring about the massacre of
seventy thousand Huguenots; Henry IV of France was probably a Huguenot
in genuine feeling, but a political trimmer, a daring and brilliant
soldier, a frenzied devotee of women, religion giving him small
concern, and his change from Huguenotism to Catholicism a circumstance
as trifling as the exchange of his hunter's paraphernalia for court
apparel; Queen Elizabeth was as nearly devoid of religious instincts as
is possible for a woman, though her purposes and position in politics
drove her to the Protestant cause; William of Orange was born a
Protestant, reared a Catholic, first in the household of the Regent of
the Low countries, and afterward at the court of Charles V, suffered
revulsion of sentiment under the unthinkable atrocities of the
Inquisition as carried on in the Netherlands, till at last he became a
Protestant of the most pronounced and honest type.

In Prince William's time, modern Europe was in the alembic, a
circumstance which makes his epoch so engrossing to the student of
modern history.  Protestantism became a new political, social,
intellectual, and religious order.  Even apart from his religious
significance, Martin Luther is the marked figure of the sixteenth
century.  Columbus discovered a New World; Luther peopled it with civil
and religious forces.  Puritanism was the flower of that earlier-day
Protestantism.  Besides, the Walloons settled New Amsterdam; the
Huguenots, the Carolinas; the Anglicans, Virginia; the Lutherans, New
Sweden.  From the standpoint of statesmanship, Luther was shaping
peoples for a New World, and was the commanding personality of those
stormy years in which, like a warrior who never knew fatigue, he fought
the battles of the living God.  Unquestionably, the Reformation meant
liberty in conscience, intellect and citizenship, which are the
quintessence of modern civilization.  In those years, during which
William the Silent was a prodigious force, Protestantism was troubling
the waters.  New religious ideas must ultimate in new political
institutions, of which the Dutch Republic was a sort of first draft,
and the United States of America an edited and perfected draft.

Protestantism was in justifiable revolt against Roman Catholicism, a
foe to progress and liberty in religion, then and now, and now not less
than then.  It was intolerance run mad, whose method was the
Inquisition.  One can not say a good word for this system, where
Jesuitism finds home and inspiration, where the end justifies the
means, and any diabolism passes for saintliness if done for the
advancement of the "true faith."  Yet here, as always, we must be on
guard, supposing this to be a fruit of religion; rather is it selfish
human nature, taking an ecclesiastical system to do business in, thus
availing itself of the religious impulse in the soul to work out a
purely earthly interest.  Early Christianity, as all pure Christianity,
presses Christ's method of making appeal to the individual, impressing
him with a sense of his sin and his lost estate; of the necessity of
repentance; of salvation from sin by faith in a Divine Christ.  When
Christianity came to the throne with Constantine, when ultimately
masses of people were baptized on compulsion, Christianity took on the
pomp and paraphernalia of heathenism, so as to make appeal to the
sensuous element in heathen nature; in a word, Christianity became as
much or more heathen than Christian, and this mongrel of Christianity
and heathenism is Roman Catholicism.  Root, stem, and branch, it is
hostile to the Word of God, and, as every such system must do, darkened
the consciences of men.  We may not forget, however, its essential
religious and scholastic services in earlier years, nor that it has
nurtured some of the saints among the centuries.  Catholicism has a
basis of Christianity, and, could the excrescences be hewn away, and
this foundation be again discovered, then for Roman Catholicism would
dawn a new and greater era.  But as the system stands, it affected
temporal sovereignty, it humbled kings, and gave away empires.  Pope
Leo X was not a bad man, being so far superior to Alexander XII as to
preclude comparison.  Many popes had been so vile as to have shocked
even the moral indifference of those times; but Leo X, son of Lorenzo
the Magnificent, heir of the traditions in companionship and the
humanities which had made Florence illustrious,--Leo, cultivated,
brilliant, clean in his personal life, had assembled around him men
reasonably good.  His aesthetic inclinations were running him deeply in
debt, and to fill the bankrupt treasury, His Holiness commissioned
Tetzel to sell indulgences--a practice repugnant to moral instinct, to
the dignity of the Church, and the honor of our God, and yet a practice
continued by Romanism in our own day and under our own eyes.  To
suppose that Romanism has reformed is current with intelligent persons,
though no supposition could be more erroneous.  All those beliefs
prevalent in the days of Luther are affirmed at this hour, with the
addition of the doctrine of papal infallibility and the immaculate
conception.  To-day indulgences are sold in the United States,
noticeably so in Arizona; and a son of a bishop in the Methodist
Episcopal Church, because his name chanced to have a foreign flavor,
was written to and offered one year's indulgences for twenty-five
dollars!  Catholicism has not changed.  The Inquisition was abolished
in Spain by Napoleon in 1808, re-established after the Spaniards had
reassumed their government, and finally abolished by the Cortes in
1820.  The system of Catholicism is leprous, and in the age of William
the Silent had power and political ascendency so as to command rack and
fagot, and dungeons so deep as that from them no cry could reach any
ear save God's; and in the person of the mean, sullen, and
indefatigable Philip had apt instrument.

When the Prince of Orange was ambassador in the court of France, Henry
II, supposing him to be privy to his master's plans, on a
hunting-excursion, casually mentioned a private treaty with Alva to
join with Philip to exterminate heresy from their joint kingdoms.
Small wonder if Orange, riding beside French royalty that day, grew
pitiful toward unsuspicious, doomed thousands, and pitiless toward
Philip and his Spanish soldiers and followers, or that, to use his own
words from the famous "Apology," "From that moment I determined in
earnest to clear the Spanish venom from the land."  Watch his flushed
face; his eyes, like coals taken fresh from an altar of vengeance; his
hand, nervously fingering his sword-hilt; his form, dilating as if for
the first time he guessed he had come to manhood,--and I miss in
reckoning if we are not looking on the person of a patriot.  For this
William of Orange and Nassau is William the Silent, keeping his
dreadful secret; but keeping the secret, too, that the Inquisition and
Catholicism, and Spain, and Philip have an enemy whose hostility can
only be silenced by a bullet.  The day the French king gave William
this fatal confidence was an epoch in the life of William and of Europe.

His life divides into two periods, this dialogue between himself and
Henry II closing the one and opening the other.  With that fatal
confidence his youth ended and his manhood began.  Get a closer view of
his youth.  From his fifteenth to his twenty-first year he was in
constant attendance at the court of Charles V, who loved, trusted, and
honored him.  He was at this age, rich, frivolous, spendthrift; in
short, a petted nobleman of the greatest monarch in Christendom.  He
had evident gifts; was generous to lavishness; mortgaged his estate to
gratify his luxurious tastes; was given to political expediency, caring
less for conviction than popularity with his sovereign; wearing his
religion, if he may be said to have possessed any, as lightly as a
lady's favor; lacking in reverence, he was flippant rather than
irreligious, but a youth of fashion, pleasure, and luxury.  Charles V,
discovering in him extraordinary parts, invested him, at the age of
twenty-two, with command of the imperial forces before Marienburg, and
at his abdication leaned affectionately on William's shoulder.  Count
Egmont alone excepted, Orange was the most distinguished Flemish
nobleman who passed from Charles to Philip as part of the emperor's
bequest.  Early in Philip's reign, Orange was made one of the king's
counselors and Knight of the Golden Fleece, at that time most coveted
and honorable of any military knighthood.  At the age of twenty-six, he
was one of the peace commissioners between Henry II and Philip II, and
at this time he came into possession of that secret which changed his
life.  Here ends the youth of William of Nassau.  Let us get this man
more clearly in the eye.  He was above middle height, spare, sinewy;
dark in complexion; had gentle brown eyes, auburn hair and beard; face
thin, nose aquiline; head small, but well formed; his hair luxuriant,
his beard trimmed to a point; about his neck the superb collar of the
Golden Fleece.  He is married, and his home is Breda.

Between the young king and his Flemish Stadtholder was never any warmth
of feeling.  When Orange, pursuant to his resolution formed in the
French king's presence, spurred the States to demand the removal of the
Spanish soldiers from the Netherlands, with a pertinacity dogged and
changeless till the king, in sheer desperation, acquiesced in the just
demand, though with a chagrin of spirit toward the instrument of his
defeat which became settled hatred, and never lifted from his heart for
a moment in those long succeeding years, when the king, like a recluse
in the Escurial, brooded over his defeat.  His troops forced from
Flemish territories, Philip himself departed from a region he had never
loved and had scarcely tolerated, departed, not to return any more,
save by proxy of fire and sword, and cruel soldiery, and more cruel
generals--the pitiless Parmas and Alvas--and departing, he embraced the
other noblemen with such cold warmth as was native to him, but
upbraided Orange bitterly for the action of the States, and when Orange
replied the action was not his, but the States-General, Philip, beside
himself with rage, cried, "Not the States, but you! you! you!"  Thus
King Philip passed into Spain, and the Prince of Orange into the second
era of his life.

Macaulay has written the life of William III with such warmth, glow,
fullness, and art as to have rendered other biographies superfluous.
The history of William III was the history of England during his reign.
He was England at its best.  William the Silent was the Netherlands at
their best.  Motley has written "The Rise of the Dutch Republic," and
in so doing has written a glowing narrative of the origin of the
Netherland Republic; and has besides, in the same breath, given a
biography of William the Silent.  What nobler eulogy could be
pronounced than to say a man's life was his country's history during
his lifetime?  Motley's thrilling narrative is the worthiest life of
William written.  Read Motley, and the last greatest word shall have
been told you regarding this hero of the sixteenth century.  In
Prescott's "Philip the Second" may be found an incomplete
characterization of the prince, without the unfavorable attitude toward
Philip or the laudatory view of William presented in Motley.  These two
American historians have approached their theme with such ampleness of
scholastic research and elaborate access to and use of the
correspondence of Margaret, Parma, Alva, Granvelle, Don John of
Austria, William, and Philip, as practically to exhaust the sources of
information on this tragic reign, at the same time shutting off much of
possibility from the future historian.  William has at last, in Motley,
found a biographer for whom any illustrious character might be
thankful.  So elaborate and complete were these researches that Miss
Putnam, in her "William the Silent," has scarcely developed a single
new fact, and has in all cases conceded the thoroughness and
sufficiency of Motley's investigations.  The present writer's apology
for attempting what has been done so incomparably well is, that he
feels an essay of moderate length, which, because of its brevity, may
find an audience, is a desideratum in English literature, this essay to
point out the heroic proportions of William; enough so, if may be, to
lend eagerness to those who read, so they may be decoyed into perusing
Motley's noble histories.  I would help a reader of this essay to see
the theater and actors, and to that end lift this curtain.

Philip having, on August 26, 1559, sailed from Flushing, Spainward,
William's lifework properly began.  At this date, his attitude has not
developed, but stands as a block of marble a sculptor has chiseled
enough to show a statue is intended, but not sufficiently to disclose
the sculptor's purpose.  One thing alone was definite and unalterable,
to combat the introduction of the Inquisition and the extermination of
the Protestant Netherlanders by aid from the Spanish soldiery.  The
first checkmate given Philip's nefarious scheme was when the
States-General compelled his removal of the troops, though at this time
William was still Catholic in religion and a loyal subject of Philip,
being in no sense a revolutionist.  He was easily the first citizen of
the Netherlands; twenty-six years of age; not matured, but maturing;
not faultless, but in process of being fashioned for a distinguished
career of patriotism and catholicity.  Our full selves bloom slowly.
Our life is no mushroom, but a tree, and a tree requires long
growth-periods.  Orange was so.  A grave, moral, and patriotic purpose
in itself suffices to shape a career of grandeur and service.  Had he
been told he would die a Protestant and a rebel, he would have been
instant to deny the charge, and this through no duplicity, but from
lack of knowledge of his own soul temper, coupled with an inability to
forecast a stormy future.  We can not walk by sight in action and
politics any more than in religion--a thing the prince found out as the
turbulent years passed.  He has been vehemently accused of duplicity.
He has been depicted as hypocrite and plotter against his rightful
sovereign.  I find no marks of this on him.  That he had ambition is
not to be argued; but ambition is no sin if worthily directed.  He did
things not consonant with our ethics, belonging, in that sense, to his
age, an age of diplomatic duplicity.  He did not tell all he knew.  He
had in his pay the king's private secretary, and received a copy of any
letter the king wrote; and when at last the secretary's treason was
discovered, he paid the penalty of his perfidy by being torn in pieces
by four horses; yet bribery of employees was common then, and was a
practice of every potentate, and was what Philip did in every court in
Christendom.  Absolute fealty was all but unknown.  Each man was
believed to have his price, and the belief, in most instances, was not
erroneous.  Besides, William was in a state of perpetual war with
Philip, and war makes its own code, and justifies the otherwise
unjustifiable, and but for this subtle surveillance of the king's
intention, no stand could have been made against his treachery and
encroachments; for he was the sum of duplicities, deceiving everybody,
those nearest to him and most intimately in his counsels no less than
his foes.  Duplicity was native to him as respiration.  Granvelle, who
in treacherous diplomacy was not inferior to Macchiavelli, him Philip
deceived.  Such a king, William met by finesse and deception against
finesse and deception.  To judge a statesman of the sixteenth century
by the ethics of the nineteenth century is studied injustice.  He is
accused of evasion in his marriage with Anne of Saxony, and the
accusation is, in my conviction, just; but probably at that juncture in
his career his religious notions were in a state of ferment, himself as
yet knowing not what he would be.  In any case, however, to use the
words of Putnam, "From the expediency of his youth he grew gradually to
a high standard of honor."  In the stress of the battle for liberty,
when he was reduced to counting his very garments, his luxurious habits
slipped from him, and disinterestedness grew upon him.  Cromwell was
formed when first we saw him; Orange grows before our eyes, as we have
watched the blooming of some sacred flower.  Orange was no saint.  Who
so thinks him, thinks amiss.  He had manifold faults, as what man has
not?  But that the growing purpose of his life was heroic and single,
and that he devoted a laborious manhood to the enfranchisement of his
country and religion, no fair historian can deny.  His career naturally
oscillated between the general and the statesman, the statesman being
in the ascendant.  Some men are primarily soldiers; secondarily,
statesmen; as was Sulla or Marlborough.  In others, the statesman
stands first, the soldier in them being second, as in Julius Caesar,
whose widest achievements always spring out of his statesmanship as
naturally as a plant out of the soil.  At this point, Caesar and
William the Silent touch, by which is not meant that in either field
William approximates Caesar; for Julius Caesar is one of the few
greatest products of the world.  William fought because he must; he was
statesman because he would.

Philip never swerved from his purpose; but though his Armadas were
wrecked and his treasure galleons seized, in his cabinet he set himself
to rigorous purpose, demanding impossibilities of his commanders,
paying his soldiers ill if at all, equipping his expeditions
insufficiently, but never failing in his demands on his servants.  In
harmony with this dogged persistency of purpose, he never changed from
his plan of making the Netherlands Roman Catholic, giving his subjects'
scruples no thought.  He had commanded--let that suffice; his
instruments Margaret, and Alva, and Requesens, and Don John, and Parma,
and the Inquisition, with which atrocious instrument of propagandism
the reader is doubtless familiar.  To 1546 no symptom of disloyalty
toward the king is visible in William; he was jubilant rather, feeling
the grievances could be remedied if only Cardinal Granvelle's authority
were lessened.  His own involved finances troubled him, and to them he
gave such vigilant attention as to reduce his debts to the point where
they gave him no concern.  Above financial difficulties, were those
connected with his wife, Anne, who proved half-mad and wholly lacking
in virtue, though, in truth, her life was far from being a joyous one,
if such were possible to a character like hers.  How much of blame
attaches to the prince for this estrangement can not now be discovered;
suffice it to say, no lack in his conduct could excuse lack of virtue
in her.  William was lonely, and writes his brother Louis to come to
him, if only for a fortnight.  So far as surfaces may indicate, his
relations with Philip were at this period placid, and himself loyal,
only he is alert always to avert any encroachment of tyranny.  Philip,
undeterred by all his fair words and promises, supported by royal
honor, spoken to Count Egmont, who had been sent to the Escurial to
make formal protest in behalf of the nobles against religious
persecution, not so much as a question of tolerance as a question of
wisdom, seeing all the nobles were sincere Catholics, and the further
impossibility of enforcing such an edict,--Philip, in the face of these
advices and in the face of his promises, sent, in 1565, peremptory
orders to Margaret of Parma, Regent of the Netherlands, to proceed
against heretics.  So Philip's duplicity was revealed and the die cast.
One thing was fortunate: the worst was known.  Protests poured in, a
veritable flood--protests against all Inquisitorial methods in a land
accustomed to liberty--the prince, meantime, remaining moderate, to the
exasperation of the Protestants, whose blood boiled at the prospect of
an Inquisition in their midst and for their extermination.  From Breda,
William watched evils take shape, his very calm giving him advantage in
forming accurate judgment of the magnitude of opposition on which he
might rely, concurring in a remonstrance drawn up in March of 1566; and
in the latter part of this month he went to a meeting of the Council at
Brussels, where he spoke frankly against the measures of the king,
urging moderation on this ground, "To see a man burn for his opinion
does harm to the people, and does nothing to maintain religion;" and in
the ensuing April, Brederode presented the remonstrance, Margaret the
Regent replying she could not--_i.e._, dared not--suspend the
Inquisition.  Thus were the famous "Beggars" ushered into history.
Prince William, nothing revolutionary in character, still counseled
quiet till all his hopes were frustrated and all his fears realized,
when, on August 18th, in an annual festival of Antwerp Catholicism, a
tumult arose over the wooden Virgin, and rebellion against Philip II
was actually inaugurated; for from this hour the Confederates armed and
strengthened themselves against the policy and duplicity of Margaret
the regent and Philip the king, having accurate knowledge of the
character of each.  Orange is still on the side of submission, and
Motley, than whom there is no better authority, thinks September the
month of his considering seriously forcibly resisting Philip's
encroachments; for now, through a trusted messenger, he puts on guard
Count Egmont, whose sanguine temperament leads him still to put
reliance in Philip's fair words.  Evidently we have come to the
beginning of the end.  Erelong, William of Orange will be a rebel.

The second period of William's life, stretching from Henry II's
revelation to the prince's death, is divisible into two parts--part
first reaching to the outbreak at Antwerp, in which, though on the
defensive, he was yet actually loyal; part second beginning with the
Antwerp outbreak, when he saw Philip clearly, and as a patriot, and
loving the Netherlands more than he loved a foreign and tyrannical
king, he, in a lesser or greater degree, meditated rebellion.  We are
now come to the last stage in the journey of the prince.  Events had
more doom in them than he or any man could guess, and marched on like
an army at double quick.  In March, 1567, came Philip's order
commanding every Flemish functionary (each of whom had taken oath at
the beginning of his reign) to take a new oath, demanding "every man in
his service, without any exception whatever, should now renew his oath
of fealty," said oath reading, "Demanding a declaration from every
person in office as to his intention to carry out His Majesty's will,
without limitation or restriction," which William, refusing to take,
offered his resignation to the regent; and the breach was made.  On
April 10, 1567, Orange wrote Philip his intention of withdrawing from
the Royal Council, and on the day following, leaving his office vacant,
departed from Antwerp for Breda; and the breach was complete, and
William the Silent was calendared as a traitor.  In May, Alva set out
from Spain with an army to subdue the rebellious Flemings; and Philip,
sinister, pugnacious, relentless, was seen a life-size figure.  Philip
was now himself.  In September, Prince Maurice was born and christened
with Lutheran rites, the Prince of Orange thus beginning his hegira
from the Church of Rome.  In the spring of 1568, Orange formally took
up arms against these Spanish invaders; and in October, 1573, he
formally became a Protestant, thus becoming a civil and ecclesiastical

Thus far events have been given in their chronological order, a process
needful no longer, the steps having been shown by which William of
Orange, a Catholic prince, loyal to and trusted by Charles V, has come
to be a rebel against the Church and Philip II, with a price put upon
his head.  His remaining life is one long, bloody, tireless, valorous,
magnificent, though often hopeless, effort to consummate the freeing of
his native land from ecclesiastical and civil tyranny.

William the Silent must be studied as soldier, for such he
unquestionably was.  Men are best pictured by comparisons.  William was
cool, deliberate, judicial, eloquent on occasion, but not magnetic.
His qualities were not such as blaze in a battle-charge, such as
Marshal Murat knew to lead.  Those methods were entirely foreign to
him.  He has even been accused of cowardice, though, so far as I can
judge, without justice.  His circumstances--the lack of armies; the
sluggard patriotism of his countrymen; his constant negotiations, not
to say intrigues, with many persons; his perpetual efforts to raise
moneys to equip forces to carry on the patriotic warfare--seem to have
left him scant time to lead armies in person.  His retirement to Breda
on his first break with his sovereign was deliberate, open, and manly.
If naturally timid, to quote Motley, "he was certainly possessed of
perfect courage at last.  In siege and battle, in the deadly air of
pestilential cities, in the long exhaustion of mind and body, which
comes from unduly protracted labor and anxiety, amid the countless
conspiracies of assassins, he was daily exposed to death in every
shape.  Within two years, five different attempts against his life had
been discovered.  Rank and fortune were offered to any malefactor who
would compass his murder.  He had already been shot through the head
and almost mortally wounded.  Under such circumstances, even a brave
man might have seen a pitfall at every step, a dagger in every hand,
and poison in every cup.  On the contrary, he was ever cheerful, and
hardly took more precaution than usual."  Surely these are not marks of
cowardice.  Compare William with Henry IV of France, and Count Egmont,
hero of St. Quentin's.  They were soldiers, never statesmen.  Henry was
goaded by impulse.  He, on the now classic field of Ivry, calling his
soldiers to follow where his white plume leads, is a hero-soldier
figure; and Egmont, generous, impulsive, magnetic, chivalrous, devoid
of forecast, had, at St. Quentin's, administered such defeat as "France
had not experienced since the battle of Agincourt."  He was a brilliant
soldier, and burnt like lightnings before men's eyes.  Both these
commanders were dramatic, and compelled victory, so as to merit the
rank of soldiers forever.  William the Silent falls not in such
company.  His campaigns were not brilliant, though many generals who
are accounted great are devoid of this quality.  He was not the soldier
his son Maurice was, who was properly ranked as a brilliant soldier,
and in quality of action takes his place beside Henry IV and Count
Egmont.  His soldiership, however, monopolized his genius, using all
its fire.  Fortunate it was for the Netherlands that William was more
statesman than soldier; but equally fortunate for them that he was
enough of a soldier to baffle Requesens, Alva, and Parma.  We measure
power by obstacles mastered.  Apply this test to Orange, and he will
stand huge of bulk as mountain ranges; for Alva and Parma were among
the chief generals of their century, with royal authority and equipment
(inadequate enough, truly, but still an equipment), with royal credit
and prestige, with the taxes of the provinces to supply the exchequer;
and these generals Orange met, hampered with lack of arms, men, funds,
moral support; with mercenary troops, unreliable and mutinous, hired
much of the time with moneys raised by mortgaging his own estates, and
backed up by a supine and a divided people, himself clothed with no
authority compelling subordination, and, with the exception of his
brother Louis (who was slain at the battle of Mookerheyde), without a
single captain of generous military capacity,--with such odds,
seemingly insuperable, William of Orange met the chief captains of his
generation, and made head against them, creeping forward, as the tides
do, till they own the shore.  When these facts are co-ordinated, his
achievements become phenomenal.  His resiliency was tremendous.  In
some significant regards, his military career finds parallel in General

In a remarkable particular, William the Silent resembles Quintus
Sertorius; namely, that each, while rebel against his Government,
fought in the name of his Government.  Mommsen says: "It may be doubted
whether any Roman statesman of the earlier period can be compared in
point of versatile talent to Sertorius," who, though in rebellion
against Rome, did all he did in the name of Rome, fought battles,
levied tributes, enfranchised cities, remodeled communities; in short,
did in Spain what, in a later period, Julius Caesar did in Gaul.
William the Silent for years carried on his warfare in Philip's name,
tacitly assuming that Philip's agents were at fault, and not Philip's
self, and that himself was the king's true representative in the Low
Countries.  William made war in the king's name, Granvelle, in the
earlier stages of the rebellion, being named as the agent of
oppression; while, in fact, that remarkable man and sagacious statesman
was hopelessly subordinate to his master, though harmonious with him.
As yet, the Netherlands had not conceived the extent of Philip's
tyranny, bigotry, and duplicity.  Another similarity between the Dutch
and Roman outlaw was, that both were statesmen rather than generals,
having commanding outlook on their eras; and although each was,
perforce, captain of a host, his signal service was as shaper of a

Here lies William the Silent's chosen might.  He was born diplomat.
Philip himself kept State secrets behind no more impenetrable reserve
than William.  His statesmanship was wrought into his patriotism like
glancing colors in silk; and he stands a patriot whose services no one
can overestimate, and a champion of liberty the most valiant and
sagacious known prior to the Puritan Rebellion.  Seventeen provinces
constituted the Netherlands.  By the pacification of Ghent, in 1576, a
union was formed among certain of these, in which, for the first time,
religious tolerance was asserted and applied--Catholics to allow
Protestants to worship as they would, and Protestants to do the like by
Catholics.  This pacification, in its specifications, was an unheard-of
gain for Protestantism and for liberty, and constituted William's chief
triumph up to that date.  The Netherlands were peopled with varied
populations, with all but innumerable conflicting interests and
dispositions, so much so that union seemed impossible.  This is partial
explanation why Prince William suffered more from the inaction and
suspicion of his own countrymen than from all Philip's machinations.
His patience was something godlike.  No people known to history appear
to less advantage or show less love of liberty, or even common
self-respect, than these Belgic provinces through many years.  They
were so abject, so schooled to suffer and resent nothing, that even the
horrors of the Spanish Inquisition did not lift them into rebellion,
nor yet the savage cruelties of Alva, nor the execution of Count Egmont
and Count Horn, though the atrocities of Spanish mutineers did at last
expedite those deliberations which ultimated in the pacification of
Ghent.  I have wondered many, many times.  Orange did not lose faith in
his countrymen and give them over to their servitude.  His fortitude
sustained him, and his patience held as if it had been a steel cable,
and his natural cheerfulness was of unquestionable service in keeping
him from losing heart.  Almost every leader proved false to him, some
of his own relations included, and he kept on!  He must use the men he
had.  A great cause requires and equips a great leader.  It was so in
William.  His country and its cause had him, and in him was rich.  He
saw worth in men, and built on that.  That men betrayed him did not
unseat his faith in men.  He did what every statesman does, had faith
in men, appealed to their possibilities, to their prospective rather
than their present selves, and so helped them to what they ought to be.
He lifted them up to his levels, and they stood peers in manhood and
patriotism.  Many failed him; but many did not.  Much discouraged, but,
specially later in his career, much encouraged him.  Deeds of heroism
so incredible as to read like a romance,--such deeds were not rare,
rather common.  The siege of Maestrich takes rank among the heroic
episodes in the battles for human liberty.  One's blood grows fairly
frantic in reading the thrilling story, and a man is glad he is a man
and brother to men who could do feats so superb; and the flooding of
the lands in raising the siege of Leyden is to be classed among the
deathless sacrifices for dear liberty.  For these and all such lofty
flights of courage and success, William was the inspiration.  He was
never defeated by defeat.  Liberty must not fail.  The Provinces
trusted him in their hearts, and so long as he remained firm,
self-sacrificing, undisturbed, the people (so he argued) could be
relied on to trust in him and to justify his trust in them.  In behalf
of freedom, no sacrifice or achievement was other than feasible to him.
He loaded his estate with debt for the common good.  Through many years
penury was his portion.  Great events marshaled themselves about him as
if he were their necessary captain.  He knew the art of inspiring men,
which is, at last, the mightiest resource of a great soul.  He knew how
to deal with men,--the finest of the arts.  In his roused moments his
eloquence, whether spoken or written, swayed men's judgments and nerved
their hearts.  Motley says, "His influence on his auditors was
unexampled in the annals of his country or age."  His memory lost
nothing; his ability to read men ranks him with Richelieu; he was
cautious, politic, but not slow, though his uniform habit of caution
robbed his acts of the fine flavor of spontaneity; he was painstaking,
and as laborious as Philip, which is the last effort of comparison,
seeing Philip's industry was all but without precedent.  If he flooded
coasts and inlands by the seas he emptied on them as if the seas were
his, he also inundated courts of kings and assemblies of nobles with
appeals, remonstrances, or letters of instruction or information.  He
lacked nothing of being ubiquitous, and was the moving spirit of all
occasions where liberty had followers.  Nothing eluded nor bewildered
him, from which observations Motley's estimate stands justified; for he
called him "The first statesman of his age."  Compare him with Don John
of Austria, hero of Lepanto, who was natural son of Emperor Charles V,
vivacious, romantic, brilliant, and conqueror of the Turks at Lepanto,
whence his name had risen, like a star, to flame at the eastern window
of every court in Christendom.  Made governor of the Netherlands, he
found himself beset by difficulties through which sword and troop could
not cut his way.  Harassed by the distrust, unfaithfulness, and
meanness of Philip; hedged by the sagacious statecraft of his
adversary, William of Orange, he attempted the role of war; found
himself defeated by an invisible antagonist, whose name haunted his
days and nights--the name was "Father William"--at last, flared up like
an expiring lamp, and died.  Such the conqueror of Lepanto when brought
to cope with William the Silent.  William stood possessed of vast
character-resources, so that what was lacking in supplies he made up in

William of Orange, and Philip, King of Spain and the Western
Hemisphere, challenge comparison.  Philip was statesman in that his
powers were adapted to the cabinet rather than the battle; and Philip
may pass for a statesman in some particulars.  Painstaking, laborious,
with real ability in choice of servants to execute his will, and
keeping eyes on the horizons of the greatest empire the world had seen,
he peopled this wide world of his with hopeless projects, since his
ambition was topless as skies of night.  His claims were fantastic or
great, as you might elect to call them; for he claimed both England and
France as provinces of his empire, keeping at the respective courts
secret agents, with lavish gold for corrupting those sovereigns'
servants.  His reign is a sort of free fight with him on everybody, he
keeping every item under his own surveillance, but displaying no
capacity to do other that baldly claim and attempt.  He could not
compass his designs.  There were no compensations in his reign.  He
lost and never gained.  England defeated him at home and abroad.  The
Dutch defied him, and won their liberty after bitter years of struggle.
His every effort to subdue them failed.  Though the Inquisition
murdered from fifty to one hundred thousand of his most industrious
subjects, this done, and still failure!  He trusted no man.  He
probably poisoned his own son, Don Carlos.  His treachery was black as
Caesar Borgia's; and to his chosen counselors he wrote interminable
lies, apparently deeming lying a virtue.  He offered fabulous sums of
money for the assassination of Queen Elizabeth, of King Henry IV, and
of William, Prince of Orange, and finally gave William's estate to the
relatives of Gerard, the assassin of the prince.  Philip was
painstaking, not sagacious.  While admiring his industry, I can not
bring myself to the point of believing he had greatness.  A superior
chief clerk he was, and an inferior king.

William the Silent, Prince of Orange, moneyless, resourceless, defeated
the richest empire of the world without winning a single decisive
victory.  So viewed, he is a statesman of magnificent proportions.  At
his death, fifteen out of the seventeen provinces were in rebellion;
and had he lived, there can be no rational doubt the remaining two had
rebelled and the seventeen become free.  As it was, seven provinces won
their liberty, and in 1648, at the Peace of Westphalia, were
acknowledged as a sovereign State and free from Spain.

William was importuned, vehemently importuned, to become king.  He
refused, as Cromwell in a later day refused, though, had Cromwell
become king, there is no reason why he might not have handed down his
scepter to his son.  What sealed Richard Cromwell's fate was that he
was not a king, the English wishing to feel they had a hereditary head.
This was the mistake of the Prince of Orange.  While his refusal of
regal honors reflected credit on his manhood and disinterested
patriotism, that refusal was a weakness to the cause of liberty.  About
a king men of those days would have rallied as about no Stadtholder;
for the Flemings were never essentially republican in instincts.
Freemen they learned to be; republicans they never learned to be.  Had
William of Orange become king, then had his son, as sovereign, led his
subjects to battle.  As yet Europe was not ready for a commonwealth.
As the case stood, William lived, loving his country with an ingenuous
affection; was a patriot statesman, whose reward for years of toil,
which seamed his brow at the age of forty as if he had been seventy,
was an impoverished estate, but an imperishable fame.

On July 10, 1584, Belthazer Gerard shot "Father William" in his own
home, and he, falling, cried: "My God, have pity on my soul!  I am
sorely wounded!  My God, have pity on my soul and this poor people!"
and this, save his whispered "Yes" to his sister's eager inquiry if he
trusted his soul to Jesus, were his last words, so that, as his country
had been his thought through many turbulent years, so was it his last
thought and love--a fitting word for a patriot such as he to leave on
his dead lips.  Let the historian's verdict stand as ours, "His life
was a noble Christian epic."

A statesman is a man of his own and succeeding ages, and in him,
therefore, is much anticipatory.  He outruns his time.  The vision
William the Silent had, which outran the simple patriot in him, was the
vision of religious tolerance.  This might serve him for crown had he
no other.  What the world has learned to do, that this Dutch prince
taught--virtually first of modern statesmen.  In an utterly intolerant
age and country, he apostled manly tolerance.  In a later day, John of
Barneveldt came to the block because he was an Arminian.  Protestants,
though never wholesale persecutors, had yet to learn this wise man's
lesson.  And this must rank among the underscored virtues of this old
soldier of liberty, that he wished men to worship God without
molestation.  Nor did this tolerance grow out of indifference to
religion.  In youth he was careless of Divine matters, and thought
little of religion.  But so sagacious and so burdened a man as he grew
to feel need of strength beyond the help of man.  In his mature years
he was from conviction a Christian in the Protestant Church, and his
life walked on high levels to the end.  God was to him as to
innumerable souls, "a refuge and strength and a very present help in
time of trouble;" and in death he committed his soul to God.  By worth
and service; by fortitude and patriotism; by long years of devotion to
the task of breaking the scepter of tyranny; by genius burning as the
light, and goodness purifying itself as years marched past,--by these
attributes has William the Silent, Prince of Orange, earned a right to
stand erect among the world's immortals.


The Romance of American Geography

In traveling over the undulating prairies of many States of the Union,
huge granite boulders are seen lying solitary, as if dropped by some
passing cloud, having no kindred in the rocky formations environing,
but being absolute foreigners in a strange land.  There they lie,
prone, chiseled by some forgotten art, and so solitary as to bring a
tinge of melancholy to the reflection of the thoughtful.  In certain
regions these boulders are so numerous and so various in size as to be
used in building foundations, and sometimes entire habitations.  These
rocks were dropped in remote centuries by passing icebergs, and are
solitary memorials of the ice-drift across our continent.  The crafts
on which they voyaged were wrecked long ago.  They were passengers on

  "Some shattered berg, that, pale and lone,
  Drifts from the white north to the tropic zone,
      And in the burning day
      Melts peak by peak away,
      Till on some rosy even
    It dies, with sunlight blessing it."

This instance may be taken as a parable, suggesting the history
embodied in names of localities, lakes, straits, rivers, cities,
hamlets, States.  Those names are the débris of a dead era; and for
one, I can not escape the wonder and the pathos of these shattered
yesterdays, which have a voice, calling, as in hoarse whispers sad with
tears, "We are not, but we were."

Though we are little given to so esteeming the study, there is romance
in geography, learned by us when lads and lasses--not because we would,
but because we must--and such study was difficult and unsavory.  The
catalogue of names we learned, perforce, was dreary as the alphabet;
and not a memory of pleasure lingers about the book in which we
studied, save that, in cramped, sprawling hand, upon the margin is
written the name of some little sweetheart beside our own,--and dead
long since.  No, geography was not romantic.  That was a possession we
never suspected.  But romance is ubiquitous, like flowers of spring,
sheltering where we little anticipate.

To a lover of history, however, few studies will prove so fascinating
as a study of names in geography.  Finding a few at random, feel the
thrill of the history they embody--history and reminiscence:
Providence, Roger Williams named the city so when himself was a
refugee; Fort Wayne, named for General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, who
destroyed the Indian scourge in the Northwest Territory in 1792;
Raleigh, so yclept for that chiefest friend of American colonization
among Englishmen, Sir Walter Raleigh; Council Grove, because, in the
Indian days, there, in a grove--rare in the prairie country of
Kansas--the Red Men met for counsel; Astoria, bearing name of that
famous fortune-maker in the fur country of the West and North; Buffalo
Lake, reminding us that there the buffalo tramped in days seeming now
so remote, when the buffalo rode, like a mad cavalry troop, across the
wide interior plains of our continent; Eagle River, for here this royal
bird used to love to linger as if it were his native stream.  These are
the scattered, miscellaneous reminiscences of men and acts, and things
and achievements.  In Kansas is a village called Lane, a name which, to
the old settler in Kansas, is big with meaning, seeing it brings to
life one of the strange, romantic, contradictory, and brilliant
characters of the "Squatter Sovereignty" days, when Jim Lane wrought,
with his weird and wonderful eloquence, his journeys oft, and his
tireless industry, in championing the cause of State freedom.  Him and
his history, reading like a tale told by a campfire's fitful light,
this name embodies.  What an archive of history does such a name
become!  Portage is a name pregnant with memories of the old days of
discovery, when America was still an unknown limit.  "Grand Portage"
you shall see on the map, neighboring the Great Lakes, whereby you see,
as through a magic glass, the boats, loaded on the shoulders when
navigation was no longer possible, and the journey made over the
watershed till a stream was followed far enough to float the birch-bark
canoe once more.  Prairie is another word full of interest.  Pampas is
a word, Peruvian in origin, designating the prairies of South America;
while prairie is a French word, meaning meadow.  Pampas is the Peruvian
word for field.  The words are synonyms, but come from different
hemispheres of the world.  Does it not seem strange that a word
descriptive of these treeless wildernesses of North America should be a
gift, not of the Indian hunter who used to scurry across them swift as
an arrow of death, but should really be the gift of those hardy and
valorous French voyagers who had no purpose of fastening a name on the
flower-sown, green meadows that swayed in the wind like some emerald
sea?  So the Incas have christened the plains of South America, and the
French adventurer the plains of North America!  Though, who that
crosses our prairies, sweet with green, and lit with flowers like lamps
of many-colored fires, thinks he is speaking the speech of the French
trapper of long ago?  Savannah is an Indian word, meaning meadow, and
gives name to these dank meadowlands under warmer skies, where reeds
and swamp-grasses grow; and the name of Savannah in Georgia is thus
bestowed.  How much we owe!  Who has not helped us?  Nor does the
traveler through the castellated steeps of the "Bad Lands" know, nor
probably does he care, that this caption came from the far-traveling
French trapper, whose venturesome and tireless feet have made him at
home in all places on our continent.  How valuable, however, must be
these names to one who cares to familiarize himself with the knowledge
and romance of those pioneers of geography!  Of like origin is "butte."
The voyager saw those isolated peaks, too high to be called hills and
too low to be called mountains, and said they are buttes
(knolls)--names which cling to them as tenaciously as their shadows.

In a word, I have found this study a breath blown from far mountain
ranges of history; and this breath upon the face has made an hour of
life grow young and beautiful, for which reason I now write the story
of my pleasure.  The North American continent lends itself with
peculiar grace to such a study as is here suggested, because its story
lies under the eyes of history.  'Twas scarcely an hour ago, in the
world's day, since Columbus found out this continent, and, with a
giant's hand, swung its huge doors inward for the centuries to enter;
and all those discoveries are our commonplace knowledge.  What tribes
were here, Prescott and Parkman have told us in thrilling narratives;
and columns of eager colonists we have seen press their way along the
seashore, into forests, over mountains, across deserts, never halting,
save to catch breath as a climber of a mountain does,--on, on, till a
continent is white with the tents of millions.  But the Indian
aborigine, for whom the tepee was portable habitation, and the stretch
of plain and hill and lake and river, hunting-ground or
battle-ground,--the Indian is mainly the reminiscence of an old man's
straggling speech; and these names he has left, clinging to lake and
river and hamlet, are his memorial.  In Montezuma's empire, where once
a barbaric splendor held court and set in tragic splendor, lurid even
yet at these centuries' remove, what is left save a vocabulary or a
broken idol lying black and foreboding in some mountain stream?  Or
those discoverers whose adventurous deeds are part of the world's
chosen treasure, what but their names are written on the streams or
hills?  The import of these observations is this, that from American
geography we may, with reasonable accuracy and detail, decipher this
romantic history.  In those newer parts of our continent names have too
often lost the flavor of history; have, in truth, done so, save in
isolated instances.  The "Smithtons" and "Griggsby Stations" are
monotonous and uninteresting, and the Tombstones are little short of
sacrilege.  In the crush of movers' wagons there appeared to be a
scramble for names of any sort.  Places multiply, imagination is
asleep, and names nearest at hand are most readily laid hold of; yet,
even in such a dearth of originality and poetry, scant names flash out
which remind you of the morning names in our continent's history.  A
Springdale reminds you that colonists here found a dale, gladdened with
living springs; or an Afton suggests how some exiled Scot salved his
heart by keeping near his exile a name he loved.  Our day will, in the
main, attach names for simple convenience, as they put handles on
shovels.  Such names, of course, are meaningless.  The day for
inventing names is past, or seems so.  We beg or borrow, as the
surveyor who marched across the State of New York, with theodolite and
chain and a classical atlas, and blazed his way with Rome, and Illyria,
and Syracuse, and Ithaca,--a procedure at once meaningless and dense.
Greece nor Rome feels at home among us, nor should they.

History is a method of remembrance, and names are a method of
remembrance also, the two conspiring to the same end.  When the Saxon,
sailing across seas, found a rude home in England, he named his new
home Saxonland, and there are East and West and South Saxons; and so,
Essex and Wessex and Sussex.  In like manner, emigrants from various
shores across the grim Atlantic kept the memory and names of that dear
land from which they sailed; and by running your eyes over those
earlier colonies, you shall see names--aboriginal and imported--and so
learn, in an infallible way, who first pitched tents on that soil.
This tracking dead races over seas by the local designations they have
left has always fascinated my thought.  Those names are verily planted
in the earth, and grow like trees that refuse to die.  Through
centuries of turbulence and slaughter and racial transplanting, see how
some Roman words stay and refuse to go, knowing as little of retreat as
a Roman legion!  "Chester" and "coin," as good old English terminals,
are tense with interest, since they as plainly record history as did
minstrels in old castle hall.  Chester is the Roman "castra," camp, and
where the name occurs across Britain, indicates with undeviating
fidelity that there, in remote decades, Roman legions camped and the
Roman argent eagle flashed back morning to the sun.  Coin is a
contraction for "colonia," indicating that at the place so designated a
Roman colonia received honors at the hands of the Roman Senate.  In
other words, these locative terminals are as certainly bequeathed
England by the Roman occupancy as is London Tower.  "Ton" is historical
too, but is footprint of another passing race--namely the Gaul,
defeated of Caesar on many a bloody field--and is a contraction of
"tuin," meaning garden, appearing in Ireland as "dun," meaning
garrison, both indicating an inclosure, and so becoming a frequent
terminal for names of cities, as Huntingtuin or tun, probably
originally a hunting-tower or hamlet.  A second form of "ton" is our
ordinary "town," which, as often as we use, we are speaking the tongue
of the Trans-Alpine Gauls, taking a syllable from the word of a
half-forgotten people.  From yet another source is the locative "ham."
Chester is of Roman origin, tun is of Gaelic; but "ham" is Anglo-Saxon,
and means village, whence the sweet word home.  Witness the use of this
suffix in Effingham and the like.  "Stoke" and "beck" and "worth" are
also Saxon.  "Thorpe" and "by" are Danish, as in Althorp and Derby.
These reminiscent instances from over seas will serve to illuminate the
thought under discussion--the historical element embodied in the names
of localities.  As in these three locatives we track three distinct
peoples through England, we may, by the same method, fall on the
footprints of divers civilizations in our New World.

Thus far we have touched at random, as one does on a holiday.  Now,
seriously, as on a journey of discovery, may we take staff in hand to
trace, if possible, the elusive march of populations by the ashes of
their campfires, as Evangeline did the wanderings of Gabriel, her

The Dutch, more's the pity, have left scant memorials of their American
empire.  "Knickerbocker's History of New York" has effectually laughed
them out of court; but, notwithstanding, they were mighty men, whose
idiosyncrasies we readily catch at as a jest, but whose greatness
breaks on us slowly, as great matters must.  "Kill" was a Dutch word,
meaning creek, a terminal appearing in many of the few words they have
left us, such as Fishkill, Peekskill, Wynantskill, Catskill.  Along the
banks of streams, with names like these, one could see ragged Rip Van
Winkle, with his dog and gun, with shambling hunter's gait, or come
silently on solemn Dutch burghers, solemnly playing ninepins in the
shadows.  Brooklyn (Breuchelin) is Dutch, as are Orange, Rensselaer,
Stuyvesant, Rhinebeck, Rhinecliff, Vanbrunt, Staatsburg, Rotterdam,
Hague, Nassau, Walloonsack, Yonkers, and Zurich.  Wallabout, a borough
of Brooklyn (Waalbogt), means Walloon's Bay, thus having a
religio-historical significance.  Nor dare we omit that river, noble as
an epic, named after a Dutch discoverer, who, first of Europeans, flung
the swaying shadows of foreign sails on its beautiful waters.  Hudson
is a prince among triumphant and adventurous discoverers.  And I never
sail past the Palisades, by summer or gorgeous autumn, when all the
hills are blood and flame, without reverting in thought to Hudson, who
gave the stream to our geography and his name to the stream, nor forget
that he was set adrift in the remote and spacious sea, which likewise
bears his name; though well it may, for it is doubtless his grave; for,
set adrift by mutineers, he was crushed by icefloes, or fell asleep in
death in that winter sea.  But Hudson River and Hudson Bay will make
him as immortal as this continent.  All men shall know by them that
Heinrich Hudson hath sailed this way.  So much, then, for following
along dim paths once trod by a Dutch burgher's tramp of empire.

Of the Swedes, who, under their victorious king, Gustavus Adolphus, the
Protestant, settled New Sweden (now known as New Jersey), are left only
dim footprints, the path of them being all but lost, though,
fortunately, sufficiently plain to trace the emigration of a race.
These Swedish emigrants and founders of what they hoped would prove a
State, never attained a supremacy, their enemies, who were their
immediate neighbors and fellow-emigrants from Protestant States, so
speedily overwhelming them--first the Dutch, succeeded by the
inevitable Saxon.  Bergen, the first Swedish settlement, in comparative
isolation, still whispers the story of Gustavus Adolphus's statecraft
and vision, and seems a solitary survivor of an old camp of emigrants
voyaging by stream and plain, and all slain by famine and disease and
Indian stealth and pioneer's hardship, save himself.  Nordhoff and
Stockholm and Pavonta are scattered reminders of an attempted
sovereignty which is no more.

Protestantism made valorous attempt to preempt this New World of North
America for civil and religious liberty and the Reformed faith.  A look
at their breadth of plan must be a benefit to us and a praise to those
who planned so large things for the glory of God.  That they acted
independently of each other shows how wide-spread this thirst for
liberty and this love for the kingdom of God.  I know few things that
stir me more.  Swedish Lutherans settled New Sweden; the Dutch Walloons
settled New Holland; the Baptists, Rhode Island; the Quakers,
Pennsylvania; the Huguenots, the Carolinas; the Puritans, New England.
The Anglican Church only incidentally, and not of intention, settled
Virginia.  Catholicism seized and holds South America, Central America,
and Mexico, but in the United States was represented only by the colony
of Maryland, planted by Lord Baltimore, and bears mark of his religious
faith in naming his plantation after Mary, the Catholic queen, his own
name appearing in the name of its present metropolis, Baltimore.  In
days when in England the Catholic was under ban, he founded this colony
as a Canaan for Roman Catholics.  Spanish Catholics worked their way
along the Pacific Coast, and French Catholicism sailed up the St.
Lawrence and down the Mississippi, though the latter territory now
belongs to the Protestant faith.  Admiral Coligny, an illustrious son
of France, attempted planting the Huguenots in America, though this
colonizing experiment has left scant memorial of Huguenot occupancy,
because the destruction of this colony by Spanish Catholics was so
sudden and so utter; yet the Carolinas are witness to this hazard and
hope, bearing the name of the infamous King Charles IX.  How terrible
is the irony when we recall how this same ruler, after whom Coligny
named his land of refuge for persecuted Protestants, was author of the
most malignant religious massacre on record--the Massacre of St.
Bartholomew!  In Beaufort and Carteret may be discovered reminiscences
of an expedition whose close was disastrous, yet heroic.

Everybody has contributed to giving names to the States; therefore
attention to them as a class is fitting.  England gave name to
Maryland, as suggested in another paragraph; to New York, named in
honor of the Duke of York, afterward known as James II, of evil memory;
Virginia, so styled by Sir Walter Raleigh, that pattern of chivalry, in
honor of his queen, Elizabeth; New Jersey, after Jersey, the island;
Rhode Island, after the Island of Rhodes; Delaware, after Lord de la
Warre, early governor of Virginia; Pennsylvania, after William Penn,
the good; New Hampshire, after Hampshire, in England, as New England
was, in love, called after the motherland; Georgia, named for George
II, by philanthropic General Oglethorpe, who brought hither his colony
of debtors,--such the contributions of England to our commonwealth of
names.  America has supplied one State a name, Washington; and who more
or so worthy to write his name upon a State as George Washington, first
Commander-in-chief and President?  Spain has christened these
Commonwealths: Florida, the land of flowers; California; Colorado,
colored; Nevada.  We must thank France for these: Maine, for a province
in France; Vermont, green mountains; the Carolinas; Louisiana, a name
attached by the valorous La Salle, in fealty to his prince, calling
this province, at the mouth of the river he had followed to its
entrance into the ocean, after Louis XIV, the then darling of the
French people.  Mexico is remembered in two instances: New Mexico and
Texas.  Italy has a memorial, bestowed in gratitude by America.  The
District of Columbia, with its capital, Washington, reminds men forever
that Columbus discovered and Washington saved America.  Besides this,
to Italy's credit, or discredit--I know not which--must be charged the
giving title to two continents.  Amerigo Vespucci has lent his name to
one hemisphere of the world.  Other States bear Indian captions.  Those
wandering hunters have lost their hunting-grounds; but we can not
forget whose hunting-grounds they were so long as the Indian name
clings to the Territory where he is not, but his name shall remain as
his monument.  Indiana is generic, the land of the Indian.  With this
exception, the States are called after tribes or by some Indian name:
Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska, Kansas,
the Dakotas (who will forget when Hiawatha passed to the land of the
Dakotahs for his wooing?), Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, and the like.  With
such names, we are once more sitting in the woodland, by the wigwam, as
we did a century ago.  The memory haunts us.  Thus much for the racial
element in cognomens of States.

Now again to set out on the journey on the trail of vanished peoples!

The Spanish invasion of America, now, as we recall its story, big with
pathos and remorse, the pathos predominating, now that the last rag of
a province has been torn from their feeble hands,--the evacuation of
Havana, with its sorry pomp of exhuming Columbus's dust, is one of the
saddest sights history has called men to look upon.  Columbus, a
foreigner, gave Spain a New World; and foreigners of still another
blood have taken away what by right never belonged to Spanish
sovereignty.  Just as this fate is, we can but feel the immense pathos
of the Spanish evacuation of the New World.  French discoverers hugged
the rivers, as by some deep affinity.  Spaniards, conversely, made
march without thought of riverways.  They were accustomed to deserts in
their own land, and feared them not in a remote hemisphere.  They
swarmed in the desert.  Nothing daunted them.  Spain's best blood
poured into the New World, a fact which doubtless accounts, in part,
for the devitalized energies and genius of this mother country of their
birth and hopes and initiative.  "Florida" is a Spanish tide-mark.
"St. Augustine" is a gravestone of history, marking the mound where
lies the dust of the first permanent colony planted in America.  The
Spaniard headed toward the southern provinces of America, as the
Englishman to the east, and the Frenchman to the north and central
provinces.  Spain held southward.  Though the colony of Florida was
retained till, in the year 1819, the subtle diplomacy of John Quincy
Adams added this peninsula of flowers to the Union of States, it had no
aggressive value as a basis of discovery or colonization.  The base of
Spanish operations was Mexico, the fair land of their conquest.  Spain
exploited her energies in Mexico and Peru.  She was mad with a lust for
gold.  Her galleons made these lands bankrupt.  But Spaniards dared to
lose themselves in desert or forests.  The discovery and conquest of
Peru is mad with turbulent courage and adventure.  This we can not
deny; and the discovery of the Amazon by a brother of Pizarro is a
story to thrill a sluggard into a sleepless waking.  We see these
heroic days, and forgive much of Spanish misrule and avarice.  De Soto,
crowding through jungles of undergrowth and miasms, through tribes of
hostile men, though stimulated by the wild lust for gold, is for all a
brave chapter in the world's biography; and to see him buried in the
massive river he discovered is to make other than the tender-hearted
weep.  To see on the map of the Union "Llano Estacado" is to give, as
it were, the initials of heroic names.  Spain, which staked these
plains, will walk across them no more.  They did this service for
others.  Were they fine-fibered enough to feel these losses, the sorrow
we feel for their exit would be intensified; but their centuries of
misrule have certified to their all but utter lack of any finer
sentiment or sense of high responsibility.  Give them what honor we
may.  Recall their departed glory, and let it light the sky, if only
for a moment, like a flash of lightning.  Spaniards were little less
given to naming their settlements "Saint" than the French.  From
Mexico, up the long Pacific Coast, they affixed names which will remain
perpetually as the sole memorial that once these banished dons held
sway in the United States.  These names cluster in the Southern United
States, touching immediately on their chief dependency, Mexico; but are
still in evidence farther away, though growing scanter, as footprints
in a remote highway.  Rio Grande, Del Norte, Andalusia, and the
charming name affixed to a charming mountain range, Sierra Nevada,--how
these names rehabilitate a past!  Nevada and Andalusia!  One needs
little imagination to see the flush that gathered on the dusky cheek of
the old Spanish discoverer when he calmed, in part, his homesickness by
giving his wanderings the name of the dear home from which he came, and
kindled his pride into a fire, like the conflagration of mountain
pines, by telling the New World the names of his ancestral land.  But
his "San" and "Santa" are frequent as tents upon a battle-field when
the battle is spent.  "Corpus Christi"--how Spanish and Catholic that
is!  San Antonio, Santa Fe, Cape St. Lucas.  In Florida: Rio San Juan,
Ponce de Leon, Cape San Blas, Hernando, Punta Rosa, Cerro de Oro, are
indicative of the growing communities in that peninsula after the
invasion located at St. Augustine.  But of all the parts of the United
States, New Mexico is most honeycombed with Spanish locatives.  Passing
that way, one seems not to be in America, but in Spain.  Spain is
everywhere.  Their names are here strewn thick as battle soldiers
sleeping on the battle-field: Las Colonias, Arayo Salado, Don Carlos
Hill, Cerillos, Dolores, San Pambo, Cañon Largo, Magdalene Mountains,
San Pedro.  Thence these names creep up into Utah, though there they
are never numerous: Santa Clara, Escalante Desert, Sierra Abaja; and
farther north, reaching to all but hand-clasp with the French Du Chasne
River, is San Rafael River.  St. Xavier, San Miguel, Santa Monica,
Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Gabriel,--can you not in these names
hear the Spanish languishing speech and see the Jesuit pioneer?
Eldorado, Sacramento, El Paso, Los Angeles, are footprints of the
Spanish discoverer.  And Cape Blanco, in far-away Oregon, probably
represents the farthest campfire of the Spanish march.  In his area the
don was indefatigable.  De Soto marched like a conqueror.  Coronado
found his way into Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.  La Junta, in
Kansas, may mark the subsidence of the wave of Spanish invasion, and
Kansas was part of the kingdom of "Quivera."  Eugene Ware, the Kansas
poet, who, under the _nom de plume_ of "Ironquill," has written
graceful and musical poems, has told of Coronado's excursion into this
now populous and fertile region:


  "In that half-forgotten era,
  With the avarice of old,
  Seeking cities he was told
  Had been paved with yellow gold,
  In the kingdom of Quivera--

  Came the restless Coronado
  To the open Kansas plain,
  With his knights from sunny Spain;
  In an effort that, though vain,
  Thrilled with boldness and bravado.

  League by league, in aimless marching,
  Knowing scarcely where or why,
  Crossed they uplands drear and dry,
  That an unprotected sky
  Had for centuries been parching.

  But their expectations, eager,
  Found, instead of fruitful lands,
  Shallow streams and shifting sands,
  Where the buffalo in bands
  Roamed o'er deserts dry and meager.

  Back to scenes more trite, yet tragic,
  Marched the knights with armor'd steeds;
  Not for them the quiet deeds;
  Not for them to sow the seeds
  From which empires grow like magic.

  Never land so hunger-stricken
  Could a Latin race remold;
  They could conquer heat or cold--
  Die for glory or for gold--
  But not make a desert quicken.

  Thus Quivera was forsaken;
  And the world forgot the place
  Through the lapse of time and space.
  Then the blue-eyed Saxon race
  Came and bade the desert waken."

In Colorado, El Moro, Las Animas, and Buena Vista are credentials of
Spanish occupancy, the last-named place being, so far as I have been
able to trace, the farthest camp marked by a name in the Colorado
district.  They all sought gold, and having failed to find the thing
for which they made their quest, ran back, like a retiring wave.
Coronado and Eldorado are suffused with Spanish life, like a woman's
cheek with blushes when her lover comes.  Over scorching deserts, and
along the western coasts of America, the Spaniard toiled, nor halted
till the soft Spanish speech mingled with the swift, ejaculatory
utterance of the far French frontier.  For this search of theirs we
bless them, and shall always be glad they left their nomenclature to
mind us of what this now wrecked people had achieved.

And our geography is sown thick with reminiscences of the French
occupancy of America.  Now he is a total foreigner in this realm he
helped so largely to discover.  Not Acadia was more bereft of the
French after their sad banishment than our America is of French rule.
New Orleans has its creole.

In Quebec, of all American cities, you seem most in the old French
_régime_.  The names above the business blocks would make you believe
that what you had read of the battle of Quebec was a myth, and that
Wolfe truly died and Montcalm lived to celebrate a victory; but when
you climb to the fortress, it is the Englishman's speech you hear, and
the English colors you see floating on the heights.  The French empire
is melted away like snows of winter in the month of June.  But those
now remote days, profligate of valor, when French trapper and
discoverer, fearless as Eric the Bold, fought their way along lake and
river, over plain and mountain, with fierce Indian and fiercer
winter,--those remote days are on us once more, when we forget our
history and read our geography.  There may be no new France in
contemporaneous American history, but in contemporaneous geography
there is.  The French discoverer fires the imagination.  I confess to
wishing I might have tramped by his side through the dense forests;
have sailed in his canoe on lake and stream; have plodded with him, by
oar or sail, over the Great Lakes; have joined with him in portage;
have been boon companion with La Salle on his journey to the sea on the
wide and majestic Mississippi; have consorted with Père Marquette.  Few
American histories will do more to raise the temperature of one's blood
than Parkman's story of the French occupancy of North America.

And one reason why Gilbert Parker's "An Adventurer of the North" and
"Pierre and his People," books vivid with a boundless freedom and
heroism, hold attention and gather force in one's spirit is, that they
unconsciously, yet truly, carry us back to those bold days when such
episodes were not the exception, but the rule.  Pioneering appeals, in
some degree, to us all; and in Frenchmen were such resiliency of
spirit, such abandon to adventure, as that they stand as typical
explorers.  Who would not have been alongside Hennepin when he, on a
snowy winter day, first of all Europeans, saw thunder-voiced Niagara?
The English colonies seized, fortified, and held domain in small
compass, and guarded it against the world; but this was not the French
idea.  They spread over a continent, as a sea might have done.  The
light step of Mercury belonged to the French colonizer.  He loved to
roam wherever untrod wastes beckoned.  Englishmen in America did little
discovering; Frenchmen did much.  They crossed the continent, and would
have done so had it been twice the breadth it was.  I have already
shown how some of our commonest words in Western speech are of this
origin.  While England hugged the Atlantic seaboard, Frenchmen had
navigated the Great Lakes, had sailed the Mississippi to the Gulf, had
set the seal of their names on the land they had traversed, had gone in
to the shoreless interior of the Far West; and to this day you can
track the old hunter to the Pacific Coast by the reminiscent names he
has left behind.  The continent was his home.  To him we owe much more
than we shall ever pay; but to recall the debt we owe him may serve to
make a wider margin to our own life at least.  The vast extent of this
pioneer work of France may be seen by recalling that the battle of
Quebec gave England undisputed sway over what is now known as British
America, and what in the history of the United States was known as "the
Territory of the Northwest."  This came from those by a single treaty.
One defeat cost them an empire.  Nor was this all their territory.
This treaty of 1763 gave England only French acquisitions east of the
Mississippi and north of the Great Lakes, but left French America, west
of that river and south of the lakes, intact, which shows how the
common consent of nations accorded to French valor in exploration the
bulk of the North American continent.  Essentially chivalrous, the
French explorer proved the knight-errant among American discoverers.
By the treaty of 1803, Napoleon ceded 1,171,931 square miles to the
United States, a tract eight times as large as France itself.  France,
by rights acquired by discoveries, owned about two-thirds of the
continent of North America, and to-day owns not so much as would supply
burial room for a child!  Saxon as I am, I confess I can not go to
Montreal or Quebec, nor look upon the regal St. Lawrence, without a
sort of Indian Summer regret filling my sky.  The French as explorers
were magnificent.

And Frenchmen in those days of their discoveries were eminently devout,
either in fact or in habits of thought--sometimes one, sometimes
both--as may be inferred from the religiosity of the names they so
often gave the places of their discovery.  In some instances, this fact
is to be explained by recalling that Jesuits were the explorers; but
matters conspired to one effect, namely, starring the path of their
discoveries by "saints," as with the Spaniards, as has been mentioned.
From the St. Lawrence, which is the noblest stream on which my eyes
have ever rested, to the old Saint Louis at the Mississippi's mouth, it
seems a march of palmers; for at every halt they planted a fleur de lis
and a cross.  In this nomenclature, despite ourselves, is a witchery,
under whose spell I plead guilty to falling.  On the Atlantic side of
Newfoundland is Notre Dame Bay, while beside the island northward the
majestic St. Lawrence mingles the lakes with the sea.  Toil your way up
the river, as in the long ago the discoverers did, and see on either
shore the sacred names: St. Charles, St. Johns, St. Paul's Bay, and on
and on, across or through the continent, St. Mary's, St. Joseph, St.
Paul, St. Louis.  So the voyager made journey.  Lake Champlain tells
the inroad of a brave French discoverer.  Au Sable chasm answers for it
that here, on this black water, the ubiquitous voyager has floated.
Vermont and Montpelier say, "Remember who has been here."  Detroit (the
strait) is a tollgate for the French highway.  Marquette, Joliet, La
Salle, wake from the dead a trinity of heroic discoverers.  Than La
Salle, America never had a more valorous and indefatigable explorer.
Hennepin minds us of the discoverer of Niagara.  Sault Ste. Marie, Eau
Claire, St. Croix River, the Dalles, are old camp-grounds of these
wanderers.  In Indiana, Vincennes is one of the oldest French
settlements; Terre Haute (high ground) and La Porte are sign-manuals of
sunny France.  St. Joseph, in Missouri, and Des Moines (swamp land), in
Iowa, and the name of a beautiful river in Kansas, Marais des Cygnes
(the river of swans), tell the trail of the old French trapper.  Where
has he not been?  Going farther westward, find in Wyoming the Belle
Fourche River; in Idaho are St. Joseph Creek, and Coeur d'Alene Lake,
and Lake Pend d'Oreille; in Washington are The Little Dalles, and in
Oregon, The Dalles; and in Utah, the Du Chasne River.  Thus we have
tracked the French across the continent, from the St. Lawrence to the
Pacific.  What travelers they were!  But southward, along the great
River, there we come, not into scattering communities, but into a
veritable New France.  Their names monopolize geography.  Scan a map of
Louisiana, and see how populous it is with French patronymic locatives.
New Orleans (pronounce it New Or-le-ans, and hear French pride rising
in the word) is there, and St. John Baptist; Baton Rouge, and
Thibodeaux, and Prudhomme, and Assumption, and Calcasieu, and Saint
Landry, and Grand Coteau, and scores besides, tell how surely Louisiana
was a land peopled from the French kingdom and for the French king,
and, as those who discovered and those who settled fondly thought,
forever.  So evanescent are the plans of men!  The word "bayou," so
common in the regions neighboring the Mississippi, is a French word.
Prairie, butte, bayou, three terms in perpetual geography of this
Western World, are bequests of a departed people.  The farthest west
and south I have tracked the French discoverer in a name is in
Nebraska, where they are identified in the name of the River Platte.
La Plata is the Spanish form, as will be seen to the south--say in
Texas--and here in the north is the French imprint in Platte, that wide
but shallow stream, flowing over its beds of shifting sands.  Verily,
the French _régime_ in America was more than fiction.  The names it
left will keep an eternal remembrance.

And the English came, and seeded down a land with their ideas,
language, laws, literature, political inclinations, and homestead
names.  Those early emigrants, though refugees from oppressive misrule,
loved England notwithstanding.  Of her they dreamed, to her they clung,
from her they imported sedate and musical names for their new homes
this side the sea.  New England was the special bailiwick for such
sowing, though Virginia partakes of this seed and harvest.  The rich
old English names, having in them so much history and memory,--how good
to see them on our soil!  Those early colonists were not original, nor
particularly imaginative, but loyal lovers they were; and to give to
their home here the name attaching to their home there was pledge of
fidelity to dear old England.  In Virginia, one will find what he can
not find in New England, namely, assertions of loyalty to English
princes; for the Puritans were never other than stanch friends of
liberty, a thing which grew upon the citizens of the Old Dominion by
degrees, and by slow degrees besides.  They were loyalists and
royalists.  This, New England was not, and could not be.  The Old
Dominion's name, Virginia, and its first colony, Jamestown, bear
attestation to this loyalty of which mention is made, though the
State's name was given by that lover of Queen Elizabeth and lover of
America, Sir Walter Raleigh.  Berkeley recalls that querulous old
loyalistic governor of Virginia, that fast believer in the divine right
of kings and of himself; Westmoreland, Middlesex, New Kent, Sussex,
Southampton, Surrey, Isle of Wight, King and Queen, Anne, Hanover,
Caroline, King William, Princess, Prince George, Charles City, are
names which tell of sturdy believers in kings.  No such mark can be
found in the English colonies to the north.  To England they were
attached, but not to English kings.  Bath, York, Bedford, Essex,
Warwick, and time would fail to tell this story through.  In Maryland
you may note this transplanted England too: Somerset, Saulsbury, Cecil,
Annapolis, Calvert, and St. Mary's, betraying the Roman Catholic origin
of the colony, as do Baltimore, Saulsbury, Northampton, and
Marlborough.  Who can doubt the maternity of such names as these?

Now turn face toward New England, and find old England again: Berwick,
Shapleigh, Boston, Litchfield, Clearfield, Norfolk, Springfield, New
Britain, Hampton, Middlesex, Fairfield, Windham, East Lynne, Roxbury,
Kent, Cornwall, Bristol, Enfield, Stafford, Woodstock, Buckingham,
Stonington, Fair Haven, Taunton, Barnstable, Falmouth, Middlebury,
Bedford, Dartmouth, Pomfret, Abington,--but why extend the list,
musical as it is with the home days and the home land?  But name
Plymouth, because it shows the tenacity of English loyalty to England;
for though the Mayflower, with her Puritans, might not have an English
port from which to set sail for a New World, they do yet name their
landing-haven after the English harbor.  Blood is thicker than water
when the instincts are consulted.  Seeing these names, we can not
mistake where we are.  This is as certainly English as the
Pacific-coast line was Spanish and the Mississippi Valley French.
These Englishmen imported names as well as populations.  And I, for
one, like them and their names; for they abound in suggestion.  Who
settled Connecticut and Massachusetts we know from these locatives we
have read and for the names they brought; and for the liberty and
religion they sailed with across the seas, we remember them and love

There are miscellaneous names, telling their tale, not of race
occupancy, but of who or what has passed this way, of beast, or bird,
or event, or man, which have left impress on geography,--things we do
well to study, and which will always lend a sort of enchantment and
vivacious interest to the pages of travel or geography.  The villages
along a railroad are thus often of captivating interest.  The Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, for instance, may illustrate this point.
Its name has interest of no common sort.  Atchison is named after a
famous pro-slavery advocate, who came to Kansas, with his due quota of
"border ruffians," for the avowed purpose of making Kansas a slave
State.  Topeka is an Indian name; Santa Fe is a Spanish landmark, tall
as a lighthouse builded on a cliff.  At the Missouri line is Kansas
City, so named because this metropolis is created by Kansas.  The
metropolis is in Missouri; but is made rich and great by Kansas men and
products.  Kansas has not a large city in its borders, because this
Kansas City has engrossed the great business interests of a great
Commonwealth.  The metropolis of Kansas, in other words, is in the
State of Missouri, and the name is as strict a speaking of truth as an
apostle could have commanded.

Passing along the line, find Holliday, so named from the projector of a
part of this railroad line; on is De Soto, always thrillingly historic;
farther is Eudora (a word of Greek genesis, and meaning a good gift,
though likely enough he who christened this village may have known as
little of Greek as a kitten); on is Lawrence, named for a famous
anti-slavery agitator and philanthropist of Massachusetts--for Lawrence
is a New England colony, as is Manhattan, farther up the Kansas River,
familiarly known as the "Kaw," which is the leading river of Kansas;
here is Lecompton, which keeps alive the memory of Lecompte, the Indian
chief; then comes Tecumseh, as clearly an Indian name as the former;
then Topeka, the capital of Kansas, and wearing an Indian sobriquet;
then comes Wakarusa (Indian, meaning "hip deep," the depth of the
stream in crossing); then Carbondale, so called because of the coal
deposits which created the village; then Burlingame, a beautiful
hamlet, wearing a famous name; then Emporia, a city of traffic, so
dubbed for reason of thinking it a famous trade center in the earlier
days; Barclay, named for the famous Quaker apologist, because this
village is a Quaker colony; Nickerson, for one of the original
promoters of this railroad; Great Bend, referring to a great bend the
Arkansas River makes at this place; Pawnee Rock, from a local
rallying-point of the Pawnees when this was an Indian hunting-ground;
Garden City, so named because, by irrigation, this locality was
redeemed from comparative barrenness; Granada, and Las Animas, and La
Junta, reminiscent words from the Spanish march into Kansas; Puebla,
clearly designating that strange people whose cliff dwellings are at
this hour one of the rarest studies in American archaeology.  On
another branch of this same road: Olathe, an Indian name; Ottawa;
Algonquin, for "trader," Chanute, from an Indian chief, who was a local
celebrity; Elk Falls, referring to those days when this river (the Elk)
was famous for that species of graceful motion called the elk; farther
are Indian Chief and White Deer, names of evident paternity.  I have
taken this time to run along this railroad line so as to show the
possibilities in this direction anywhere.  To learn to read history
from the stations as we pass is surely an art worth learning.  In
passing across the continent I have found it as if a guide had prepared
that way before us.  The natural history of a region may thus be read
without resorting to a book.  Count the fauna: Eagle River, Bald Eagle,
Buffalo Lake, Great Bear Lake, Salmon Falls, Snake River, Wolf Creek,
White Fish River, Leech Lake, Beaver Bay, Carp River, Pigeon Falls,
Elkhorn, Wolverine, Crane Hill, Rabbit Butte, Owl, Rattlesnake, Curlew,
Little Crow, Mullet Lake, Clam Lake, Turtle Creek, Deerfield, Porcupine
Tail, Pelican Lake, Kingfisher, Ravens' Spring, Deer Ears, Bee Hill,
Fox Creek, White Rabbit--can any one mistake the animals haunting these
places in earlier days?  Trapper's Grove tells a story we feel, but
need not rehearse.  So, descriptive words in vegetation, or person, or
characteristic, what volumes are contained in them!  Crystal River,
Little Muddy, Elm Creek, Mission Creek (a stream on which was an Indian
mission), Calumet, Table Rock, Crab Orchard, Elm Creek, Lost River (the
river lost in the sand), Soldier Creek, Battle Creek, Corn Creek,
Spring Lake, Hackberry, Cottonwood Falls, Sand Hills, Poplar Hill, Cold
Springs, Oak Hill, Cavalry Creek, Bluff Creek, Peace Creek, Cedar
Bluff, Council Bluffs, Punished Woman's Lake, Highbank Creek, Big
Knife, Black River, Cypress Creek, Black Raven, Brier Creek, Big Lick,
Laurel, Hurricane Inlet, Dead Man's Bay, Pine Hill, Magnolia, Mountain
Meadow, Medicine Woods, Rush Creek, Salt Plain, Saline River, Lava Bed,
Wild Horse, Sinking Creek, Nameless, Grassy Trail (in the desert),
Azure Cliffs, Miry Bottom, Sand Dune Plateau, Grouse Creek,--these are
names as communicative of secrets as a child.  Heath, Rock Lake, Wood
Lake, Grand Prairie, Lily Creek, Swift Falls, Calamus River, Evergreen
Lake, Lone Tree (a prairie locality), Spring Bank, Fort Defiance,
Pontiac, Smoky Hill River (these hills are always as if smoky),--what a
light these names shed on the region in which they occur!

And you can recapitulate American history in its most salient details
from a reading of our geography.  Great names stay, and will not be
gone.  As moss clings to the rock, so do great memories cling to
localities.  Nature conspires to keep illustrious men from death.
Witness such names as follows: Lincoln (General Lincoln of
Revolutionary fame), Madison, Pulaski (the brave Pole who fought for
our freedom), Webster, Sumner, Henry (Patrick), Jackson (doughty
general and President), Breckinridge, Hancock (signer of the
Declaration of Independence), Lafayette, Clay, Pocahontas, Calhoun,
Randolph, Monroe, Franklin, Jefferson, Clark (the explorer), Douglas
(the "Little Giant"), Adams, Whitman (the Presbyterian missionary, who
saved to the United States Washington and Oregon, by a heroic episode
which deserves the perpetual gratitude of those States), Custer (the
general slain in Indian warfare), Union (to commemorate the
preservation of our Union), Benton (Thomas H., of Missouri, whose
daughter was wife of General John C. Fremont), Lewis and Clark
(discoverers), Garfield, Kane (Arctic explorer), Lincoln (the
emancipator), Polk, Houston, Lee (General Robert E.), Tyler, Van Buren,
Scott (General Winfield, of the Mexican War), Pike (the discoverer of
Pike's Peak), Marshall (Chief-Justice), Berkely, Hamilton (Alexander,
our first lord of the Treasury), Gadsden (he of "the Gadsden
Purchase"), Marion, Sumter (both of Revolutionary fame), Carteret,
Columbus,  Stanton,  Colfax, Greeley, Chase, Sherman, Seward, Fillmore,
Harlan (Senator), Butler (Ben), Johnson (obstreperous "Andy"), Grant
(our chiefest military hero), Polk (General), Brown (John Brown, of
Ossawatomie), Thomas (General), Sheridan, Wallace (General), St. John
(Prohibitionist, Republican governor of Kansas), Lane (Jim Lane, of
Kansas), McPherson and Sedgewick (both Union generals), Case, Dallas,
Boone, DeKalb, McDonough, Schuyler, DeWitt, Putnam, Kossuth, Hancock,
Palo Alto, Cerro Gordo (reminders of the Mexican War), Clayton (of the
Clayton-Bulwer Treaty), Emmet, Fremont, Taylor (President), Warren
(General), Clinton (DeWitt), Audubon, Story (Chief-Justice), Buchanan,
St. Clair, Montcalm, Kosciusko, Steuben, Tippecanoe,--to be acquainted
with these names is to possess knowledge of the virtual makers of
America in the range of statesmanship and military achievement.

One other item completes this tabulation.  The aborigine of America,
the Indian, has left "his mark" across and through this Nation.  He
never, in any true sense, owned this continent.  He hunted and fought
across it.  He swept by, like gusts of winter wind.  He staid here, he
did not live here.  Possession implies more than occupancy; it implies
improvement, industry, habitations, cities, destiny, as worked out by
sweat of toil.  But this American Indian, who, in honor, never
possessed the territory, and has left no ruins of cities built by his
cunning and perseverance, nor codes, nor literature, has left us names
of lake, and stream, and mountain, and city.  This stolid Indian,
though you would scarcely think it of him, had, in common with other
nomad and untutored peoples, poetic instincts.  Their names, like those
of the Hebrews, had meanings, and were picturesque and beautiful,
sometimes, oftentimes, bewitchingly so.  Some words have a music,
liquid as the whip-poor-will's notes heard in woodlands climbing a
mountain side.  Minnehaha, "laughing water"--does not the word seem
laughing, like a falling stream?  I once heard a distinguished
philologist say that, of all the rhythmic words he had hit upon in any
tongue, Winona was most exquisite.  Surely it is not musical, but
music.  See the pomp of names, like an Indian war march begun:
Athabasca, Wyoming, Tahoe, Niobrara, Mohawk, Sioux City, Nemaha,
Hiawatha, Seneca, Chippewa, Chicago, Saskatchewan, Pepacton ("meeting
of waters"), Winnepeg, Cheyenne, Manitoba, Penobscot, Narragansett,
Chicopee, Manhattan, and a host besides, a numberless procession.
Indian names cling with peculiar tenacity to lakes and rivers; for
those hunters knew all waters, and hunted beside all streams and lakes.
They were not seamen, and have left scant memorials of themselves in
names that fringe the sea; but to lakes they cling with tireless

Let these words suffice.  As one who journeys in circles finds no end
of journeying, so I.  This theme runs on, nor stops to catch breath.  I
make an end, therefore, not because the subject is exhausted, but
because it is dismissed.  But this study in geography is journeying
among dead peoples as certainly as it the land were crowded with
obelisk and tomb.  To those who were and are not, say, Vale!  Vale!

  "Ye who love the haunts of Nature,
  Love the sunshine of the meadow,
  Love the shadow of the forest,
  Love the wind among the branches,
  And the rain-shower and the snowstorm,
  And the rushing of great rivers
  Through their palisades of pine-trees,
  And the thunder in the mountains,
  Whose innumerable echoes
  Flap like eagles in their eyries,--
  Listen to these wild traditions.
  Ye who love a nation's legends,
  Love the ballads of a people,
  That like voices from afar off
  Call to us to pause and listen,
  Speak in tones so plain and childlike,
  Scarcely can the ear distinguish
  Whether they are sung or spoken,--
  Listen to this Indian Legend.
  Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
  Who have faith in God and nature,
  Who believe that in all ages
  Every human heart is human,
  That in even savage bosoms
  There are longings, yearnings, strivings,
  For the good they comprehend not,
  That the feeble hands and helpless,
  Groping blindly in the darkness,
  Touch God's right hand in that darkness,
  And are lifted up and strengthened,--
  Listen to this simple story.
  Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles
  Through the green lanes of the country,
  Where the tangled barberry-bushes
  Hang their tufts of crimson berries
  Over stone walls gray with mosses,
  Pause by some neglected graveyard,
  For awhile to muse, and ponder
  On a half-effaced inscription,
  Written with little skill of song-craft,
  Homely phrases, but each letter
  Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
  Full of all the tender pathos
  Of the Here and the Hereafter,--
  Stay, and read this rude inscription."

Only saying, Read not the "Song of Hiawatha," but the story of dead
peoples by the ashes of their campfires,--these names they have left,
clinging to places like blue to distant hills.


Iconoclasm in Nineteenth Century Literature.

That history repeats itself is an apothegm which has descended to us
from a dateless antiquity.  It has been made to serve so often as to
become trite; and yet its use is a necessity, inasmuch as it embodies a
verity, which to ignore were ignorance and folly linked together; and
as we stand on our eminence and scan the way humanity has worn with its
multitudinous feet, as the events of the world pass in review before
us, some so closely resemble others as that the one seems the echo of
the other; and there appears reason for that fascinating generalization
of the ancient philosopher, that the epochs and events of the physical
realm and history were a fixed and limited quantity, which, revolving
in a vast cycle, would bring from time to time the reiteration of the
facts or doings of an ancient era.  There was no new thing thinkable,
only a reintroduction of the old.  To illustrate this fact in brief, we
have but to note the history of philosophy.  You read the names of
those who figure as founders of philosophical systems, and those
systems seem many.  Read the systems as founded, and you find an
old-time philosophy, rejuvenated with some little addition of cap or
bell better to adapt it to the modern time.  The much-lauded Hegelian
philosophy is the system of Democritus, with the addition of a little
more absurdity in the assertion of the identity of contradictories.
The multitudinous philosophies may thus be reduced to a single
quaternion, and the reputed inaugurator of a new philosophy is like to
be a charlatan.  So history seems but a plagiarist.

There is an epoch in ecclesiastical history known as the War of the
Iconoclast; but that was only an embodiment of what had transpired
before, and what has occurred often since.  Iconoclasm is a bias of
humanity.  It grows out of the constitution of man.  He is by heredity
a breaker of images.  If this view be not fictitious, we must not be
surprised if there are developments of this spirit in our era or any
era.  It is a perennial reappearance.  Whether it come in religion,
statecraft, economic science, or literature, can be of little moment.
The fact is the matter of paramount importance.  Christianity was the
iconoclast which broke in pieces the images of decrepit polytheism, and
hewed out a way where progress might march to fulfill her splendid
destiny.  Luther was the iconoclast whose giant strokes demolished the
castle doors of Romish superstition, and broke to fragments the images
of Mariolatry.  The practical induction of Bacon, Earl of Verulam, was
the death-warrant of the fruitless deductive philosophy which had
culminated in the vagaries of Scholasticism.  The Declaration of
Independence and the Federation of the States were the iconoclast which
slew the phantom of the divine necessity of kings.  It is thus evident
that iconoclasm abounds, and there will be no marvel if it have a place
in literature.

Innovation is a practical synonym of iconoclasm; for an innovation is
putting the new in the place of the old.  In ancient literature and
literatures, prose was an innovation as regards poetry; and later,
rhyme was an innovation in the domain of poesy, and an innovation of
such a sort that against it the master-poet, Milton, lifted up his
voice in solemn protest, and the solitary epic in English literature is
a perpetual protestation against the custom.  Shakespeare was an
innovator of the laws of the drama when he violated unities of time and
place; and in a sense the drama was an innovation on narrative poetry,
and the novel an iconoclast in its attitude to the drama.

The iconoclasm in literature in our time is objective rather than
subjective; and attention to the spirit of the age will give a
practical comprehension of this iconoclastic spirit.

It must be observed that the literature of an age is largely the
product of that age.  Times create literatures.  The literature of any
period, in an emphatic sense, will be directly and easily traceable to
something in that age for its peculiarity.

The Iliad and Odyssey were necessities of the age which gave them
birth.  In so far as a literature is purely human, in so far will it be
stamped with the seal of the times, customs, and thoughts in the midst
of which it bloomed into beauty.  In early Greek times an epic without
its gods and demigods, without resounding battle-shout and din of
mighty conflict, had been an anachronism for which there could have
been offered no apology.  The splendid era of Pericles demanded the
tragedy, and such a tragedy as only Aeschylus and Sophocles could
originate; while the foibles of an earlier era made the comedy
imperative.  On like principles, the writings of Lucretius are not
enigmatical, but easy of explanation.

The age which made possible the revels of Kenilworth, made possible
also the splendor, like that of setting suns, which characterizes the
"Faerie Queen."  And the prowess, the achievement, the discovery, the
colonization, the high tide of life, which ran like lightning through
the Nation's arteries, made the drama, not only a possibility, but a
fact.  It was the embodiment of the mighty activities of a mighty age.
The tragedy, to use the splendid figure of Milton, "rose like an
exhalation."  A solitary lifetime brought it from sunrise to high noon;
and from that hour what could the sun do but sink?

Our century is one of general iconoclasm.  It is the Ishmael among the
ages.  Its hand is against every man.  It has reversed the old-time
order, that what was believed by our fathers and received by them
should be received by us.  It takes no truth second-hand.  It goes to
sources.  Its motto is, "I came, I saw, I investigated."  It found many
things believed of old, which were founded on the sand.  Physical
science discovered the vast domain of physical law, and that science
began to legislate for the universe, forgetting sometimes that it was
not a law enactor, but a law discoverer.  Investigation found that many
ideas and systems of ideas, supposed philosophies and sciences, were
false and unsubstantial as the "baseless fabric of a vision."  Things
received as truths from time immemorial were shown to be untrue.  The
tendency of the human intellect is to generalize; and finding many
previously received systems and facts to be without evidence sufficient
to substantiate them, there arose the unwilled generalization that all
these systems are likewise false.  I do not say that man has formulated
this thought into speech, but that the trend of the intellect in our
century has been such as is explicable only on this theory.  In many
instances the motto of investigation in the domain of history,
criticism, and science has been, "Believe all things false until you
prove them true."  If such is the spirit of the age, and if literature
be colored with the light of the century which produces it, shall we
wonder if the nineteenth-century literature is distinctively an
iconoclastic one?

All about us is the battle of the books.  War rages along the entire
line.  No work of antiquity is free from this belligerency.  Mars has
the field.  The investigation has been crucial.  In so far as it has
been learning coupled with wisdom, this is well.  Truth never flinches
before the charge of a wise investigation.  But no truth can stand as
such before a system of inquiry the canons of which are empirical,
fallacious, and false.  The task of demolition is a fascinating one.
It possesses a charm impossible to explain, and impossible to fail to
perceive.  When one has a taste, it is much as with the tiger which has
tasted blood.  Such procedure seems to open vistas before men.  Here
are open doors, from behind which seems to come a voice crying, "Enter."

It will be chronologically accurate if we shall first notice the
iconoclastic spirit as exemplified in the attack on the unity of the
Iliad; and I class this with the nineteenth-century doings because it
belongs to the spirit of that century, and was almost within its
borders.  The Iliad had been the glory of international literature for
centuries.  Greece held it in veneration from the beginning of its
authentic history; and that work had blazed with a solar luster out of
the Stygian darkness of prehistoric times.  The book had made an epoch
in literature.  The cyclic poets, who, for centuries after the
appearance of the Iliad and Odyssey, were the only Greek bards, were
confessedly disciples of one Homer, the reputed author of the poems
which embody the fact of the war of the races.  The judgment of
antiquity was: (_a_) These two works were ascribed to a single author.
(_b_) This author was the master at whose wave of wand these revels had
begun.  In other words, Homer wrote the books which bear his name.
However much they might discuss the location of the half-fabled Ilium,
or marvel over the battles fought "far on the ringing plains of windy
Troy," it was not doubted that a sublime and solitary bard conceived
and wrought the wondrous work ascribed to him.  It is not shown that
this question was even mooted in the former times.  Cities contended
for the honor of having given this man birth.  He was as much a verity
as Pericles.  Such was the status of the case when our century beheld
it first.  Bentley had hinted at the probability or possibility of
separate authorship; but it remained for German criticism, in the
person of Wolf, to make the onslaught on the time-honored belief.  The
attack was as impetuous as the charge of the Greeks across the plain of
the Scamander.  It astonished the world.  It abashed scholarship.
Grave philosophers and gifted poets were carried away in the rush of
the attack.  Goethe gave and Schiller withheld allegiance.  The Atomist
and Separatist for a time held the field.  Wolf showed, by reasoning
which he deemed irrefutable, that the Iliad could not have been
composed by a single man.  Writing did not exist.  The story had many
repetitions, contradictions, and inferiorities.  Later, the
philological argument was used against it.  These statements summarize
the Wolfian theory.  The contrariety in dialect form was thought to be
an invulnerable argument against the unity of authorship; and for a
time the epic of the ancient world was declared to be the work of many
hands, the ballads sung by rhapsodists of many names; and the Iliad,
with its astonishing display of genius, was declared to be authorless.
Less than a century has elapsed since the theory was propounded.  The
subject has received a wealth of attention and study unknown before.
Discoveries have been made in philology which have practically raised
it to the rank of a science; and to-day the atomistic theory of Wolf is
not received.  Grote and Mahaffy have theories which vary markedly from
the great original; and the result of a century of investigation is,
that scholars do now generally believe that some one author, or two at
most, did give shape to the great epic of the Greek people.  Wolf,
Lachmann, and Bert have shown the follies of men of genius when
pursuing a line of evidence to prove a favorite theory.  Their
assumptions are often absurd, and their conclusions, once admitting
their premises, are a logical necessity.  The spirit of iconoclasm
rested, not with the authority of the book, but assailed the geographic
and topographical features.  Troy was declared a dream.  The Trojan War
had never been.  But Schliemann has proven to virtual demonstration the
existence of, not only a Troy, but the Troy about which Hector and
Achilles fought.

This iconoclasm has nowhere more fully displayed itself than in its
attitude toward the Bible.  That book comes properly under the head of
literature, for the reason that the general line of attack during this
century has been made from a literary standpoint.  Of course, there has
always been, whether easily discoverable or not, an undertone of
skepticism of the rank sort.  Oftentimes the battle has been avowedly
against the book as a professed inspiration.  Strauss and Rénan made no
cloak for their deed.  But in many instances the method of procedure
has been to study, as under a calcium light, the literary style, the
linguistic peculiarities, the whole work as a literary composition.  In
this regard the method of criticism was such as was used in dissecting
Homer's works.  Each author laid down canons of criticism by which to
measure the book in question.  He cut the work into fragments.  He
stated such and such parts were the work of an early writer, while
certain others were the additions of men unknown, far removed in time
and place.  For the most part these assumptions were wholly arbitrary,
as may be seen by reading the authors on the various books.  The thing
which is the most observable is their lack of agreement, while the
method used is the dogmatic.  They all agree that the book is not of
the date nor authorship usually assigned to it; but what the date and
who the author, is very seldom agreed between any two.  The criticism
is largely of the _ipse dixit_ sort, and the grounds of attack are,
though rationalistic, seldom rationally taken.  In the vaunted name of
reason, the most monstrous absurdities are perpetrated.  The line of
argument professed to be used is inductive; but in reality the
inductive element in this criticism stands second, and the deductive
element has the chief seat in the synagogue.  The assumption in the
case, the _a priori, sine qua non_ ("without which nothing")--these are
the all-important elements in the discussion.  It is the Homeric
argument restated.  Each man professes to find his hypothesis in the
structure and language of the book.  In fact, the author usually began
with his hypothesis, and seeks to find proofs for the staying his
assumptions up.  The Scriptures are open to investigation.  They
challenge it.  No one need offer an objection to the most scrutinizing
inquiry.  The book is here, and must stand upon its merits.  Its high
claims need not deter scholarship from its investigation.  Only, to use
the language of Bishop Butler in regard to another matter, "Let reason
be kept to."  If we are to be regaled with flights of imagination, let
them be thus denominated; but let men not profess to be following the
leadership of scholarship and scientific candor, when they are in
reality dealing in imagination and scientific dogmatism, and appealing
to philology to give them much needed support.  After these years of
attack from a literary standpoint, the books of the Bible are less
affected than the Iliad.  The Atomist has signally failed to make a
single case.  Iconoclasm has performed its task as best it could, and
finds its labor lost.  The criticism of to-day is, even in Germany,
professedly in favor of the integrity of the Scripture.

But I pass to another part of the literary field.  From the Bible to
Shakespeare.  This, at first thought, may seem a long journey.  There
appears but little congruity between the two.  The only needed
connection is the similarity of attack.  The same spirit has whetted
its sword against each; but the lack of similarity is more apparent
than real.  The Bible is God's exhibit of human nature and its relation
to the Divine personality and plans.  Shakespeare is man's profoundest
exhibit of man in his relation to present and future.  The fields are
the same.  They differ in extent.  The profoundness of Shakespeare
seems a shoreward shallow when viewed alongside the Bible.  The Bible
and Shakespeare have a further similarity, not one of character, but of

Each has been a potential factor in the stability of the English
language.  They each present the noble possibilities of the speech of
the Anglo-Saxon.  Each has left its indelible impress on speech and
literature.  Kossuth's mastery of English is by him attributed to the
Bible, Shakespeare, and Webster's Dictionary.  These were his sole
masters, and sufficed to give him a command of language which ranks him
among the princes of our English speech.  That the authorship of the
Iliad and the books of the Bible should be attacked is cause for little
surprise.  They were works of antiquity.  It is an observable tendency
of the mind to doubt a thing far removed in time.  We lose sight of
evidence.  We dispense with the leadership of reason, and let
inclination and imagination guide.  This is a bias which antiquity must
meet and, if it may, master.  If the Iliad and the Bible were
vulnerable in this regard, Shakespeare was not.  He was a modern.  His
thought is neither ancient nor mediaeval.  He has the characteristics
of modern life, begotten of the hot-blooded era in which he lived.  The
modern Shakespeare is a target for the iconoclast.  It seems but a
stone's-cast from our time to the reign of Elizabeth and the day of the
English drama.  The time was one of action in every department of
society.  Conquest, colonization, literature, were beginning to render
the Saxon name illustrious.  It was the epoch of chivalry and
chivalrous procedure, such as to create a species of literature and
bring it to a perfection which half-wrested the scepter of supremacy
from the hand of the Attic tragedy.  In this literature there is a name
which dwarfs all others.  Otway, Ford, Massinger, Webster, Ben Jonson,
Green, and Marlowe (some of these men of surprising genius) must take a
lower place, for the master of revels is come.  William Shakespeare is
here.  His life is not lengthily but plainly writ.  He might have said,
as did Tennyson's Ulysses, "I am become a name."  It would seem that a
man at such a time, with such a reputation, would have naught to fear
from iconoclasm, however fierce.  He, in a sense, was known as Raleigh
or Essex were not.  He has put himself into human history, and made the
world his debtor.  The existence of a man whose personality was
admitted by his contemporaries must be believed in.  Stories concerning
him haunted the byways of London and literature.  Ben Jonson paid him a
tardy tribute.  Men received him as they received Chaucer.  But the
spirit of the age finds him vulnerable.  Delia Bacon, Smith, O'Connor,
Holmes, and Donnelly are leaders who deny Shakespeare's identity.  I
may note Donnelly, an American gentleman of research and painstaking
which would be creditable to a German scholar.  He must be allowed to
be a man of ingenuity.  His method of discovering that Shakespeare was
not himself has all the flavor of an invention.  It glitters, not with
generalities, but ingenuities.  A sample page of his folio, covered
with hieroglyphics which mark the progress of finding the cipher which
he thinks the plays contain--such sample page is certainly a marvel,
even to the generation which has read with avidity "Robert Elsmere" and
"Looking Backward."  A peculiarity in it all is, that his explanation
makes marvelous doubly so.  To believe that a man should have hidden
his authorship of such works as the plays of Shakespeare makes a draft
on the credulity of men too great to be borne.  Why Junius should not
have revealed himself is not difficult to discover.  His life was at
stake.  But why the author of "The Tempest," or "King Lear," or "The
Merchant of Venice," should have concealed his personality so carefully
that three centuries have elapsed before men could discover it--this is
an enigma no man can solve.  In general, it is objected by
non-believers in Shakespeare that it is impossible to conceive of a man
whose rearing possessed so few advantages as did that of Shakespeare,
having written the plays attributed to him.  This is really the strong
point in the whole discussion.  All other arguments are subordinate.
It is admitted that it does seem impossible for the poacher and wild
country lad to become the poet pre-eminent in English literature.  But
this question is not to be decided by _a priori_ reasoning.  The genius
displayed in the dramatic works under consideration is little less than
miraculous.  This all concede.  Now, history has shown that to genius
there is a sense in which "all things are possible."  Genius can cross
the Alps, can conquer Europe, can dumfound the world.  Genius knows no
rules.  Once allow genius, and the problem is solved.  It is conceded
that for a common man, or even for one of exceptional ability, to have
acquired without help the learning which characterizes the works of
Shakespeare is impossible.  But the man who wrote Hamlet was no
mediocre, be he Bacon or Shakespeare.  He was a superlative genius.
This fact admitted, we need have no difficulty with the problem.  It
becomes a question a child can answer.  The "myriad-minded Shakespeare"
could do what to an ordinary, or even extraordinary, man would be an
absolute impossibility.  One critic discovers Shakespeare to be a
musician; another, a classical scholar; and so he has been claimed in
almost every field.  He was not all.  So critics confound us.  They
also confound themselves.  The genius which could write the plays could
master all these, though he squandered his youth.  Let the history of
genius guide from this labyrinth.  Was not Caesar orator, general,
historian?  Was not Napoleon the same?  Does not genius destroy all
demonstrations with reference to itself?  Do not Pascal, Euler, Da
Vinci, and Angelo confound us?  How dare we dogmatize as to the doings
of genius?  Read Shakespeare, and find you can not discover the
characteristic of the man.  You can not in his writings read his
interior life.  David Copperfield may display Dickens, and Byron's
poems may give us the author's autobiography, and Shelley's writings
may give a photograph of his intellectual self; but Shakespeare's plays
give no clew to his character.  He is all.  He grovels in Falstaff; he
towers in Prospero.  He smites all strings that have music in them.  He
baffles us like a spirit, hiding himself in darkness.  To attribute the
authorship of the plays to Bacon is, to my thought, not to rid us of
our difficulty, but rather to increase difficulty.  Bacon we know.  He
was jurist, statesman, natural philosopher.  Add to these the
possibility of his having written Shakespeare, and the magnificence of
his achievement would dwarf that of Shakespeare.  Space forbids
dwelling on this longer, though the theme is fascinating to any lover
of letters.  The thought in this paper (and that goes without the
saying) is, not to discuss thoroughly these various phases of literary
iconoclasm, but rather to call attention to them and to co-ordinate

I desire to show that these phases of criticism are not difficult of
explanation.  These are natural, and are the outgrowth of an
image-making age.  Study the age, understand it thoroughly, and the
literature of that period can hardly be a puzzling question.  The
nineteenth century will stand in history as the chiefest iconoclast
which has arisen in the world's first six thousand years.  And its
science, statecraft, art, and literature will be looked upon as
segments of the one circle, and that circle the century.


Tennyson the Dreamer

My earliest recollections of Alfred Tennyson are associated with the
old Harper's volume, green-bound, large-paged, and frontispieced with
two pictures of the poet--one of them, a face bearded, thoughtful, with
eyes seeming not to see the near, but the remote; a head well-poised
and noble, with hair tangled as if matted by the wind; the face, as I a
lad thought, of a dreamer and a poet; and my first impressions, I
think, were right, since the years are confirmatory of this first
conviction.  The second portrait pictured the poet wrapped in his
cloak, standing, lost in thought, alone upon a cliff, gazing solitary
at the sea, and listening.  If I do not mistake, these pictures caught
the poet's spirit in so far as pictures can portray spirit.  Tennyson
was always alone beside a sea, looking, listening, dreaming; and as
dreamer this article purposes portraying him.

Tennyson was, his life through, a recluse.  He dwelt apart.  He was as
one who stands afar oft and listens to the shock of battle, hears the
echo of cannon's roar, and so conceives a remote picture of the tragedy
of onset.  English poetry began with Chaucer, outrider to a king,
associate with State affairs, participant in those turbulencies
recorded in Froissart's voluble "Chronicles."  He was a courtier.  Camp
and king's antechamber and embassage and battle made the arsis and
thesis of his poetry, and his poems are a picture of Edward III's age,
accurate as if a king's pageant passing flung shadow in a stream along
whose bank it marched.  Spenser was a recluse, looking on the world's
movement as an Oriental woman watches the street from her latticed
window.  Shakespeare was _bon vivant_, a player, therefore a brief
chronicler of that time and of all times.  He floated in people as
birds in air.  Dramatists have need to study men and women as a
sculptor does anatomy.  Seclusions are not the qualifications for
dramatic art.  Dryden was court follower and sycophant and a literary
debauchee.  Milton was publicist.  Burns, loving and longing for courts
and society, was enforced in his seclusion, and therefore angry at it.
Wordsworth dwelt apart from men, as one who lives far from a public
thoroughfare, where neither the dust nor bustle of travel can touch his
bower of quiet; in its quality of isolation, Grasmere was an island in
remote seas.  Keats was a lad, dreaming in some dim Greek temple,
listening to a fountain's plash at midnight which never whitened into

Nor does there seem to be reasonable room for doubt that poetry, aside
from the drama, gains by seclusion and solitude.  Much of Bayard
Taylor's verse has a delicious flavor of poetry.  He could write
dreamily, as witness "The Metempsychosis of the Pine" and "Hylas," or
he brings us into an Arab's tent as fellow-guest with him; but he
belonged too much to the world.  Traveler, newspaper correspondent,
translator, ambassador, he was all these, and his varied exploits and
attrition of the crowded world hindered the cadences of his poetry.
William Cullen Bryant lost as poet by being journalist, his vocation
drying up the fountains of his poetry.  America's representative poet,
James Russell Lowell, was editor, essayist, diplomat, poet,--in every
department distinguished.  His essay on Dante ranks him among the great
expositors of that melancholy Florentine.  Yet who of us has not wished
he might have consecrated himself to poetry as priest to the altar?  We
gained in the publicist and essayist, but lost from the poet.  And our
ultimate loss out-topped our gain; for essayists and ambassadors are
more numerous than poets.  Had Lowell been a man of one service, and
that service poetry, what might he not have left us as a poet's
bequest?  Would he had lived in some forest primeval, from whose
shadows mountains climbed to meet the dawns, and streams stood in
silver pools or broke into laughter on the stones, and where winds
among the pines were constant ministrants of melody!  Solitudes
minister to poets.  You can hear a fountain best at midnight, because
then quiet rules.

Tennyson was a solitary.  Hallam Tennyson's biography of the laureate
resents the opinion that his father was unsocial, but really leaves the
commonly-received opinion unrefuted.  Tennyson's reticence and love of
contemplation and aloneness amounted to a passion.  He was not a man of
the people.  He fled from tourists as if they brought a plague with
them.  He did nothing but dream.  You might as easily catch the
whip-poor-will, whose habitation changes at an approaching step, as
Tennyson.  His was not in the widest sense a companionable nature.  He
cared to be alone and to be let dream, and resented intrusion and a
disturbance of his solitude.  Some have dreamless sleep, like the
princess in "The Sleeping Beauty;" others sleep to dream, and to wake
them by a hand's touch or a voice, however loved, would be to break the
sweet continuity of their dreams.  Seeing Tennyson was as he was, his
solitude helped him.  I think moonlight was wine to his spirit, and the
dim voices of rolling breakers heard afar woke his passion and his
poetry.  The

      "Break, break, break,
  On thy cold, gray stones, O sea!"

was what his spirit needed as qualification to

  "Utter the thoughts that arise in me."

A dramatist needs the touching of living hands and sound of living
human voices, the uproar of the human sea; for is he not poet of street
and court and market-place and holiday?  But there is a poetry which
needs these accessories as little as a lover needs a throng to keep him
company.  Tennyson's poetry was such.  We are not to conceive him as
Lord Tennyson and inhabitant of the House of Lords.  He did not belong
there save as a recognition of splendid ability.  If we are to get a
clew to his genius, he must always be conceived as a recluse, who truly
heard the world's words, but at a dim remove.  There is remoteness in
his poetry.  The long ago was the day whose sunlight flooded his path.
The illustrious Greek era and the Mediaeval Age were fields where his
hosts mustered for battle.  Consider how little of Tennyson's noblest
poetry belongs to his own era.  "The May Queen;" "Locksley Hall," and
its complement, "Sixty Years After;" "In a Hospital Ward;" "The
Grandmother;" his patriotic effusions; "Maud;" and "In Memoriam," sum
up the modern contributions; nor is all of this impregnated with a
genuinely modern spirit.  "Enoch Arden" might have belonged to a
lustrum of centuries ago, and "The May Queen" to remote decades.  He
writes in the nineteenth century, rarely _of_ it, though, as is
inevitable, he colors his thoughts of long-ago yesterdays with the
colors of to-day.  He is not strictly a contemporaneous poet.  "Dora,"
"The Gardener's Daughter," and others of the sort, have no time
ear-marks.  "The Princess" discusses a living problem, but from the
artistic background of a knightly era.  "Locksley Hall," earlier and
later, "Maud" and "In Memoriam" are about the only genuinely
contemporaneous poems.  My suggestion is, Tennyson hugs the shadows of
yesterdays; nor need we go far to find the philosophy of this seizure
of the past.  Romance gathers in twilights.  It is hard to persuade
ourselves that those heroisms which make souls mighty as the gods,
belong to here and now.  Imagination fixes this golden age in what
Tennyson would call "the underworld" of time.  Greek mythology was the
essential poetry of nature, and mediaevalism the essential poetry of
manhood.  Nothing, as appears to me, was more accurate and in keeping
with Tennysonian genius than this choosing Greek antiquity and
mediaevalism as the theater for his poetry; for he was the chief
romance poet since Edmund Spenser.  Spenser and Tennyson are the poets
laureate of chivalry.  What Spenser did in his age, that Tennyson did
in his.  So recall the chronological location of Tennyson's poetry.
"Tithonus," "Oenone," "Ulysses," "Tiresias," "Amphion," "The
Hesperides," "The Merman," "Demeter and Persephone."  Do we not seem
rather reading titles from some classic poet than from a poet of the
nineteenth century?

The historical trilogy belongs to the mediaeval centuries; "Harold," "à
Becket," and "Queen Mary" are of yesterday.  Tennyson reached backward,
as a child reaches over toward its mother.  "Boadicea" belongs to a
still earlier age of English history; and certainly "The Idyls of the
King" "Sir Galahad," "St. Simeon Stylites," "St. Agnes," "The Mystic,"
"Merlin and the Gleam," belong to the romantic, half-hidden era of
history and of thought.  "Sir John Oldcastle" and "Columbus" belong to
the visible historic era, while in his wonderful "Rizpah" the poet has
knit the present to dim centuries of the remotest past; and the tragic
"Lucretius" takes us once more into the classic period.  To the purely
romantic belong "Recollections of the Arabian Nights," "The
Lotos-Eaters," "The Talking Oak," "A Dream of Fair Women," and
"Godiva."  Now subtract these poems and their kin from the bulk of
Tennyson's poetry, and the remainder will appear comparatively small.
Certainly we may affirm with safety that Tennyson was poet of the past.

You can get the poetry of the Alhambra only by moonlight; and to a mind
so wholly poetic as Tennyson's it seemed possible to get the poetry of
conduct only by seeing it in the moonlight of departed years.  To-day
is matter-of-fact in dress and design; mediaevalism was fanciful,
picturesque, romantic.  Chivalry was the poetry of the Christ in
civilization; and the knight warring to recover the tomb of God was the
poem among soldiers, and in entire consonance with his nature,
Tennyson's poetic genius flits back into the poetic days, as I have
seen birds flit back into a forest.  In Tennyson's poetry two things
are clear.  They are mediaeval in location; they are modern in temper.
Their geography is yesterday, their spirit is to-day; and so we have
the questions and thoughts of our era as themes for Tennyson's voice
and lute.  His treatment is ancient: his theme is recent.  He has given
diagnosis and alleviation of present sickness, but hides face and voice
behind morion and shield.

Tennyson celebrates the return to nature.  This return "The Poet's
Song" voices:

  "The rain had fallen, the Poet arose;
    He passed by the town and out of the street;
  A light wind blew from the gates of the sun,
    And waves of shadow went over the wheat,
  And he sat him down in a lonely place,
    And chanted a melody loud and sweet,
  That made the wild-swan pause in her cloud,
    And the lark drop down at his feet.

  The swallow stopt as he hunted the bee,
    The snake slipt under a spray;
  The wild hawk stood with the down on his beak,
    And stared, with his foot on the prey;
  And the nightingale thought, 'I have sung many songs,
    But never a one so gay;
  For he sings of what the world will be
    When the years have died away.'"

Away from palaces to solitude; out of cities to hedgerows and the woods
and wild-flowers,--there is the secret of perennial poetry.  And
Tennyson is the climax of this dissent from Pope and Dryden as
elaborated in Goldsmith, Cowper, Burns, Thomson, and Wordsworth.  The
best of this wine was reserved for the last of the feast; for Tennyson
appears to me the greatest of the nature poets.  And this return to
nature, as the phrase goes, means taking this earth as a whole, which
we are to do more and still more.  Thomson's poetry was not pastoral
poetry at its best; seeing inanimate nature is not in itself sufficient
theme for poetry, lacking passion, depth, power.  Sunrise, and flowing
stream, and tossing seas are valuable as associates of the soul and
helping it to self-understanding.  Tennyson took both men and nature
into his interpretation of nature.  His voice it is, saying,

  "O would that my tongue could utter
  The thoughts that arise in me!"

The sea helps the soul's lack by supplying words and music.  Tennyson
never was at his best in a National Ode, unless one speaks from the
elocutionary standpoint, because such tasks lack the poetical essential
of spontaneity, and because, too, the themes seem to carry him outside
of his nature-mood.  Art in our century has gone out of doors.  Scenery
has never had lovers as now; and participative in this mood is
Tennyson.  He lives under the sky.  He loved to be alone; and nature is
loneliness as well as loveliness.  Nor is his love of nature a passing
passion, but is passionate, intense, endearing.  He never outgrew it.
"Balin and Balan" is as beautiful with nature-similes as were "Enid"
and "Oenone."  In Tennyson we have the odors of the country and the sea
and the dewy night.  He is laureate of the stars.  Nature is not
introduced, but his poems seem set in nature as daisies in a meadow.
He was no city poet.  Of the poet Blake, James Thomson writes:

  "He came to the desert of London town
  Gray miles long.
  He wandered up, he wandered down,
  Singing a quiet hymn."

Not so Tennyson.  London and he were compatriots, but not friends; for
he belonged to the quiet of the country woods, and the clamor of
sea-gulls and sea-waves, whose very tumult drown the voice of care.
Tennyson was to express the yearning of his era, and his poems are a
cry; for, like a babe, he has

  "No language but a cry."

Our yearning is our glory.  The superb forces of our spirits are
inarticulate, and can not be put to words, but may be put to the melody
of a yearning cry.  Souls struggle toward expression like a dying
soldier who would send a message to his beloved, but can not frame
words therefor before he dies.  Our pathos is--and our yearning is--

  "O would that my lips could utter
  The thoughts that arise in me!"

But we have no words; and Holmes, in his most delicately-beautiful
poem, entitled "The Voiceless," has made mention of this grief:

  "We count the broken lyres that rest
    Where the sweet wailing singers slumber;
  But o'er their silent sister's breast
    The wild-flowers, who will stoop to number?
  A few can touch the magic string,
    And noisy Fame is proud to win them:
  Alas for those that never sing,
    But die with all their music in them!

  Nay, grieve not for the dead alone,
    Whose song has told their heart's sad story,--
  Weep for the voiceless, who have known
    The cross without the crown of glory!
  Not where Leucadian breezes sweep
    O'er Sappho's memory-haunted billow,
  But where the glistening night-dews weep
    On nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.

  O hearts that break and give no sign
    Save whitening lip and fading tresses,
  Till Death pours out his cordial wine,
    Slow-dropped from Misery's crushing presses,--
  If singing breath or echoing chord
    To every hidden pang were given,
  What endless melodies were poured,
    As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!"

Souls cry, "Give us a voice;" and nature enters into our yearning
moods.  The autumn and the rain grieve with us, and June makes merry
with us as at a festival, and the deep sky gives room for the soaring
of our aspirations, and the solemn night says, "Dream!"  And for our
heartache and longing, Tennyson is our voice; for he seems near
neighbor to us.  He lay on a bank of violets, and looked into the sky,
and heard poplars pattering as with rain upon the roof.  Really, in all
Tennyson's poems you will be surprised at the affluence of his
reference to nature.  His custom was to make the moods of nature to be
explanatory of the moods of the soul.  Man needs nature as birds need
air, and flowers, and waving trees, and the dear sun.  Tennyson will
make appeal to

  "The flower in the crannied wall"

by way of silencing the agnostic's prating against God.  Hear him:

  "Flower in the crannied wall,
  I pluck you out of the crannies--
  Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
  Little flower,--but if I could understand
  What you are, root and all, and all in all,
  I should know what God and man is."

Here follow a few, among many, very many, delicious references to the
out-of-door world we name nature, as explanatory of the indoor world we
call soul:

  "Who make it seem more sweet to be
    The little life on bank and brier,
    The bird that pipes his lone desire
  And dies unheard within his tree."

  "A thousand suns will stream on thee,
    A thousand moons will quiver;
  But not by thee my steps shall be,
    Forever and forever."

  "Storm'd in orbs of song, a growing gale."

  "I saw that every morning, far withdrawn,
  Beyond the darkness and the cataract,
  God made himself an awful rose of dawn,

  "There let the wind sweep and the plover cry;
  But thou go by."

  "As through the land at eve we went,
    And pluck'd the ripen'd ears,
  We fell out, my wife and I,--
  O we fell out, I know not why,
    And kiss'd again with tears.

  For when we came where lies the child
    We lost in other years,
  There above the little grave,--
  O there above the little grave,
    We kiss'd again with tears."

  "Set in a cataract on an island-crag,
   When storm is on the heights of the long hills."

  "Tall as a figure lengthen'd on the sand
  When the tide ebbs in sunshine."

  "Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea;
  The cloud may stoop from heaven, and take the shape,
  With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape;
  But O too fond, when have I answered thee?
        Ask me no more."

  "And she, as one that climbs a peak to gaze
  O'er land and main, and sees a great black cloud
  Drag inward from the deeps, a wall of night."

  "That like a broken purpose wastes in air."

  "To rest beneath the clover sod,
    That takes the sunshine and the rains,
    Or where the kneeling hamlet drains
  The chalice of the grapes of God."

  "So be it: there no shade can last
    In that deep dawn behind the tomb,
    But clear from marge to marge shall bloom
  The eternal landscape of the past."

  "I sleep till dusk is dipt in gray."

  "But Summer on the steaming floods,
    And Spring that swells the narrow brooks,
    And Autumn, with a noise of rooks,
  That gather in the waning woods."

  "From belt to belt of crimson seas,
    On leagues of odor streaming far,
    To where in yonder Orient star
  A hundred spirits whisper 'Peace.'"

  "There rolls the deep where grew the tree:
    O earth, what changes thou hast seen!
    There where the long street roars, hath been
  The stillness of the central sea.

  The hills are shadows, and they flow
    From form to form, and nothing stands;
    They melt like mist, the solid lands,
  Like clouds they shape themselves and go."

  "If e'er when faith had fall'n asleep,
    I heard a voice, 'Believe no more,'
    And heard an ever-breaking shore
  That tumbled in the godless deep."

  "As slopes a wild brook o'er a little stone,
  Running too vehemently to break upon it."

  "Whole, like a crag that tumbles from the cliff,
  And like a crag was gay with wilding flowers;
  And high above a piece of turret stair,
  Worn by the feet that now were silent, would
  Bare to the sun, and monstrous ivy-stems
  Claspt the gray walls with hairy-fibered arms,
  And suck'd the joining of the stones, and look'd
  A knot, beneath, of snakes; aloft, a grove."

  "For as a leaf in mid-November is
  To what it was in mid-October, seem'd
  The dress that now she look'd on to the dress
  She look'd on ere the coming of Geraint."

  "That had a sapling growing on it, slip
  From the long shore-cliff's windy walls to the beach,
  And there lie still, and yet the sapling grew:
  So lay the man transfixt."

        "For one
  That listens near a torrent mountain-brook,
  All thro' the crash of the near cataract hears
  The drumming thunder of the huger fall
  At distance, were the soldiers wont to hear
  His voice in battle, and be kindled by it."

  "And in the moment after, wild Limours,
  Borne on a black horse, like a thunder-cloud
  Whose skirts are loosen'd by the breaking storm,
  Half ridden off with by the thing he rode,
  And all in passion, uttering a dry shriek,
  Dash'd on Geraint"

  "Where, like a shoaling sea, the lovely blue
  Play'd into green, and thicker down the front
  With jewels than the sward with drops of dew,
  When all night long a cloud clings to the hill,
  And with the dawn ascending lets the day
  Strike where it clung: so thickly shone the gems."

  "As the southwest that blowing Bala Lake
  Fills all the sacred Dee.  So past the days."

  "In the midnight and flourish of his May."

  "Only you would not pass beyond the cape
  That has the poplar on it."

  "And at the inrunning of a little brook,
  Sat by the river in a cove and watch'd
  The high reed wave, and lifted up his eyes
  And saw the barge that brought her moving down,
  Far off, a blot upon the stream, and said,
  Low in himself, 'Ah, simple heart and sweet,
  You loved me, damsel, surely with a love
  Far tenderer than my Queen's!'"

  "Rankled in him and ruffled all his heart,
  As the sharp wind that ruffles all day long
  A little bitter pool about a stone
  On the bare coast."

  "A carefuler in peril did not breathe
  For leagues along that breaker-beaten coast
  Than Enoch. . . .  And he thrice had pluck'd a life
  From the dread sweep of the down-streaming seas."

  "All-kindled by a still and sacred fire,
  That burned as on an altar."

  "With kisses balmier than half-opening buds
  Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss'd,
  Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet,
  Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing,
  While Ilion, like a mist, rose into towers."

  "Dearer and nearer, as the rapid of life
  Shoots to the fall."

  "That sets at twilight in a land of reeds."

  "And wearying in a land of sand and thorns."

  "Pelleas and sweet smell of the fields
  Past, and the sunshine came along with him."

  "By a mossed brookbank on a stone
  I smelt a wildweed flower alone;
  There was a ringing in my ears,
  And both my eyes gushed out with tears."

  "Clash like the coming and retiring wave."

  "Quiet as any water-sodden log
  Stay'd in the wandering warble of a brook."

  "The wide-wing'd sunset of the misty marsh."

From these quotations, not exhaustive, but representative, one may see
in how gracious a sense Tennyson was a pastoral poet, in that he and
his thought haunted the brookside and the mountainside, the shadow and
the sunshine, the dark night, or dewy eve, or the glad dawn, always.
Therefore is Tennyson a rest to the spirit.  He takes you from your
care, and ends by taking your care from you.  He quiets your spirit.  I
go to his poems as I would go to seashore or mountain; and a quiet
deep, as the gently falling night, wraps my spirit.  Bless him always
for the rest he knows to give and cares to give!

Tennyson's genius is lyrical rather than either dramatic or epic.  What
music is like his?  Say of his poems, in words of James Whitcomb Riley,

  "O but the sound was rainy sweet!"

Not great Milton was more master of music than he; though Milton's was
the melody of wide ocean in open sea, or crash of waves upon the rugged
rocks, or wrathing up the yellow sands in tumult of majestic menace.
Tennyson's music is rather the voice of gentle waters, or the cadence
of summer's winds in the tree-tops, or like human voices heard in some
woodland.  In either poet is no marred music.  Mrs. Browning fell out
of time; Tennyson never.  His verse is like some loved voice which
makes perpetual music in our heart.  Read all of his poetry, and how
diversified soever his meter is, music never fails; yet his lyrics are
not as those of Burns, whose words sing like the brook Tennyson has
sung of.  Burns's melody is laughter: it babbles, it sighs for a
moment, but will sing.  But Tennyson's is not laughter.  He is no
joyous poet.  Burns has tears which wet his lashes, scarcely his
cheeks.  Tennyson's cheeks are wet.  He is the music of winds in
pine-trees in a lonely land, or as a sea breaking upon a shore of rock
and wreck; but how passing sweet the music is, stealing your ruggedness
away, so that to be harsh in thought or diction in his presence seems a

Lyric differs from epic poetry in sustainedness.  One form of poetry
runs into another imperceptibly, as darkness into daylight or daylight
into darkness, so that the dividing line can not be certified.  Lyric
poetry may be dramatic in spirit, as Browning's "The Ring and the
Book;" or dramatic poetry may be lyric in spirit, as Milton's "Comus."
Tennyson has written drama and epic too; for such, I think, clearly he
proposed the "Idyls of the King" to be.  This we must say: Despite the
genial leniency of Robert Browning's criticism of the dramatic success
of "Harold," and "Becket," and "The Cup," we may safely refuse
concurrence in judgment.  Trying made the failure of the play
impossible when he was character in them.  There is no necessity of
denying that the so-called trilogy has apt delineation of character,
and that Green, the historian, was justified in saying that "Becket"
had given him such a conception of the character of that courtier and
ecclesiastic as all his historical research had not given; nor need we
deny that these dramas are rich in noble passages.  These things go
without the saying, considering the author was Alfred Tennyson.  In
attempting a criticism of the dramatic value, however, the real
question is this: Would not "Harold" and "Queen Mary" have been greater
poems if thrown out of the dramatic into the narrative form, like
"Guinevere" or "Enoch Arden?"  "Maud" is really the most dramatic of
Tennyson's poems, and in consequence the least understood.  Most men at
some time espouse what they can not successfully achieve.  Was not this
Tennyson's case?  Are not the portrayal of character and the rhythm and
the melody of the drama qualities inherent in Tennyson, and are they in
any distinct sense dramatic?  If we declare Tennyson neither epic nor
dramatic, but always lyric, adverse criticism melts away like snow in
summer.  As lyrist, all is congruous and enthralling.  "The Idyls of
the King," as a series of lyric romances, is beyond blame in technique.
Tennyson tells a story.  Dramatic poetry takes the story out of the
poet's lips and tells itself.  The epic requires a strong centrality of
theme, movement, and dominancy, like a ubiquitous sovereign whose power
is always felt in every part of his empire.  Viewing "The Idyls of the
King" as singing episodes, told us by some wandering minstrel, not only
do they not challenge hostile criticism, but they take rank among the
noblest contributions to the poetry of any language.  "Columbus,"
"Ulyses," "Eleanore," "Enoch Arden," "Lucretius," "The Day-Dream,"
"Locksley Hall," "Dora," "Aylmer's Field," "The Gardener's Daughter,"
have all the subdued beauty of Wordsworth's narrative poems, and are as
certainly lyric as those unapproachable lyrics in "The Princess."  The
ocean is epic in its vast expanse; tragic in its power to crush Armadas
on the rocks and let them

  "Rot in ribs of wreck;"

and lyric in its songs, whether of storm outsounding cataracts, or the
singing scarce above the breath of waves that silver the shores of
summer seas.  Commend me to the ocean, and give all the ocean to me.
Dispossess me of no might nor tragedy nor melody.  Let the whole ocean
be mine.  So, though Tennyson be not epic as Milton, nor dramatic as
Browning, he is yet a mine of wealth untold.  He is more melodious than
Spenser (and what a praise!)  Tennyson can not write the prose, but
always the poetry of life.  So interpreted, how perfect his execution
becomes!  His words distill like dews.  Take unnumbered extracts from
his poems, and they seem bits of melody, picked out from nature's book
of melodies, and in themselves and as related they satisfy the heart.
Let these songs sing themselves to us:

  "Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea;
    The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape,
    With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape;
  But O too fond, when have I answer'd thee?
        Ask me no more.

  Ask me no more: what answer should I give?
    I love not hollow cheek or faded eye;
    Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die!
  Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live;
        Ask me no more.

  Ask me no more: thy fate and mine are seal'd;
    I strove against the stream and all in vain;
    Let the great river take me to the main;
  No more, dear Love, for at a touch I yield;
        Ask me no more."

  "Thy voice is heard through rolling drums,
    That beat to battle where he stands;
  Thy face across his fancy comes,
    And gives the battle to his hands:
  A moment, while the trumpets blow,
    He sees his brood about thy knee;
  The next, like fire he meets the foe,
    And strikes him dead for thine and thee."

    "O love, they die in yon rich sky,
      They faint on hill or field or river;
    Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
      And grow forever and forever.
  Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
  And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying."

  "Sweet and low, sweet and low,
    Wind of the western sea,
  Low, low, breathe and blow,
    Wind of the western sea!
  Over the rolling waters go,
  Come from the dying moon, and blow,
    Blow him again to me;
  While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

  Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
    Father will come to thee soon;
  Rest, rest, on mother's breast,
    Father will come to thee soon;
  Father will come to his babe in the nest,
  Silver sails all out of the west
    Under the silver moon:
  Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep."

And "Tears, Idle Tears," is beyond all praise.  Passion was never wed
to music more deliriously and satisfyingly.  I am entranced by this
poem always, as by God's poem of the starry night:

  "Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean;
  Tears from the depth of some divine despair
  Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes
  In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
  And thinking of the days that are no more.

  Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
  That brings our friends up from the under world;
  Sad as the last which reddens over one
  That sinks with all we love below the verge;
  So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

  Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
  The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
  To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
  The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
  So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

  Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
  And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd
  On lips that are for others; deep as love,
  Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
  O Death in Life, the days that are no more."

All these lyrics are such delights as leave us silent, seeing we have
no words to tell the glow of spirit we feel.  The genius of lyric
poetry is its power of condensation.  The drama may expand, the lyric
must condense, and Tennyson has the lyric power, summing up large areas
of thought and feeling into a single sentence or a few verses, which
presents the quintessence of the lyric method.  Immense passion poured
into the chalice of a solitary utterance--this is a song.  Let the
harpist sit and sing, nor stop to wipe his tears what time he
sings,--only let him sing!  Tennyson was as some rare voice which never
grows husky, but always sounds sweet as music heard in the darkness,
and when he speaks, it is as if

  "Up the valley came a swell of music on the wind."

Tennyson is poet of love.  Love is practically always the soil out of
which his flowers grow.  Our American bards say little of love, and we
feel the lack keenly.  Love is the native nobleman among
soul-qualities, and we have become schooled to feel the poets must be
our spokesmen here where we need them most.  But Bryant, nor Whittier,
nor Longfellow, nor yet Lowell, have been in a generous way erotic
poets.  They have lacked the pronounced passion element.  Poe, however,
was always lover when he wrote poetry, and Bayard Taylor has a
recurring softening of the voice to a caress when his eyes look love.
Tennyson, on the contrary, is scarcely less a love poet than Burns,
though he tells his secret after a different fashion.  Call the roll of
his poems, and see how just this observation is.  Love is nodal with
him as with the heart.  Bourdillon was right in saying:

  "The night has a thousand eyes,
    The day has one;
  Yet the light of the bright world dies
    With the dying sun.

  The mind has a thousand eyes,
    And the heart but one;
  Yet the life of a whole life dies
    When love is done."

In many poets, love is background, not picture, or, to change a figure
as is meet, love is a minor chord in song.  In Shelley, I would say
that love was a sort of afterglow upon the landscape, and softens his
rigid anarchy into something like beauty.  With Tennyson is a very
different offering to love.  It is omnipresent, though not obtrusively
so; for he never obtrudes his main meanings.  They rather steal on you
as springtime does.  You catch his meaning because you are not blind
nor deaf.  He hints at things as lovers do, and is as one who would not
thrust his company upon you, so modest and reticent is he; yet we do
not mistake him.  Love is always close at hand, and in some form is
never absent.  "Mariana," "Lady of Shalott," "Locksley Hall," "Maud,"
"The Sisters," "The Talking Oak," "Edward Gray," "The Miller's
Daughter," "Harold," "Queen Mary," "Enoch Arden," and "The Idyls of the
King,"--is not love everywhere?  These are poems of love between men
and women as lovers; but there is other love.  In Tennyson: love of
country, as in his "The Revenge," "The Charge of the Light Brigade,"
and others; love of nature, as "The Brook;" the love of Queen, as in
the dedication in "The Idyls of the King;" love of a friend (and such
love!) flooding "In Memoriam" like spring tide's; love to God, as "St.
Agnes' Eve," "Sir Galahad," and in "King Arthur."  By appeal to book do
we see how his poems constitute a literature of love, for he is in
essence saying continuously, "Life means love," and we shall not be
those to say him nay.  May we not safely say no poet has given a more
beautiful and sympathetic explication of love in its entirety?
Browning has expressed the sex-love more mightily in Pompilia and
Caponsacchi.  Tennyson has, however, given no partial landscape; he has
presented the whole.  Love of the lover, of the widowed heart, of the
friend, of the parent, of the patriot, of the subject to sovereign, of
the redeemed of God.  Truly, this does impress us as a nearly-completed
circle.  If it is not, where lies the lack?  Love is life, gladness,
pathos, power.  A humblest spirit, when touched with the unspeakable
grace of love, becomes epic and beautiful, as is illustrated in "Enoch
Arden."  Herein see a sure element of immortality in Tennyson.  The
race will always with alacrity and sympathy read of love in tale or
poem; and this poet is always translating love's thought into speech.

And may not this prevalence of love in his poetry account for
Tennyson's lack of humor?  In his conversation, as his son tells us, he
was even jocular, loving both to hear and to tell a humorous incident,
and his laughter rang out over a good jest, a thing of which we would
have next to no intimation in his poetry; for save in "Will
Waterproof's Lyrical Monologue" and "The Northern Farmer," and possibly
in "Amphion," his verse contains scarcely a vestige of humor.
Certainly his writings can not presume to be humorous.  To Cervantes,
chivalry was grotesque; to Tennyson, chivalry was poetry,--there lay
the difference.  Our laureate caught not the jest, but the real poetry
of that episode in the adventure of manhood; and this I take to be the
larger and worthier lesson.  Cervantes and Tennyson were both right.
But Tennyson caught the vision of the surer, the more enduring truth.
With love, as with chivalry, he saw not the humor, but the beauty of
it; and beauty is always touched with melancholy.  I have sat a day
through reading all this poet's verse, and confess that all the day I
was not remote from tears, but was as one walking in mists along an
ocean shore, so that on my face was what might be either rain or tears.
In Tennyson,

  "Love took up the glass of Time, and turned it in its
        glowing hands;
  Every moment lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.
  Love took up the harp of life, and smote on all the
        chords with might;
  Smote the chord of self, that, trembling, passed in music
        out of sight."

And Tennyson is the picture poet.  I feel in reading him as if I were
either out of doors with pictures seen at first-hand, or in a gallery
with picture-crowded walls.  He is painter among poets, his art being
at once admirably inclusive and exclusive--including essentials,
excluding the irrelevant.  He is consummate artist, giving pictures of
things, and, what is vastly more difficult, pictures of moods.  With
him, one never feels and sees, but feels because he sees.  His ability
to recreate moods for us is quite beyond praise, and is such subtle art
as defies analysis or characterization, but wakens wonder and will not
let it sleep.  Poets are, as is affirmed by the lord of all the poets,

  "Of imagination all compact;"

and may we be delivered from a colorless world and an unimaginative
life; for such is no life at all!  God would have men dream and
prophesy.  Because the poet is artist and dreamer, his word, in one
form or another, is "like," a word patented by poets; and all who use
it are become, in so far, poets.  Now, with Tennyson, all things
suggest pictures, as if soul were itself a landscape; wherefore, as has
been shown, he riots in nature-scenes.  A simile, when full, like a
June day of heaven, contains a plethora, an ampleness, for which you
shall seek in vain to find rules, much less to make them; which is to
say that a perfect simile will betimes do something for which no reason
can be assigned, yet so answering to the largest poetry of the occasion
as to fill the mind with joy, as if one had discovered some new flower
in the woods where he thought he knew them all.  One instance shall
suffice as illustrative:

        "An agony
  Of lamentation like a wind, that shrills
  All night in a waste land, where no one comes,
  Or hath come, since the making of the world."

Considering the comparison, we must grant that, submitted to the
judgment of cold logic, the figure is superfluous and faulty; for, as a
simple matter of fact, a wind blowing where no one comes or has come
would be not so lonely as one blown across a habitable and inhabited
land.  From the standpoint of common observation, the simile might be
set down as inaccurate.  But who so blind as not to see that there is
no untruth nor superfluity in the poet's art?  He means to give the air
of utter loneliness and sadness, and therefore pictures an untenanted
landscape, across whose lonely wastes a lonely wind pursues its lonely
way; and thus having saturated his thought with sadness, he transfers
the loneliness of the landscape to the winged winds.  This seems to me
the very climacteric of exquisite artistic skill, and I am always
delighted to the point of laughter or of tears; for moods run together
in presence of such poetry.  No poet of my knowledge so haunts the
illustrative.  In reading him, so perfect are the pictures that your
fingers itch to play the artist's part, so you might shadow some beauty
on every page.  Some painter, working after the manner of Turner's
"Rivers of France," might make himself immortal by devoting his life to
the adequate illustration of Tennyson.  As his verses sing themselves,
so his poems picture themselves.  He supplies you with painter's
genius.  A verse or stanza needs but a frame to be a choice painting.
When told that the fool

  "Danced like a withered leaf before the hall,"

we must see him, so vivid the scene, so lifelike the color.

I will hang some pictures up as in a gallery:

  "Ever the weary wind went on,
    And took the reed-tops as it went"

        "I, that whole day,
  Saw her no more, although I linger'd there
  Till every daisy slept."

  "Love with knit brows went by,
  And with a flying finger swept my lips."

  "Breathed like the covenant of a God, to hold
  From thence through all the worlds."

  "Night slid down one long stream of sighing wind,
  And in her bosom bore the baby.  Sleep."

  "The pillar'd dusk of sounding sycamores."

  "And in the fallow leisure of my life."

  "Her voice fled always through the summer land;
  I spoke her name alone.  Thrice-happy days!
  The flower of each, those moments when we met,
  The crown of all, we met to part no more."

  "Now, now, his footsteps smite the threshold stairs
        Of life."

  "The drooping flower of knowledge changed to fruit
        Of wisdom.  Wait."

  "Tall as a figure lengthen'd on the sand
  When the tide ebbs in sunshine."

  "Love, like an Alpine harebell hung with tears
  By some cold morning glacier; frail at first
  And feeble, all unconscious of itself,
  But such as gather'd color day by day."

  "I could no more, but lay like one in trance,
  That hears his burial talk'd of by his friends,
  And can not speak, nor move, nor make one sign,
  But lies and dreads his doom."

  "Behold, ye speak an idle thing:
    Ye never knew the sacred dust;
    I do but sing because I must,
  And pipe but as the linnets sing.

  I hold it true, whate'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'T is better to have loved and lost,
  Than never to have loved at all.

  But brooding on the dear one dead,
    And all he said of things divine,
    (And dear to me as sacred wine
  To dying lips is all he said).

  And look thy look, and go thy way,
    But blame not thou the winds that make
    The seeming-wanton ripple break,
  The tender-pencil'd shadow play.

  Beneath all fancied hopes and fears,
    Ah me! the sorrow deepens down,
    Whose muffled motions blindly drown
  The bases of my life in tears.

  Be near me when my light is low,
    When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick,
    And tingle; and the heart is sick,
  And all the wheels of being slow.

  I can not love thee as I ought,
    For love reflects the thing beloved;
    My words are only words, and moved
  Upon the topmost froth of thought.

  From point to point, with power and grace
    And music in the bounds of law,
    To those conclusions when we saw
  The God within him light his face.

  And while the wind began to sweep
    A music out of sheet and shroud,
    We steer'd her toward a crimson cloud
  That landlike slept along the deep.

  Abiding with me till I sail
    To seek thee on the mystic deeps,
    And this electric force, that keeps
  A thousand pulses dancing, fail.

  And hear at times a sentinel,
    Who moves about from place to place,
    And whispers to the worlds of space,
  In the deep night, that all is well."

  "Brawling, or like a clamor of the rooks
  At distance, ere they settle for the night."

  "In words whose echo lasts, they were so sweet."

  "That I could rest, a rock in ebbs and flows."

  "But as a man to whom a dreadful loss
  Falls in a far land, and he knows it not."

  "The long way smoke beneath him in his fear."

  "Then, after all was done that hand could do,
  She rested, and her desolation came
  Upon her, and she wept beside the way."

  "Seam'd with an ancient sword-cut on the cheek,
  And bruised and bronzed, she lifted up her eyes
  And loved him, with that love which was her doom."

  "And in the meadows tremulous aspen-trees
  And poplars made a noise of falling showers."

  "No greatness, save it be some far-off touch
  Of greatness to know well I am not great."

  "Hurt in the side, whereat she caught her breath;
  Through her own side she felt the sharp lance go."

  "Rankled in him and ruffled all his heart,
  As the sharp wind that ruffles all day long
  A little bitter pool about a stone
  On the bare coast."

  "Thy shadow still would glide from room to room,
  And I should evermore be vext with thee
  In hanging robe or vacant ornament,
  Or ghostly footfall echoing on the stair."

  "Far off a solitary trumpet blew.
  Then, waiting by the doors, the war-horse neigh'd
  As at a friend's voice, and he spake again."

  "Through the thick night I hear the trumpet blow."

  "And slipt aside, and like a wounded life
  Crept down into the hollows of the wood."

        "Then Philip, with his eyes
  Full of that lifelong hunger, and his voice
  Shaking a little like a drunkard's hand."

        "Had he not
  Spoken with That, which being everywhere
  Lets none, who speaks with Him, seem all alone,
  Surely the man had died of solitude."

  "Because things seen are mightier than things heard."

  "For sure no gladlier does the stranded wreck
  See through the gray skirts of a lifting squall
  The boat that bears the hope of life approach
  To save the life despair'd of, than he saw
  Death dawning on him, and the close of all."

  "And he lay tranced; but when he rose and paced
  Back toward his solitary home again,
  All down the narrow street he went,
  Beating it in upon his weary brain,
  As though it were the burthen of a song,
  'Not to tell her, never to let her know.'"

  "Torn as a sail that leaves the rope is torn
  In tempest."

  "Nay, one there is, and at the eastern end,
  Wealthy with wandering lines of mount and mere."

  "Prick'd with incredible pinnacles into heaven."

  "An out-door sign of all the warmth within,
  Smiled with his lips--a smile beneath a cloud;
  But Heaven had meant it for a sunny one."

  "All the old echoes hidden in the wall."

  "Their plumes driv'n backward by the wind they made
  In moving, all together down upon him
  Bare, as a wild wave in the wide North sea,
  Green-glimmering toward the summit, bears, with all
  Its stormy crests that smoke against the skies,
  Down on a bark, and overbears the bark,
  And him that helms it, so they overbore
  Sir Lancelot and his charger."

  "There lies a vale in Ida, lovelier
  Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
  The swimming vapor slopes athwart the glen,
  Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
  And loiters, slowly drawn.  On either hand
  The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
  Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
  The long brook falling through the clov'n ravine
  In cataract after cataract to the sea.
  Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
  Stands up and takes the morning; but in front
  The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
  Troas and Ilion's column'd citadel,
  The crown of Troas."

  "One seem'd all dark and red--a tract of sand,
    And some one pacing there alone,
  Who paced forever in a glimmering land,
    Lit with a low large moon.

  One show'd an iron coast and angry waves.
    You seem'd to hear them climb and fall
  And roar rock-thwarted under bellowing caves,
    Beneath the windy wall.

  And one, a full-fed river winding slow
    By herds upon an endless plain,
  The ragged rims of thunder brooding low,
    With shadow-streaks of rain.

  And one, the reapers at their sultry toil.
    In front they bound the sheaves.  Behind
  Were realms of upland, prodigal in oil,
    And hoary to the wind.

  And one, a foreground black with stones and slags,
    Beyond, a line of heights, and higher
  All barr'd with long white cloud the scornful crags,
    And highest, snow and fire.

  And one, an English home--gray twilight pour'd
    On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
  Softer than sleep--all things in order stored,
    A haunt of ancient Peace."

Each stanza is a picture, bound, not in book nor gold, but in a stanza.

  "Like flame from ashes."

        "Sighing weariedly, as one
  Who sits and gazes on a faded fire,
  When all the goodlier guests are past away."

  "As the crest of some slow-arching wave
  Heard in dead night along that table-shore
  Drops flat, and after the great waters break
  Whitening for half a league, and thin themselves
  Far over sands marbled with moon and cloud,
  From less and less to nothing."

  "Belted his body with her white embrace."

  "And out beyond into the dream to come."

  "Thus, as a hearth lit in a mountain home,
  And glancing on the window, when the gloom
  Of twilight deepens round it, seems a flame
  That rages in the woodland far below."

Looking at these landscapes, can words add weight to the claim for
Alfred Tennyson as a painter?

And Tennyson is as pure as the air of mid-ocean.  His moral qualities
are in no regard inferior to his artistic qualities, although from
centuries of poets we might have been schooled to anticipate that so
sensitive and poetic a nature had been sensual, concluding a lowered
standard of ethics, theoretical or practical, one or both, especially
considering his earliest literary admiration was that poetic Don Juan,
Lord Byron, whose poems were a transcript of his morals, where a
luxuriant imagination and a poetic diction were combined in a high
degree, and so the poet qualified to be a bane or blessing of a
commanding order, he choosing so to use his extraordinary gifts as to
pollute the living springs from which a generation of men and women
drank.  What we do find is, a Tennyson as removed from a Byron in moral
mood and life as southern cross from northern lights.  The morals of
both life and poems are as limpid as the waters of pellucid Tahoe; and
purest women may read from "Claribel" to "Crossing the Bar," and be
only purer from the reading.  Henry Van Dyke has written on "The Bible
in Tennyson," an article, after his habit, discriminating and
appreciative, in the course of which he shows how some of the delicious
verse's of the laureate are literal extracts from the Book of God, so
native is poetry to that sublime volume; though I incline to believe
the larger loan of the Bible to Tennyson is the purity of thought
evidenced in the poet's writings, and more particularly in the poet's
life.  Who has not been touched by the Bible who has lived in these
later centuries?  Modern life may no more get away from the Bible than
our planet may flee from its own atmosphere.  We can never estimate the
moral potency of such a poet, living and writing for sixty years,
though we may fairly account this longevity of pure living and pure
thinking and pure writing among the primary blessings of our century.
That two such pure men and poets as Tennyson and Browning were given a
single race in a single century is abundant cause for giving hearty
thanks to God.  They have purified, not our day only, but remote days
coming, till days shall set to rise no more, and have given the lie to
the poor folly of supposing highest genius and purest morality to be
incompatibles; for in life and poem, and in the poem of life, they have
swept clouds from our sky, until all purity stands revealed, fair as
the morning star smiling at Eastern lattices.  In Tennyson is no
slightest appeal to the sensual.  He hates pruriency, making protest
against it with a voice like the clangor of angry bells.  In "Locksley
Hall Sixty Years After," he speaks wisely and justly, in sarcasm that
bites as acids do:

  "Rip your brother's vices open, strip your own foul
        passions bare:
  Down with Reticence, down with Reverence--forward,
        naked--let them stare.
  Feed the budding rose of boyhood with the drainage of
        your sewer;
  Send the drain into the fountain lest the stream should
        issue pure.

  Set the maiden fancies wallowing in the trough of Zolaism,
  Forward, forward, aye and backward, downward, too,
        in the abysm.
  Do your best to charm the worst, to lower the rising
        race of men."

And this is Tennyson the aged, whose moral eyes were as the physical
eyes of Moses on Pisgah, "undimmed."  Bless him for his aged anger!
Happily, to-day, realism has lost its charm.  We have had enough living
in sewers, when the suburbs were near with their breezy heights and
quiet homes.  Stench needs no apostle.  The age has outgrown these
hectic folk, who, in the name of nature, lead us back to Pompeii.
Gehenna needs not to be assisted.  Jean Valjean, bent on an errand of
mercy, fled to the sewers of Paris, his appeal to these foul subways
being justified, since he sought them under stress for the preservation
of a life.  Does this prove that men should take promenades in the
sewers as if they were boulevards?  An author is not called on to tell
all he knows.  Let writers of fiction assume that the public knows
there are foul things, and needs not to be reminded of them, and let
the romancist avoid them as he would a land of lepers.

Those who companied with Tennyson through his beautiful career were
helped into a growing love of purity.  He had no panegyric for lust and
shame and sensuality, but made us feel they were shameful, so that we
blushed for those who had not the modesty to blush for themselves.  We
are ashamed for Guinevere and Lancelot, and are proud of Enid and
Elaine and Sir Galahad and King Arthur; and in them, and in others,
have been helped to see the heroic beauty of simple virtue.  This is an
incalculable gain for soul.  When we have learned that profligates,
whatever their spasms of flashy achievements, are poor company, and
that the pure are evermore good company, and goodness is a quest
worthier than the quest for the golden grail, we have risen to nobility
of soul which can never become out of date.

Noah was not more clearly a preacher of righteousness in his day than
Tennyson in his, of whom say, as highest encomium we know to pronounce,
"He made goodness beautiful to our eyes and desirable to our hearts;
and, beyond this, made it easier for us to be good."

Over all this poet wrote, he might have looked straight in God's eye,
and prayed, as King Arthur:

  "And that which I have done
  May he within himself make pure!"

And we chant, sending our muse after him,--

  "Nor was there moaning of the bar
  When he set out to sea."

To him saying, "We love him yet, and shall while life endures,"
borrowing Whittier's God-speed to the dead Bayard Taylor:

  "Let the home-voices greet him in the far,
  Strange land that holds him; let the messages
  Of love pursue him o'er the chartless seas
  And unmapped vastness of his unknown star!
  Love's language, heard above the loud discourse,
  Of perishable fame, in every sphere
  Itself interprets; and its utterance here,
  Somewhere in God's unfolding universe,
  Shall reach our traveler, softening the surprise
  Of his rapt gaze on unfamiliar skies!"


The American Historians

The average American traveler is better acquainted with foreign lands
than with his own country.  Nor is he unique in this regard.  I have
known persons who lived a lifetime within a dozen squares of
Westminster Abbey, and were never inside of that historic cathedral, as
I have known persons to live forty years not fifty miles distant from
Niagara, and never to have heard the organ speech of that great
cataract.  This is a common flaw in intellect.  We tend to
underestimate the near, and exaggerate the remote.  Another application
of the same frailty is noticeable in literature.  Homegrown literature
is, with not a few, depreciated.  According to their logic, good things
can not come out of Nazareth, and imported products are the only viands
worth a Sybarite palate.  In mediaeval days the form assumed was
different, while the principle remained the same.  Then the question of
value turned upon whether a work was written in the learned language;
namely, in Latin.  If written in the vernacular, the work was
immediately set down as vulgar.  One of Martin Luther's valuable
services was that, when the reverse was prevalent, he honored the
vernacular of his country, and insisted that it be taught in the
schools, a thing accounted an educational heresy in his time; and in
his translation of the Bible into German, he created German literature.

Americans are a race of readers, and are the Rome to which all
literature turns face and feet.  Besides many books not great, all
great books are translated into English.  Everybody's book comes to
America.  We are a cosmopolitan population in a literary way.  If you
were to look at the book-counters of each succeeding month, you would
see how all the writing world has been writing for us.  From such
conditions of supply, our taste becomes cultivated.  We feel ourselves
connoisseurs.  If we give a more ready reading to a foreign than to a
domestic book, the reason is not of necessity that the home book is
deficient in interest or literary finish, but may be attributed simply
to an undesigned and perhaps unperceived predisposition toward the
imported and the remote.

I confess to a love for what is American.  I love its Government; its
prevalent and genuine democracy; its chance for the common man and
woman to rise into success and fame and valuable service; its
inheritance, unblemished by primogeniture or entail; its universality
of education to a degree of intelligence; its history and tendency; and
I love its literature, though, as appears to me, our historians have
done the highest grade of work of any of our litterateurs--in saying
which there is no disparagement of other literary workers, but simply a
stated belief in the pre-eminent value of the historian in American
letters.  What I mean is this: During the fifty years last passed there
were poets and novelists in England who, with all deference to our own
writers, were equal or superior to the poets and novelists of America.
America had no poets who stood the peer of Browning and Tennyson; and
among novelists, our Hawthorne could not be said to surpass a
Thackeray, Dickens, or Eliot.  But say, proudly, beyond the sea were no
historians the masters of Bancroft, Prescott, Motley, and Parkman.
This article wishes to point out the quality and range of American
historians, with an expressed hope of causing research in this ample
and fertile field.

Though first on the soil of the Western Hemisphere, the Spaniard has
made no acknowledged and valuable contribution to American history.
Nor, indeed, has any nation of this hemisphere, save our own.  The
French and Spanish Jesuit submitted religious monographs touching the
early days of occupancy of New France and Mexico; but these will
readily be seen to be rather chronicles than histories.  And the
historian, native to the United States, is he in whose hands have been
the historical studies of our Western World.  La Salle, Hennepin,
Marquette, and Las Casas have written faulty but valuable memoirs; but
they do not reach the dignity and value of histories, being what one
might name crude ore rather than refined gold.

Another thing worthy a glad emphasis is, that America is her own
historian.  The New World has begotten the writers of its own story.
How fully this is true will not be appreciated until a detailed and
instantaneous survey is taken.  Look down on this plain of history as
one does on Tuscany from an Alp.  Thus, and thus only, can we value our
possession.  In this estimate, mention is made of the greater
historians, not because others are not worthy of notice, but because
the scope of this essay does not allow, inasmuch as reference is here
had to the specific gravity of the historian and the epoch of our
history he has exploited.

Washington Irving, essayist, biographer, humorist, was, before all, a
historian in temper, and was drawn as by some subtle and unseen
attraction to study that nation to which America owed its discovery.
Irving is an evident American.  He loved the land through whose
palisades the stately Hudson flowed.  What touched America touched
Irving, and who had loved or helped America had won Irving's heart as a
trophy.  And such evident patriotism is commendable in citizen and
writer.  We love not Caesar less, but Rome the more, when we believe in
America before all nations of history.  I love the patriot above the
cosmopolitan, because in him is an honest look, a homeliness that
touches the heart like the sight of a pasture-field, with its broken
bars, where our childhood ran with happy feet.  Carlyle was against
things because they were English; so was Matthew Arnold.  These men
were self-expatriated in spirit.  I like not the attitude.  Give us men
who love native land beyond all other lands, and who, removed
therefrom, turn homesick eyes toward its invisible boundaries.  Irving,
admirable in many ways, was in no way more to be admired than in his
predilection for his country as a theme for his historian's muse.  To
him pay tribute, because he is historian of the discovery of our brave
Western Hemisphere.  Irving has told the story of that great admiral of
the ocean, Christopher Columbus.  This memoir may not be exact.  Irving
may have idealized this pathfinder of the ocean; though if he has, he
has observed the proprieties, literary and imaginative, as many
successors have not.  Some writers are seemingly bent on making every
great soul commonplace, thinking that if they fail to belittle a
distinguished benefactor of the race, if they have not played the
Vandal with a swagger and conceit like Jack Falstaff, they have
ignominiously failed; when the plain truth is, that if they succeeded
in taking the glamour for those heroes of whom they write, they have
hurt mankind so far, and have impoverished imagination and endeavor by
their invidious task.  We need not suppose Christopher Columbus and
Washington saints, seeing there is no inclination to canonize them; but
we need not hold their follies up to wake the guffaw of a crowd.  Such
laughter is dearly bought.  One thing I hold so true no reasoning can
damage it; namely, that a man like Columbus had nobler moods on which
he voyaged as his caravel through the blue seas.  Columbus was no
swineherd, but a dreamer, whose dreams enlarged the world by half, and
gave a new civilization room and triumph.  He was of his age, and his
morality was not unimpeachable; but in him were still great moralities
and humanities.  He had mountain-tops in his spirits, and on these
peaks he stood.  What puerile work it is to attempt robbing Columbus of
his discoverer's glory by attempting to show how vikings discovered
this continent!  Such historians might fight a less bloody battle still
by showing that the aborigines discovered this continent before the
Norsemen did!  What boots such folly?  What gold of benefit comes of
such quests?  Certain we are that when Columbus set sail for a New
World, no one believed the earth was round as he did, and no one knew
the Norsemen had piloted across seas and found land; and Europe was
ignorant of any shore westward, and Columbus, in his ignorance, risked
all and vanquished all.

  "Dragging up drowned honor by the locks,"

as says our Shakespeare.  Columbus is America's benefactor.  He showed
the Puritans a New World, toward whose shores to sail, and behind whose
harbor-bar to cast anchor.  Nothing can invalidate these claims.  Honor
him who honors us in giving us a rendezvous for liberty and
civilization.  This mood of history Washington Irving caught, and
because he did, I honor him.  He was sagacious.  He did not traduce a
hero, but enthroned him.  In short, Irving behaved toward Christopher
Columbus as a historian and a gentleman, and set Americans a pattern in
history-writing in that they should be the historiographers of their
own world.  This Nestor's lessons were heard and heeded.  If you care
to read Irving's various historical writings, the logic of these
writings will appear.  America was his home and love.  He thought to
write the story of how a brave man gave a world this huge room it knew
not of.  Loyalty made him historian.  His researches gave him
familiarity with Spanish archives.  The movement of the era touched
him; for Irving was susceptible to the finer moods of literature, as
any who reads the "Sketch-book" knows; and once having set foot on
Spanish historical _terra firma_, he began a journey as a traveler
might.  America led Irving to Columbus, Columbus led him to Spain,
Spain led him to Mohammedism, and Mohammedism led him to Mohammed.  How
natural his literary travels!  Consider the consecutiveness of his
historical attempts: "Life of Columbus," "Spanish Voyages," "Conquest
of Grenada," "Conquest of Spain," "Moorish Chronicles," and "Life of
Mohammed."  The influence of this historical research, too, you shall
find in reading his romances: "Wolfert's Roost," "Legends of the
Conquest of Spain," "Bracebridge Hall," and "Alhambra."

Patriotism taught Irving's Clio to find her voice.  Nor must we forget,
in any estimate of Irving's service, his biography of Washington.  This
is his tribute to the battle-days of his beloved America.

In strict affinity with Irving in the time of his history is Prescott.
This man is a distinguished historian.  To history he devoted his life,
and to such effect that he is to be ranked among the masters of history
among the ages.  America attracted him as it had attracted Irving.  The
era of the discovery enticed him as the voyage had enticed Columbus.
"Ferdinand and Isabella" are the dominant voices on his stage.  Irving
made them subordinate, and made Columbus the chief player, which mode
Prescott reverses.  The union of Castile and Aragon, and the subsequent
wars against the Moriscoes, which virtually put the knife in their
heart and concluded that triumph which had been begun by Charles Martel
at Tours, is an attractive portion of history.  In Prescott, as in
Motley, is a wealth of research which fairly bewilders.  Nothing is
extemporaneous.  Archives are ransacked.  Moldy correspondence is made
to tell its belated story.  Certainly Prescott is abundant in
information.  I do not recall, save in Gibbon's, a series of histories
where so much new knowledge is retailed as in Prescott.  In seeming
looseness of phrase, I have used the term "new knowledge," but these
words are happily descriptive of "Conquest of Mexico" and "Conquest of
Peru," because the fields were practically untrodden to the ordinary
reader.  Everything is new, like a college to the freshman.  We see a
New World in more senses than one.  The freshness of the facts is
exhilarating.  We march with Cortes; we conquer with Pizarro; we
inspect Montezuma's palace; we become interested in the industrial
system of the Incas, a system which should have given Henry George and
Edward Bellamy a delight without alloy; we perceive the incredible
valor and perseverance and endurance of Cortes; we front "new faces,
other minds;" we discover the Amazon through perils and hardships so
multitudinous and so severe as to tempt us to think these narrations a
myth; we see rapacity insatiable as death, a bloody idol-worship
pitiless and terrible; we read Prescott's history with growing avidity
and increasing information; read Prescott, and become wiser concerning
the aborigines of the Americas and the possibilities of human fortitude
and prowess.  A study of the Spanish era of discovery and conquest
naturally led to a study of Charles V, grandson of Ferdinand and
Isabella, and Prescott has accordingly brought up to date "Robertson's
Life of Charles V," appending a biography of Charles V subsequent to
his abdication; and as a certificate of indefatigable industry in
historical research is an incomplete but exhaustive memoir, entitled,
"The Life of Philip II."  This work is written with such fairness of
spirit and such wealth of information and investigation, such vivid
presentation of a reign which had more of the movement of the universal
dominion than any since the Roman days, and thus written so as to make
us rebellious in spirit in finding the work incomplete.  Death came too
soon to give our indefatigable author time to complete his voluminous
history.  Read Prescott as a matter of American pride, and because he
has dealt more capably with the era with which he treats than any other

The United States has supplied her own historians, not needing to go
abroad for either history or historian.  George Bancroft, with a
private library larger by almost half than the ten thousand-volume
library Edward Gibbon used in writing "The Decline and Fall of the
Roman empire;" George Bancroft, whose literary life was dedicated to
one task, and that the writing the life of his country prior to the
Constitution; George Bancroft, publicist as well as student of history,
and who in such relation represented his Government with distinction at
the courts of Germany and England,--George Bancroft has written a
history of the United States which will no more become archaic than
Macaulay or Grote.  While one may now and then hear from the lips of
the so-called "younger school of American historians" a criticism of
George Bancroft, their carping is ungracious and gratuitous.  Theirs
has not been the art to equal him, nor will be.  A literary life
devoted to the mastery of one era of a nation's history is a worthy
sight, good for the eyes, and arguing sanity of method and profundity
of investigation.  Whoever has read Bancroft can testify to his
readableness, to his comprehensive knowledge, to his philosophical
grasp, to his ability to make dead deeds vividly visible, and to his
gift of interesting the reader in events and their philosophy.  He has
written a great history of the United States before the Constitution,
so that no author has felt called on or equipped to reduplicate his
task in the same detail and manner.

Where George Bancroft left off, Schouler has begun.  More dramatic than
Bancroft, and in consequence more compelling in interest, the history
marches at a double-quick, like a charging regiment.  His pictures of
John Quincy Adams, Calhoun, Clay, Webster, Sumner, Douglas, Lincoln,
and a host beside, vitalize those men.  We live with that giant brood.
I have found Schouler invigoratingly helpful.  He affords knowledge and
inspiration; a man is behind his pages; we feel him and acknowledge him.

One change has come over the spirit of history to which all must bear
joyful witness, and that is the passing of the king and the advent of
the people.  The world has grown more democratic than it knows.  The
people engage attention now.  We do not know so much of Queen Victoria;
but of the conquering, splendid race whose hereditary sovereign she is,
we know much, very much.  The case used to be wholly otherwise, the
sovereign monopolizing attention; but that day is passed.  So let it
be.  This change is one needed, and waited for long, and longed for
eagerly.  John Richard Green saw the demonetization of kings and a
remonetization of the people, and so wrote a revolutionary history,
calling it "A History of the English People," in which he subordinated
the intrigues of courts and the selfish wars of potentates to the quiet
growth of national spirit and the characteristics of domestic life, and
the development and solidification of social instincts into social
customs, and the framing of a literature, the reformation of religion,
and the direction of the thought of the many.  These constituted, as he
believed, and as we believe, the genuine biography of a people; and
McMaster has done for the United States what Green has done for
England.  His "History of the People of the United States" is so packed
with knowledge; so accurate in laying hold of those things which we did
not know, but wanted to know; so free in giving us the inside life of
our country, as to make us wonder what we did before our historian of
the people came to lend us knowledge.  My conviction is, that a careful
reading of McMaster will suffice to cure most of our dyspeptic feelings
about national discontent in our time, and dispel the fabulous notion
of an older time in America, when everybody was happy and everybody was
contented.  No such day ever existed.  The kingdom of contentment is
within us, like the kingdom of God.  McMaster tells us the unvarnished
tale of inflation and political and financial asininity in the former
days, so that when he is done we are less liable to that frailty of the
ignorant soul; namely, the moaning, "The former days were better than

Thus far, those authors have been named who have chronicled the
discovery of America, the conquering of the Southern Hemisphere or the
Eastern territory of that era known as the United States.  This was
done to keep a natural movement and logical progress.  At this point,
however, must be mentioned those voluminous histories of the States and
Territories of the Pacific Coast, written by H. H. Bancroft.  They are
treasure-houses of material for the future historian.  Hubert Bancroft
has become the historian of the Spanish dominion in the United States,
and deserves favorable thought for his wealth of research into archives
which might have been lost, or at least less ample with the advance of
time.  Topography, geography, archaeology.  State papers,--all have
contributed their quota to him, and he has, after the generous manner
of the scholar, contributed to us.

Francis Parkman is a distinguished master in the art of history.  His
theme is the "American Indian" and the "French Occupancy of America,"
and he has told a thrilling story.  He knows the Indian as no one of
our historians has known him, and has told of his noble traits, and his
ruthless forays, and his sanguine cruelty.  His utter lack of thrift;
his feast-and-famine life; his stealth, stolidity, duplicity, and
ferocity,--all are rehearsed.  To read his record of the Indian is to
have much of the glamour thrown around him by James Fenimore Cooper
stripped from him incontinently and forever.  The Indian was
self-exterminative.  He was the assassin of his race, and civilization
was impossible so long as the American Indian was dominant; so that
those who shed tears over the white man's conquest of the Indian may
not well have weighed their cause.  The Indian was not the quiet,
inoffensive innocent presented in Cuba at its discovery.  There were
Indians and Indians.  Some of them were friendly, peaceful, and kindly;
but that this was the character of the American Indian as a whole is
totally incorrect.  Parkman shows that the Indian was, throughout North
America, in his native strength furious in his ferocity, relentless as
death, cruel beyond imagination, and occupied a territory he neither
cultivated nor attempted to.  The Indians were military vagabonds,
whose continued control had left America an unpeopled wilderness to
this day.  Huntsmen and warriors they were; citizens and cultivators
and civilizers they were not, and never would have been.  Parkman tells
the truth as history found them, and those truths are well worth our
reading, because in their perusal we pass from sentimentality to
reason, and see how this America of our day, rich, cultivated,
civilized, and possessed of the largest amount of personal liberty ever
vouchsafed to a citizen, is a noble exchange for the thoughtlessness,
improvidence, and barbarity which were original holders of this realm.
Speaking for myself, no author ever helped me to knowledge of the
character of the aborigines of North America as Francis Parkman has
done.  I see that wild past, and feel it.  And he has written the
thrilling story of the French attempt to build an empire; and the
attempt was courageous to the verge of wonder.  There was in the
Frenchman a careless ease and courage and sprightliness of temper,
which lifted him above danger, as a boat is lifted on a billow's
shoulders.  Those perils were his drink; with a laugh and a jest he met
his appointment with death as he would have met tryst with a woman.  In
"The Romance of American Geography," I have described the genius of the
French voyager, for which I have an unbounded admiration, and in which
I take an intemperate delight.  He is the discoverer at his best, but
the colonizer at his worst.  The Jesuits had a brave chapter in the
French occupancy.  Their labors and sufferings and voyagings, their
fealty to what they thought to be the cause of God, makes us proud of
them, as if they were our own fellow-citizens.  The settlement of
Montreal and Quebec and contiguous territory, the religious fervor that
mixed with the military spirit as waters of two streams mingle in a
mountain-meadow,--read Parkman, and discover the dramatic instincts of
these episodes which can be rehearsed no more upon our continent.
Their day is past; but it was a great and stirring day.  Gilbert
Parker's "The Seats of the Mighty" is a chapter, torn from Parkman's
"French Regime in Canada."  All his facts and the romance are accurate,
and are taken from Parkman's narrative, which misses nothing, but tells
all.  Parker's "Pierre and his People," and "An Adventure of the North"
are tales of adventure, dewy with the freshness of a frontier world,
and are in brief a section of the old French voyagers' days.  Parkman's
"Wolfe and Montcalm" is a picture, painted in smoke and blood, where
heroism of Englishmen and Frenchmen mix themselves in an inextricable
confusion.  Pray you read Parkman, and be transported to a world where
great deeds were done by men whose lives were as contradictory as an
April day; but "their works do follow them" for all that, and do
glorify them.  Be glad for Francis Parkman, historian.

Many historians there are.  John Fiske has written chapters on the
discovery and colonization days; Rhodes has written on our
Constitutional history; Winsor has written on our antiquities; Baird
has written an exhaustive and competent history of the Huguenots, a
series one will do more than well to read.  Many scholars have written
comparatively brief memoirs of the United States.  Localities and
States and single villages have had their historians; but the
commanding figures whose faces fill the canvas, so to say,--of them
this appreciation is written, to point youth to an Oregon of delight,
where their leisure may stray with abundant profit and increasing
pleasure, and, as I hope, with growing pride in American literature, so
that they may make mental boast of America's sons, who have been stanch
to enjoy and study the history of their own native land.

My final word is of that brilliant, irascible, and impressible
American, John Lothrop Motley, historian of the Dutch Republic; and
fitting it is that a native of the first great stable Republic was
drawn to study the European Republic which rose at the touch of William
the Silent's genius, and sank back into lethargy of kingship when the
blood of the tragic and heroic inauguration was all spilt.  The contact
of the United Netherlands with American history and future is known to
all.  From the Netherlands the Puritans set sail to found what proved
to be a colony and Republic.  The extent to which the Netherlands
exercised an influence in shaping the future of the American
Commonwealth has not been determined, and can not be, though Douglas
Campbell has maintained that to the Dutch, and not to the English
Puritan, nor yet to the Magna Charta, does the American Republic owe
its chief debt.  The theme is productive and stimulative and worthy,
though the facts are indeterminate.  America is attached to the Dutch
Republic as a bold attempt whose failure was nobler than many
successes.  The Puritan exodus from Holland, when Pastor John Robinson
prayed, preached, and prophesied, is one of the most thrilling events
recorded of the seventeenth century--a century crowded with doings that
thrill the flesh like a bugle-call.

Motley's histories are "The Rise of the Dutch Republic," "The United
Netherlands," and "John of Barneveld," a series which, for brilliancy
of characterization of men and times and events, and interest
stimulated and held, may rank, without hyperbole, with the writings of
Lord Macaulay.  Both are always special pleaders, as I am of opinion
history ought probably to be, seeing that it is human nature, and will,
in all but solitary instances, be the case whether or no; both are
fascinating as a romancist; both are colorists, gorgeous as Rembrandt;
both glorify and make you admire and love their heroes, whether you are
so minded or not; both have made the epoch of which they wrote vivid as
the landscape upon which the sunset pours its crimson dyes.  Motley's
hero was William the Silent, Prince of Orange; and Macaulay's hero was
William III, King of England, Prince of Orange.  Motley will bear being
ranked as a great historian.  He hates Philip II, as I suppose good
folks ought who despise egotism, intolerance, vindictiveness, and
horrible cruelty.  He lauds William the Silent as soldier and
statesman, Prince Maurice as a soldier, and John of Barneveld as
statesman.  Motley marches across old battle-fields like a soldier clad
in steel.  He gives portraits of Queen Elizabeth, of Leicester, of
Granvelle, of Prince Maurice, of John of Barneveld, of Henry of
Navarre, of Philip II, of Count Egmont, of Charles V, of Don John of
Austria, of Hugo Grotius, and of William the Silent, which are as noble
as the portraits painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.  I confess myself a
heavy debtor to Motley.  He has taught me so much; has familiarized me
with the great world-figure, William the Silent, so that I feel at home
with him and his struggle, and participate with him in them.  He has
drawn so clearly the figures of Romanist, Arminian, and Calvinist, as
to make them fairly glow upon his pages.  Not as minister to St. James,
under President Grant, was Motley at his best; but rifling the archives
of Holland and Spain with an industry which knew no bounds, and
rehearsing the dry-as-dust discoveries in histories that glow like a
furnace.  Here is the field in which he is all but unconquerable.  Long
live the American historians!


King Arthur

Perhaps no reader of the world's literature would deny that letters and
life had been indefinitely enriched by Alfred Tennyson.

How ideas affect life when once they have become participants therein
is the bar at which all ideas must stand for judgment.  Carbonic-acid
gas enters the lungs, fills them, and blows out the lamp of life.
Common air enters the lungs, crimsons the blood, exhilarates the
spirit, gives elasticity to step and thought and pulse; is health, and
pours oil into the lamp of life whereby the flame burns higher, like
watch-fires on evening hills.  One air brought death; one air brought
more abundant life.  What do ideas effect, and how do they affect him
who entertains them is the final question and the final test.  Now, our
earth is always trying to grow men.  Not harvests nor flowers nor
forests, but man, is what the earth is proudest of.  On transparent
June days, standing upon the cliffs of the Isle of Man, I have seen the
golden wheatfields on the hills of Wales; but heaven, looking earth's
way, is oblivious to our tossing plumes of corn or tawny billows of the
fields of wheat.  Heaven's concern is in our crop of manhood; and ships
that ply between the shores of earth and shores of heaven are never
laden with gold or silver ingots, as Spanish galleons were, nor with
glancing silks nor burning gems, but are forever freighted with elect
spirits.  Men and women are the commodity earth grows that heaven wants.

What helps the growth of man is good; what hurts the growth of man is
bad.  When one has become a shadow, lost to human eyes, test him with
this acid.  Did he do good?  If he did evil, let his name perish; if he
did good, let his name blaze in the galaxy among the inextinguishable
stars.  If he has made the growth of manhood easier and its method more
apparent; if he has opened eyes to see the best, and spurred men to
attempt the best they saw; if he has enamored them of virtue as
aforetime they were enamored of vice,--trust me, that man was good.  He
will endure, and be passed from age to age, like rare traditions
through centuries, till time shall die.  Submit Alfred Tennyson to this
test.  Is virtue more apparent, more lovely, and of more luxuriant
growth, like tropic forests, because of him?  But one answer is
possible, and that answer is, "King Arthur."  To our moral riches,
Victor Hugo added "Jean Valjean;" Dickens, "Sidney Carton;" Thackeray,
"Colonel Newcome;" Browning, "Caponsacchi;" Tennyson, "King Arthur,"
who stands and will stand as Tennyson's vision of manhood at its prime.

The theme of this paper, then, is "King Arthur," being a philosophy of
manhood as outlined by Alfred Tennyson; and the purpose of this essay
is to bring into vital relation to King Arthur the totality of argument
for manhood which Tennyson has constructed in his cycle of poems, thus
taking into our field of vision, not simply "The Idyls of the King,"
adequate as they may be, but, in addition, "Enoch Arden," "Ulysses,"
"The Vision of Sin," "The Palace of Art," "Maud," "Columbus," "Locksley
Hall," "The Lotos-Eaters," and "In Memoriam," and all poems which, by
negation or affirmation, may suggest or enforce a thought regarding the
furnishing of the soul.

In those idyls clustering about King Arthur, Tennyson has patently
purposed painting the figure of a perfect man.  How well he has
executed his design depends on himself much, on the beholder much.
Onlookers differ in opinion.  Painters have their clientage.  Poets are
not omniscient; neither are we, a thing we are prone to forget.  For
myself, I confess not to see with those who deride the king, nor yet
with those who think him statuesque, as if shaped, not out of flesh,
but out of marble.  He is not incredible, nor is he a shadow, stalking
gaunt and battle-clad across the crags that fringe the Cornish sea.
Not a few among us approximate perfection in character as blameless as
Arthur's.  I myself profess to have seen a King Arthur, and to have
held high converse with him through many years.  Whiteness of life is
not an episode foreign to biography.  There are many lives running
white toward heaven as I have seen a path across the moonlit sea.  Not
to be credulous is well; not to be incredulous is better, when heavenly
visions and heavenly incarnations are the theme.  This is affirmed,
that King Arthur is not more unreal than others Tennyson delineates.
His art lacks the power to flood his people's veins with blood to
plethora, with such bounding vitality as marks Shakespeare's creations.
They lack, sometimes, color on the cheek and lip and sunlight in the
eyes.  His characters are as if seen in mist.  Our failing is, we give
credence to fleshly instinct and lust and failure in ideal more readily
than to wise manliness and stalwart and heroic worth.  But Enoch Arden
is no dream.  Arthur is no myth.  I know a man whose heart is as pure,
whose conduct as above reproach, and whose words are as big with
charity, and thoughts as foreign to hypocrisy, as Arthur's were; for
Arthur is not dead.  They did not dream who said, "Arthur returns."  He
hides his name, lest he become spectacular, a raree-show, for mobs to
follow and shout hoarse about; but he is here.  I met him yesterday;
and to-morrow I shall walk with him by the river, where the stream
makes music, and the trees sing in minors, and the shadows darken on
the grass.

What, then, is this Arthur's character?  Looking at him as he sits
astride his steed, yonder at Camelot, with his visor up, he is seen
manhood at its prime.  A ruddy face, with beard of gold, holding the
sun as harvests do.  Tourneys done, the king is turned battleward,
where he is to die; and a man's picture comes to have special value at
his death.  When the wounded king is borne by Bedivere across the
echoing crags toward the black funeral barge, we see him again, full in
the face, and remember him always.

King Arthur was a self-made man.  His birth was held to be uncertain.
"Is he Uther's son?" was on many a lip.  So men yet sometimes hold to
some poor question of ancestry when worth, evident as light, fronts
them.  Some there are who live in so narrow a mood as to ask always
"Where?" and never "What?" when the latter is God's unvarying method of
estimation.  This quest for ancestry for Arthur is of service to us as
showing he had not empire ready to his hand.  His kingdom did not make
him; he made his kingdom; or, to give the entire history, he made
himself and his kingdom.  And this is oft-repeated history.  When a man
makes a kingdom, he first made himself.  He does two things.  Might
goes not single, loves not solitude, but makes itself company.  Milton
made himself before he made the Bible epic of the world.  He wrought
himself and his complex history into his Iliad of heavenly battle.
Souls have, in a true sense, a beaten path to tread.  There is a
highway worn to ruts and dust by travel of the great men's feet.  And
Arthur had much company, if he knew it not.  Such men seem alone,
though if they saw all their companionships they would know they walked
on in a goodly company and great.  Greatness has many fellowships, as
stars have; and stars have fellowship of mountains and woods, and
kindred stars, and waters where star-shadows lie, and oceans where
galaxies tumble like defeated angels.  All greatness is self-made.
Names are bequeathed us, so much is borrowed.  Character and value are
self-made.  Gold has intrinsic worth.  Man has not, but makes his worth
by the day's labor of his hands.

This provision is God's excellent antidote to dissatisfaction with
one's estate.  If worth could be handed down, like name or fortune, one
might as well be a pasture-field, to pass from hand to hand as chattel,
instead of man.  Far otherwise God's plan.  Each spirit works out, and
must work out, his own destiny.  Destinies are not ready-made but
hand-made.  King Arthur's fame is not dependent on his ancestry, but on
himself.  Ancestry we can not control; self we can.  Tennyson, though
part of a hereditary system, sees with perfect clearness how ancestry
accounts for no man, and how every man must make his own room in the
world; how nobility depends, not on a family's past, but on the
individual's present; how wealth and service are the credentials of
character society will accept, and the only credentials.  This view is
scarcely English, but is fully American.  And Tennyson was not
sympathetic with America.  Democracies possessed not the flavor of the
fruit he loved.  When, however, the biography of greatness is to be
written, who writes the story, if he write it truly, must tell a story
of democracy.  Tennyson is unconscious democrat when he writes Arthur's
biography, because as poet he saw.  His intuitions led him.  He spoke,
not as a lover of a certain social and political system, but as a
discerner of spirits.  The poet is not his best as a planned
philosophizer; for in that role he becomes self-conscious; but is at
his best when the wheel of his burning spirit, revolving as the planets
do, throws off sparks or streams of fire.  To the accuracy of this
observation witness both Browning and Tennyson.  When they were
"possessed," as the Delphic oracle would say, they marched toward truth
like an invincible troop.  Truth seemed the missing half of their own
sphere, toward which, by a subtle and lordly gravitation, they swung.
When Tennyson's instincts speak, he is democrat; when his reason and
his prejudice (for he was surcharged with both) speak, he is hot
aristocrat.  When he is biographer for royal Arthur, his instinct
speaks, and his conviction holds that character and deeds do and shall
count for more than blood; and this is no isolated idea advanced
touching Arthur, but is prevalent throughout his verse.  In "Lady Clara
Vere de Vere," his heart speaks, full of eagerness, saying:

  "Howe'er it be, it seems to me,
    'T is only noble to be good.
  Kind hearts are more than coronets,
    And simple faith than Norman blood."

Nor is the Laureate's subsequent acceptance of the peerage a retraction
of these earlier sentiments; for he did but accept the ribbon of an
order which was part of the political system of his native land.
Himself was self-made.  Who were the Tennysons?  Who are the Tennysons?
He made a house.  And in the list of lords, does any one think there is
a name whose device one would rather wear than that of Lord Tennyson?
Holland has this bit of verse, whose application is apparent:

  "Heaven is not reached at a single bound;
    But we build the ladder by which we rise
    From the lowly earth to the vaulted skies,
  And mount to its summit round by round."

Genius does the same.  The stairs each generation climbed are rotten at
its death, so that no foot's weight can be borne upon them afterward.
Man builds his own stairway greatnessward.  In the Idyl of the King,
entitled "Gareth and Lynette," is application of this thought of
manhood above title or name or blood.  Worth, the main thing, is the
theme of the idyl.

Hear Gareth call, like voice of trumpets,

  "Let be my name; until I make my name
  My deeds will speak."

He seemed, and was not, a kitchen knave.  He seemed not, and he was, a
knight of valor and of purity and might, of purpose and of succor.
Silly Lynette might rain her superficial insults on him like a winter's
sleet--this hindered not his service.  He knew to wait, and dare, and
do.  His fame was in him.  A great life bears not its honors on its
back, as mountains do their pines, but in his heart, as women do their
love.  In Tennyson's concept of manhood, worth counts, not rank.  To
this argument, words from "In Memoriam" are a contribution:

    "As some divinely-gifted man,
    Whose life in low estate began
  And on a simple village green;

  Who breaks his birth's invidious bar,
    And grasps the skirts of happy chance,
    And breasts the blows of circumstance,
  And grapples with his evil star;

  Who makes by force his merit known,
    And lives to clutch the golden keys,
    To mold a mighty State's decrees,
  And shape the whisper of the throne;

  And moving on from high to higher,
    Becomes on Fortune's crowning slope
    The pillar of a people's hope,
  The center of a world's desire."

Such words seem as if fallen from the lips of Lincoln in a dream.
"Aylmer's Field" is a protest, written in grief and tears and blood
against the iniquity of ancestry as divorced from the pure course of
nobler love.  God made of one blood all kindreds of the earth, and
means to mix this blood till time shall die.  Hearts give scant heed to
heraldry.  Life is wider than a baron's field.  Arthur Hallam, whose
epitaph is the sweetest ever written, and bears title of "In
Memoriam,"--Arthur Hallam, so greatly loved and missed, was never
nobleman in genealogy, but was full prince in youth and ideality and
purity and genius and promise, worth more than all the ancestries of
buried kings.  More: Tennyson was as much self-made as King Arthur.  He
made a house which rose to the sound of poet's lute, rehearsing, in our
days, the story of Orpheus in the remote yesterdays.  So myths come to
be history.  And who would not rather be author of "The Lotos-Eaters,"
and "Oenone," and "Ulysses," and "Enoch Arden," and "In Memoriam" than
to have been possessed, with Sir Aylmer Aylmer, of

        "Spacious hall,
  Hung with a hundred shields, the family tree
  Sprung from the midriff of a prostrate king?"

King Arthur's knights were _novi viri_.  Whence came Lancelot and
Geraint and Sir Percivale?  And how came they, save as

  "Rising on their dead selves
  To higher things?"

Arthur, at whose back march all the legions of Tennyson's poetry
celebrative of manhood,--Arthur asserts the nobleness of manhood,
irrespective of the accidents of wealth or birth.  Many scenes in
Tennyson are taken from the cottage.  "The May Queen," "The Gardener's
Daughter," "The Grandmother," "Rizpah," and, above all, "Enoch Arden,"
are poems showing how poetry dwells in the hearts of common folks.  The
verse of books they may not know; the verse of sentiment they are at
home with.  Birth is not a term in the proportion of worth; and I hold
Arthur one of the strongest voices of our century assertive of the
sufficiency of manhood.  Self-made and greatly made was this king at

King Arthur was optimist.  He expected good in men, was not suspicious.
"Interpreting others by his own pure heart," you interject, "He was
duped."  The harlot Vivien called him fool, and despised him; but she
was fallen, shameful, treacherous, and, what was worse, so fallen as
not to see the beauty in untarnished manhood, which is the last sign of
turpitude.  Many bad men have still left an honest admiration for a
goodness themselves are alien to.  Vivien was so lost as that goodness,
manhood, knightliness, sweet and tall as mountain pines, made no appeal
to her.  Filth is dearer to some than mountain air.  She was such.  A
fallen woman, given over to her fall, is horrible in depravity.  Merlin
saw that her estimate of Arthur was the measure of herself.  Beatrix
Esmond did not appreciate Henry Esmond; for the Pretender was her
measure of soul.  Though to her praise be it said that, in her old age,
Esmond dead, she thought of him as women think of Christ.  Arthur
believed in men, supposing them to be transcripts of himself; and in so
doing in details, he erred.  His philosophy of goodness was erroneous;
for he held to the theory of goodness by environment, fencing knights
and ladies about with his own fine honor and chastity, supposing pure
environment would make them pure, forgetting how God's kingdom is
always within.  Environment is not gifted to make men good.  Arthur
believed men pure, nor was he wholly wrong.  The men about him gave the
lie to his expectation; but these moral ragamuffins did not invalidate
the king's faith.  The road taken was not the world.  Lancelot and
Guinevere and Gawain and Modred, false?  False!  Pelleas, seeing
Ettarre lustful and untrue, digging rowels into his steed and crying,
"False! false!" was not wise as Arthur.  The optimist is right.  Some
were false, 't is true; but others were true as crystal streams, that
all night long give back the heavens star for star.  There were and are
true men and women.  Our neighborhood, if so be it is foul, is not the
earth.  Enid, and Elaine, and Sir Galahad, and Sir Percivale, and
Gareth, and others not designated, were pure.  Snows on city streets
are stained with soot and earth; snows on the mountains are as white as
woven of the beams of noon.  King Arthur, expecting the better of the
world, in so doing followed the example of his Savior, Christ, who was
most surely optimist.  King Arthur, in his midnight hour, when knight
and wife and Lancelot deserted him, when his "vast pity almost made him
die," still kept the lamp of hope aflame and sheltered from the wind,
lest it flame, flare, and die.  His fool still loved him and clasped
his feet; and bold Sir Bedivere staid with him through the thunder
shock of that last battle in the west.  Not all were false.  Some
friends abide.  Though his application was not always wise, his
attitude was justified.  Having done his part, he had not been
betrayed; for he was still victor.  Lancelot and Guinevere were
defeated, ruined, as were Gawain and Ettarre, who, as they wake, find
across their naked throats the bare sword of Pelleas; then Ettarre knew
what knight was knightly.  Goodness wins in the long battle, though
supposed defeated in the petty frays, Tennyson makes his ideal man an
optimist.  "Maud" is a study in pessimism.  The lover's blood is
tainted with insanity.  He raves, is suspicious, is at war with all
things and all men; rails at the social system, not from any broad
sympathy with better things, but from a strident selfishness, rasping
and self-proclamatory, lacking elevation, save as his love puts wings
beneath him for a moment and lifts him, as eagles billow up their
young; is weak, and tries to cover weakness up by ranting.  We pity,
then despise him, then pity him once more, and in sheer charity think
him raving mad.  Stand Maud's lover alongside King Arthur, and how
splendid does King Arthur look!  The lover was pessimist and wrong;
Arthur was optimist and, in his temper, right.  Though hacked at by the
careless or vicious swords of cumulating hatreds, underestimations,
selfishness, and lewdness of lesser and cruder souls, knowing, as he
did, how God is on goodness' side, knew, therefore, who is on God's
side keeps hope in good, believing better things.  Those who, thinking
themselves shrewd, and are perennially suspicious, do really lack in
shrewdness, lacking depth.  The far view is the serene view.  Pelleas,
too, is a study in lost faith.  He was near-sighted in his moral life,
and so, in losing faith in Ettarre, lost faith in womanhood, a
conclusion not justified from the premises; and you hear him in the
wild night, crying as beasts of the desert cry, and what he hisses as
you pass is, "I have no sword."  Arthur kept his sword till time came
to give it back to the "arm clothed in white samite."  He threw not his
sword away until his hand could hold it no longer.  Hands and swords
must keep company while life and strength remain, and who breaks or
throws sword away from sheer despair has lost sight of duty, in so far
that our business is to do battle valiantly and constantly for
righteousness, and keep the sword at play in spite of dubious
circumstances.  Battles are often on the point of being won when they
look on the point of being lost, as was the case with Pelleas, whose
hope died just at the hour when hope ought to have begun shouts
befitting triumph; for that night when he lay his naked sword across
Ettarre's naked neck, she, waking and finding whose sword was lying,
like a mad menace, on her breast, recovered her womanhood, loved the
knight, who came and went, and slew her not, as his right was, and
loved him to her death; while he, the cause of her reformation, swung
through the gloomy night with faith and courage lost.  He should have
held his faith, however his trust in one had been shamed and sunk.
Faith in one snuffed out is not in logic to lose faith; for all are
more than one.  Trust Arthur; he was right.  Pessimism is no sane mood.
All history conspires to justify his attitude.  Himself inspires
optimism in us, and the three queens wait for him, and the black
funeral barge that bears him, not to his funeral, but to some fair city
where there seems one voice, and that a voice of welcome to this king;
and besides all this, his name lights our nights till now, as if he
were some sun, pre-empting night as well as day.  Has not his optimism
been justified a hundred-fold?  Do those who view the present only,
think to see all the landscape where deeds reap victories?  Time is so
essential in the propagandism of good.  Time is the foe of evil, but
sworn ally of good.  God owns the future.

King Arthur considered life a chance for service.  Life is no
abstraction, no theoretical science; rather concrete, experimental.
Magician Merlin's motto, too.  We may think _or_ act, though this of
conduct.  We may think or act, though this disjunctive is wrong, wholly
wrong.  [Transcriber's note: Something seems to have gone wrong with
the typesetting of the previous three sentences.  The first sentence
makes no sense, and the second two both start with the same seven
words.]  There is no separation between act and thought in a wise
estimate.  They are not enemies, but friends.  We are to think _and_
act.  We are, in a word, not to dream or do, but dream and do, the
dreaming being prelude to the doing.  Who dreams not is metallic.
Dreams redeem deeds from being stereotyped, and make motions sinuous
and graceful as a bird's flight across the sky; and when they
impregnate conduct, deed becomes instinct with a melody thrilling and
sweet as a wood-thrush note.  Arthur was no mystic.  He did not dwell
apart from men; he was a part of men.  "The Mystic" is an admirable
conception of the soul, living remote from society and action, seeing
our world as through a smoke.  Mysticism has its truth and power.  Many
of us bluster and do, and do not stand apart and dwell enough with the

  "Always there stood before him, night and day,
  The imperishable presences serene,
  One mighty countenance of perfect calm,"


  "Angels have talked with him and showed him thrones."

So much in him is needed to a soul hungry to be fortified for danger,
duty, manliness.  Despise not a mystic's brooding, but recall that
brooding is not terminal; that he who broods alone has left life
wearying around him as he found it, while his need was to change the
circumambient air of thought and action into something better than it
was; and for such change he must associate him with the lives he fain
would help.  Arthur brooded and dreamed, and saw the Christ, and then
conceived his worthiest service to be to interpret the What he heard
and Whom he saw to men; and in pursuance of such purpose he lived with
knights, ladies, soldiers, and countrymen.  Him they saw and knew.
"St. Simeon Stylites" is an application of another side of the same
thought.  Heroism is in this pillar saint, but a mistaken heroism.  He

  "A sign betwixt the meadow and the cloud."

But to what purpose?  Hear him call,

  "I smote them with the cross,"

and feel assured from such a word that he who spoke, had he been where
the battle raged, had left his stroke on many a shield; for his words
have the crash of a Crusader's ax.  What a loss it was to men that St.
Simeon came not down from his pillar, clothed himself, made himself
clean and wholesome, instead of filthy and revolting, and dwelt with
people for whom Christ died.  A religious recluse is a religious
ignoramus, since he does not know that the one-syllable word in the
vocabulary of Christ is, "Be of use."  The problem of living, as Arthur
saw vividly, was not how to get yourself through the world unhurt, but
how to do the most for some one besides yourself while you are in the
world; and this attitude is otherness, altruism.  Nurture strength to
use.  Pass your might on.  Knighthood was to serve everybody else
first, after the fashion of the Founder of knighthood, even Christ,
"who came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister."  King Arthur
served.  Play battles stung him not to prowess, but, as Lancelot saw,
in the actual battle, the hero was not Lancelot, but Arthur.  May be a
too deep seriousness was in him.  I think it probable.  He had been
more masterful in wielding men had he been colored more by laughter and
jest.  We must not take ourselves, nor yet the world, with too
continuous seriousness.  There are intervals between battles when
warriors may rest, and intervals in the stress of deeds and sorrow
where room is given for the caress and wholesome jest.  That
arch-jester, Jack Falstaff, had much reason with him.  We like him,
despite himself, and despite ourselves, because there was in him such
comradery.  Though he was boisterous, yet was he jovial.  All
characters, save Christ, have limitations.  Arthur had his.  Lack of
sprightliness was his mistake and lack.  But the work to be done fills
him with might unapproachable, so that,

          "Like fire, he meets the foe,
  And strikes him dead for thine and thee."

He is no play soldier, and foemen mark his sword as a thing to fear.  A
mutilated herdsman, rushing into Caerlaen, and shaking bloody story
from his hideous wounds, which, Arthur hearing, though a tourneyment
would blow its bugles on the plain erelong, forgets the coming joust,
remembering only a wrong to be avenged, and evil-doers to be punished
or destroyed, so they may no longer be a noxious presence in the land,
and goes, and at tourney's close comes back, through the dark night,
wet with rain; but he has cleansed the hostile land of villains on that
day.  In human nature is a bias to escape the world, to get out of the
turmoil, to seek cloisters of quiet, which bias "The Holy Grail"
attacks.  Arthur was no friend to the pursuit of the grail; not that he
loves not, with a passion white as sun's flame, the good and pure, but
that he has sagacity to see such quest will scatter the round table and
its fellowship, and would dispeople his forces, whose presence makes
for peace and sovereignty in all his realm and compels the sovereignty
of law.  Him, their king, these errant knights heeded not, so enticing
and noble seemed the warfare they espoused, and thought their sovereign
cold and calculating, while, in fact, he knew them for visionaries.  He
was right.  Without them he was bankrupt in strength to compel social
betterment.  The visionary, in so far as he is simply visionary, is foe
to progress; for progress comes by battle and by association in
affairs, and he who would be helper to the better life of man must mix
with the currents of his time.  Snowdrifts in the mountains and on the
northern slopes that hold snows in their shadows for the summer's use;
and dark mountain meadows, where fogs and rains soak every particle of
sod, and waters percolate through the spongy root and soil to form
bubbling streams; and the pines, whose shadows make a cool retreat
where streams may not be drained dry by the sun; the silver threads of
tributary brooks; the sponge of mountain mosses, which squeezes its cup
of water into a larger laver,--all these seem remote from the broad
river on whose flood merchants' fleets are slumbering, nor seem
participants with these floodgates to the sea; yet are they adjuncts,
though so far removed, and pay their tribute to the flood.

Their service was as pronounced and valuable as if they had been huge
as Orontes.  There is an absence which is presence, and there is a
presence which is absence; and what is asked of all men, near or far,
is that they be helpers to the general good.  They must not, by intent
or mistake, escape their share of the public burden.

A poet seems apart, and is not, but is to be esteemed a portion of this
world's most turbulent life.  To intend to have a share in this world's
business is important.  To shun the taking up your load when need is,
is to be coward when your honor bids you be courageous.  This means, be
a citizen, neglect no office in that worthy relation; be not wandering
knights, pursuing fire-flies, supposing them to be stars; but be as
Arthur, who found the Holy Grail, and drained its sacramental wine in
truest fashion, in "staying by the stuff;" in being statesman, soldier,
defender of the weak, reformer, liver of a clean life in public place,
builder of a State, negotiator of schemes which make for the diminution
of earth's ills and increase of earth's fairer provinces.  Edward the
Confessor was a monk, wearing a king's crown and refusing to discharge
a king's offices, and thought himself a saint by such omission, when
what God and the realm wanted and needed was a man to rule and suffer
for the common weal.  Arthur was not a thing "enskied and sainted;"
rather a wholesome man, whose duty lay in working for men.  Sir
Percivale became a monk; other knights returned no mote, thus spilling
the best blood of the table round.  Meantime the king's enemies
multiplied, and these visionaries decimated the ranks of opposition to
the wrong; but come what would, King Arthur served.  An appeal to him
for help found answer, though treasons plotted at his back.  As to his
last battle, though his heart was breaking, he marched nor paused,
perceiving, so long as he was king, he must uphold the order of the
State.  He was no dilettante.  Great service called him, and he thought
he heard the voice of God.  Duty is a ponderous word in Arthur's
lexicon.  In "Lucretius," Tennyson shows the moral apathy of
materialism by letting us look on at a suicidal death, and hear the
cry, half-rage and half-despair, "What is duty?" and in that fated cry,
atheism has run its course.  Here it empties into its dead sea, and
materialism finds its only possible outcome.  This materialist of long
ago is the mouthpiece for his fraters in these last days.  There is one
speech, and that a speech of dull despair, for those who say there is
no God; and for them who have no God, there is no duty, for duty is
born of hold on God.  King Arthur, sure of God, therefore never asking,
"What is duty?" but in its stead urges the nobler query, "Where is
duty?" and so infused himself into the blood of empire; aye, and more,
into the spiritual blood of uncalendared centuries.

And King Arthur was pure.  Vice is so often glorified and offers such
chromo tints to the eye as that many superficial folks think virtue
tame and vice exhilarating.  Here lies the difficulty.  They look on
those parts which are contiguous to vice, but are really not parts of
it.  In the self of vice is nothing attractive.  Lying, lust, envy,
hate, debauchery,--which of these is not tainted?  Penuriousness is
vice unadorned, and who thinks it fair?  Like Spenser's "false Duessa,"
it is revolting.  Drunkenness, bestiality, spleen,--what roseate views
shall you take of these?  Who admires Caliban?  And Caliban is vice,
standing in its naked vileness and vulgarity.  Man, meant for manhood,
self-reduced to brutehood,--that is drunkenness.  In an era when Dumas
by fascinating fictions was making vice ingratiating, Tennyson was
rendering virtue magnificent.  Can any person of just judgment rise
from reading "Idyls of the King" without feeling a repugnance toward
vice, like a nausea, and a magnetism in virtue?  An admiration for
Arthur becomes intense.  The poet draws no moral from his parable:
doing what is better, he puts morals into one's blood.  While never
railing at Guinivere, he makes us ashamed of her and for her, and does
the same with Lancelot.  He makes virtue eloquent.  King Arthur is
neither drunkard nor libertine, therein contradicting the pet theories
of many people's heroes.  He loves cleanness and is clean.  He demands
in man a purity equal to woman's; setting up one standard of mortals
and not two.  The George Fourth style of king, happily, Arthur is not;
for George was a shame to England and to men at large, while Arthur is
a glory, burning on above the cliffs of Wales, like some brave sunrise
whose colors never fade.  To men and women, he is one law of virtue and
one law of love.  When the years have spent their strength, then vice
shows itself hideous vice.  The glamour vanished, no one can love or
plead for wickedness.  Virtue is wholly different; for to it the ages
burn incense each year, rendering its loveliness more apparent and
bountiful.  Virtue grows in beauty, like some dear face we love.
Heroism is virtue; manliness is virtue; devotion is virtue.  Sum up
those remembered deeds of which the centuries speak, and you will find
them noble, virtuous.  Seen as it is, and with the light of history on
its face, vice is uncomely as a harlot's painted face.  King Arthur is
virile and he is noble, engaging and fascinating us like a romance
written by a master, full of persuasive sweetness and enduring help.

Besides, King Arthur was a religious man.  This is the transparent
explanation of his career.  He is an attempted incarnation of the
precepts and love of Christ.  This long-vanished prince knew that if a
king might but repeat the miracle of Jesus' life in his own history, he
would have achieved kingship indeed.  "_Mea vita vota_" was Dempster's
motto,--a sentiment Arthur knew by heart.  His life was owed to God,
and right manfully he paid his debt.  Arthur exalted God in his heart
and court and on hard-fought field.  So intense and vivid his sense of
God, he reminds us of the Puritan; but the Puritan touched to beatific
beauty by the interpretation of love God's Christ came to give.
Tennyson always made much of God, saw Him immanent in every hope of
human betterment, saying, as we remember and can not forget:

  "Our little systems have their day--
    They have their day and cease to be:
    They are but broken lights of thee;
  And thou, O Lord, art more than they."

"The Idyls of the King" and "In Memoriam" might felicitously be called
treatises on theology written in verse.  St. Augustine and Wesley were
not more certainly theologians than this poet Laureate.  The rest and
help that come to men in prayer is burned into the soul in "Enoch

  "And there he would have knelt, but that his knees
  Were feeble, so that falling prone he dug
  His fingers into the wet earth and prayed."


  "He was not all unhappy.  His resolve
  Upbore him, and firm faith and evermore
  Prayer from a living source within the will,
  And beating up through all the bitter world,
  Like fountains of sweet water in the sea,
  Kept him a living soul."

And Arthur, dying, whispers:

        "More things are wrought by prayer
  Than this world dreams of.  Wherefore let thy voice
  Rise, like a fountain, for me night and day.
  For what are men better than sheep or goats
  That nourish a blind life within the brain,
  If knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer,
  Both for themselves and those that call them friend?
  For so the whole round world is every way
  Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."

No wonder is there if King Arthur was upheld: such faith makes
impotence giant-strengthed.  He does not tremble.  The earth may know
perturbations, but not he.  To tournament or battle, or to death, he
goes with smiling face.  His trust upholds him.  So good is faith.  "In
Memoriam" is the biography of doubt and faith at war.  The battle waxes
sore, but the day is God's.  The battle ebbs to quiet.  Calm after
tempest.  Tennyson could not stay in doubt.  'T is not a goodly land.
If trepidation has white lip and cheek, 't is not forever.  Living
through an age of doubt, Tennyson, so sensitive to every current of
thought as that he felt them all, and in that feeling and
interpretation and strife for mastery over the doubt that kills, made
his book, as Milton has it, "The precious life-blood of a master
spirit;" and ends with:

  "Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me.

  For though from out our bourn of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
  I hope to see my Pilot face to face,
    When I have cross'd the bar."

"In Memoriam" is thought, King Arthur is action; and action is antidote
for doubt.  Charles Kingsley's advice,

  "Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long,"

is always pertinent and reasonable.  This is explanation of that
profound saying of Jesus, "If any man will do my will, he shall know of
the doctrine."  Life is exegesis of Scripture.  Who do God's will catch
sight of God's face, and their hearts are helped.  Lowell's "Sir
Launfal" urges this same truth.  He who, for weary and painful years,
had haunted the world, seeking the Holy Grail and finding not the thing
he sought, comes home discouraged to find in winter his castle had
forgotten him, and he was left a wreck of what he had been in his
better days; yet finds, in giving alms to a leprous beggar at his
castle gate to whom he had denied alms in the spirit of alms when he
set out to hunt the Holy Grail, that in so giving he found the Christ.
Action helps God into the heart.  Doubts are, many of them, brain-born
and academical; and such, service helps to dispel.  To Arthur, God was
vital fact.  To Him he held as tenaciously as to his sword; and he was
comforted.  All good things are included in religion, and all great
things.  If men become martyrs, they become at the same time
functionaries in the palace of every worthy spirit.  I suppose the
hunger for discovery and knowledge are nothing other than the soul's
hunger after God.  He is the secret of great discontent.  The soul
wants God, and on the way to Him are astronomies, and literatures, and
new-found hemispheres.  Aspiration finds voice in Christianity.
"Columbus," a poem of resonant music, speaks aspiration.  Him--

  "Who pushed his prows into the setting sun,
  And made West East, and sailed the dragon's mouth,
  And came upon the mountain of the world,
  And saw the rivers roll from paradise,"--

him, God-inspired as himself holds, saying:

        "And more than once, in days
  Of doubt and cloud and storm, when drowning hope
  Sank all but out of sight, I heard His voice:
  Be not cast down.  I lead thee by the hand;
  Fear not,--and I shall hear his voice again--
  I know that He has led me all my life,
  And I am not yet too old to work His will--
  His voice again."

And King Arthur finds God helps him into all things worth while.
Bravery, determination, kindness, purity, magnanimity, safe faith in
God's supremacy,--all spring about him as he walks as flowers about a
path in summer-time.  Nothing good was foreign to him.

Christianity is the one philosophy of manhood in whose harness are no
vulnerable parts.  "The Palace of Art" presents the poet's perception
of the failure of culture.  Ethics, not aesthetics, compel manhood; and
behind ethics, theology.  God must live in life, if life shall put on
goodness as a royal robe.

And such a man as Arthur has passed into the enduring substance of this
world's best thought and purpose.  We see him--not saw him.  He is
never past, but ever present.  We see him dying, and with Sir Bedivere,
who loved him, cry,

          "Thy name and glory cling
  To all high places, like a golden cloud,


The Story of the Pictures

A man and a woman were dreaming.  Both were young; and one was strong
and one was fair.  They were lovers, and the world was very beautiful,
and life as rhythmic as a poet's verse.  Things which to some seem
remote as heaven, to youth and love seem near enough to touch, if one
do but stretch out the hand.  This youth and maid were dreaming, and
their hands were clasped, and sometimes they looked in each other's
eyes--sometimes out across the fields, sloping toward sunset.  The
world seemed young as they, and the sky was fairly singing, with voices
sweet as kisses from dear lips long absent,--those voices saying,
saying always, "Life is fair--is fair;" and receding, as blown by on a
gentle wind, drifted "Life is fair;" and the lovers looked at each
other and were glad.

He was an artist, and his idle hand wrought pictures unconsciously.  He
did not think things, but saw things.  His lips were not given to
frequent speech, even with the woman he loved.  He saw her, whether he
sat thus beside her or whether he sat apart from her with seas
between--he saw her always; for his was the gift of sight.  He saw
visions as rapt prophets do.  Life was a pageant, and he saw it all.

His brush is part of his hand, and his palette is as his hand's palm.
Painting is to him monologue.  He is telling what he sees; talking to
himself, as children and poets do.  Now, he talks to the woman he loves
and to himself in pictures, she saying nothing, save as her hand speaks
in a caress, and that her eyes are dreamy sweet; and the artist's hand
dreams over the paper with glancing touch, and this picture grows
before their eyes: A man and a woman, young and fair, are on a hilltop
alone, looking across a meadowland, lovely with spring and blossoms and
love-making of the birds; and ponds where lily-pads shine in the sun,
like metal patines, floating on the pool; and a flock lying in a quiet
place; and a lad plowing in a field, the blackbirds following his
furrow; and a blue sky, with dainty clouds of white faint against it,
like breathing against a window-pane in winter; and a farmhouse, where
early roses cluster, and little children are at play,--this, and his
brush loiters, and the woman knows her artist has painted a picture of
youth; and both look away as in a happy dream.

The artist paints again: and the landscape is in nothing changed.  It
might have been a reprint rather than a repainting.  A morning land,
where beauty and bounty courted like man and maid.  No tints were lost.
The sunlight was unfailing, and roses clustered with their spendthrift
grace and loveliness; and the woman, looking at her lover, wondered why
he painted the same landscape twice, but, waiting, saw the artist paint
two figures, a man and woman at life's prime.  She sees they are the
youth and maid of the first picture, only older--and what besides?
Then they were a promise, a possibility, now they are--what are they?
They are the same; they are not the same.  She is disappointed in them;
not because their beauty has faded, but that their look has changed.
Their faces are not haggard, nor cut with strange arabesques of pain
and care, nor are they craven or vicious; but the artist speeds his
hand as if at play, while every touch is bringing the faces out until
they obliterate the former beauty utterly.  The landscape is still dewy
fresh and fair--the faces have no hint of morning in them.  Faces, not
bad, but lacking tenderness; expression, self-sufficient; eyes, frosty
cold; and the woman's eyes light on the children, playing beside the
white farmhouse, and in them is no inexpressible tenderness of
mother-love, mute, like a caress; prosperous faces the world has gone
quite well with, that is plain, but faces having no beckoning in them,
no tender invitation, like a sweet voice, saying, "Enter and welcome."
And she who looked at the pictures sobbed, scarcely knowing why, only
the man and woman sorely disappointed her when they had grown to
maturity; poetry and welcome and promise had faded from them as tints
fade from a withered flower.  So much was promised--so little was

Meantime, while these lovers sit on the hillside, and the artist has
been talking in pictures as the clouds do, the sun has sloped far
toward setting.  The west is aflame, like a burning palace; the crows
are flapping tired wings toward their nests; the swallows are sporting
in the air, as children do in surf of the blue seas; smoke from the
farm chimneys visible begins to lie level across the sky, and stays
like a cloud at anchor.  But the artist's hand is busy with another

And the landscape is the same.  Mayhap he is not versatile; and, think
again, mayhap he has purpose in his reduplication.  Like wise men, let
us wait and see.  A springtime-land as of old, and two figures; and the
woman he loves watches, while her breathing is strangely like a sob.
Now the figures are a man and a woman, stooped and gray.  "Age," she
says, "you paint age now, and age--is not beautiful;" and he, answering
with neither lips nor eyes, paints swiftly on.  The man is aged and
leaning on a staff.  His strength is gone.  His staff is not for
ornament, but need.  The woman is wrinkled, and her hair is snowy
white; and the girl at the artist's side tries vainly to suppress a
sob.  She, too, will soon be gray, and she loves not age and
decrepitude; and the face in the picture is faded, no rose-tints in the
cheeks.  So old and weak--old age is very pitiful.  But the picture is
not finished yet.  Wait!  Wait a little, and give the artist time.  It
is not evening yet.  Sunset lingers a little for him.  His hand runs
now like a hurrying tide.  He is painting faces.  Why linger over the
face of age?  If it were youth--but age?  But he touches these aged
faces lovingly, as a son might caress his aged father and mother with
hand and with kiss; and beneath his touch the aged faces grow warm and
tender, passing sweet.  To look at them was rest.  Their eyes were
tender and brave.  You remember they were old and feeble folk--young
once, but long ago; but how noble the old man's face, scarred though it
is with saber cut!  To see him makes you valiant; and to see him
longer, makes you valiant for goodness, which is best of all.

And the woman's face is lit with God's calm and God's comfort.  A smile
is in her eyes, and a smile lies, like sunlight, across her lips.  Her
hair is the silver frame that hems some precious picture in.  She is a
benediction, blessed as the restful night to weary toilers on a burning
day.  And the artist, with a touch quick as a happy thought, outlined a
shadow, clad in tatters, and a child clad in tatters at her side; and
the girl, leaning over the painting, thought the chief shadow was
Death.  But the artist hasted; and on a sudden, wings sprung from the
shoulders of tattered mother and child, and they two lifted up their
hands; the woman, lifting her hands above the dear forms of old age,
spread them out in blessing, and the little child lifted her hands,
clasped as in prayer; and these angels were Poverty, praying for and
blessing the man and woman who had been their help.

And the artist lover, under the first picture, in quaint letters, such
as monks in remote ages used, wrote this legend, "To-morrow;" and the
woman, taking the pencil, wrote in her sweet girlish hand, "Youth is
Very Beautiful."  The artist took back his pencil, and under the second
picture scrolled, "These Loved Themselves Better Than They Loved
Others;" and the woman wrote, "Their To-morrow was Failure."  Under the
third picture the artist wrote, "These Loved God Best and Their
Neighbors as Themselves;" and the woman took the pencil from his hand
and wrote, "Old Age is Very Beautiful--More Beautiful Than Youth," and
a tear fell and blotted some of the words, as a drop of rain makes a
blurred spot on a dusty pane.  And the lover said, "Serving others is
better than serving ourselves;" and the girl's sweet voice answering,
like an echo, "Serving others is better than serving ourselves."

And the sun had set.  The glow from the sky was fading, as embers on a
hearth, pale to gray ashes; and an owl called from an elm-tree on the
hillside, while these two arose, with faces like the morning, and,
taking the pictures, walked slowly as lovers will; and so, fading into
the deepening twilight, I heard her saying, "Serving others is life at
its best," and him replying, "Jesus said, 'The poor ye have always with
you;'" and their footsteps and voices died away together in the
gloaming; and a whip-poor-will called often and plaintively from the
woodland across the field.


The Gentleman in Literature

Humor is half pathos and more.  This sword has two edges.  On the one,
shining like burnished silver, you may see smiles reflected as from a
mirror; on the other, tears stand thick, like dews on flowers at early
morning of the later spring.  Humor is a dual faculty, as much
misconceived by those who listen as by those who speak.  We do not
always have wit to know the scope of what we do.  Thoughts of
childhood, says the poet, are long, long thoughts; but who supposes
childhood knows they are?  Nor is this altogether a fault.  To feel the
sublime sequence of all we did would burden us as Atlas was burdened by
holding up the sky.  Life might easily come to be sober to somberness,
which is a thing unwholesome and undesirable.  Sunlight must have its
way.  Darkness must not trespass too far; and every morning says to
every night, "Thus far, but no farther."

To many readers, Don Quixote seems fantastic, and Cervantes a
laughter-monger.  Cervantes had suffered much.  His life reads like a
novelist's tale.  He belonged to the era of Spenser and Shakespeare; of
Philip II and William the Silent; of Leicester and Don John of Austria;
of The Great Armada and the Spanish Inquisition; of Lope de Vega and
Cervantes--for he was, in the Hispanian peninsula, his own greatest
contemporary--and to this hour this battle-scarred soldier of fortune
stands the tallest figure of Spanish literature.  His was a lettered
rearing, and a young manhood spent as a common soldier.  At Lepanto he
lost hand and arm.  In five long, weary, and bitter years of slavery
among Algerine pirates, he held up his head, being a man; plotted
escape in dreams and waking; fought for freedom as a pinioned eagle
might; was at last rescued by the Society for the Redemption of Slaves;
sailed home from slavery to penury; came perilously near the age of
threescore, poverty-stricken and unknown, when, like a sun which leaps
from sunrise to noon at a single bound, this maimed soldier sprang
mid-sky, impossible to be ignored or forgotten, and disclosed himself,
the marked Spaniard of his era; and on the same day of 1616, Cervantes
and Shakespeare stopped their life in an unfinished line, and not a man
since then has been able to fill out the broken meaning.  This man had
not wine, but tears to drink.  Yet he jests, and the world laughs with
him; though we feel sure that while his age and after ages laugh and
applaud, Miguel Cervantes sits with laughter all faded from his face,
and the white look of pain settled about his lips, while tears "rise in
the heart and gather to the eyes."  Tears sometimes make laughter and
jest the wilder.  Men and women laugh to keep their hearts from

Cervantes has ostensibly drawn a picture of a madman, and in fact has
painted a gentleman.  What his intent was, who can be so bold as to
say?  What part of his purpose was, we know.  He would excoriate a
false and flippant chivalry.  Contemporaneous chivalry he knew well;
for he had been a common soldier, wounded and distressed.  He had seen
what a poor triviality that once noble thing had grown to be.
Institutions become effete.  Age is apt to sap the strength of
movements as of men.  Feudalism and the Crusades had commissioned the
knight-errant; and now, when law began to hold sword for itself, the
self-constituted legal force--knight-errantry--was no longer needed.
But to know when an institution has served its purpose is little less
than genius.  Some things can be laughed down which can not be argued
down.  A jest is not infrequently more potent than any syllogism.  Some
things must be laughed away, other things must be wept away; so that
humor and pathos are to be ranked among the mighty agents for reform.
And one purpose Cervantes had was to laugh a tawdry knight-errantry off
the stage.  In long years of soldiery, I doubt not he had grown to hate
this empty boast, and his nursed wrath now breaks out like a volcano.
This was his apparent purpose--but who can say this was all his
purpose?  "King Lear" has a double action.  Mayhap, Don Quixote has a
double meaning.  We are always attaching meanings to works of genius.
But you can not tie any writer's utterance down to some poor altitude.
Great utterances have at least a half-infinite application.  Tennyson
felt this, saying--as we read in his son's biography of him--regarding
explanations of his "Idyls of the King:" "I hate to be tied down to
'this means that,' because the thought within the image is much more
than any one interpretation;" and, "Poetry is like shot-silk, with many
glancing colors.  Every reader will find his own interpretation
according to his ability, and according to his sympathy, with the
poet."  What is true of poetry is true of all imaginative literature.
An author may not have analyzed his own motive in its entirety.  In any
case, we may hold to this, Don Quixote was a gentleman, and is the
first gentleman whose portrait is given us in literature.  We have
laughed at Don Quixote, but we have learned to love him.  The "knight
of the rueful countenance," as we see him now, is not himself a jest,
but one of literature's most noble figures; and we love him because we
must.  Was it mere chance that in drawing this don, Cervantes clothed
him with all nobilities, and shows him--living and dying--good,
courageous, pure; in short, a man?  This scarcely seems a happening.
Seas have subtle undercurrents.  I venture, Don Quixote has the same,
and marks the appearance of a gentleman in literature, since which day
that person has been a recurring, ennobling presence on the pages of
fiction and poetry.

A gentleman is a comparatively recent creation in life, as in letters.
Christ was the foremost and first gentleman.  After him all gentility
patterns.  With the law of the imagination we are familiar, which is
this: Imagination deals only with materials supplied by the senses.
Imagination, in other words, is not strictly originative, but, rather,
appropriative, giving a varied placing to images on hand, just as the
kaleidoscope makes all its multiform combinations with a given number
of pieces.  Imagination does not make materials, is no magician, but is
an architect.  Admitting this law, we can readily see how the creation
of a gentleman does not lie in the province of imagination.  Homer's
heroes are the men Homer knew, with a poetic emphasis on strength,
stature, prowess.  His era grew warriors and nothing else, and so Homer
paints nothing else.  Human genius has limits.  Man is originative in
character; and poets--"of imagination all compact"--catch this new form
of life, and we call the picture poetry.  All civilization, to the days
of Jesus, produced but one character, so far as we may read, worthy to
be thought entire gentleman, and this was Joseph, the Jew, premier of
Egypt.  He is the most manly man of pre-Christian civilizations.  Or
probably Moses must be listed here.  Classic scholarship can show no
gentleman Greece produced.  Greek soil grew no such flowers beneath its
radiant sky.  Plato was a philosopher--not gentleman.  Socrates was an
iconoclast, but not a manly man and helpful spirit.  Greek heroes were
guilty of atrocious and unthinkable sins.  Test them by this canon of
Alfred Tennyson: "I would pluck my hand from a man, even if he were my
greatest hero or dearest friend, if he wronged a woman or told her a
lie;" and, so tested, where must Greek heroes be classified?  Greece
and Rome produced heroes, but not gentlemen.  Julius Caesar was the
flower of the Latin race.  Nothing approximates him.  Great qualities
cluster in him like stars in the deep sky.  But his ambition was like
to that of Milton's Satan, and his lust was a bottomless pit.  As a
national heroic figure, Julius Caesar is dazzling as a sun at summer
noon; but as a gentleman he cuts poorer figure than Lancelot or Sir
Tristram.  The gentleman is not an evolution, but a creation.  Christ
created the gentleman as certainly as he created the world.

Now, literature is what Emerson says genius is, a superlative borrower.
The state of a civilization at a given time will gauge the poet's
concept.  He can not pass beyond the world's noblest notions to his
hour.  If Greece and Rome produced no man, settle to it that Greek and
Roman literatures will produce no man.  Sculptor, as Phidias;
statesman, as Pericles; dramatist, as Aeschylus; general, as
Themistocles; stern justice, as Aristides,--Greece can show; and such
characters the historians, dramatists, and epic poets will delineate
and celebrate.  Horace is a looking-glass, and holds his genius so as
to catch the shadows of men passing by.  This poets do, and can do no
more.  They are not strictly creative.  We mistake their mission.  God
has somehow kept the creative power in his own possession.  Men can
appropriate; God can create.  So what we find is, that ancient
literature never attempted depicting a gentleman.  Those days had no
such persons.  But Christ came and set men a-dreaming.  He filled men's
souls to the brim with expectation and wonder akin to fear and
anticipation of impossibilities; and what he was, men fondly and
greatly dreamed they might aspire to be.  And thus the gentleman became
a prospective fact in life and after life, in literature; for we think
it has been fairly shown how literature produces no type till life has
produced it first.  Literature is not properly productive, but
reproductive; not creative, but appropriative.  As men climb a mountain
on a dark, still night, to watch a sunrise, so the race began to climb
toward manhood.  The night was long, and this mountain taller than
Himalayas; and man slept not, but climbed.  His groping toward this
sunrise of soul is the epic of history.  Dante knew not a gentleman,
and could not dream him therefore.  Mediaevalism learned to paint the
Madonna's face, but not manhood's look.  Character is the last test of
genius.  Man saw gray streaks of dawn, rimming far, ragged peaks, and
still he climbed; and, on a morning, beheld the sunrise!  And if you
will note, 't is Don Quixote standing on the mountain's crest.

Some things can be adequately represented in marble.  For "the Laocoon"
marble is probably the best method of expression.  Fear, superhuman
effort, anguish, brute strength mastering human strength,--these are
the thoughts to be expressed, and are brought out in marble with
singular clearness and fidelity.  For some things color is a necessity;
and marble would be totally inadequate.  "The Greek Slave" may be put
in stone; the bewildering face of a world's Christ can never be
seriously attempted in marble, the futility of such attempt being so
apparent.  Color, lights and shadows are essential to give hints of
deep things of deep soul.  Hoffman must have canvas and colors.  You
must paint the Christ.  And some facts can not be painted.  They are
abstract, and can not be intimated by anything short of words.  You can
paint a man--Saul of Tarsus, or Charlemagne--but can not paint a
gentleman; for he represents no single majesty, but an essential and
intricate balance of all useful, great, and noble qualities.  He can be
painted only by words; so that literature is the solitary means of
making apparent the shadow of that divine thing, a gentleman.

Don Quixote becomes intensely interesting, then, as a new attempt in
creative genius.  But dare we think a gentleman could be ludicrous and
fantastic? for this the don was.  We revolt against the notion that so
gracious a thing could be grotesque.  Yet is this our mature thought?
Do not the facts certify that from this world's unregenerate standpoint
manliness is grotesque?  Was not Christ looked upon as mad?  Did not
his ideas of manliness appear as nothing other than fantastic, when he
would substitute love for might, meekness for braggadocio, and purity
of heart for an omnipresent sensuality?  What were his ideals of
manhood but battling with windmills or being enamored of a myth?
Tested by standards of this world's make, his notions and conduct were
sheerly fantastic.  As recorded on one occasion, "They laughed him to
scorn;" and this they did many another time, covertly or openly.
Indeed, grasping the state of civilization as then existing, and
comprehending Christ's non-earthly idea of what a gentleman was, we can
not be slow to perceive how ludicrous this conception would be to the
Roman world.  Tall dreams seem madness.  Hamlet's feigned madness
puzzles us even yet.  Many an auditor heard Columbus with a smile
ill-concealed behind his beard.  All high ideality sounds a madman's
babble.  To see a true life live truly will strike many as a jest, and
others as pathos too deep for sobs.

Don Quixote conceived a man ought to live for virtue.  To be
self-dedicated to the help of others; to be courageous as an army which
had never met defeat; to be self-forgetful, so that hunger, pain,
thirst, fatigue, become trifles; to have love become absorbing; to fill
the mind's unfathomed sky with dreams outshining dawns; to count honor
to be so much more than life, as that honor is all and life is naught;
to interpret all men and women at their best, and so to expect good and
not suspicion evil; to meet all men on the high level of manhood; and
to love God with such persistency and eagerness as that the soul's
solitudes are peopled with him as by a host,--if this be not a
gentleman, we have misconceived the species.  Read this history of his
early and later battles for right, and you will not find an impurity of
word, suggestion, thought.  God's lilies are not cleaner.  I confess
that the knight's love for Dulcinea del Tobosa moves me to tears.  I
never can smile or jest at him when his heart and lips hold with fealty
to an ideal love.  His love created her.  He found her a clod, but
flung her into the sky and made her a star.  Is not this love's uniform
history?  Blinded, not of lust or ambition, but of ideality.  Saul met
Christ at noon, and was blinded by his vision; and would not all brave
men covet blindness thus incurred?  And better to be blinded, as Don
Quixote, by a ravishing ideal, than to see, besotted in soul and shut
out from God.  That humorous figure astride lean Rosinante, esquired by
pudgy, sensible Sancho; eager for chances to be of use; faithful to his
love as dawn to sun; strong in his desire of being all eyes to see
distress, all ears to hear a call for succor; sitting a dark night
through in vigil, tireless, courageous, waiting for day to charge on
what proved to be fulling hammers, making tumult with their own
stamping; or, again, asleep in the inn bed, fighting with wine-skins
and dreaming himself battling with giants,--this does not touch me as
being humorous so much as it does as being pathetic, unspeakably
pathetic, and manfully courageous.  I see, but do not feel, the humor.
I have followed Don Quixote as faithfully as Sancho Panza on his
"Dapple;" have seen him fight, conquer, suffer defeat, ride through his
land of dreams; have seen his pasteboard helmet; have noted melancholy
settle round him as shadows on the landscape of an autumn day; have
seen him grow sick, weaken, die; but have known in him only high
dreams, attempted high achievings; have found him honor's soul, and
holding high regard for women; have been spectator of goodness as
unimpeachable as heaven, and purity deep, like that which whitens round
the throne--a human soul given over to goodness, and named, for cause,
"Quixada the Good."  And his goodness seems a contagion.

For two and a half centuries since Cervantes painted this picture of a
gentleman, literature has given less or more of heed to similar
attempts; though as result, as I suppose, there are but two life-size
pictures which unhesitatingly we name gentlemen as soon as our eyes
light on them.  Profile or silhouette of him there has been, but of the
full-length, full-face figure, only two.  Shakespeare did not attempt
this task.  Aside from Hamlet--who was not meant to sit for this
picture, though he had been no ill character for such sitting--there is
not among Shakespeare's men an intimation of such undertaking.  Would
this princely genius had put his hand to this attempt, though, as seems
clear to me, Shakespeare did not conceive a gentleman.  His ideas were
not quite whitened with Christ's morning light enough to have perceived
other than the natural man.  Shakespeare's men are always "a little
lower than the angels;" whereas a gentleman might fittingly stand among
angels as a brother.  This one star never swung across the optic-glass
of our great Shakespeare.  That spiritual-mindedness which is life he
scarcely possessed.  This was his limitation.  Spenser stood higher on
this mount of vision.  He conceived and executed a picture of pure
womanhood, and, had he attempted, might have sketched a wondrous face
and figure of a gentleman.  Even as it was, he gave intimations of this
coming king.  He seems one who gathers fuel for a fire, but never sets
the flame.  His figures shift, and present no central character of
manhood who grows and furnishes standard of comparison.  Milton's
genius was cast in a cyclopean mold, and needed distances remote as
heaven and hell to give right perspective to his figures, and his
supreme art concerns itself with Satan, and archangels, and God.

Of this ideal gentleman we have had growing hints.  Literature, more
and more, concerns itself with spiritual quantities.  The air of our
century is aromatic with these beautiful conceptions, as witness Jean
Valjean, Dr. MacLure, Deacon Phoebe, Sidney Carton, Daniel Deronda,
Donal Grant, Bayard, Red Jason, Pete, Captain Moray, John Halifax, and
Caponsacchi.  Some of these pictures seem more than side views.  But a
gentleman should be, must be, nobly normal.  He is a balance of virtue.
Symmetry impresses us in him, as when we look at the Parthenon.  All
his powers are in such delicate balance as that they seem capable of
easy perturbation, yet are, in fact, imperturbable as stars.  The
gentleman in life is becoming a common figure.  We have known such--so
strong, quiet, heroic, calm, sure of the future, knit to God, big with
fidelity and faith, that they translated into literal speech the holy
precepts of the Book of God.  So tested, this world grows surely
better.  Man has lost in romantic glitter of costume and bearing, but
has gained immeasurably in manhood.  The gospel is peopling the world
with men.  To suppose God meant to change men to saints was a
misconception.  St. Simeon Stylites was that old misconception
realized.  We can but honor him, so vast his hunger, so noble his
strife, so courageous his attitude, when he shouts, "I smote them with
the cross;" but St. Simeon did not realize God's notion.  Goodness is
fraternal, accessible, genial.  John Storm, in Hall Caine's "The
Christian," is susceptible to the same criticism.  He is not balanced.
He means well, but is erratic, fitful, lacking center.  He is like a
bird lost in storms, flying in circles.  He thought to be a saint,
whereas Christ did not come to make saints, but to make men; and the
sooner we realize that a "saint" or a "Christian" is not the end of the
gospel, the better will it be for Christianity.  Christianity is God's
method of making men; and Christianity is not an end, but a means.
When God gets his way, he wants to have this world populated with men
and women.  Whether Caine meant John Storm for an ideal Christian we
can not say.  There is strength here, as in all he has written; but
Storm's lacks are many and great.  He is enthusiast, but flighty.  He
means well, but is spasmodic in its display.  Storm might have grown
into a hero had he lived longer, and, as a flame, leaped high at some
point in his career.  Both as man and Christian, he disappoints us.
Red Jason, in "The Bondman," is a worthier contribution to the natural
history of the gentleman.  View him how you will, he is great.  His
moral stature lifts itself like the mass of a mountain.  His nature
seems a fertile field seeded down to heroisms, and every seed
germinating and growing to maturity.  Jason has virtues vast of girth
as huge forest-trees, but he is scarcely companionable.  Glooms gather
round him as night about a hamlet in a valley.  He is moral, imposing,
heroic, yet is there something lacking--is it voice, self-poise,
what?--lacking of being quite a gentleman.  Nor was he shaped for such
a role by his creator, but was meant to sit for the portrait of a hero.
And such he is to the point of moving the spirit, as by the lightning's
touch, Goethe was not capable of conceiving a gentleman.  His "Wilhelm
Meister" and himself fall so low in the scale of worth as to preclude
his seeing so serene a face.  Goethe's sky was clouded, and fine lines
of finest character are only brought out under unhindered sunlight.
Manhood is a serene thing.  Though storm-bolts rain about it thick as
hail, the quiet of deep seas reigns in it.  And Dumas's men are each a
_bon vivant_, save the son of Porthos.  These dusty and bloody
guardsmen had not enough moral fiber to fill a thimble.  They think the
world of men and women a field for forage.  This physical dash and
courage, this galloping of steeds, and sabers pummeling steeds' sides,
stands instead of character.  In "Marius the Epicurean," Walter Pater
has given, as I think, a true picture of one who in the Roman era
aspired to be a man.  He is cold, and in consequence barren; but such
is an accurate reading of Roman attempts at manhood; for ordinary
Epicureanism was fervid to sensuality, and the Stoic was frigid.  To
heathen conception there was no middle ground.  The warm color on
cheek, the morning in the eyes, the geniality in the hand, the fervor
at the heart, the alert thought, the winged imagination, the sturdy
will, the virile moral sense, the responsive conscience, the courage
which laughed to die for duty,--these could not be amalgamated.  Heroic
qualities have always been native to the soul as warmth to the south
wind.  All history is rich with tapestries of tragic and colossal
heroisms, so as to make us proud that we are men.  Heroisms are harsh,
but manliness is tender.  And in this seeming irreconcilability lies
the difficulty of constructing a gentleman.

But attempts thicken.  In our century they group together like violets
on a stream's bank fronting the sun in spring.  Literary artists,
knowing how difficulties hedge this attempt, hesitate.  There are many
hints of the gentleman.  Let us be glad for that, seeing we are
enriched thereby.  "Rab and His Friends" gives so strong a picture of
stolid strength in love's fidelity, which knows to serve and suffer and
die without a moan or being well aware of aught save love.  And Dr.
MacLure is a dear addition to our company of manhood, shouldering his
way through Scotland's winter's storm and cold because need calls him;
serving as his Master had taught him so long ago; forgetting himself in
absorbing thought for others; lonely as a fireless hearth; longing for
friendship which would not fail; reaching for Drumsheugh's hand, and
holding it when death was claiming the good physician's hand.  We could
easily conceive we had been seated at the deathbed of a gentleman.
Deacon Phoebe stands as a character in Annie Trumbull Slosson's "Seven
Dreamers," a book which, outside Cable's "Old Creole Days," is to me
the most perfect series of brief character-sketches drawn by an
American author, and entirely worthy to stand by "A Window in Thrums,"
and "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush," and "In Ole Virginia."  Deacon
Phoebe has forgotten himself.  Unselfishness does not often rise to
such heights.  This "dreamer" of "Francony Way" is full brother to
Sidney Carton, born across the seas.  Self-forgetfulness, so beautiful
as that even name and sex become a memory dim as a distant sail upon an
evening sea,--this must be a sight fitted to bring laughter to the
heart of God.  Deacon Phoebe is one trait in a gentleman.  Sidney
Carton is of the same sort, save that the hero element stands more
apparent.  His is a larger field, a more attractive background, thus
throwing his figure into clearer relief.  Deacon Phoebe was the
self-abasement of humility, Sidney Carton is the supreme surrender of
love; but the end of both is service.  There ought to be a gallery in
our earth from which men and women might lean and look on nobilities
like Sidney Carton.  That beatified face; that hand holding a woman's
trembling hand, what time he whispered for her comfort, "I am the
resurrection and the life," as the crowded tumbrel rattled on to the
guillotine, and he faced death with smile as sweet as love upon his
face, and love making a man thus divine,--this is Sidney Carton, who
stirs our soul as storms stir the seas.  Bonaventure, as drawn by
Cable, is of similar design.  He is unconscious as a flower; but had
learned, as his schoolmaster-priest had taught him, to write "self"
with a small "s;" so an untutored soul, lacerated with grief, pierced
by suffering, gave himself over to goodness and help, becoming absorbed
therein.  Such is Bonaventure.  He was what Tennyson has said of "the
gardener's daughter," "A sight to make an old man young."

Love has learned to work miracles in character.  Rains do not wash air
so clean as love washes character, whiting "as no fuller on earth can
white" it.  And how constantly manhood neighbors with love is a
beautiful and noteworthy circumstance.  Here place Pete, in "The
Manxman."  You can not over-praise him.  Some esteem him a fabulous
character; but knowing his island and people well, I feel sure he is
flesh and blood, though flesh and blood so uncommon and superior
stagger our faith for a moment.  It is the glory of our race that at
rare springtime it bursts into such bloom that painter and poet are
both bankrupt in attempting to copy this loveliness.  Pete is such an
effort of nature.  His letters to himself, written as from his wife, to
cover her shame and desertion, present a spectacle so magnanimous and
pathetic as to upbraid us that we had never learned nobilities so
sublime.  Love made him great.  And Macdonald, in Donal Grant, has
shown us a strong, pure soul of moral strength, religious appetencies,
determined goodness, of elevation of character, of strength and wisdom,
so that in his accustomed walk he might have met Sir Percivale or Sir
Launfal.  Good, and given over to God, he was found out by love; and
love did with him as with us all--love glorified him.  In his clean
life is something sturdy you might lean on, as on a staff, and have no
fear.  So is Enoch Arden made hero by love.  In love, remembrance, and
absence of self, he is manhood.  We have all wept with Arden, finding
our faces wet with tears, though not knowing we wept.  His story never
grows trite.  Each time we read, new light breaks from this character
as if it were a sun.  The sight of him when he, like a poor thief,
looking in at the window,

  "Because things seen are mightier than things heard,
  Stagger'd and shook, holding the branch, and feared
  To send abroad a shrill and terrible cry
  Which in one moment, like the blast of doom,
  Would shatter all the happiness of the hearth.

  And feeling all along the garden wall,
  Lest he should swoon and tumble and be found,
  Crept to the gate, and open'd it and closed
  As lightly as a sick man's chamber door
  Behind him, and came out upon the waste;"

and when,

         "Falling prone, he dug
  His fingers into the wet earth, and pray'd,--"

the sight of him is as unforgettable as a man's first look upon the
woman he loves.  The poet was right.  Arden was a "strong, heroic
soul," and when he woke, arose, and cried, "A sail! a sail!" it was
God's nobleman who sighted it.

"Daniel Deronda" and "John Halifax, Gentleman," may wisely be classed
together as attempts of competent artists to sketch a gentleman.
Whether they have failed in the attempt I would not make bold to say,
but for some reason the characters impress me as being scarcely
adequate.  Both faces are open, and lit as by a lamp of truth; their
lives are sweet as meadows scented with new-mown hay; we become sworn
friends to both without our willing it; they have nothing to take back,
because words and deeds are faithful to their best manhood; they are
strong, and women lean on them, which, aside from God's confidence, is
the highest compliment ever paid a man.  Deronda is a man among
aristocrats, Halifax a man among plebeians and commercial relations;
but manhood is the same quality wherever found; for God has made all
soils salubrious for such growth.  But these do not compel, though they
do charm us.  Bayard, in "A Singular Life," may fall in with Deronda
and Halifax.  Tragedy darkens at "the far end of the avenue."  Bayard
is a social reformer in attempt, though of the safe and right type,
meaning to change men, that there may be wrought a change in
institutions.  He runs a tilt with Calvinian orthodoxy as Methodism
does, and loves God and his fellow-men and a good woman, and finds no
toil burdensome if he may be of spiritual help and healing.  "A
singular life" he lives; but singular because it is the gospel life,
and he merits the name the slums gave him, "The Christ-man."  He is
helpful, few more so, and knows power to stir us, which in the event is
the superb quality in character.  Captain Moray, in "The Seats of the
Mighty," and Henry Esmond, in "Henry Esmond," are gentlemen of military
mold, and we love them both because they make for lordly inspiration in
the soul.  Esmond must always keep his hold on men as a hero.  These
two soldiers need no one to remind us they know how to die; and know
that other, larger thing--how to live.  Esmond, over a long stretch of
life lying in our sight, walked ever as a prince.  Any national
literature might be glad for one such as he.  Our imagination takes
wings when we think of him.  Such cleanness, such lack of self, such
self-poise and firmness, such singleness of love and devotion, such
inaptitude for anything not noble, such tense heroic purposes, such
stalwart intention to make himself a man!  He is greatness, and his
story to be read as a tonic.  He recruits heroisms in the heart, and
rests us when we grow weary.  Thackeray is reported by Anthony Trollope
to have called his creation, Esmond, "a prig."  He might better have
called him a gentleman; for such he is, or narrowly lacks of being.
Indeed, did not Thackeray present another who is altogether gentleman,
Esmond would be catalogued as this ideal character; for he misses it so
little, if at all, and is by odds most magnetic of Thackeray's
creations.  And Browning's "Caponsacchi" and Hugo's "Valjean" have the
true instincts of gentlemen.  Valjean redeemed himself from worse than
galley slavery--from debauched manhood to spiritual nobility,
bewildering in holy audacity and achievement.  Were there a pantheon
for souls who have struggled up from the verge of hell to stand in the
clear light of heaven, be sure Valjean would be there.  Volumes are
requisite for his portrait, and we have only room for words!  Of
Caponsacchi, take the pope's estimate as accurate, "Thou sprang'st
forth hero."  And Pompilia conceived him rightly, for he minded her of
God.  What farther need be said?  Is not that panegyric enough for any
man?  Because he was so strong, so fearless, so pure, so gifted with
great might to love, so keen to see Pompilia was pure as a babe's
dreams, and the light on his forehead falls from the lattices
overhead--the lattices of heaven--we love him.  Had his figure been
fully drawn we should have had a gentleman.  Nor are we sure he ought
not to be so catalogued; as he is, we find no fault in him.  He minds
us of the morning star.

Two characters in literature since Don Quixote are life-size gentlemen,
and these are Colonel Newcome and King Arthur, as drawn by Thackeray
and Tennyson, men of one era and pure souls.  In these characters is
evident deliberation of intent to create gentlemen.  This article has
given no heed to biography or history, because these concern themselves
with truth as observed, and are therefore not imaginative.  What we are
considering is an ideal person, fashioned after the pattern discovered
in good lives, which happily grow more and more plentiful as years
multiply.  Besides, biography can never get at the real man; for
biography is a story of doing, while what we need is a story of soul.
In Boswell's "Johnson" or in Anthony Trollope's "Autobiography" there
is approach to what we care to know; but in the life of Jowett or
Tennyson, though both are admirable specimens of biography, what man
among us but closed those books with a sense of, not dissatisfaction,
but unsatisfaction?  What we were really hungry for was not there.
What Jowett was, which made him a part of the life-blood of English
thought and Englishmen--who found that out?  Some things never can be
told, unless the poets or prose dramatists tell them.  Poetry and
fiction do what history and biography fail to do--make us interior to a
soul's true life.

Colonel Newcome is all gentleman.  He hangs a curtain of silence over
one room in his life.  To his wife, mother of his beloved Clive, he
will make no reference.  Not bad, but frivolous and weak and querulous,
she was; but Colonel Newcome never whispers it.  What had made many
misanthropes, made him a better man.  No bitterness tainted his spirit.
Pure women put him in a mood of worship, as they ought to put us all.
He could, in conduct, if not in memory, forget hurts and wrongs, which
is one mark of a large spirit.  His was, his biographer affirms, "a
tender and a faithful heart."  In him paternity and maternity met,
which is a conjunction we have not given heed to as we ought in
thinking on the heart.  Motherhood is in the best fatherhood.  Not long
since I met a minister who, on my mentioning a black and scrawny
village, said, with lovelit face and ringing, jubilant voice, "O yes,
that is where my boy was born!"  How true hearts do remember!  And
Colonel Newcome loved his son with such sweet and wide fidelity as
makes the heart covet him for father.  All those days of separation
from his son, he thought of him "with such a constant longing
affection."  And his joy on seeing his son once more is the joy of one
getting home to heaven.  "To ask a blessing on his boy was as natural
to him as to wake with the sunrise, or to go to rest when the day is
over.  His first and last thought was always the child."  He expects
good of people, will say no ill of any, can not understand Sir Brian
Newcome's frigid reception, and is hurt by it as by a poisoned arrow
shot by the hill tribes in far India; he can not tolerate foul thought
or speech, burns hot with righteous wrath against Captain Costigan when
he sings a vile song, thundering, "Silence!"  "'We ought to be ashamed
of doing wrong.  We must forgive other people's trespasses if we hope
forgiveness of our own.'  His voice sunk low as he spoke, and he bowed
his honest head reverently."  How unostentatious his bravery, and
riches puffed him up not a trifle!  How alert to love, how open to
enjoyment, how young his heart and how pure!  What simplicity and what
grave courtesy, particularly to women!  How wide those windows of his
soul open toward heaven!  How magnanimous, how sad his face and heart,
how sensitive his nature, to any lack of love on dear Clive's part!
Though to his own heart he will not admit such lack exists, sitting
above in his cheerless room, listening to his son's merry-making, that
son glad to be left free of his father's presence,--how bravely he bore
poverty when financial ruin came, not missing wealth for himself, but
for him he loved, and how he grieved for those who had lost through
him!  He was not faultless.  Men are not often that; but his anger rose
from his heart.  His indignation was for those he loved.  We can see
him now, as if he lived among us yet.  His honest, melancholy face; his
loose clothes hanging on his loose limbs; sitting silent, with his sad
eyes; a bankrupt, giving over his pension for reimbursing those who had
lost by him; and his eagerness for wealth for love's sake, always
thinking of somebody else,--such is this gentleman who trusts in God.
And thus simple, noble, unhumiliated:

"I chanced to look up from my book toward the swarm of blackcoated
pensioners, and among them--among them--sat Thomas Newcome.  His dear
old head was bent down over his prayer-book; there was no mistaking
him.  He wore the black gown of the pensioners of the Hospital of Grey
Friars.  His Order of the Bath was on his breast.  He stood among the
poor brethren, uttering the responses to the psalm. . . .  His own wan
face flushed up when he saw me, and his hand shook in mine.  'I have
found a home, Arthur,' said he; for save this he was homeless.  As
death came toward him his mind wandered, driven as a leaf is driven by
wandering winds.  He headed columns in Hindustan; he called the name of
the one woman he had loved.  In death, as in life, his thought was for
others, for Clive, dear, dear Clive.  He said, 'Take care of him when I
'm in India;' and then, with a heartrending voice, he called out,
'Leonore, Leonore!'  She was kneeling by his side now.  The patient
voice sank into faint murmurs; only a moan now and then announced that
he was not asleep.  At the usual hour the chapel bell began to toll,
and Thomas Newcome's hands, outside the bed, feebly beat time.  And
just as the last bell struck, a peculiar sweet smile shone over his
face, and he lifted up his head a little, and quickly said, 'Adsum!'
and fell back.  It was the word we used at school when names were
called; and lo! he, whose heart was as that of a little child, had
answered to his name, and stood in the presence of his Master."

Small wonder if, in India, they called Thomas Newcome "Don Quixote."

And King Arthur is Alfred Tennyson's dream of a gentleman.  Arthur is
manhood at its prime.  He was strong, a warrior, a self-made man, since
the foolish questioned, "Is he Uther's son?"  Mystery and miracle mix
with his history, as is accurate, seeing no life grows tall without the
advent of miracle.  He is rescuer of a realm from anarchy, founder of
the Round Table--an order of knighthood, purposed to include only pure
knights--was not spectacular; for we read that others were greater in
tournament than he, but he greater than all in battle, from which we
see how great occasions called out his greatness.  He measured up to
needs.  Though often deceived, he was optimist, hoping the best from
men.  He counted life to be a chance for service.  There was a hidden
quality in him, as when he, unknown to all, went out from Camelot to
tilt with Balin and overthrew him.  His life was pure as the heart of
"the lily maid of Astolat," and demanded in man a purity as great as
that of woman.  His love was mighty, unsuspicious, tender.  He was
himself a king, born to rule, fitted to inspire.  No littleness sapped
his greatness.  He rejoiced in others' strength, prowess, victory.  His
was an eye quick to discover merit in woman or man, as in Lynette.  His
heart was tender, and a cry for help awoke him from deep sleep.  He
hated foulness as he hated hell.  He was like a sky, so high, pure,
open.  Himself makes an era, for his age clusters about him as if he
were a sun to sway a system.  Like Cordelia, in "Lear," he is a figure
in the background; yet, despite his actual slight participancy in the
"Idyls of the King," he always seems the one person of the poem.  What
is Lancelot matched with him, or pure Sir Galahad?  If knighthood
misconceived King Arthur then, men do not misconceive him now.  A great
spirit must not murmur if misconceived.  The world will cluster to him
hereafter, himself being God's hand to lift them to his Alp of
nobleness.  Arthur's life upbraids men for their sin.  His very purity
alienated Guinevere.  Goodness has tempests in its sky, and storms make
morning murk as night; and one true knight.  King Arthur, goes sick at
heart to battle with rebels in the West.  Lancelot and Guinevere are
fled; Modred has raised standard of rebellion; some knights are dead,
slain in battle or searching for the Holy Grail; some have left off
knighthood,--and King Arthur is defeated!  Nay, this can not be.  He
rides into the battle, having forgiven Guinevere "as Eternal God
forgives"--the battle where

          "Host to host
  Shocks, and the splintering spear, the hard mail hewn,
  Shield-breakings, and the clash of brands, the crash
  Of battle-axes on shatter's [shatter'd?] helms, and shrieks
  After the Christ, of those who falling down
  Look'd up for heaven, and only saw the mist."

And, the battle ended, Arthur moans, "My house hath seen my doom;" but
he has not forgotten God, nor hath God forgotten him.  God is his
destination, and he trusts him now as in the golden yesterdays:

  "I have lived my life, and that which I have done
  May He within himself make pure!"

And Arthur found, not sorrow nor defeat, but victory; for

  "Then from the dawn it seem'd there came, but faint
  As from beyond the limit of the world,
  Like the last echo born of a great cry,
  Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice
  Around a king returning from his wars."

And one of earth's gentlemen was welcomed home to heaven.


The Drama of Job

The sun monopolizes the sky.  Stars do not shine by day, not because
they have lost their luster, but because the sun owns the heavens, and
erases them as the tide erases footprints from the sands.  In similar
fashion a main truth monopolizes attention to the exclusion of
subordinate truths.  The Bible's main truth is its spiritual
significancy, containing those ethical teachings which have
revolutionized this world, and which are to be redemptive in all ages
yet to come.  The Bible, as God's Book for man's reading and
redemption, has proven so amazing as a moral force, illuminating the
mind; purifying the heart; freeing and firing the imagination; attuning
life itself to melody; peopling history with new ideas; seeding
continents with Magna Chartas of personal and political liberties;
making for religious toleration; creating a new ideal of manhood and
womanhood; presenting, in brief biographical sketches, perfect pictures
of such men as the world has seen too few of; and portraying Christ,
whose face once seen can never be forgotten, but casts all other faces
and figures into shadow, leaving Him solitary, significant,
sublime,--this is the Bible.  So men have conceived the Scriptures as a
magazine of moral might; and the conception has not been amiss.  This
is the Bible's chief merit and superior function, and this glory has
blinded us to lesser glories, which, had they existed in any other
literature, would have stung men to surprise, admiration, and delight.
"The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" is a pleasure simply as an expression of
sensuous delight set to music.  The poem is a bit of careless laughter,
ringing glad and free as if it were a child's, and passing suddenly to
a child's tears and sobbing.  This solitary virtue has breathed into
the Rubaiyat life.  The Bible is a series of books bound in a single
volume, because all relate to a single theme: history, biography,
letters, proverbial philosophy, pure idyls, lofty eloquence, elegiac
poetry, ethics, legal codes, memorabilia, commentaries on campaigns
more influential on the world's destiny than Caesar's, epic poetry,
lyrics, and a sublime drama.  The Bible is not a book, but a library;
not a literary effort, but a literature.  It sums up the literature of
the Hebrew race, aside from which that race produced nothing literary
worthy of perpetuation.  One lofty theme stung them to genius, their
mission and literature converging in Christ and there ending.  The
Bible as literature marks the book as unique as a literary fact as it
is as a religious fact; in either, standing solitary.  That lovers of
literature have passed these surprising literary merits by with
comparative inattention is attributable, doubtless, to the
over-shadowing moral majesty of the volume.  The larger obscured the
lesser glory.  But, after all, can we feel other than shame in
recalling how our college curricula contain the masterpieces of Greek,
Latin, English, and German literature, and find no niche for the Bible,
superior to all in moral elevation and literary charm and inspiration?
"Ruth" is easily the superior of "Paul and Virginia" or "Vicar of
Wakefield."  "Lamentations" is as noble an elegy as sorrow has set to
words; the Gospels are not surpassed by Boswell's "Johnson" in power of
recreating the subject of the biography; the Psalms sing themselves
without aid of harp or organ; "The Acts" is a history taking rank with
Thucydides; and Job is the sublimest drama ever penned.  If these
encomiums are high, they must not be deemed extravagant, rather the
necessary eulogy of truth.

What are the sublimest poems of universal literature?  Let this stand
as a tentative reply: Aeschylus's "Prometheus Bound," Dante's "Divine
Comedy," Shakespeare's "Hamlet," Milton's "Paradise Lost," and Job,
author unknown.  To rank as a sublime production, theme and treatment
must both be sublime, and the poem must be of dignified length.
Prometheus has a Titan for subject; has magnanimity for occasion; has
suffering, on account of his philanthropy, as tragic element; and the
barren crags of Caucasus as theater; and the style is the loftiest of
Aeschylus, sublimest of Greek dramatists.  Perhaps "Oedipus Coloneus"
is nearest approach among Greek tragedies to the elevation of
"Prometheus Bound," and Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound" has much of the
Greek sublimity and more than the Greek frigidity.  Dante is nearest
neighbor to Aeschylus, though fifteen hundred years removed, and the
"Divine Comedy" has all elements of sublimity.  The time is eternal.
The havoc of sin, the might of Christ, the freedom of the human spirit,
the righteousness of God, the fate of souls, are materials out of which
sublimer cathedral should be built than ever Gothic Christians wrought
in poetry of stone.  "Hamlet" is the sublimity of a soul fighting,
single-handed, with innumerable foes, and dying--slain, but undefeated.
"Paradise Lost" might easily be mistaken for the deep organ music of a
stormy ocean, so matchless and sublime the melody.  In theme, epic; in
treatment, epic; in termination, tragic,--which melts into holy hope
and radiant promise as a night of storm and fearful darkness melts into
the light and glory of the dawn and sunrise when the sky is fair.  I
can hear and see this blind old Puritan, chanting the drama of a lost
cause as a David lamenting for his Absalom dead.  Milton is sublime in
history, misfortune, range of ideas, warrior strength, and prowess to
fight and die undaunted.  Not even his darkness makes him sob more than
a moment.  A rebellion in heaven, a war in consequence; the flaming
legions of the skies led by Christ, God's Son; a conflict, whose
clangor fills the vaulted skies in heaven with reverberating thunders,
ending in defeat for evil which makes all Waterloos insignificant; the
fall of Satanic legions from the thrones which once were theirs, when,
with dolorous cry, they stumbled into hell; the counterplot of Lucifer;
the voyage across the wastes "of chaos and old night;" the horrid birth
of Sin; the apocalypse of Sin and Death in Eden; and the Promise, whose
pierced hand, held out, saved from utter ruin those who,

  "Hand in hand with wandering steps and slow,
  Through Eden took their solitary way."

Musician, instrument, and oratorio,--all sublime.  "Last named, though
first written, is the drama of Job, in which all things conspire to
lift the argument into sublimity.  Are seas in tempests sublime?  What
are they, matched with Job's stormy soul?  Are thunders reverberating
among mountains sublime?  What are they when God's voice makes
interrogatory?  But above all, God walks into the drama as his right is
to walk into human life; and God's appearance, whether at Sinai or
Calvary, or in the weary watches of some heart's night of pain, makes
mountain and hour and heart sublime.

Thomas Carlyle once, reading at prayers in a friend's house from the
Book of Job, became oblivious to surroundings, and read on and on, till
one by one the listeners arose and slipped out in silence, leaving the
rapt reader alone, he holding on his solitary way until the last
strophe fell from the reader's lips; nor can we wonder at him, for such
must be the disposition of every thoughtful peruser of Job.  As we will
not care to lay Hamlet down till Fortinbras is taking Hamlet, with
regal honors, from the scene, so we cling to Job till we see light
break through the clouds, and the storm vanish, and the thunder cease.

Job is a prince, old, rich, fortunate, benevolent, and good.  Life has
dealt kindly with him, and looking at his face you would not, from his
wrinkles, guess his years.  The great honor him; the good trust him;
the poor, in his bounty find plenty; no blessing has failed him, so
that his name is a synonym of good fortune,--such a man is chief person
of this drama, written by some unknown genius.  Singular, is it not,
that this voice, from an antiquity remoter than literature can
duplicate, should be anonymous?  Not all commodities have the firm's
name upon them.  Some of the world's noblest thoughts are entailed on
the generations, they not knowing whence they sprang.  He who speaks a
great word is not always conscious it is great.  We are often hidden
from ourselves.  But our joy is, some nameless poet has made Job chief
actor in the drama of a good man's life.  "The steps of a good man are
ordered of the Lord," the Scriptures say, and such a man was Job; and
the theme of this drama is, how shall a good man behave under
circumstances ruinously perverse, and what shall be his fate?  The
theme has rare attraction, and appeals to us as a home message, dear to
our heart as a fond word left us by a departing friend.

The drama has prologue, dialogue, and epilogue.  The actors are Job's
friends, Job's self, Satan, and God.

Temporarily, as an object lesson to children in the moral kindergarten,
God gave prosperity under the Mosaic code as proof of piety.  This
_régime_ was a brief temporality, God not dealing in giving visible
rewards to goodness, else righteousness would become a matter of
merchandise, being quotable in Dun's.  When we reason of righteousness,
that the good are blest seems a necessary truth; yet they do not appear
so.  They are afflicted as others, "the rain falls on the just and the
unjust;" nay, more, the wicked even seem favored; "he is not in trouble
as other men;" prosperity smiles on him, like a woman on her favored
lover; and the spirit cries out involuntarily, as if thrust through by
an angry sword, "How can these things be?"  And this bitter cry, wrung
from the suffering good man, is theme for the drama of Job; and in this
stands solitary as it stands sublime.

A first quality of greatness in a literary production is, that it deals
with some universal truth.  "How can good men suffer if God be good?"
How pressingly important and importunate this question is!  "Does
goodness pay?" is the commercial putting of the question.  Such being
the meaning of Job, how the poem thrusts home, and how modern and
personal is it become!  When conceived as the drama of a good man's
life, every phase of the discussion becomes apparently just.  Nothing
is omitted and nothing is out of place.

Job sits in the sunshine of prosperity.  Not a cloud drifts across his
sky, when, without word of warning, a night of storm crushes along his
world, destroys herds and servants, reduces his habitations to ruins,
slays his children, leaves himself in poverty, a mourner at the funeral
of all he loved.  Then his world begins to wonder at him; then distrust
him, as if he were evil; his glory is eclipsed, as it would seem,
forever; and, as if not content at the havoc of the man's hopes and
prosperity and joy, misfortune follows him with disease; grievous
plagues seize him, making days and nights one sleepless pain; and his
wife, who should have been his stay and help, as most women are,
became, instead of a solace and blessing, querulous, crying, like a
virago, shrilly, "Curse God, and die!"  Job opens with tragedy; Lear,
and Julius Caesar, and Othello, and Macbeth, and Hamlet, close with
tragedy.  Job's ruin is swift and immediate.  He has had no time to
prepare him for the shock.  He was listening for laughter, and he hears
a sob.  You can fairly hear the ruin, crashing like falling towers
about this Prince of Uz; and you must hear, it you are not stone-deaf,
the pant of the bleeding runner, who half runs, half falls into his
master's presence, gasping, "Job, Prince Job, my master--ruin! ruin!
ruin!  Thy--herds--and thy servants--ruin--alas!  Thy herds are
taken--and thy servants slain--and--I--only--I--am--left;" and ere his
story is panted forth, another comes, weary with the race, and gasps,
"Thy flocks--are slain--with fire--from heaven--and thy servants--with
them--and I--alone--am--am--" when another breathless runner breaks
that story off, crying, "Thy sons--and daughters--" and Job turns his
pale face, and fairly shrieks, "My sons and daughters--what?  Say on!"
"Thy sons and daughters were feasting--and--the storm swept
through--the--sky, and crushed the house--and slew--thy
daughters--and--thy--sons--and I, a servant, I only, am
escaped--alone--to tell thee;" and Job wept aloud, and his grief
possesses him, as a storm the sea--and was very pitiful--and he fell on
his face, and worshiped!  The apocalypse of this catastrophe is genius
of the most splendid order.  Tragedy has come!  But Job rises above
tragedy, for he worshiped.

In his "Talks on the Study of Literature," Arlo Bates, in discussing
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg oration, instancing this sentence, "We
here highly resolve that those dead shall not have died in vain," says,
"The phrase is one of the most superb in American literature, and what
makes it so is the word 'highly,' the adverb being the last of which an
ordinary mind would have thought in this connection, and yet, once
spoken, it is the inevitable and superb word."  To all this I agree
with eagerness; but submit that, in this phrase from Job, "I only am
escaped _alone_ to tell thee," the word "alone" is as magical and
wonderful; and I think the author of this drama may well be claimed as
poet laureate of that far-off, dateless time.

And the good man's goodness availed him nothing?  What are we to think
of Job now?  Either a good man is afflicted, and perhaps of God, or Job
has been a cunning fraud, his life one long hypocrisy, his age a gray
deception.  Which?  Here lies the strategic quality in the drama.  The
three friends are firmly persuaded that Job is unrighteous and his sin
has found him out.  His dissimulation, though it has deceived man, has
not deceived God.  Such their pitiless reasoning; and the more blind
they are, the more they argue, as is usual; for in argument, men
convince themselves, though they make no other converts.  In Job's
calamity, all winds blow against him, as with one rowing shoreward on
the sea, when tides draw out toward the deep and winds blow a gale off
shore out to the night; and they blow against Job, because he is not
what he once was.  His life, once comedy, glad or wild with laughter
according to the day, is now tragedy, with white face and bleeding
wounds, and voice a moan, like autumn winds.  Alas! great prince, thy
tragedy is come!  Tragedy; but God did not commission it.  This drama
does not misrepresent God, as many a poem and many a sufferer do.
Satan--this drama says--Satan sent this ruin.  God has not seared this
man's flesh with the white heats of lightning, nor brought him into
penury nor suspicion, nor made his heart widowed.  God is dispenser of
good, not evil; for while an argument is not to be enforced against
punitive justice, seeing justice is a necessity of goodness, yet we are
to affirm that the notion of God slaying Job's children (or anybody's
children, so far as that runs), or blotting out his prosperity, is
obnoxious to reason and to heart.  This drama perpetrates no such
blunder.  Satan sent these disasters; for with him is evil purpose.
The very nobility of Job stings him to enmity and madness; for iniquity
is his delight, and ruin his vocation and pleasure.  A power without
man working evil is consonant with history and experience, and to
suppose this power a person rather than an influence is as rational as
to suppose God not a barren principle, but a Person, fertile in love
and might and righteousness.  In the drama of Job, God is not smirched.
He is not Hurter, but Helper.  In "Prometheus Bound," Zeus is tyrant;
in Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound," Zeus is tyrant run mad.  In Job, God
is majesty enthroned; thoughtful, interested, loving; permitting, not
administering evil; hearing and heeding a bewildered man's cry, and
coming to his rescue, like as some gracious emancipator comes, to break
down prison doors and set wronged prisoners free.  In Job, God is not
aspersed, a thing so easy to do in literature and so often done.  Here
is no dubious biography, where God is raining disaster instead of
mercies.  To misrepresent God seems to me a high crime and
misdemeanor--nay, _the_ high crime and misdemeanor; because on the
righteousness of God hangs the righteousness of the moral system
embracing all souls everywhere, and to misconceive or misinterpret God,
sins against the highest interests of the world, since life never rises
higher than the divinity it conceives and worships.  The permissive
element in Divine administration is here clearly distinguished.
Complex the system is, and not sum-totally intelligible as yet, though
we may, and do, get hints of vision, as one catches through the thick
ranks of forest-trees occasional glimpses of sky-line, where room is
made by a gash in the ranks of woods, and the open looks in like some
one standing outside a window with face toward us.

This drama of goodness gives words and form to our perplexity.  How can
a good life have no visible favors?  How are we to explain prosperity
coming to a man besotted with every vice and repugnant to our souls,
while beside him, with heart aromatic of good as spice-groves with
their odors, with hands clean from iniquity as those of a little child,
with eyes calm and watching for the advent of God and an opportunity to
help men,--and calamities bark at his door, like famine-crazed,
ravenous wolves at the shepherd's hut; and pestilence bears his babes
from his bosom to the grave; and calumny smirches his reputation; and
his business ventures are shipwrecked in sight of the harbor; and his
wife lies on a bed of pain, terrible as an inquisitor's rack; penury
frays his garments, and steals his home and goods, and snatches even
the crust from his table,--and God has forgotten goodness?  Here is no
parable, but a picture our eyes have seen as we have stumbled from a
garret, blinded by our tears as if some wild rain dashed in our faces.

God does not care; more, God's lightnings sear the eyeballs of virtue,
tall and fair as angelhood,--this is our agonized estimate betimes, and
we are troubled lest, unwittingly and unwillingly, we malign God.  To
an explanation of this fiery tangle of adversity the drama of Job sets
itself.  How prodigious the task!

But the poem breathes perfume in our faces as we approach until we
think we neighbor with honeysuckle blooms.  What hinders to catch the
fragrance for a moment ere we enter this room of suffering lying a step
beyond?  "Job" has beauty.  "Job" has bewildering beauty.  This is no
hasty word, rather deliberate and sincere.  An anthology from Job would
be ample material for an article.  All through the poem, thoughts flash
into beauty as dewdrops on morning flowers flash into amethyst, and
ruby, and diamond, and all manner of precious stones.  In reading it,
imagination is always on wing, like humming-birds above the flowers.
You may find similes that haunt you like the sound of falling water,
and breathe the breath of surest poetry in your face.

  "Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark:
  Let it look for light, but have none;
  Neither let it behold the eyelids of the morning."

  "There the wicked cease from troubling,
      And the weary are at rest,"--

a beautiful, thought, which Tennyson has put bodily into his "Queen of
the May," where, as here, the words sob like a child sobbing itself to
sleep when its mother is dead and missed.

"There the prisoners are at ease together;
  They hear not the voice of the taskmaster."

And to prisoners of hope, how healing such words are, and full of balm!
But to us who have known not the blinding grief of prisoners, the
poetry of the thought is "rainy sweet."

  "My roarings are poured out like water."

  "Men which are crushed before the moth!"

  "For man is born unto trouble
  As the sparks to fly upward."

  "The counsel of the froward is carried headlong:
  They meet with darkness in the daytime,
  And grope at noonday as in the night."

  "For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field,
  And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee;
  And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace."

Can one recall a description of peace more searching and ample, not to
say fraught with more tender suggestion?

  "My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook,
  As the channel of brooks that pass away."

For my part, I know no cry that paints pain with surer pathos than a
passage now to be quoted.

I see and hear the lonely sufferer, and watch beside his bed as if to
subdue his pain.

  "Is there not warfare to man upon the earth?
  Are not his days like the days of a hireling?
  As a servant that earnestly desireth the shadow,
  And as a hireling that looketh for his wages?
  So am I made to possess months of vanity,
  And wearisome nights are appointed to me.
  When I lie down, I say,
  When shall I arise?  But the night is long;
  And I am full of tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day.
  My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle,
  And are spent without hope."

  "I would not live alway:
  Let me alone; for my days are vanity."

In a passage now to be adduced is sublimity passing the sublimity of
Milton the sublime:

  "God, which removeth the mountains, and they know it not
  When he overturneth them in his anger;
  Which shaketh the earth out of her place,
  And the pillars thereof tremble;
  Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not;
  And sealeth up the stars;
  Which alone stretcheth out the heavens,
  And treadeth upon the waves of the sea;
  Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and the Pleiades,
  And the chambers of the South;
  Which doeth great things, past finding out;
  Yea, marvelous things without number:
  He breaketh me with a tempest."

Before words like these one may well stand dumb, with the finger of
silence on the lips.  Hear Job wail:

  "Now my days are swifter than a post:
  They are passed away as the swift ships,
  As the eagle that swoopeth on the prey,
  My soul is weary of my life."

  "Thou shalt forget thy misery:
  Thou shalt remember it as waters that are passed away."

  "He poureth contempt upon princes,
  And looseth the belt of the strong;
  He discovereth deep things out of darkness,
  And bringeth out to light the shadow of death."

This "bringeth out to light the shadow of death" appears to me as bold
and transfiguring a figure as is to be found in literature.  It is
majesty itself.

  "They grope in the dark without light,
  And he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man."

  "Wilt thou harass a driven leaf,
  And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?"

  "I am like a garment that is moth-eaten."

  "He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down;
  He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not."

  "He breaketh me with breach upon breach;
  He runneth upon me like a giant."

  "Aforetime I was as a tabret."

  "His strength shall be hunger-bitten,
  And calamity shall be ready at his side."

  "My purposes are broken off."

  "His remembrance shall perish from the earth,
  And he shall have no name in the street."

  "Ye break me in pieces with words."

How vigorously descriptive this is of what many a man has endured from
hammering speech of violent men!

  "They waited for me as for the rain."

  "He overturneth the mountains by the roots."

  "Out of the north cometh golden splendor."

  "God hath upon him terrible majesty."

  "Deck thyself now with excellency and dignity;
  And array thyself with honor and majesty."

Has not this putting all the strength and beauty of a Shakespearean
couplet?  Shakespeare uses such figures as this often, and in them he
is his greater self.  His is the splendor of imagination and clearness
of vision of a prince of poets.  Time hastes.  This task is decoying.
To cease is a hardship; for "Job" lends itself with such wealth to
these nobler passages as to urge on our quest.  Whole chapters are
poems, rich as if carven on blocks of solid gold.  They blaze with
splendor.  But the drama bears on its way like an invading army, and
will not wait.

Disaster has overtaken a good man with its utter demolition; but, as
has been shown, the prologue of the drama settles the paternity of the
disaster.  Evils come, but not necessarily from God.  In a complex
moral system, God has found it good to administer by general rather
than by special laws, and their operation does not work exact justice
to either wickedness or purity.  God's administration being an eternal
one, he dares take scope to bring rewards to goodness and to evil.  God
does not need to haste.  He has eternity, and dares therefore be
pacific and not perturbed.  Haste savors of lack in time.  God must not
haste.  That he could pour swift retribution on the head of offending
men, we dare not doubt.  That he does not is patent.  Another scene is
plainly the purpose of God.  He has a scene behind a scene.  If this
world were an end, there is rank and unforgivable injustice done.  Men
have not been dealt fairly with, and may, with legitimacy, make
acrimonious reply; but we are clearly taught that this world is a stage
for the display of character, not for its reward, and the next scene
will be for the reward of character, and not for its display.  God will
recompense, but we are not told God does recompense.  Such is the lofty
argument of the drama, and may be named as major theme.

Prince Job, smitten from his throne of prosperity and influence into a
pit of ignominy, in his abasement cries, "Wherefore do the wicked live,
become old, yea, are mighty in power?"  And in his conscious integrity
he might well shrill a cry to his own breaking heart.  Job is sure
(some things calamity reveals) integrity is not awarded according to
its character and worth, while his three friends see in Job's downfall
a disclosure of his wickedness.  They urge him to repent.  They think
there can be no arguing against doom.  God has smitten him for his
sins,--this they all agree, and say no other thing.  Poor Job!  His
friends consider his hypocrisy proven, and his wife has become
foreigner to him in his day of disaster; disease climaxes his
calamities, and he half says, half moans: "When I lie down, I say, When
shall I arise and the night be gone?  and I am full of turnings to and
fro until the dawning of the day.  My days are swifter than a weaver's
shuttle, and are spent without hope.  I will speak in the anguish of my
spirit.  I will confess the bitterness of my soul."  Surely his
affliction breaks like some desperate sea, and he is as a sailor hurled
on jagged rocks, bleeding, half-drowned, shivering cold, and again the
storm-waves leap like mad tigers at his throat, and the sailor scarce
knows well how to beat one stroke more against the sea.  This is Job.
He is bewildered.  His first cry is as of one whose reason staggers.
His face, his voice, his words--all are unnatural.  To hear, I would
not know nor think this was Prince Job.  Strangely, sadly, terribly
changed he is when he cries: "Let the day perish wherein I was born.
Let that day be darkness.  Let darkness and the shadow of death stain
it.  Let the blackness of the day terrify it.  As for that night, let
darkness seize upon it.  Let it not be joined unto the days of the
year.  Let it not come into the number of the months.  Lo, let that
night be solitary; let no joyful voice come therein.  Let the stars of
the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none;
neither let it see the dawning of the day."  "Wherefore is light given
to him that is in misery; and life unto the bitter in soul, which long
for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid
treasures; which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find
the grave?  For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me.  I
was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble
came."  Alas, Prince Job, your voice is a-sob with tears; and we had
not known it was he!  But did grief ever tell its beads with deeper
music?  Has not this bankrupt prince given sorrow words forever?  His
pain and grief are unutterable in sadness, yet is he not alone.
Multitudes have taken up his lament.  There is no pathos deeper than
his, "digging for death more than for hid treasures."  I fear Job's
grief unmans him, and he hath gone mad with Lear.  Pray, think you he
is not as passionate, gray Lear, mad as the stormy night?  It seems so,
but is not so.  He is baffled.  He is a good man, but blinded for a
moment, as a lightning-flash stupifies the sight.  His cry is the cry
wrung from the white lips of pain through the ages.  We can not blame
him, but only be pitiful to him.  His disasters are so varied and so
terrible; but we feel sure of him, and if he have lost footing and
sight, 't will not be for long.

But there he sits in ashes, fit to make marble weep; and his three
friends--stately, aged, gray, friends of many years--come to comfort
him; for which service he has need, sore need.  There are times when a
heart is hungry for tenderness, when a word of love would be a gift of
God, when a touch of some tender hand would be a consolation wide as
heaven; and such a word and hand had melted Job to tears, and his tears
would have done him good, as prayer does.  Sometimes tears clear the
throat and heart of sobs that choke.  But these men were inquisitors
rather than comforters; they were philosophers, when they ought to have
been men.  They sat in silence seven days, but should have maintained
their quiet.  These men lacked imagination, which is a fatal omission
from character; for they who came to comfort, became polemic, pitiless,
belligerent, and their voices sound metallic.  If a child had crept
toward the afflicted prince, and had reached out a pitiful hand, and,
with childish treble, had said, "Poor Job; poor Job!" that word had
salved his wounds, and helped him through his morass of pain and fear
and doubt.  But instead, his friend Eliphaz hectors his pain by saying,
in stately fashion, "Thy words have upholden him that was failing, and
thou hast strengthened the feeble knees; but now it has come upon thee,
and thou faintest."  Shame, Eliphaz!  What a bungler!  A child had
known better.  What ails you?  Do you not know this man needs
tenderness, and not lectures and disquisitions in moralities?  Can you
not see his heart is breaking, and his eyes turn to you as if he were
watching for the coming of some succor infinite?  Have you no balm with
fragrance?  But he hears us not, or heeds us not, but measures out his
periods as if he were orator at some state occasion: "Behold, happy is
the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening
of the Almighty.  Lo, this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and
know thou it for thy good."  Pray, is this friend mad, or foe, or fool,
that he knows no better than to pour contempt on distress?  Will not a
foe, even, have pity on an enemy wounded and bleeding and prostrate in
the dust?  But this man thinks he has a mission to teach an overthrown
prince a lesson, harsh, cold, unrelenting, lacking sentiment.  Job's
pitiful affliction is enough to lift such a man into pity.  No, no; he
urges his lesson, like some dull schoolmaster who will instruct his
pupil while he knows him dying.

Job's broken voice calls, "O that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and
my calamity laid in the balances together.  Is my strength the strength
of stones, or is my flesh brass?  I will speak in the anguish of my
spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.  So that my soul
chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.  I loathe it; I
would not live alway; for my days are vanity.  To him that is
afflicted, pity should be shewn from his friend."  And to this pitiful
appeal for considerate judgment, and for a word or look of compassion,
another friend finds answer, with cruelty like the touch of winter on
an ill-clad child: "If thou wouldst seek unto God betimes, and make thy
supplication to the Almighty; if thou wert pure and upright; surely now
he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness
prosperous."  What winter wind is bitter and biting as these words?

Job's friends now are his worst calamities.  They are thrusting into
his naked and diseased flesh a cruel spear, and into his heart a sword.
Are these men clad in steel that they are so impervious to pity?  And
yet, if we pause to consider, this dramatist has not spoken rashly nor
unnaturally; for we can recall that often, often, when the window-panes
of a life are smoky with the breath of suffering, just such criticisms
as these are offered voluminously.  We are hard folks.  There seems a
strain of cruelty in our blood which sometimes gloats over suffering as
at a carnival.  Were these men vultures, that wait to watch with joy a
wounded soldier die?  Of what is our nature builded, that we are cruel
as the unreasoning beasts?  These harsh friends are voices from our own
pitiless hearts, and ought to make us afraid.

There are three friends in number, but there is one voice and two
echoes,--three men debating with one moaning sufferer, and each saying
the same thing.  Had only one of them been present, all the three said
had been spoken.  These men were poor in ideas; for amongst the three
is only one thought, as if they had one sword among them, which betimes
each one brandishes.  Besides, they have a polemic's pride; they are
eager to make out a case, and thirst to prove poor Job a sinner.  One
of them (it might as well be any other of them) runs on: "The
hypocrite's hope shall perish: whose hope shall be cut off, and whose
trust shall be a spider's web.  Behold, God will not cast away a
perfect man; but the dwelling-place of the wicked shall come to
naught."  This is savage cruelty, pouring nitric-acid into
sword-gashes.  Nothing moves your plain man; for he delights in making
people wince.  He is not angry, but natural, and his naturalness is
something worse than the choleric man's anger.  He is saying: "Ah, Job,
see now--comfort, comfort?  Why the house of the wicked shall come to
naught."  And has not Job's house been splintered by the tempest?  And
this friend of many years is saying, "Hypocrite!"  But this word
recalls Job to himself.  He rises above his pain, scarcely feeling the
twinges.  His thought is drawn away from his physical calamity, and
that is a good anodyne for torture.  His character is attacked, and he
must run to its succor as he would to the rescue of wife or child.  Now
Job ceases sobbing, and becomes attorney for himself.  He pleads his
cause with full knowledge of his own heart.  He therefore speaks _ex
cathedra_ so far.  Job is on the defensive--not against God, but
against men.  His "tongue is as the pen of a ready writer."  Job is
himself again.  His perturbation is passed as a cloud swims across the

Job is the misjudged man, than which few things are harder to bear.
That enemies misconstrue your motives and misjudge your conduct is to
be expected, though even then the spirit is lacerated; but when friends
misjudge us, our pain seems more than we can bear.  This was Job's
case.  His familiar friends become His accusers, rasping such words,
"How much more abominable and filthy is man which drinketh iniquity
like water!" and Job's cry crosses the centuries and reaches our ears
this day, "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for
the hand of God hath touched me!"  Old Lear's cry, "Stay a little,
Cordelia," is no more pitiful than this strong man reaching for a hand
and finding none, and pleading for sympathy, and pleading in vain.

I see him sitting, with his gray beard blowing about him like a puff of
fog; I hear him when his pitiful voice intones its grief as if it were
a chant; I see the pleading in his eyes, and it fills my breast with
heart-break.  You who love great delineations of passion, what think
you of our dramatist's vision of Job?  You who count King Lear among
the demigods of creative art, what think you of this Lear's older
brother?  His nature is so deep we can not fling plummet to its bottom.
Lear was weak and wrong; but Job, with all his grief upon him, like a
cloud upon a mountain's crest--Job has violated no propriety of man or
God, so far as we have seen, and his cry fills the desert on whose
verge he sits, and clamors like the winds on stormy, winter nights.

Job, misjudged, has the mercy of conscious integrity.  Himself rises to
his own vindication, a course just and compatible with sincerity and
modesty.  You will misjudge Job if you think him egotist.  He is rather
one who knows himself, and feels sure of his purity in motive; has
self-respect therefore--a hard thing for a soul to have, and the
possession of which is a benediction.  To know we meant well, to be
able to justify us to ourselves, is next in grace to being justified of
God; for next to Him, self is the most exacting master and judge.  He
feels misjudged, knows these men have misinterpreted him, being
deceived by his calamities, and he therefore is thrown on the
defensive, and becomes his own attorney, pleading for his life.  "Pray
you, my friends, do not misjudge me," is his tearful plea, while they
press their cruel conclusions as a phalanx of spears against his naked
breast.  This conception will clear Job of the blame of being
self-righteous.  I do not find that in his utterances; but do find
sturdy self-respect, and assertion of pure motive and pure action; for
his argument proceeds thus: "I know my heart; I know all my purposes; I
meant right, and tried to do right.  You think me hypocrite.  I pray
you rectify your judgment, since neither in intent nor yet in execution
have I been other than I seemed, and who can bring accusations against
my doings?  God breaketh me with a tempest, yet will I cry to him, Do
not condemn me: show me wherefore thou contendest with me.  I call on
God to vindicate me, who knoweth my life to the full.  Will God break a
leaf, driven to and fro by the wind?  Though to you, my friends, I seem
smitten of God, your logic is wrong.  I am not vile.  O that I knew
where I might find Him!  I would order my cause before him, seeing he
knows the way that I take."  Job is himself confounded by his calamity,
so that he does not see clearly; finding no reason why God should
afflict him, he being as he is and as he has been, just in purpose; for
Job had yet to learn that lesson he has taught us all; namely, that not
God, but Satan, sent his disaster.  He thought God was sowing ruin, as
the rest thought; whereas God was letting Satan work his evil way,
while God was to vindicate his servant by an apocalypse of himself.
Job, though bewildered as to the meaning of his troubles, asserts his
innocency; and as he presents his case, his sky clears, and his voice
strengthens, and his argument rises in its eloquence, sonorous as the
sea: "Know now that God hath overthrown me.  He hath fenced my way,
that I can not pass.  He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the
crown from my head.  His troops come together, and raise up their way
against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.  My kinsfolk have
failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.  They that dwell in
mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in
their sight.  I called my servant, and he gave me no answer.  My breath
is strange to my wife, though I entreated for my children's sake of
mine own body.  Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they
spake against me.  All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I
loved are turned against me.  My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my
flesh.  Have pity upon me!  Why do ye persecute me as God?  Have pity
upon me!"  If in literature there is a more passionate passage to
incarnate in words a life wholly bereft and utterly alone, I know not
of it.  Oedipus Coloneus had Antigone, and King Lear had the king's
fool and loyal Kent, and Prometheus had visitors betimes, who brought
him balm of sympathy; but Job's servants will not obey him, and little
children make sport of him, and his wife turns away from him, and will
not hear his sobbing words, nor hear him as he calls the names of their
children whom he loved.  Tragic Job!  Not Samson, blind and jeered at
by the Philistine populace in Dagon's temple, is sadder to look upon
than Job, Prince of Uz, in the solitude of his bereavement.  This old
dramatist, as I take it, had himself known some unutterable grief, and
out of the wealth of his melancholy recollections has poured tears like
rain.  He has no master in pathos.

This lament of Job is one aspect, and but one; for as he rises toward
God, his calamities seem slipping away from him as night's shadows from
the hills at dawn.  God knows his case, and Job, conscious of his
integrity, looks God in the face, and his voice lifts into triumph,
passing out of complaint and bemoaning into sublime utterances, which
constitute the sublimest oration man ever pronounced, and is contained
in those parts of the poem reaching from chapter xxvi to chapter xxxi,
inclusive.  I have read this oration, recalling the occasion which
produced it, and noted the movement of this aged orator's spirit, and
have compared it with Marc Antony's funeral oration over Caesar, given,
by common consent, the chiefest place among orations in the English
tongue.  For that noble utterance my admiration is intense and glowing.
I answer to it as waters to the touch of violent winds; and in
conclusion, from comparing the orator Marc Antony with the orator Job
of Uz, I am compelled to confess that I love not Antony the less, but
Job the more.  Marc Antony's oration was diplomatic, tragic, masterful,
pathetic; but Job's oration is spent in the realm of the pathetic and
sublime.  The theme is the appeal to God.  He has turned from man and
toward God.  His thought swings in circles majestic as the circuits of
the stars.  He fronts himself toward the Eternal as if to certify, "To
God I make my plea."  His harshness is kinder than the kindness of man.
Job's orbit includes life.  He runs out to God, but he runs to God.
Himself is point of departure on this long journey.  This oration is an
apology, a plea of a great soul, pleading for what is above life.  The
words have pathos, but they lift to sublime heights.  Job sweeps on
like a rising tide.  His false comforters sit silent, perplexed, but
silenced.  His argument rises as a wind, which first blows lightly as a
child's breath on the cheek, then lifts and sways the branches of the
trees, then trumpets like a battle troop, then roars like storm-waves
beating on the rocks, until we hear naught but Job.  What begins an
apology, ends a paean.  At first, he spoke as, "By your leave, sirs."
Later, he seizes the occasion; masses his lifetime of experience and
thought and faith and attempted service; deploys his argument to show
how God's wisdom fills the soul's sky, as if all stars had coalesced to
frame a regal sun; makes his argument certify his conscious integrity
in motive and conduct, until he thunders like a tempest: "My desire is
that the Almighty would answer me.  I would declare unto him the number
of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him,"--and on a sudden
his trumpet tones sink into softness, and his dilated frame stoops like
a broken wall, and he murmurs, "The words of Job--are ended."  Yet so
potent his self-defense, that his three comforters sit silent as the
hushed night.  Their argument is broken and their lips are dry.  The
words of the comforters, like the words of Job, are ended.

Elihu, a youth, has been listening.  Age has had its hour and argument,
and age is silenced, when, like the rush of a steed whose master is
smitten from the saddle, this impetuous youth speaks.  At this point,
genius is evidenced by this unknown dramatist.  A young man speaks, but
his are a young man's words, hurried, fitful, tinctured with
impertinence, headlong in statement and method; for he is youth, not
experienced, not deliberate, and easily influenced by the aged
argument, and taking strong ground, and is infallible in his own eyes;
and in him are visible the swagger and audacity of a boy.  He makes no
contribution to the argument.  His is a repetitional statement, though
himself does not know it.  He thinks he is original.  How delightful
the audacity of his opening: "If thou canst answer me, set thy words in
order before me.  Stand up.  Behold, I am according to thy wish in
God's stead."  Clearly this is a young man speaking.  A novice he, yet
with all the assurance of a man whose years have run more than
fourscore.  He is bursting with speech and impudence, not perceiving
that to answer where old men have failed is a valorous task, to say the
least; and to attempt answer to Job, who has unhorsed every opponent in
the lists, is a strong man's work; but beyond this, Elihu undertakes to
answer for God.  He will be in God's stead.  See in this a young man's
lack of reverence.  What the old men hesitated to attempt, knowing the
work lay beyond their united powers, this youth flings into as he would
into a swelling stream, swollen by sudden rains among the uplands.  His
ears have been keen.  Nothing has escaped him.  All the words of
everybody he has in mind, his memory being perfect, since he is young
and no faculty impaired, and as the debate has proceeded and he has
seen old men overborne by the old man Job, his impetuous youth has seen
how he could answer.  This is natural, as any one conversant with
himself (not to go further in investigation) must know.  We itch to
reply, thinking we see the vulnerable joint in the harness.  Job has
spoken last, and silenced his adversaries, and Elihu recalls
practically but one thought of Job's reply; namely, that he was not
unrighteous in intent, and gets, as most of us do, but a part of the
afflicted man's meaning, and concludes that Job is glaringly
self-righteous, missing the true flavor of Job's answer; for what Job
was, was self-respecting.  And so Elihu gives Job a piece of his mind;
takes up the thread of argument where the old men had broken it, and
drives on, with many words and few ideas, to prove Job is wrong and
bad, and that God has simply meted out justice, no more.  Elihu's words
fairly trample on each other's heels, and though only giving a weakened
statement of what had been said before, like a strong voice weakened by
age, he thinks his is a sledgehammer argument, illuminative,
convincing, unanswerable; yet because he thinks he speaks in God's
behalf and in God's stead, he rises into eloquence withal, though his
words are pitiless; for himself knows not suffering, nor can he compass
Job's calamity.  Elihu mistakes the sight of his eyes for the truths of
God, a blunder of not infrequent recurrence.  He is not all wrong, nor
is he all wrong in his desire to help to the truth, but is as a lad
trying to lift a mountain, which, planted by God, requires God to
uproot it.

So the drama sweeps on.  Jobs sits silent, but not silenced.  He makes
no reply to Elihu's invective.  Here is a dignified silence more
impressive than any speech.  He has been shot at by all the volleys of
the earth and sky; and, wounded in every part, he retains his faith in
God; nay, his faith is burning brightly, like a newly-trimmed lamp:
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.  I am misconceived by man,
but not by God;" and his face has a strange light, as if he had been
with Moses on the mount; and when, in a whirlwind's sweep, and above
it, God's voice is heard; and it is Job God answers, as if to say,
"Yours is the argument."  God has no controversy with Elihu, nor yet
with the aged counselors.  Them he ignores; them, by and by, he
rebukes.  Job, and not they, had been right.  God is come as
vindicator.  If his voice thunders like tempestuous skies, there is to
appear an unspeakable tenderness in it at the last.  He is not come to
ride Job down, like a charge of Bedouin cavalry.  He is come to clear
his sky.  He is come to give him vision and to show him wisdom, of
which, though Job has spoken, he has had none too much.  In the drama,
God speaks in discussion to two persons.  In conversational tones, in
the prologue to the drama, he talks with Satan when he leads Job to
trial.  Job's calamities, instead of being a proof of his turpitude,
are proof of the confidence God reposes in him.

What a revelation in character that is!  If for a time God had, as
object-lesson to the Jew and through him to the world, granted visible
rewards and visible punishments, that was not the permanent scheme.
God's administration is hid from vulgar eyes truly, but also from the
eyes "of the wise and prudent."  Man's wisdom may not vaunt itself.
God's moral system is no well-lit room in which all furnishings are
visible; rather a twilight gloom, where men and women grope.  We know
enough.  Virtue is made very evident, and vice very despicable, and God
very apparent--and these be the sufficient data for the monograph of
life.  "All things work together for good to them that love God," is
the far-away response to Job's troubled cry.  God converses with Satan
long enough to deny the allegation that Job serves God as a matter of
dollars and cents, that it is convenient--so runs the devil's
sneer--convenient for Job to be good; for he finds it profitable.  But
if God will lower his rate of profit in goodness, and if God will
shipwreck all Job's prosperity, and sting him with the serpent-touch of
dire disease, then will Job become as others.  Profit in goodness gone,
his goodness will "fade as doth a leaf."  This is evil's pessimistic
philosophy, and Job, on whom calamitous circumstances pile as Dagon's
temple on Samson's head; Job, trusting where he can not see, and making
his appeal to God, whose ways are hid,--is the lie given to Satan's
prophecies, and the vindication of God's confidence in Job.  Job has
been as one sold into servitude for a month.  Satan hath been a hard
master, has thrust him exceeding sore, has given no intermission of
peril or anguish, has crowded sorrow on sorrow, has snatched away every
flower from the field of this good man's life, and watches, leering, to
hear him say, "I will curse God and die;" but when, after arguments
compounded of pain and tears and hope, Job returns to his silence,
saying, "The words of Job are ended," Satan has witnessed the triumph
of a good man, and disproof of his own sorry accusations, and the
vindication of God's estimate; and, as is fitting, he stays not to
acknowledge defeat, but slips away as the whirlwind chariot of Jehovah
dashes into sight.  Satan, not Job, has been defeated.

And in the long years of a prosperous life, no confidence has been
reposed in Job so worthy as this reposed in him of God, to put to
silence the slanders of wickedness that goodness was a species of
selfishness; so that what Job did not understand, and what his friends
interpreted as the certain disfavor of God, was sign of the trust God
reposed in him.  Satan had done his worst on a good man, and had
failed!  What an apocalypse this was!  The second person with whom God
holds conversation is Job.  Satan he talked with in conversational
tones, with no state nor eloquence.  Job he honors, coming in regal
splendor, by thundering with his voice, by treating Job as if he were
ambassador for some potentate whom God held in high regard.  God's
argument is the climax of sublimity reached in literature; is mountain
summit of sublime thought and utterance.  What effect is wanting to
make this scene bewildering in sublimity?  One?  No.  The auditor is
Job, sitting in the ruin of home and love, and friendships and
consequence among men, and good repute, and if, bending low, you will
hear him, you shall know he is sobbing for children that are not.  One
lonely, distraught,  mystified, sorely-beleagured, and still
surely-trusting man,--this is the audience.  The scene is a tawny
desert, once sown to oases of flowers, and billowing grain, and stately
palm-tree, and olive-groves, now harvestless, flowerless, palmless.
Once a stately palace rose beside a fountain here, and from its open
doors ran genial hospitality, to greet the coming guest and the
wayfarer overtaken by the night and weariness; and from the windows
singing and laughter rose, like a chorus of youthful voices; and
now--where these things were are only ruins, havoc, disaster; and Job
sits amidst the desolation that once was home as if he were crowned
king of the realm of Calamity; and the desert, tawny as a tiger's skin,
stretches away to the horizon, barren as the sea, than which is nothing
more solitary or pregnant with melancholy and thought.

The sky is ample and open.  Not a cloud flecks it with its foam.  From
desert line to the blue zenith is only bewildering blue; when, black as
a stormy midnight, driving as if lightnings were its chariot steeds,
comes the whirlwind whereon the Almighty rides, and halts; and God
pitches his midnight pavilion in front of silent Job on the silent
desert, and from this tent, whose curtains are not drawn, there
trumpets a voice.  God is come!  And God speaks!  "The Lord answered
Job out of the whirlwind."  Eloquence like this on forum like this,
literature knows nothing of.  Sublimity is come to its noon.

"Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth?" is the
astounding introductory.  No exordium is here.  Into the thick of
argument, God leaps as a soldier might leap into the midst of furious
battle.  "Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?  Or who laid
the corner-stones thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and
all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Or who shut up the sea with
doors, when I made the cloud the garment thereof, and set bars and
doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here
shall thy proud waves be stayed?  Hast thou commanded the morning since
thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might
take hold of the ends of the earth that the wicked might be shaken out
of it?  It is changed as clay under the seal; and all things stand
forth as a garment; and from the wicked their light is withholden, and
the high arm shall be broken.  Hast thou entered into the springs of
the sea?  Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?  Where is the
way where light dwelleth?  And as for darkness, where is the place
thereof?  Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?  By what
way is the light parted, or the east wind scattered upon the earth?
Who hath cleft a channel for the waterflood, or a way for the lightning
of the thunder?  Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops
of dew?  Canst thou bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the
bands of Orion?  Canst thou lead forth the signs of the zodiac in their
seasons? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?  Knowest thou the
ordinances of the heavens?  Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds,
that abundance of waters may cover thee?  Canst thou send forth
lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?  Who
provideth for the raven his food, when his young ones cry unto God, and
wander for lack of meat?  But seeing thou canst not understand these
things, and they are too high for thee, canst thou understand some
little things, and answer some trivial questions I will put to thee?
Knowest thou the secret of the wild goat or the wild ass on the desert?
or the wild ox? or the ostrich that scorneth the horse and his rider?
or the horse, hast thou given him strength? for he paweth in the
valley, and leaps as a locust, and rejoiceth in his strength, and goeth
out to meet the armed men; he mocketh at fear, and is not dismayed,
neither turneth his back from the sword; he smelleth the battle afar
off.  Doth the hawk soar by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward
the south?  Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest
on high?  And behemoth, what of him?  His limbs are like bars of iron;
he is confident, though Jordan swell even to his mouth.  Or leviathan,
what canst thou do with him, and what knowest thou of him?  In his neck
abideth strength; his breath kindleth coals; his heart is as firm as a
stone; he counteth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood; and when he
raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid.  Hast thou an arm like God?
and canst thou thunder with a voice like him?  Deck thyself now with
excellency and dignity, and array thyself with honor and majesty.  Pour
forth the overflowings of thy anger; and look upon every one that is
proud, and abase him.  Look on every one that is proud, and bring him
low; and tread down the wicked where they stand, and hide them in the
dust together."

And Job called, so that his words sounded through the whirlwind's
curtains: "I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of
Thine can be restrained.  Who is this that hideth counsel without
knowledge?  Therefore have I uttered that which I understood not;
things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.  Wherefore I abhor
myself, and repent in dust and ashes."  And Job has learned this
salutary lesson, that no man can comprehend all the ways life leads,
nor need to.  God is above the ways of life:

  "He leads us on by paths we do not know;
  Upward he leads us, though our steps be slow;
  Though oft we faint and falter by the way;
  Though clouds and darkness oft obscure the day,
          And still He leads us on."

Job has learned to rest his case with God.

  "My God knows best!  Through all my days
    This is my comfort and my rest;
  My trust, my peace, my solemn praise,--
    That God knows all, and God knows best.

  My God knows best!  That is my chart--
    That thought to me is always blest:
  It hallows and it soothes my heart;
    For all is well, and God knows best.

  My God knows best!  Then tears may fall:
    In his great heart I find my rest;
  For he, my God, is over all;
    And he is love, and he knows best."

God's argument is burned into Job's mind.  How can man, who understands
not the visible things of daily recurrence, think to penetrate the
meaning of the moral universe, whose ways are hidden, like the caverns
of the seas?  Not Job, nor any one of those who have spoken, has found
the clew to this maze.  But Job is impregnable now in his trust in God,
as if he were in a fortress whose approaches were guarded by the angels
of heaven.

And God spake yet once more; and now a word of rebuke--not argument--to
the old men, who trembled near the tent of God's whirlwind: "My wrath
is kindled against you: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is
right, as my servant Job hath.  My servant Job shall pray for you; for
him I will accept."  And Job, what ails Job now?  He thought he was
rebuked of God in the Divine argument, and now he knows himself, at a
word, vindicated, exalted; honor burnished, and not tarnished; himself,
not accused of God, but beloved of him, and praised by him,--and Job is
weeping like a little child; and lifting up his face, while the tears
rain down his cheeks, his eyes and his heart and his face are like
springtime in laughter, and his voice is as the singing of a psalm!
For "the Lord turned the captivity of Job."

How great an advent!  Beauty this drama has; but beauty belongs to the
rivulet and the twilights; but sublimity to the Niagaras, and the
oceans, and the human heart, and the words of God.  This drama is
sublimity's self.  Theme, actors, movement, goal, pertinency to the
deepest needs of soul and experience, and chiefly, God as protagonist,
say that sublimity belongs to this drama as naturally as to the
prodigious mountains or to the desert at night.  "Surely, God is in
this place, and we knew it not."

And Job ends as comedy, though it began as tragedy.  Hamlet ends in
tragedy.  He has lost faith, and his arm is palsied.  We hear the
musicians of Fortinbras playing a funeral dirge.  Hamlet was tragedy
because God was not there.  When God is near, no tragedy is possible.
God is out of Hamlet.  Job had closed as Job began, with tragedy dire
and utter, but that here a man refused to let go of God.  Job believed.
He did not understand.  He was sore pressed.  His tears and his anguish
blinded him for an hour; but where he could not see, he groped, and

  "God's right hand in the darkness,
  And was lifted up and strengthened."

And God comes! and Job ends not in funeral dirge, as it began, but in
laughter and the smiting of silver cymbals.  A good man's life has
tragedy, but ends not so.  If he die, God is at his bedside, holding
his hand; and when he dies, he has good hope and solemn joy; for he
shall live again.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Hero and Some Other Folks" ***

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