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Title: Great Men as Prophets of a New Era
Author: Hillis, Newell Dwight
Language: English
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Great Men as Prophets of a New Era



By Newell Dwight Hillis


  REBUILDING EUROPE IN THE FACE OF WORLD-WIDE BOLSHEVISM

  THE BLOT ON THE KAISER'S 'SCUTCHEON
  Cloth,
  GERMAN ATROCITIES
  Cloth,
  Each 12mo. cloth,

  STUDIES OF THE GREAT WAR
  What Each Nation Has at Stake

  LECTURES AND ORATIONS BY HENRY WARD BEECHER
  Collected by Newell Dwight Hillis

  THE MESSAGE OF DAVID SWING TO HIS GENERATION
  Compiled, with Introductory Memorial Address by Newell Dwight Hillis

  ALL THE YEAR ROUND
  Sermons for Church and Civic Celebrations

  THE BATTLE OF PRINCIPLES
  A Study of the Heroism and Eloquence of the Anti-Slavery Conflict

  THE CONTAGION OF CHARACTER
  Studies in Culture and Success

  THE FORTUNE OF THE REPUBLIC
  Studies, National and Patriotic, upon the America of To-day and
  To-morrow

  GREAT BOOKS AS LIFE-TEACHERS
  Studies of Character, Real and Ideal

  THE INVESTMENT OF INFLUENCE
  A Study of Social Sympathy and Service

  A MAN'S VALUE TO SOCIETY
  Studies in Self-Culture and Character


  FORETOKENS OF IMMORTALITY
  12mo. cloth,

  HOW THE INNER LIGHT FAILED
  18mo. cloth,

  RIGHT LIVING AS A FINE ART
  A Study of Channing's Symphony
  12mo. boards,

  THE MASTER OF THE SCIENCE OF RIGHT LIVING
  12mo. boards,

  ACROSS THE CONTINENT OF THE YEARS
  16mo. old English boards,

  THE SCHOOL IN THE HOME



  Great Men as Prophets
  of a New Era

  By
  NEWELL DWIGHT HILLIS

  _Author of "The Investment of Influence,"
  "A Man's Value to Society," "Great
  Books as Life Teachers"_

  NEW YORK CHICAGO
  Fleming H. Revell Company
  LONDON AND EDINBURGH



  Copyright, 1922, by
  FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

  New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
  Chicago: 17 North Wabash Ave.
  London: 21 Paternoster Square
  Edinburgh: 75 Princes Street



Foreword


Great institutions are the shadows that great men cast across the
centuries. A great law, a great liberty, a great art or tool or reform
represents a great soul, organized, and made unconsciously immortal
for all time. Explorers trace the Nile or Amazon back to the lake in
which the river takes its rise. Historians trace institutions back to
some hero from whose mind and heart the life-giving movement pours
forth. When the scholar travels back to the far-off beginnings of
jurisprudence, he comes to some Moses, toiling in Thebes, to some
Solon in Athens, to some Justinian in Rome. Not otherwise the
renaissance of painting, sculpture, and architecture begins with some
Giotto, some Michael Angelo, some Christopher Wren. Scholars often
speak of history as narratory or philosophical, but in the last
analysis, history is biographical. These studies were prepared for the
students of Plymouth Institute in the belief that biography is life's
wisest teacher, and that the lives of great men are the most inspiring
books to be found in our libraries.

                                                              N. D. H.

  _Plymouth Institute,
    Brooklyn, N. Y._



Contents


  I.    Dante, and the Dawn After the Dark
          Ages                                               9
                  (1265-1321)

  II.   Savonarola, and the Renaissance of Conscience       34
                  (1452-1498)

  III.  William the Silent, and Brave Little
          Holland                                           55
                  (1533-1584)

  IV.   Oliver Cromwell, and the Rise of Democracy
          in England                                        84
                  (1599-1658)

  V.    John Milton, the Scholar in Politics               115
                  (1608-1674)

  VI.   John Wesley, and the Moral Awakening
          of the Common People                             143
                  (1703-1791)

  VII.  Garibaldi, the Idol of the New Italy               166
                  (1807-1882)

  VIII. John Ruskin, and the Diffusion of the
          Beautiful                                        190
                  (1819-1900)

        Index                                              217



I

DANTE

(1265-1321)

_And the Dawn After the Dark Ages_


All scholars are agreed as to the classes of men who build the State.
There are the soldiers who keep the State in liberty, the physicians
who keep the State in health, the teachers who sow the land with
wisdom and knowledge, the farmers and merchants who feed and clothe
the people, the prophets who keep the visions burning, and the poets
who inspire and fertilize the soul of the race. But in every age and
clime, the poet has been the real builder of his city and country. The
only kind of work that lives forever is the work of the poet.
Parthenons and cathedrals crumble, tools rust, bridges decay, bronzes
melt, but the truth, put in artistic work, survives war, flood, fire,
and the tooth of time itself. "The poet's power," said George William
Curtis, "is not dramatic, obvious, imposing, immediate, like that of
the statesman, the warrior and the inventor. But it is as deep and as
strong and abiding. The soldier fights for his native land, but the
poet makes it worth fighting for. The statesman enlarges liberty, but
the poet fosters that love in the heart of the citizen. The inventor
multiplies the conveniences of life, but the poet makes the life
itself worth living. We cannot find out the secret of his power. Until
we know why the rose is sweet, or the dewdrop pure, or the rainbow
beautiful, we cannot know why the poet is the best benefactor of
humanity. But we know that the poet is the harmonizer, strengthener
and consoler, and that the inexpressible mystery of Divine Love and
purpose has been best breathed in parable and poem."

By common consent the three great poets of the world are Homer, Dante
and Shakespeare; and of the three, the two supreme names are Dante and
Shakespeare. After six centuries, what Hallam said nearly a hundred
years ago still holds true: "Dante's orbit is his own, and the track
of his wheels can never be confounded with that of any rival." Dante
was the greatest man of his country, he wrote the greatest book of his
era, he started the greatest intellectual movement of any age or time.
The influence of his thinking upon the people of Italy, the Italy of
his own day and of succeeding generations, is one of the marvels of
history. He was the interpreter of his age to itself; but he was also
the interpreter of man to all ages. Some names there are whose light
shines brightly for a brief time, after the fashion of the falling
stars, but Dante's emblem is the sun, whose going forth is unto the
ends of the earth, and whose shining brings universal summer.

Dante has been well-called the "Morning Star of the Renaissance." He
was born at the end of, perhaps, the darkest period in history,--the
five black centuries succeeding the fall of Rome; he lived to see the
first fruits of his own sowing--that wonderful rebirth of art and
culture which was to culminate, two hundred years later, in the
canvases of Raphael and the sculptures of Michael Angelo. It has been
beautifully said that before singing his song Dante had to invent his
harp. No graceful phrase ever had a sounder kernel of truth. Great
poets are more than great artists in language; they create languages,
and Dante, like his two great compeers, Homer and Shakespeare, moulded
and shaped the tongue for future generations. He began his career at a
moment when the Latin tongue was dying and the Italian language was
still waiting to be born. He took the vulgar speech of his own day and
gave it colour and richness, form and substance, eternal dignity and
beauty. What Homer did for the Greek language, what King Alfred's
Bible did for English literature, that, and more, did Dante for the
Italian tongue. The influence of his thinking upon the people of Italy
is indicated by the fact that _The Divine Comedy_ was printed three
times in the one year of 1472, nine times before the fifteenth century
ended, and, to-day, there are literally thousands of volumes in the
libraries of the world upon Dante and his poems. With loving
extravagance d'Annunzio said at the great celebration held last year
in Italy: "Single-handed Dante created Italy, as Michael Angelo by
sheer force of genius created his _Moses_, and made it the supreme
marble in history."

No one has ever been able to define genius, though many scholars have
told us what genius is not. Many men in the English lecture halls and
universities had talent, but that stablekeeper's son, John Keats, had
genius. More than one of the four hundred members of the House of
Lords during Charles the Second's reign had talent, but a poor tinker,
John Bunyan, had genius, that blazed like the sun. There were
multitudes of men living in the Thirteen Colonies, and many of them
rich, but that poor boy flying a kite, Benjamin Franklin, had the
divine gift. Not otherwise, many men living in Florence at the end of
the thirteenth century had talent, but Dante Alighieri had the gift,
and he towered above his fellows as Monte Rosa towers above the
burning plains of Italy. Strictly speaking, Dante's gift was not that
of the poet alone. He was a moralist as well as a poet--above all
others, the singer of man's soul. He believed himself to be ordained
of God to explain the moral order of the universe, man's share in that
order, his duty and his destiny. Blind Homer gave us the immortal
_Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, but Homer was a poet, not a teacher, and if
there are lessons in the story of Achilles and Ulysses we have to
learn those lessons for ourselves. Shakespeare, the organ-voice of
England, gave us _Lear_ and _Hamlet_, _Othello_ and _Macbeth_, but
Shakespeare was a poet, not a teacher, and Macbeth's sin, written
though it is in letters of fire, is nevertheless accompanied by no
comments of the author. Not so with the immortal _Comedy_ of Dante.
For Dante was a teacher first, and a poet afterward. Without the
brilliancy of intellect or the compass of achievements that were
Shakespeare's, without the directness or the simplicity of Homer, he
was more serious than either. He had the passion of a reformer, the
fiery courage of a prophet. He poured his very heart's blood into his
pages. Hating oppression, he was like one specially raised up to point
the path to peace, and to vindicate the ways of God to man.

The great thinker was born in Florence in the year 1265. His era was
the era of the Dark Ages; his century one of the submerged centuries.
For five hundred years black darkness had lain upon the world. It was
an era of war, when barons were constantly at strife. Feudalism was
entrenched behind stone walls, the landowners were masters, and the
serfs were slaves. Every road was infested with bandits. There was no
shipping upon the Mediterranean. The mariner's compass had not yet
been invented. Commerce was scant and factories almost unknown. Men
lived, for the most part, on coarse bread and vegetables, without
luxuries, and without what we call the simplest necessities. The
common people were huddled in miserable villages, behind stone walls,
with unpaved streets and windowless houses, in which ignorance, filth,
squalor, and bestiality prevailed. Peasants wore the same leather
garments for a lifetime. The dead were buried under the churches.
Prisoners rotted in dungeons under the banqueting hall of the castle.
Two hundred years were to pass before Columbus set foot upon the deck
of the _Santa Maria_. Two hundred and fifty years were to pass before
Michael Angelo could lift the dome above St. Peter's. But if the
peasant was ignorant, and the poor man wretched, the nobleman and
courtier was the child of luxury and gilded vice. It was an age of
contrasts so violent as to be all but incredible to the modern reader.
There were no books, for the art of printing was still to be invented,
yet in an age of parchment manuscripts young noblemen were taught to
speak in verse and to write in rhymed pentameters. There was no
science of geography and the world was believed to be a flat board
with a fence around it. Yet in this era, when few men could spell and
fewer read, the very monks in the monasteries were writing theses on
problems so abstract as to weary the modern scholar. For five hundred
years the world had looked to the Church, but the Church had descended
to the perpetration of crimes so terrible, that their mere chronicle
sickens the heart and chills the blood.

Into this world of paradox and contradiction--a world of gloom, shot
through with fitful gleams of superstition--was born Dante, the poet of
love and hope and divine regeneration. We know little of Dante's
parentage, as we know all too little of his life, but this much we do
know--the family was the noble family of the Alighieri, followers and
supporters of the party then in power in Florence. Dante was educated by
his mother, and by his mother's relative, the scholar-poet Brunetto
Latini. Like John Stuart Mill he was a mental prodigy from infancy. Like
Milton he was trained in the strictest academical education which the
age afforded. Like Bacon he was a universal scholar before he passed out
of his teens. Like Pope he thought and wrote in verse before he could
write in prose. Among his friends and intimates were the poets Guido
Cavalcanti and Cino da Pistoria, Dino Frescobaldi and Lapo Guianni, the
musician Casella and the artist Giotto. With such companions and under
such guidance, Dante mastered all the sciences of the day at a time when
it was not impossible to know all that could be known.

But dreamer and student though he was, he early insisted upon sharing
the burdens of the State. On two occasions he bore arms for his
country. While still in his twenties he was offered the post of
ambassador to Rome; before he was thirty he had represented his native
city at foreign courts, and from his thirtieth to his thirty-fifth
year his voice was heard with growing frequency in municipal affairs.
In the summer of the year 1300, when he was thirty-five years of age,
he was chosen as one of the Priors, or magistrates, of Florence.

The opening year of the new century--the year in which Giotto was
meditating his immortal _Duomo_, with its famous tower--was ushered in
by a civic revolution in Florence. Dante, with other innocent
citizens, was banished and condemned to death by burning. A statesman,
he saw his party defeated and driven from the land; a man of property,
he lost his whole fortune; one of the proudest of men, he was forced
to humble himself and live on foreign alms. Inspired by the noblest
intentions, the world gave him no thanks, but drove him forth like a
wild beast, branded his name with foul crimes and condemned him to
wander over the hills of Italy till death at last gave him release. He
never saw Florence again. For years he knew poverty, neglect and
hatred. Sick with the noise of political dissension, he strained his
eyes toward the hills for the appearance of a universal monarch; but
the vision was never realized. We know but little of his wanderings.
Many cities and castles have claimed the honour of giving him shelter;
we know only that in old age he was compelled to "climb the
stranger's toilsome stairs, and eat the bitter bread of others."

Such, briefly sketched, is the life-history of this man who has been
called "the voice of ten silent centuries." In an era of luxury he had
lived simply and frugally; in an era of debate and publicity, he had
preferred seclusion; drawn at last into public life by his own sense
of duty, he had been driven forth into exile, to die alone in a
foreign city. It is the greatness of Dante that, in spite of defeat
and disappointment, in spite of every form of hardship, in the face of
every conceivable form of adversity, he went on with his work and
completed his masterpiece, the greatest achievement in the whole
history of Italian literature. Out of his own heart-break he distilled
hope and encouragement for others and from the broken harmonies of his
own life he created a world-symphony.

The best-loved books in our libraries are books of heroism, books of
eloquence, books of success, and books of love. It is a matter of
misfortune that no history of human love has ever been written.
Scholars have set forth the history of wars, the history of engines
and ships, the history of laws and reforms, but no library holds a
history of the greatest gift of man, the gift of love. That is the one
creative gift that belongs to his soul. Beyond all other writers, the
author of the _Divine Comedy_ is the poet of love. Love was the
inspiration of his youth, the beacon of his middle life and the
transfiguring glory of his old age. All his poems are monuments to the
abiding and ennobling power of a pure passion. His love for Beatrice
has fascinated the generations, and remains to-day one of the few
immortal love stories of the world, as moving as the romance of
Abelard and Héloise, and infinitely more exalting. No understanding of
his poems is possible without a knowledge of that love and its
tremendous influence upon his life and work.

Beatrice Portinari, the object of Dante's devotion, was the daughter
of a merchant, living in a street not far from his father's house.
Dante saw her but a few times, and she died when he was twenty-seven,
but from the moment when, on that bright spring morning, he first
viewed her lovely face, his whole heart and mind were kindled. "She
appeared to me," he writes, "at a festival, dressed in that most noble
and honourable colour, scarlet--girden and ornamented in a manner
suitable to her age, and from that moment love ruled my soul. After
many days had passed, it happened that passing through the streets,
she turned her eyes to the spot where I stood, and with ineffable
courtesy, she greeted me, and this had such an effect on me that it
seemed I had reached the furthest limit of blessedness." He describes
but three other meetings. While he was absent from the city--probably
during one of the two campaigns in which he fought--her father gave
her in marriage to another man. She was only twenty-four when she died.

No one will ever know whether Beatrice was indeed the loveliest girl
in Italy; whether she really was the daughter of intellect, or whether
the greatness was in Dante, who projected the image of beauty, created
by his imagination and superimposed upon Beatrice. We all know that it
is within the power of the sun in the late afternoon to cast the
brilliant hues of gold and purple upon the vine and transform slender
tendrils into purest gold. Dante had a powerful intellect, the finest
imagination of any known artist, vast moral endowments--gifts,
however, that in themselves are impotent. The sailing vessel, no
matter how large the sails, is helpless until the winds fill the
canvas, and hurl the cargo toward some far-off port. Just as Abelard
waited for the coming of Héloise; just as Robert Browning's soul was
never properly enkindled before the coming of Elizabeth Barrett, so
the intellect of Dante waited for Beatrice. The quality and quantity
of flame in the fireplace is not determined by the size of the match
that kindles the fire, but by the quality of fuel that waits for the
spark. The strength and power of Dante's attachment was in the vast
endowments of his soul, and not in Beatrice. It may well be that
thirty years later, Dante, who realized that he was the strongest man
then living in the world and who was at once a scholar, a statesman
and a soldier, during the solitude of his exile in a distant city
turned his mind backward and broke the alabaster box of genius upon
the head of a commonplace girl, just as Raphael lent the beauty of St.
Cecilia to the face and figure of a flower-woman, a girl whose face
and figure furnished the outlines for his drawing, but held no part of
the divine, ineffable and dazzling loveliness of an angel.

Whatever the truth--and there is little chance that we shall ever know
the truth--this much is certain: Dante's earliest long poem, the
famous "_Vita Nuova_" (New Life) celebrates his love for Beatrice, and
is nothing more than a journal of the heart, a secret diary of his
emotions. The _Vita Nuova_ is as far removed from the modern
sentimental love tale as June is removed from some almanac prepared a
year in advance of the weather changes predicted. It records Dante's
first glimpse of Beatrice, the adoration she awakened in him, and the
fervour of devotion to which she lifted him; it describes his
premonition of her death, and it ends with his resolve to devote his
remaining years to her memory. The last chapter of the book looks
forward to the _Divine Comedy_. About a year after Beatrice's death,
he writes: "It was given me to behold a wonderful vision, wherein I
saw things which determined me to say nothing further of this blessed
one unto such time as I could discourse more worthily concerning her.
And to this end I labour all I can, as she in truth knoweth. Therefore
if it be His pleasure through whom is the life of all things that my
life continue with me a few years, it is my hope that I shall yet
write concerning her what hath not before been written of any woman."
Completed years later, the immortal _Comedy_ exists to-day as the most
wonderful tribute to a woman ever penned by any poet.

In a mood of lofty pride, Dante placed himself among the six great
poets of all time. To-day, all scholars applaud the accuracy and
humility of his judgment. Every strong man knows what he can do. He
is conscious of his own vast reserves. So often has he measured
himself with his fellow-men that he realizes the number, the magnitude
and relative strength of his divine endowments. All men of the first
order of genius have realized the endowment they have received from
God and their fathers. And the _Divine Comedy_ justifies Dante's pride
in his own powers. It cannot be classified with a phrase nor dismissed
with a label. It is not a poem, like one of Tennyson's _Idylls of the
King_; it is rather an encyclopedia upon Italy. It is at one and the
same moment an autobiography, a series of personal reminiscences, a
philosophy, an oration and the spiritual pilgrimage of a thirteenth
century _Childe Harold_, with here and there a lyric poem. The motive
which inspired Dante was his sense of the wretchedness of man in this
mortal life. The only means of rescue from this wretchedness he
conceived to be the exercise of reason, enlightened by God. To
convince man of this truth, to bring home to him the conviction of the
eternal consequences of his conduct in this world, to show him the
path of salvation, was Dante's aim. To lend force and beauty to such a
design he conceived the poem as an allegory, and made himself to be
its protagonist. He depicts a vision, in which the poet is conducted
first by Virgil, as the representative of human reason, through Hell
and Purgatory, and then by Beatrice, as the representative of divine
revelation, through Paradise to the Heaven, where at last he beholds
the triune God.

The action of the _Divine Comedy_ opens in the early morning of the
Thursday before Easter in the year 1300. Dante dreams that he had
"reached the half-way point in his path of life, at the entrance of an
obscure forest." He would advance, but three horrible beasts bar the
way, a wolf, a lion and a leopard, symbolical of the temptations of the
world--cupidity, the pride of life and the lusts of the flesh. Then the
shade of Virgil appears, representing the intellect and conscience,
glorified--to serve as his guide in the long wanderings through the
Inferno. Virgil tells him he can accompany him only through Hell and
Purgatory, but that Beatrice shall conduct him through those happy
spheres, the portals of which a pagan may not enter. So begins that
wondrous journey through the regions of the damned, over the entrance of
which is written the awful words: "All hope abandon ye who enter here."
The world through which the two poets journey is peopled, not with
characters of heroic story, but with men and women known personally or
by repute to Dante. Popes, kings, emperors, poets and warriors,
Florentine citizens of all degrees are there, "some doomed to hopeless
punishment, others expiating their offenses in milder torments and
looking forward to deliverance in due time." Hell is conceived as a vast
conical hollow, reaching to the center of the earth. It has three great
divisions, corresponding to Aristotle's three classes of vice,
incontinence, brutishness and malice. The sinners, by malice, are
divided from the last by a yet more formidable barrier. They lie at the
bottom of a pit, with vertical sides, and accessible only by
supernatural means; a monster named Geryon bears the poets down on his
back. At the very bottom of the pit is Lucifer, immovably fixed in ice.
And climbing down his limbs, the travellers reach the center of the
earth, whence a cranny conducts them back to the surface, which they
reach as Easter Day is dawning.

Purgatory is conceived as a mountain, rising solitary from the ocean
on that side of the earth that is opposite to ours. It is divided into
terraces and its top is the terrestrial Paradise, the first abode of
man. The seven terraces correspond to the seven deadly sins, which
encircle the mountain and are reached by a series of steep climbs,
compared by Dante to the path from Florence to Samminiato. The
penalties are not degrading, but rather tests of patience or
endurance; and in several cases Dante has to bear a share in them as
he passes. At one point, the poet hesitates when he comes to a path
filled with a sheet of flame; but Virgil speaks: "Between Beatrice and
thee there is but that wall." Dante at once plunges into the heart of
the flames. On the summit of the mountain is the Earthly Paradise, "a
scene of unsurpassed magnificence," where Beatrice, representing
divine knowledge, divine love and purity, is waiting to lead the
wanderer through the nine spheres of the old Ptolemaic system to the
very throne of God.

Such is the general scheme of the poem, in which Dante's conception of
the universe is depicted in scenes of intense vividness and dramatic
force. It embraces the whole field of human experience. Its aim is
"not to delight, but to reprove, to rebuke, to exhort, to form men's
characters" by teaching them what courses of life will meet reward,
what with penalty hereafter; to "put into verse," as the poet says,
"things difficult to think." The title given it is often
misunderstood. The men of the Middle Ages gave the name "Tragedy" to
every poem that ended sadly, and the name "Comedy" to every tale that
ended happily. There are no traces of wit and humour in this book with
its descriptions of the cleansing pains of Purgatory and the highest
reaches of Paradise. Men who have little imagination seem quite unable
to transport themselves back into the life and thought of the
thirteenth century. Even Voltaire calls Dante a savage, and Goethe,
who blundered often in his judgments of men and books, and often had
to reverse himself, thought Dante's work "dull and unreadable." But
that reader who supposes that Dante is giving a literal description of
the physical torments of hell, or imagines that Michael Angelo, in his
_Last Judgment_, was portraying his own literal belief, will find
nothing inspiring in this wonderful book.

During the last six centuries the thinking of the world has changed.
Physical pain has assumed new importance. No man living to-day has
ever witnessed a brother man sentenced by a court to be burned alive,
or later on, has been tried himself, and upon a false charge sentenced
to death by flame. We stand aghast at Dante's miseries and monsters,
furies and gorgons, snakes and fires, lakes of pitch and pools of
blood, a physical hell of utter and unspeakable dreariness and
despair. But Dante's was an era of outbreaking and almost universal
physical cruelty; sinners and criminals could not be reached by
argument, for they could not think; there was but one way to approach
animal man, and that was from the animal side. Through fear, Dante
endeavoured to scourge men back from the horrors of iniquity. He
appealed to material men through the imagery of material flames, and
slowly by this scourge, tried to drive them back toward obedience,
sympathy and love for the poor and the weak. For their allurement also
he showed them a golden city in the far-off blue, with the flowers
blooming in the fields of Paradise. He used his unrivalled genius to
make vice and sin revolting and infinitely repulsive, just as he tried
to make truth, kindness and justice alluring.

This volume, therefore, represents "the life history of a human soul
redeemed from sin and error, from lust and wrath and mammon, and
restored to the right path by the reason and the grace which enable
him to see things as they are." Dante's conception is that "penalty is
the same thing as sin, only it is sin taken at a later period of its
history and a little lower down the stream." It is in life, here and
now, that men's hands are fouled with the pits of greed; their
tongues tipped with envenomed hate; their hearts steeped in crimson
ooze. It is here and now that materialists "load themselves down with
sacks of yellow clay," that misers plunge into "the boiling pitch of
avarice." The genius of the _Inferno_ is that sins are seeds, big with
the harvest of their own penalty.

Our age makes little of the _Purgatory_ itself--this realm which Dante
describes as the place where the human soul is cleansed and made
worthy to ascend to heaven. It is described as a kind of vestibule of
Paradise, where the soul fronts the results of wrong-doing, through
the debt of penalty and the evil inclination of the will, and the
instincts that have been perverted. The sins of which men are cleansed
are the sins against love and pride, envy and anger; the sins of the
body, avarice and gluttony and passion. The angels that cleanse are
the angels of forgiveness and peace. On that island of cleansing
Virgil and Dante land, and place their hands upon the ground and bathe
in dew their tear-stained cheeks. But climbing up the steep way of
penitence is like climbing up a craggy mountainside, toiling on hands
and knees, with tire that almost brings despair; and yet the higher
Dante climbs the easier the task. Just as in the _Inferno_, Dante
placed certain well-known figures--Judas Iscariot, who for avarice
betrayed his Lord, and Alberigo who with horrible treachery murdered
his own guests at a banquet, and that "youth who made the Great
Refusal"; so in the _Purgatory_ he shows us many men known to history
who have stumbled here and there and are breast-buried in the rubbish
of the world, to whom comes some angel bringing release, and
whispering "Loose him, and let him go."

When he approaches the confines of Paradise and sees from afar the
glorified form of Beatrice, Dante asks that God may become to his soul
like a refiner's fire and cleanse away any stain or dross of sin.
Gladly he enters that healing flame, guided by a sweet voice, which
sang, "Come, ye blessed of my Father;" but, says Dante, "When I was
within I would have flung myself into molten glass to cool myself, so
immeasurable was the burning there." Then, broken down with utter
remorse, he falls in a swoon; but he is plunged in the waters of
forgetfulness and refreshed, like young plants; re-clad as if by the
angel of spring, he issues from the wave, pure and true, ready to
mount to the stars beyond.

Strangely enough, this book, the _Inferno_, is the most widely read.
The _Purgatory_ is less frequently opened, while men value least of
all the _Paradise_ of Dante. Doubtless the reason is that experience
has brought familiarity with sin, so that all men understand its
penalties, and at the selfsame time know something of penitence and of
pardon, while the nature of that realm of perfect happiness,
righteousness and peace is beyond human experience. But if any man was
ever purified by suffering and earned the right to trust his visions
and surrender himself to the pictures that noble imagination painted,
that man was Dante. On the side of culture the measure of education of
any man is his knowledge of Shakespeare. On the side of imagination
and of pure and tender goodness, a man is a man just in proportion as
he knows his Dante. James Russell Lowell's supreme essay was his essay
on Dante, and he tells us that the great Italian "wrote with his
heart's blood, like an inspired prophet of old." 'Midst all his
poverty, exile and grief, he rose triumphant over sorrow and neglect.
He never lost his confidence in the ultimate victory of right and
truth. Hating oppression, he struggled as a prophet of liberty.
Offered an invitation to return to his native city, on the condition
that he would humiliate himself by confessing that he had done a
wrong, he accepted an exile's death rather than be faithless to his
great convictions. Climbing the stairs of other men's houses, he
salted his bread with his own tears.

An old man at fifty-six, his last days were spent in Ravenna, in the
house of a noble duke, who recognized in Dante the greatest man of his
time. Long afterward, Byron sought out the house where Dante died, and
falling upon his knees, beat upon his breast and wept, at the
recollection of the sorrows that overwhelmed the master of them all.
Just as Bunyan was rewarded for the second book in English literature
by twelve years in Bedford Jail, so Dante, as a reward for writing the
greatest book in Italian literature, was exiled from his home and
city, pursued by spies, hunted over the hills with hounds, made to
conceal himself in dens and caves of the earth, and brought to an
untimely death. Dying, Dante might have used the words which, later,
fell from the lips of Bacon, "I leave my name and fame to foreign
lands, and to my own country when long time has passed." Let us
believe that after having lived for fifty-six years in at once an
_Inferno_ and a _Purgatory_, at last Dante, the prisoner, was redeemed
out of his dungeon, the exile out of his loneliness, the fugitive out
of his rags and crusts, and the cave wherein he was hiding from his
pursuers; that the man who for years held heart-break at bay at last
was brought in out of the night, the fire-mist and the hail, into the
imperial palaces of God, where one word of welcome repaid him ten
thousand times for the bitter, grievous years, and where one word of
love leaped forth from the ineffable light--and in a moment, his every
wound was healed!



II

SAVONAROLA

(1452-1498)

_And the Renaissance of Conscience_


When the first warm days of May come to a land chilled through with the
frosts of winter, all pastures and meadows, all vineyards and orchards,
even the desert and the mountain rift awake to a new bloom and beauty.
The revival of learning which culminated in that golden age known as the
Renaissance was ushered in by the poet Dante, with his love for Beatrice
and his immortal poem called the _Divine Comedy_. Dante has been likened
unto that angel who descended from Heaven and, standing with one foot on
the sea and one on the land, lifted the trumpet to his lips, and wakened
the whole world. To Dante belongs the double glory "of immortalizing in
verse the centuries behind him, while he inaugurated a new age and
created a new language." But if Dante's face was turned upward and
backward, his work was taken up by the great humanist, Petrarch, whose
face was toward the future. Soon the whole land was awake, and while
other countries were held in the grip of ice and winter, full summer
burst upon Italy.

Scholars have interpreted the Renaissance from many different angles.
Students of literature identify it with the discovery and reproduction
of the manuscripts of the Greek and Latin authors. Artists associate
it with Giotto's paintings and tower, with Michael Angelo's _Moses and
Last Judgment_, and with the names of Alberti and Leonardo. Scientists
point toward the discoveries of Copernicus and Columbus, just as
jurists think of the rise of popular freedom and the overthrow of
tyranny. Practical men associate the new era with the art of printing
and the manufacture of paper and gunpowder, with the use of the
compass by mariners, and the telescope by astronomers. But none of
these interpretations fully suffice to explain the new era, with its
new energy of the intellect and its outburst of unrivalled genius.

The mental and emotional condition of Europe at the beginning of the
fifteenth century may be likened to the vague longings in the heart of
that child, who, legend hath it, was carried away from his father's
castle by a band of gipsies. The gipsies carried the boy to Spain, and
there they taught him to ride and hunt and steal after the gipsy
fashion. But he had the blood of his ancestors within him, and there
was something burning and throbbing within. Sometimes in his dreams he
saw a beautiful face leaning over him, and heard the bosom pressure
words of his mother, who could not be forgotten. Not otherwise was it
with society at the beginning of the fifteenth century. For centuries
the books, the arts, the tools, once so familiar to Virgil and Horace,
to Mæcenas and Cæsar Augustus had lain neglected on the shores of that
Dead Sea called the Dark Ages. Vague and uneasy memories haunted Europe.
Imagination increased the value of the lost treasure. Looking backward
through an atmosphere roseate through fancy, Helen's face took on new
loveliness. Achilles became the ideal knight, Ulysses a divine hero, and
Penelope the sum of all the gifts distributed among ideal women.

But in the middle of the fifteenth century occurred the fall of
Constantinople, that Saragossa sea into which had been drawn the
literary treasures of the preceding centuries. Constantinople had
become a treasure-house in which were assembled the manuscripts that
had been carried away by the citizens of Rome fleeing from the Huns.
As the centuries came and went, merchants, bankers, rich men from
far-off provinces had taken their jewels, carved furniture, ivories,
paintings, bronzes, marbles, rugs, silks, laces, and housed their
treasure in palaces, looking out upon the Bosphorus. So that in 1452,
when the advancing Saracens approached the city, the scholars and rich
men of Constantinople fled to their boats, and spreading canvas sailed
into the western sun. Months passed before these fugitives dropped
anchor at the mouth of the Po. One morning, an old man, wrapped in a
cloak stained with the salt seawater, stepped from a little boat to
the wharf of Florence. Being poor and also hungry he made his way to a
bread-shop. Having no money, he drew from beneath his cloak a
parchment. When the bread-shop was filled with listeners he began to
read the story of Helen's beauty and Achilles' courage; the story of
Ulysses' wanderings and Penelope's fidelity; the tale of blind
Oedipus, and of his daughter's loving care. He recited the oration of
Pericles after the plague in Athens, and told the story of the
wanderings of Æneas. With ever-increasing excitement the men of
Florence listened. At last, waking from the spell, they lifted the
stranger upon their shoulders and carried him to the palace of a
merchant prince, and bade him tell the story, and soon the merchant's
house was crowded with young men preparing pages of vellum and sheets
of leather, while writers copied the poems and the dramas of the old
manuscript, and artists turned the vellum pages into illuminated
missals. The spark became a flame. Learning became a glorious
contagion. The fires spread from village to village, and city to city.
The dawn of the modern world had come.

In the city of Florence, circumstances and climate were singularly
favourable to the new movement. Florence was the city of flowers; it
lay upon the banks of the Arno, set amidst orange groves, and its
palaces, art galleries, and churches, when the vineyards were in full
bloom, looked like a string of pearls lying in a cup of emeralds. All
that Athens had been to the age of Pericles, Florence was to be to the
era of Savonarola. Neither time nor events have availed to lessen the
hold of Florence upon the great men of earth. Because of her rich
associations with genius and beauty, the greatest souls of the earth
have often turned feet toward Florence, as the birds of paradise leave
the desert to seek out the oasis with its fountain and flowers.
Florence was the city of Dante with his _Divine Comedy_, the city of
Giotto, with his tower, of Gioberti, with the gates of wrought iron
that are so beautiful that Michael Angelo said they were worthy to be
the gates of Paradise. To Florence in after years went Robert
Browning, to write _The Ring and the Book_, and Elizabeth Barrett,
with the finest love sonnets in literature. To Florence centuries
later went George Eliot, to write her _Romola_, and in Florence, Keats
and Shelley dreamed their dreams of song and verse. To Florence came
Cavour, the statesman, and Mazzini, the reformer, Garibaldi, the
soldier, to build the new Italy. Many the scholar and patriot who has
said with Robert Browning, "Italy is a word graven on my heart." And
it was to Florence that there came in the year 1490 Savonarola, the
greatest moral force the city ever knew.

Savonarola was a man of almost universal genius. He was an orator, and
the fire of his eloquence still burns in the sermons he has left the
world. He was a reformer, and descended upon the sins of his age like
a flame of fire, shaking Italy like the stroke of an earthquake. He
was a prophet, and he dreamed dreams of a new Italy and of a golden
age in morals. He was a statesman and he was created a preacher, and
he fulfilled the dreams of a divine Orpheus, who drew all things to
him by the mystery and magic of his speech. He was a martyr, and wore,
not the red hat of the cardinal, but the fire that belonged to the
chariot of flame, in which his soul rode up to Heaven to meet his God.
Like all men of the first order of genius he was great on many sides.
It was his glory that he awakened the moral sense and brought the life
of God into the soul of man. Savonarola was like the Matterhorn or the
Breithorn that lift their peaks so high that they look out upon the
Rhine of the north and the Po of the south, upon the vineyards of
France and the valleys of Austria.

In the very year that Constantinople fell, and the scholars fled,
carrying their manuscripts--as sparks fly from the hammer falling upon
an anvil--Savonarola entered into being in the beautiful little city
of Ferrara. His grandfather was a physician, a teacher of the youth of
his town, and a member of the council. He had achieved some honour as
a scholar, and won much gold and favour as a skillful surgeon. To his
father's house came a few leading men of the villages round about to
read the pages of Dante and to talk about the manuscripts that had
thrown all Italy into a fever of excitement. The boy had a hungry
mind, and rose early and sat up late to read the copies of the few
books that his father had in the little library. His native town was
the capital of the little state, and the Duke of Este was his father's
friend. When the boy was six years of age, Pope Pius II passed through
Ferrara on his way to a celebration in Venice, and in preparation for
his coming a crimson canopy was stretched above the street, while in
the public square a throne was erected, and when the Pope had taken
his seat therein a procession of children passed by, strewing flowers
at the feet of the Pope. Young men and women sang songs in his honour,
and chanted hymns of his praise, midst clouds of golden incense
filling all the air. On the outskirts of the crowd stood the miserable
poor, the half-starved peasants, the ragged children, the miserable
lepers. Their faces were gaunt, their eyes hollow, their bread,
crusts, their garments, rags, and the spectacle of gluttony,
drunkenness and luxury, in contrast with the vast multitude of
starving poor, created such a revulsion in the mind of the boy that
from that hour all should have known that it was only a question of
time when this gifted youth would become an ascetic and a reformer.

The revulsion in the heart of Savonarola was inevitably deepened by
the lust and cruelty laid to the door of the Church itself. That was
a dark hour for the Papacy and Italy. Paul II was a Venetian merchant,
greedy, ambitious, who, in middle age, saw that the Pope was
incidentally an ecclesiastic, but essentially an emperor, a statesman
and a banker. Everything he touched in business turned to gold. He had
agents out in all the world buying diamonds, pearls, rubies and
emeralds. He hired architects, sculptors and painters, and made the
church an art gallery. "Once the church had wooden cups and plates for
the communion, but golden priests. Now," wrote Savonarola, "the church
has golden cups and plates, but wooden-headed priests." The Rome of
that time was a Rome of art and vice, gold and blood, cathedrals and
mud huts. The least shocking page in the papal history of the time
describes Alexander VI, and his son Cæsare and his daughter Lucretia,
standing in the open window of the papal palace, looking down into the
courtyard, filled with unlucky criminals. These prisoners, sentenced
to death, ran round and round the court, while Cæsare let fly his
arrows, and the Pope and Lucretia applauded each lucky hit. The scene
is one of many, and the knowledge of such scenes inevitably brought
about rebellion in the soul of Savonarola.

At the beginning of his career, the young reformer attracted but
little attention. He entered a monastery and became a monk, and his
novitiate was chiefly marked by a fervour of humilities. He sought the
most menial offices, and did penance for his sins by the severest
austerities. He was soon worn to a shadow, but his gaunt features were
beautified by an expression of singular force and benevolence.
Luminous dark eyes sparkled and flamed beneath his thick brows and his
large mouth was as capable of gentle sweetness as of power and set
resolve. But the spectacle of the sensualism, drunkenness, cruelty,
theft, ignorance and wretchedness of Florence, that had a handful of
aristocrats at one extreme and thousands of paupers at the other,
gradually filled his soul with burning indignation. He began to see
visions and to make prophecies which afterward were mysteriously
fulfilled. His first success as a preacher came when he was thirty-one
and the following year at Brescia, in a sermon on the Apocalypse, he
shook men's souls by his terrible picture of the wrath to come. A halo
of light was reported to have been seen about his head, and when, six
years later, he returned to Florence, to preach in the cathedral, his
fame as an orator had gone before him and the cloister gardens were
too small to contain the crowds that flocked to hear him.

The occasion of his first sermon in the cathedral was one long
remembered in the city. The vast multitudes saw a gaunt figure whose
thick hood covered the whole head and shoulders. From deeply sunken
eye-sockets there looked out two eyes that blazed as with lightning.
The nose was strong and prominent, with wide nostrils, capable of
terrible distention under the stress of emotion. The mouth was full,
with compressed, projecting lips, and large, as if made for a torrent
of eloquence. The speaker was a visionary, and a seer. At one moment
he melted his audience to tears, at another he stirred them to horror,
again quickening their souls with prayer and pleadings, that had in
them the sweetness of the very spirit of Christ. Soon the walls of the
church reëchoed with sobs and wailings, dominated by one ringing
voice. One scribe explains fragments of the sermon with these words:
"Here I was so overcome with weeping that I could not go on." The
poet, Mirandola, tells us that Savonarola's voice was like a clap of
doom: a cold shiver ran through the marrow of his bones, and the hair
of his head stood on end as he listened. The theme that morning was
this: "Repent! A judgment of God is at hand. A sword is suspended
over you. Italy is doomed for her iniquity." The speaker prophesied
coming bloodshed, the ruin of cities, the trampling down of provinces,
the passage of armies, and the devastating wars that were about to
fall on Italy.

The great man of Florence at this moment was Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Lorenzo was the most powerful figure in Italy, the most
widely-travelled, and the richest man of his time. Tiring of luxury
and flattery, he was ambitious to be called the patron of art and
literature. He had fitted up a great banqueting-room in his palace, in
which he could assemble painters, sculptors, architects, actors,
poets, philosophers. His seat at the head of the table was after the
fashion of a throne, and he had made himself a kind of dictator in the
realm of learning. Always open to flattery, he was surrounded by a
group of citizens who never ceased burning incense at the altar of his
egotism. He was at once a politician, a poet, an amateur actor,
dramatist, and singer. At his table sat Ficino, who translated Plato's
works into Latin, and Pico della Mirandola, who was the idol of
Florentine society. It was the latter's boast that a single reading
fixed in his memory any language, any essay or poem, and made it his
forever. Other guests were Leo Alberti and Leonardo, the two men of
comprehensive genius in all the group that lived in the palace of the
Prince. Constant adulation made Lorenzo arrogant and vain to the last
degree. In disguise he led a group of dissipated young men in the
carnival fêtes. He wrote licentious carnival songs and so degraded
were his followers that they went everywhither shouting his praises as
a poet superior to Dante. And when, in July of the following year,
Savonarola was elected Prior of St. Mark's, Lorenzo sent messengers to
him, bidding him to show more respect to the head of the State.

Savonarola refused to do so. One day the Prince was seen walking in
the garden of the monastery. An attendant came in to Savonarola, and
announced that Lorenzo the Magnificent was in the garden. "Does he ask
for me?" "No," replied the young monk. "Then let him walk." Shortly
afterward the Prince sent a deputation to wait on the new Prior,
telling him that it was not good form to preach against the Prince,
who was the patron of St. Mark's, to which Savonarola replied, "Did I
receive my position from Lorenzo, or from Almighty God?" Savonarola's
eyes blazed, and he spake in tones of thunder and the answer was,
"From Almighty God." "Then," went on the Prior, "to Almighty God will
I render homage."

Lorenzo, as it chanced, was drawing near to the end of his life. One
day a messenger came from the palace announcing his dangerous illness.
Because Lorenzo had usurped the liberties of his country, had robbed
and oppressed his own people, Savonarola would not go. Then a second
messenger came, saying that the Prince was dying and asked absolution.
The Prior found the Prince propped up upon velvet pillows, and lying
in a great silken chamber. All his life long, Lorenzo had been
accustomed to soft words and pliant service. Now this stern prophet of
duty towered above his couch like a messenger of God. The Prior told
him absolution could not be granted except upon certain conditions.
"Three things are required of you; you must have a full and lively
faith in God's mercy; you must restore your ill-gotten gains; you must
restore liberty to Florence." Twice the Prince assented, but the third
time his face went white. He shivered, as if in fear, and at length,
in silence, he turned his face toward the wall. Savonarola turned his
back. He would not grant absolution. Lorenzo died. The news was spread
through the city by the relatives and servants standing about the
bedside of the dead Prince. The event heaved the soul of Florence as
the tides heave the sea.

The Prior was now the most influential man in Italy. His sermons took
on a new boldness, and his denunciation of vices filled the city with
excitement. Ever increasing his power as a preacher, he now added
certain addresses as a patriot. He hated the tyranny of the Medici
with an undying hatred. Taking upon himself full responsibility, he
sent a letter of welcome to Charles VIII and his French army,
believing that if Florence opened her gates to the French, the
Florentines might recover their own liberty. Having expelled the
family of the Medici, he found it necessary to write a constitution
for Florence, and his influence in shaping that constitution was the
most powerful influence exerted in that critical time. Leaving to
others the task of writing the code, he told the people plainly that,
of necessity, a government by one man strengthened the single ruler
toward despotism and autocracy, while self-government, through the
choice of representatives, worked for the diffusion of strength and
responsibility. He proposed a grand council of 3,000 citizens
appointed by the city judges, a body that answers to our House of
Representatives, and another superior council of eighty citizens, all
over forty years of age, who, in turn, were to share with the
magistrates the task of appointing the higher officers of the State.
Then he brought about a reform of taxation, full amnesty for political
offenders, made usury a treasonable act, founded a bank that loaned
money to the poor on their character and to the rich on their
collateral. He organized a movement against licentious plays, against
luxury, extravagance, ostentatious dress and houses. And when the
exiled princes made an alliance with the Pope, he denounced the crimes
of the Papacy.

Little by little, a great moral revival swept over Florence and Italy,
a revival that culminated in the coming together of the Florentines in
the public square, where the people threw upon a blazing fire their
vanities, with all the implements of gambling, fraud, and trickery, of
vice and drunkenness. Without being himself an ascetic, without making
any sweeping attack upon pleasure through music or the drama,
Savonarola was an opponent of every form of sensuality, and the gilded
vices that undermine sound morals. He was first of all a preacher,
changing men's lives and, incidentally, stating the reasons for their
personal reformation. Luther changed men's thinking first, and showed
men why this was wrong, and that was right, and therefore wrought
fundamental changes. But Savonarola was less of a thinker and more of
an evangelist. He had all the action of Demosthenes, all the
earnestness of Peter the Hermit, all the voice, the gestures and the
manner of Whitefield. He believed that the inevitable end of sin was
the Inferno of Dante, and therefore his language was full of fire, his
voice full of tears, and he plead with men to flee from Vanity Fair as
Lot fled from Sodom.

His uncompromising spirit had long since aroused the hatred of
political adversaries as well as of the degraded court of Rome. Even
now, when his authority was at its height, when his fame filled the
land, and the vast cathedral and its precincts lacked space for the
crowds flocking to hear him, his enemies were secretly preparing his
downfall. From the beginning it was plain that Socrates was fighting a
losing battle against the wicked judges of Athens. From the beginning
it must have been plain to Dante that his cunning and insidious foes,
who felt that he alone stood between them and their own enrichment,
would drive him an exile from Florence. And when Savonarola came into
collision with Pope Alexander VI, it was like a bird of paradise
going up against some Gibraltar of granite and steel.

Pope Alexander's two ambitions were the advancement of his family and
the strengthening of his temporal power. It was Alexander who, knowing
that the Sultan had a rival in the person of the young Prince Djem,
seized the young noble and put him in jail, on condition that forty
thousand ducats yearly should be paid for his jail fee. It was to
Alexander that, later, the Turk sent dispatches offering three hundred
thousand ducats if he would do away with the youth. History has
extenuated many of the crimes of Alexander, but this traffic in murder
for the Turks can never be forgiven. It was Alexander also who made
impossible liberty of the press, by forcing printers to submit their
books to the control of archbishops. It was Alexander who maintained a
harem in the Vatican. It was Alexander whose spies were in every inn,
in every village. His secret agents were in all the audiences of
Savonarola. Alexander looked upon the Prior as a traitor, disloyal and
dangerous to the Papacy. At first he sent agents to Florence, and
offered bribes to Savonarola, asked if he would accept a cardinal's
hat, and invited him to Rome to visit the Vatican. Savonarola
answered by redoubling his attacks. He called Rome a harlot church,
till the Pope ordered his excommunication. And at length, becoming
alarmed for their city, the magistrates of Florence forbade
Savonarola's preaching, and closed the cathedral to his work.

Retiring to St. Mark's, the great leader wrote letters to the crowned
heads of Europe, and called for a general council. He reviewed the
crimes of which the Pope had been guilty, and the list of vices was
long and black. His letters to various princes were intercepted, and
taken to Alexander. Then agents, with large sums of money, were sent
to Florence to organize a movement to destroy the Prior. Every
conceivable plot was organized against him, but he escaped poison, the
knife, and the assassin's club. His enemies challenged him to the
ordeal by fire, and when he asked that he might be allowed to carry
the crucifix and the sacrament in his hand they withdrew the
challenge. Thrown into prison, the inquisitors subjected him to the
most cruel torture. He was drawn up to the ceiling by a rope fourteen
times, and then suddenly dropped, until muscles, tendons and bones
were all but torn from their sockets. He was denied food and water and
sleep. And finally his reason gave way. Bodily pain so injured and
inflamed the brain that it refused its action. Among his last words
were the words of the dying Saviour, "In thee, O Lord, have I trusted.
Let me never be confounded."

When he was condemned to the flames, he appealed to the government of
Florence, but the rulers hastened to support the papal decree, and
insisted upon the execution of the sentence. On the morning upon which
he was to die, the great public square in Florence was crowded with
citizens. Multitudes who had wept during his sermons and whose lives
had been changed by his teachings, stood in grief and trepidation
around the funeral pyre, just as the multitudes in Jerusalem stood in
fear about the cross of Christ. In pronouncing the sentence of death,
the bishop of Verona, overwhelmed with fear and confusion, said, "I
separate thee from the Church militant and the Church triumphant." To
which Savonarola answered, "From the Church militant, yes, but from
the Church triumphant, that is not given unto you." The soldiers
pushed the lowest dregs of the city, thieves, drunkards, diseased
criminals, close to his scaffold, and encouraged them to assail him
with vile words and vile deeds. At ten o'clock of the 23d of May,
1498, his enemies achieved his death. Like Elijah he ascended unto
heaven in a chariot of fire. But soon thereafter the guilty leaders of
the Church discovered that his work had just begun. He had aroused the
conscience of the people, who followed Luther in a revolt against the
sale of indulgences that gave the right for the crime and sin. His
assertion of personal liberty put strength into Luther's arm and faith
into the heart of Calvin. Erasmus borrowed from Savonarola his
teachings of reasonableness and light. In exalting the Bible as the
final source of authority, he had enthroned that Book and the
teachings of Jesus above all popes and cardinals and bishops.
Practical men, Galileo, and Bacon, and Erasmus, and Tyndale, borrowed
courage from his life and writings. And to this day the influence of
this preacher, prophet, martyr, is still potent, not alone in Italy,
but throughout the world.



III

WILLIAM THE SILENT

(1533-1584)

_And Brave Little Holland_


Be the reasons what they may, liberty owes much to little lands and
confined peoples. Go back to any age and continent, place side by side
a little nation and a large one, and if the first has made for liberty
and progress, the second has often made for bondage and superstition.
For the beginnings of morals and religion we go back, not to that
widely extended state named Babylon, but to little Palestine, shut in
between the desert and the deep sea. For the beginnings of art and
culture we go not to the vast, rich plains of Asia Minor, but to that
little rocky land named Greece. For the beginnings of the republic we
go not to the sunny plains of Italy, but to the narrow valleys between
the Alpine Mountains. What great contribution to civilization has
Russia made to the world? But the little Swiss Republic has given us
the international postal system, international arbitration and the
referendum. Commerce owes a great debt to little Venice. Modern
banking owes a great debt to little Scotland. Asia and Africa owe a
great debt to little England. And though Holland was a narrow strip of
land but twenty miles wide and one hundred miles long, yet the world
can never repay the debt it owes to this mother of republics.

For lovers of liberty the most sacred spot in modern Europe is the
square of the Binnenhof at The Hague. A tablet there records the words
with which William the Silent challenged Philip II--words that were
first made the foundation of the Dutch Republic, words that our
pilgrim fathers took as the basis of their New England institutions.

"We declare to you that you have no right to interfere with the
conscience of any one so long as he has done nothing to work injury to
another person or public scandal."

We can never forget that Holland gave the founders of our Republic
their shelter, with safety and leisure for working out their dreams
and visions of self-government. But a full century before the Pilgrim
Fathers set foot in Leyden, Holland had become a shelter to foreign
exiles, and her citizens had pledged themselves to a deathless hatred
of all forms of tyranny. To the cities of Holland had fled those men
who were denied liberty of thought in Paris and Nuremburg. To Holland
had come the victims of oppression in Venice and Florence. It was in
Holland that the great Humanist had lived and died, that scholar and
philosopher Erasmus, who wrought as powerfully for reform in religion
as Huss and Savonarola. It was Erasmus who forged the intellectual
weapons used by Luther in Germany, and Calvin in Geneva. It was
Erasmus who first made a correct text for the Greek Testament. It was
Erasmus who put the Bible into the common languages of Europe. And it
was a group of Dutchmen who first demanded the separation of Church
and State. Two generations before William Bradford gathered his little
band in Leyden, William the Silent stood forth to challenge the divine
right of kings.

John Ruskin once called attention to the fact that as every great
art-age has been a reaction from an era of unendurable ugliness, so
every movement for liberty has been a reaction precipitated by
unwonted tyranny. Certain it is that as Oliver Cromwell represented a
rebound from feudalism, and Abraham Lincoln a reaction from the
cruelty of slavery, so William the Silent represented a thrilling
protest against the crime of a foreign usurper. His career is as
romantic and many-coloured as the career of David, the fugitive,
fleeing from Saul, or that of Robert Bruce, hiding in caves and dens
from the pursuers who threatened his life. In youth he was the
companion of kings, but he became the champion of the people against
their king, the idol of his followers, and the hero of a lost cause.
Like David, he knew the weariness and painfulness of the exile's lot.
Like Lincoln, he had a face furrowed with anxiety, and fell a victim
to the assassin's bullet. Reared in luxury, the heir to titles and
vast estates, the head of a dynasty, whose blood still flows in the
veins of Europe's rulers, for the cause of liberty he resigned his
rank, that he might serve the poor and oppressed. He was a statesman,
and had the foresight that organizes out of defeat, and is
unconquerable because it never knows when it is defeated. He was a
reformer, and attacked injustice and despotism in an era when of
necessity his labours were fruitless. He was a soldier, and had the
personal daring and the strong arm that count for more than strategic
skill. He was a hero, and though daily the hired poisoners sought
entrance to his palace, and assassins ever dogged his steps upon the
streets, despite the six attempts upon his life, he maintained his
courage and his boundless hope. In an age when society had not yet
doubted the divine right of kings, William of Orange fronted Philip II
with a denial of this citadel of tyranny and injustice, affirmed the
principle that the creed of a nation and the creed of individuals is a
matter of their own choice and their own conscience.

Our libraries hold no more instructive volumes than Motley's story of
the Netherlands, their rise to material prosperity and their struggle
for liberty under the leadership of this man known as William the
Silent. The tale of their slow growth as a maritime nation is an epic of
indomitable courage in the face of every conceivable form of obstacle.
We see these people for the sake of liberty retreating from the rich
plains of central Europe into the morass that the Roman historian said
was "neither land nor water." With infinite labour they built barriers
and dikes against the North Sea, developed a system of veins and
arteries through which they compelled the ocean to fertilize their
fields, and constructed watery highways for carrying their commerce into
distant lands. At length a region outcast of earth and ocean alike
"wrestled from both domains their richest treasure." Brave cities
floated mermaid-like upon the bosom of the sea. Standing upon the canal
boats, travellers looked down upon cattle grazing below the level of the
ocean, beheld orchards and gardens whose tree-tops scarcely reached the
level of the waves. Unconsciously this race that had struggled so long
and victoriously over storms and seas was educating itself of the
struggle with the still more savage despotism of man.

With intelligence and enterprise came the development of trade, and in
the fifteenth century the Hollanders became the carriers of the
world's commerce. Their ships and their sailors made their way around
into the Baltic, to the ports of all northern Europe, to the ports of
France and Spain, of Genoa and Naples and Venice, to Constantinople
and Alexandria, and from thence south into all countries and
continents. As bees flitting from orchard to orchard fertilize the
fruit, so these ships passing from port to port and continent to
continent fertilized the minds of men. Returning home they brought
bulbs, roots and seeds that soon made Holland the gayest flower-garden
in Europe and the home of modern floriculture and horticulture. From
the Far East they brought the suggestion of movable types. The
bleached linens, the tapestries and woollen goods of Holland won fame
throughout the world. The homes of her burghers were models of
comfort and even luxury. Small merchants of Amsterdam and Leyden and
Rotterdam became merchant princes. Weavers and spinners of linen and
silk, workers in iron, as well as silver and gold, left the other
lands of Europe and settled in the Dutch seaports.

In that little strip of land were inclosed 208 walled cities and 6,300
villages guarded by a belt of sixty fortresses. Little wonder that
Spain looked longingly toward this people and meditated plans for
breaking down its fortresses, subjugating its peoples and transferring
its accumulated treasure from the chests of the burghers to the vaults
of the Spanish dons and cavaliers. And when at length it began to look
as if the scepter of the sea might pass from Spain to Holland, King
Philip and his soldiers, under Bloody Alva, resolved to draw a circle
of fire around little Holland and rob her of the treasure she had so
slowly earned.

Fully to understand the heroic struggle of the Hollanders under William
of Orange, we must know the immediate cause of the controversy and the
source of the tyranny they opposed. That cause was the Inquisition and
the tyranny was that of Spain's ambitious rulers. At the moment of the
outbreak, Spain was the richest and the most powerful nation in Europe.
Victorious in Africa and Italy, her emperor had carried war into France
and now reigned over Germany as well as those provinces now known as
Belgium and Holland. If we ask from whence Spain derived the money for
these wars of conquest the answer is found in the vast treasure she
acquired in the New World. Prescott tells us that when the Spanish
soldiers captured the capital of Peru, the soldiers spent days in
melting down the golden vessels which they found in the vaults of
temples and palaces. In that era, when the yellow metal was worth so
much, a single ship carried to Spain $15,500,000 in gold, besides vast
treasures of silver and jewels. When Cortez approached the palace of
Montezuma the king's messengers met the general bearing gifts from their
lord. These gifts included 200 pounds (avoirdupois) of gold for the
leader and two pounds of gold for each soldier. The full value of the
treasure that Spain carried from the cities and states of the New World
will, doubtless, never be known.

But it must be remembered that the Spanish soldiers who went into
Mexico and Peru turned those two countries into a wilderness. For a
full half-century these brutal soldiers, burning with avarice, went
everywhither, looting towns, pillaging cities, butchering the people,
lifting the torch upon cottage and palace alike. The awful anguish and
suffering that Spain wrought upon the helpless people of Mexico and
Peru is one of the bloodiest chapters in history. The eagle pouncing
upon the dove, the panther leaping upon the young fawn, but faintly
interpret to us the savage cruelty of the Spaniard as he raged through
the new world. And when the Spanish ships came home, laden with gold
and silver the Emperor found means to prosecute his plans for military
conquest. Spanish armies were soon marching into northern Italy, into
Austria and Germany, into France and finally into Holland. Flushed
with victory and greedy of Holland's treasures, Philip determined to
punish these people for their refusal to vote supplies to his army, by
establishing there the Inquisition by the sword.

The Inquisition, that mediæval instrument for the detection of
punishment of disbelievers in the established Church, had existed in
all its horrible malignity for two hundred and fifty years. But it
remained for Philip of Spain to make its name forever a byword and a
hissing in the mouth of history. He had begun by employing it against
the wealthy Jews and Moors, who made up the richest, the most
intelligent and prosperous classes in Spain. During the first few
years after its institution the Spanish population fell from
10,000,000 to 7,000,000. In eighteen years Torquemada burned 10,220
persons and confiscated the property of 97,321 others. Primarily, the
Inquisition was a machine to search men's secret thoughts. It arrested
on suspicion, "tortured for confession and then punished with fire."
One witness brought a victim to the rack, and two to the flames.

The trial took place at midnight in a gloomy dungeon dimly lighted by
torches. Lea tells us "the Grand Inquisitor was enveloped in a black
robe with eyes glaring at his victim through holes cut in the hood."
Preparatory to examination, the victim, whether man, maiden or matron,
was stripped and stretched upon a bench, after which all the weights,
pulleys, and screws by which "tendons could be strained without
cracking, bones crushed without breaking, body tortured without dying,
were put into operation." When condemnation was pronounced the tongue
was mutilated so that the victim could neither speak nor swallow. When
the morning came, a breakfast with rare delicacies was placed before
the sufferer and with ironical invitation he was urged to satisfy his
hunger. Then a procession was formed, headed by the magistrates,
prelates and nobility, and the prisoner was led to the public square,
where an address was given, lauding the Inquisition, condemning heresy
and warning the people against want of subjection to the Pope and the
Emperor. Then while hymns were sung, blazing fagots were piled about
the prisoner until his body was reduced to a heap of ashes.

Such was the devilish institution Philip of Spain determined to set up
in Holland as a means of accomplishing his twofold aim, the punishment
of "disbelievers" and the despoiling of the Dutch burghers'
treasure-chests. Little wonder that even this sturdy folk drew back
from the thought in horror. They were not a people to submit to such
barbarities as they had already proved, by giving shelter to foreign
exiles. When the Inquisition was first inaugurated in Spain, and men
first stretched upon the rack as heretics, Holland had opened her
doors to the fugitives, who fled alike from the wrath of kings and
priests. All over the world, with its darkness and superstition, its
cruelty, its flames, its racks and thumbscrews, men of independent
minds had secretly turned their thoughts toward little Holland, and
their steps toward the seaports where the Dutch merchants bought and
sold the treasures of the sea. So, now, there developed in the
Netherlands a united protest, representing tens of thousands of
people, who deserted the churches ruled by the officials of the
Inquisition. These protestors went into the open air beyond the city
walls where they sang songs, and listened to the preaching of the
reformed ministers. Soon the Roman Catholics under the guidance of the
Spanish army, and the Protestants under William of Orange, stood over
against one another like two castles with cannon shotted to the
muzzle. And finally the storm broke, and the protestors went into the
churches their own hands had built, and covered the floor with rubbish
of broken statues, effigies, and images, cleansing the walls with axe
and hammer and broom, and leaving only the pulpit for the teacher, and
the plain pews for the worshippers.

The spark which finally set aflame the powder-magazine of men's hearts
was the entrance into Holland, in 1567, of the Duke of Alva, at the
head of twenty thousand of Spain's finest troops. Bloody Alva was the
most accomplished and capable general in Europe. He had been
victorious in campaigns in Africa, Italy, France and Germany. He has
been called the most bloodthirsty man who ever led troops to battle,
and he was sent to Holland to satiate his wolfish instincts. His army
included 6,000 horsemen, notorious for the cruelty with which they had
butchered their captives in the Italian campaigns. Alva promised to
turn these human wolves loose upon the sheep of Holland. Having
arrived in Antwerp and established himself in the citadel, his first
act was to organize the "Bloody Council." This monster, whose cruelty
was never equalled by any savage beast, announced that if in the Roman
era the Emperor contented himself with the heads of a few leaders,
leaving the multitude in safety, _he_ would order the death of the
multitude, naming a few who were to be permitted to live. Soon the
streets were filled with dead bodies. Not content with hanging,
burning, and beheading the leaders, Alva hung the corpses beside the
road as a warning against free-thinking.

In seven brief years this man brought charges of heresy, treason and
insubordination against 30,000 inhabitants. He boasted that he had
executed 18,600, while the number of those who had perished by battle,
siege, starvation and butchery defied all computation. And the more
the people rebelled, the more cruel were the methods he devised to
torment them. To the gallows he added the stake and the sword. Men
were beheaded, roasted before slow fires, pitched to death with hot
tongs, broken on the wheel, flayed alive. On one occasion the skins of
leaders were stripped from the living bodies and stretched upon drums
for beating at the funeral march of their brethren to the gallows. The
barbarities committed during the sacking of starving villages, Motley
tells us are beyond belief. "Unborn infants were torn from the living
bodies of their mothers; women and children were violated by
thousands; whole populations burned and hacked to pieces by soldiers,
and every mode which cruelty in its wanton ingenuity could desire."

Such was the administration of the man of whom it was said: "He
possessed no virtues, while the few vices he had were colossal." To
Philip, Bloody Alva explained his failure to subdue the Hollanders by
the statement that his "rule had been too merciful."

Over against this human monster, with his implacable hatreds and his
bestial cruelties, stands William of Orange, the champion of liberty
and the saviour of the Netherlands. By a strange coincidence, the
first vivid picture we have of this prince who gave up a life of ease
and luxury to defend the rights of his fellow men, is the scene at the
abdication of Charles V, when, in the presence of a great multitude at
Brussels, that ruler turned over the sovereignty of the Netherlands to
his son, young Philip II of Spain. William of Orange was then a youth
of twenty-two, a stadtholder, or imperial governor, of three rich
provinces, and the commander of the official army on the French
frontier.

"Arrayed in armour inlaid with gold," says the historian, "with a
steel helmet under his left arm, he looked the picture of noble
manhood." Beside him, as he fronted the assemblage, stood young
Philip, a youth of twenty-eight, dressed in velvet and gold, but
physically ill-shapen and already an object of dislike and distrust.
Impressive indeed the contrast between these two young men, destined
in a few short years to be pitted against each other like gladiators
in the long struggle for liberty. "The one had a genius for
government, the other possessed a talent for misgovernment. William of
Orange had a passion for toleration; Philip II had a passion for
crushing every form of toleration." Sovereign at twenty-eight, Philip
was already a prey to that consuming ambition which, with his fierce
bigotry, was soon to win him universal hatred.

How different this young prince William, with his godlike physique,
his perfect balance of heart and intellect, his conscience that could
not endure the thought of tyranny. Little wonder that men loved him.
In person most elegant, in manners most accomplished, he had been
educated by his mother, Juliana of Stolberg, a woman of rare abilities
and deeply religious character. As a _grand seigneur_, with great
estates and a brilliant retinue, he had known every temptation of
wealth and luxury. But neither the flattery of his friends nor the
adulation of his followers had sapped his manhood. He was already a
seasoned soldier, and almost at once he was to win fame as a
diplomatist. We see him serving at the head of his troops throughout
one more campaign; then, at the age of twenty-six, acting as one of
the three plenipotentiaries at the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis. Sent to
France as hostage for the fulfillment of this treaty, we find him the
cynosure of all men's eyes at the greatest and most brilliant court of
the day. Little here to warn those arch-plotters, Henry of France and
Philip of Spain, that he was soon to become their deadliest foe. Yet
already he was meditating rebellion against the horrors they were
planning. And soon he was to give up all thoughts of court
distinction, and go forth to organize peasants and rebels into an
army, besieging his own castle in the cause of liberty.

It was while he was still at the French court that the incident took
place which gave him his title of William the Silent. The peace
between Henry and Philip had just been concluded, with one purpose in
view as advised by cardinals and priests. "Both sovereigns were to
massacre the Protestants in their dominions, and in the Netherlands
the Spanish troops were to be employed for this special purpose." The
Duke of Alva was in the secret, and King Henry supposed that William
of Orange was also. One day while hunting, with William riding at his
side, Henry of France unfolded the horrible scheme. The young prince
heard him without a word. He had not been told of the project, but he
betrayed his ignorance by no sign of speech or gesture. Henry assumed
that he approved of the awful butchery. No man was ever more
grievously in error. From that moment William of Orange knew that his
call had come, from that hour he meditated his withdrawal from the
political parties of the guilty leaders. And when at length the martyr
fires were kindled in Holland, and the Inquisition, under Bloody
Alva, began its hellish tasks of "Church discipline" William of Orange
sold his plate and jewels, abandoned the great estates he had
inherited, and throwing in his lot with the common people, went to the
defense of the Netherlands in the struggle for liberty of thought.

William had already intervened, at the risk of his life, on more than
one occasion of strife and bloodshed. But the harshness with which the
laws against heretics were now carried out, the presence of Spanish
troops, the filling up of ministerial offices by Spaniards and other
foreigners was stirring the whole country, and presently his own son,
studying at the University of Louvain, was seized and carried off to
Spain. William himself was outlawed and his property confiscated.
Finding that he had been for years the real head of the movement for
liberty, Alva, as Governor-General, now set a price upon his head. It
was the darkest hour of the long struggle. In constant danger of
assassination, in constant fear of betrayal, unable to convince his
own people that the contest could never be won, William wandered from
place to place, a fugitive and an exile.

But he never once lost heart or capitulated to despair. In that hour
he seemed to have the strength of ten. He was at once general,
statesman, diplomat, financier and saviour of his people. Like David,
he went through the forest collecting outlaws and men who had
grievances; he organized a score of bands to prey upon the Spanish
army; he developed a system of secret service by which he kept spies
in Alva's citadel and informed his people of the enemy plans. He
raised a little army--saw it defeated--raised another, and saw the
crafty Alva refuse to fight until he was forced to allow it to
disband. In seven years he organized four such armies, only to be
overwhelmed again and again by force of numbers. With peasants armed
with pikes and pistols he fought veterans who had guns, cannons and
6,000 horses. Attempt after attempt was a failure, but he would not
confess defeat. When all seemed lost, he wrote to his brother, "With
God's help, I am determined to go on." And at length, in the face of
defeat on land, he turned to the sea and, organizing his little fleet
of "Beggars," became a terror to the Spanish galleons.

Fascinating the story of how this term, "the Beggars," came to be the
watchword of the Hollanders' revolt. One day when the clouds were at
their blackest, the nobles of Brussels rode in a body to the Duchess
Margaret to beseech the withdrawal of the Spanish troops. They came
plainly dressed and unarmed, and marching four abreast into the
council chamber, petitioned her to suspend the Inquisition. While
Margaret, deeply touched, shed tears over the piteous appeal, one of
her counsellors, named Berlaymont, spoke scornfully of the petitioners
as "a troop of beggars." The dropping of that single word was like the
dropping of a spark into a powder-magazine. That night a banquet was
held, with three hundred nobles present, and "Long live the Beggars!"
rose on every side. Born of a jibe, the name "Beggars" caught the
imagination of the people; the revolt spread like wild-fire, and
henceforth the phrase became a battle-cry, which was to ring out on
every bloody field of the long struggle.

But the battle was only begun. Though the spring of 1572 brought hope,
the hope was quickly dashed by the news of the terrible massacre of
St. Bartholomew in France. Charles IX had aligned himself with Philip
of Spain and was seeking to exterminate the Protestants. And Bloody
Alva now redoubled his cruelties in Holland. With incredible ferocity,
he attacked and captured the city of Naarden, butchering every man,
woman, and child, and razing every building to the ground. Haarlem
was next marked for destruction. The garrison, numbering less than two
thousand men, was reinforced by Catherine van Hasselaar and her corps
of three hundred women, who handled spade and pick, hot water and
blazing hoops of tar during the assaults. Alkmaar came next. Sixteen
thousand Spaniards under Don Frederic, Alva's son, began the siege,
expecting the town to fall as Haarlem had. But the hated foreigners
were met in the breaches by women, boys and girls, who fought with
pick, stones, fire and hot water for a full month.

When the brutal Spanish troops threatened to beat the patriots down by
sheer force of numbers, the peasants cut their dikes, flooded their
own fields and homes and renewed the attack upon the Spaniards from
the branches of their orchards and the tops of their houses. Clinging
to the dikes by their finger-tips, these people fought their way back
into the marshes, where the ground was more solid beneath their feet.
No pen can describe and no brush can paint the scenes of this and the
other sieges that followed. The history of heroism holds no more
impressive spectacle than the sight of these patriots who, in the hour
when the siege was suddenly lifted, left their dead in the streets
and went staggering toward the church to give thanks to God and swear
anew their hatred of tyranny before their lips had even tasted bread.

The struggle went on for a score of years. Driven out of their homes,
with no shelter of tent or stable, fleeing constantly from the enemy,
hiding under the slough grass and digging holes in the frozen sand,
the patriots perished by the thousands. In winter, when the frost was
bitter, and Alva looked out upon ice on every side, he ordered
thousands of pairs of skates, that his men might the more easily hunt
down the fugitives. At the climax of the struggle William the Silent,
worn with excessive labours, his health undermined by weeks and months
spent in the swamps and in the dikes, was stricken with fever and all
but died. When the illness was at its height and he was only a
skeleton, too weak to hold his pen in his hand, able only to whisper
dispatches to his messengers, came the news that Leyden, already
besieged for months, and now plague-stricken, was about to surrender.

The Spaniards were determined to win this defiant city, for it was the
very heart of Holland and the most beautiful city in the Netherlands.
It lay below the level of the ocean, protected by great dikes, and
its canals, shaded on either side by lime trees, poplars, and
willows, were crossed by one hundred and forty-five bridges. Its
houses were beautiful, its public square spacious, its churches
imposing. The Spanish commander had built sixty-six forts around the
city and so severe was the blockade that no succour by land was
possible. There were no troops in the town, save a small corps of
freebooters and five companies of the burgher guards. "The sole
reliance of the city was on the stout hearts of its inhabitants within
the walls, and on the sleepless energy of William the Silent without."
William, assuring them of deliverance, had implored them to hold out
at least three months, and they had "relied on his calm and
unflinching soul as on a rock of adamant." They were unaware of his
illness, for he had said nothing of it in his messages, knowing that
it would cast a deeper shadow on the city.

When the word reached him that the besieged could hold out no longer,
he decided once more to call in the aid of the sea. Leyden lay fifteen
miles from the ocean, but the ocean could be brought to Leyden, and
though he had no army with which to overwhelm the besiegers he still
had his veteran "Beggars" and a tiny fleet of vessels. He determined
to sacrifice the neighbouring countryside, with its houses and
villages, its fields and flocks, if only he might save the heroic city
and its defenders. On a day in August, the great sluices were opened
and the ocean began to pour in over the land. While he still lay
desperately ill, waiting for the rising of the waters, his agents were
busy assembling a fleet of flat-bottomed boats laden with herring and
bread for the starving people.

Meanwhile, within the city all was silence and death. Pestilence
stalked everywhere and the inhabitants fell like grass beneath the
scythe. The only communication was by carrier pigeons, and only the
messages from William kept up the hearts of the defenders. The scenes
of tragedy within the walls are not to be described. And by a stroke
of evil fate the wind, blowing steadily in the wrong direction,
delayed the rising of the waters.

Even in its despair, the city was sublime. At the climax of its
sufferings, a committee waited on the burgomaster to advise surrender.
He was a tall, haggard, imposing figure, with dark visage and
commanding eyes. He waved his broad-leafed hat for silence, and then,
to use Motley's words, gave answer, "What would ye, my friends, why
do ye murmur, that we do not break our vows, and surrender the city
to the Spaniards--a fate more terrible than the agony which she now
endures? I tell you I have made an oath before the city, and may God
give me strength to keep my oath! I can die but once; whether by your
hands, the enemy's, or by the hand of God. My own fate is indifferent
to me; not so that of the city entrusted to my care. I know that I
shall starve, if not soon relieved, but starvation is preferable to
the dishonourable death which is the only alternative. Your menaces
move me not; my life is at your disposal; here is my sword, plunge it
into my breast; and divide my flesh among you. Take my body to appease
your hunger, but expect no surrender so long as I remain alive."

Then came a gale from the northwest, and when the waters were piled up
in huge waves, the ocean swept across the ruined dikes. The flotilla
of the "Beggars," that had waited outside, unable to advance, a
painted fleet upon a painted ocean, now surged forward in a wild rush
to save the city. Spaniards by the hundreds sank beneath the deepening
and treacherous flood. The fortress of Alva was destroyed. At midnight
the enemy deserted their redoubts and fled, and at daybreak the ships
of William the Silent came through the canals. Soldiers threw bread to
the starving citizens, and two hours later every living person who
could walk made his way to the church to sing a hymn of deliverance,
during which the multitude broke down and wept like children. The day
following, the wind shifted to the east, and blew a tempest. "It was,"
says the historian, "as if the waters having done their work of
redemption, had been rolled back by an omnipotent hand, and when four
days had passed the land was bare again, and the reconstruction of the
dikes well advanced."

Such was the spirit of William the Silent, and his followers. The
eventual outcome was inevitable. At length the Spaniards came to see
that victory could be bought at one price and one price
alone--extermination. From Spain came overtures to William of Orange.
His reply is historic: "Peace only upon three conditions: (1) Freedom
of worship, (2) A land dedicated to liberty, (3) All Spaniards in
civil and military employment to be withdrawn forever." In April,
1576, an act of Union was agreed and signed at Delft, by which supreme
authority was conferred upon him. In September of that year William
entered Brussels in triumph, as the acknowledged leader of all the
Netherlands, Catholic and Protestant alike. And at length, at Utrecht,
a federal republic was established, with a written constitution--that
republic which was to exist for two hundred years under the motto "by
concord little things become great." William's struggle was over and
the battle won.

But, all unconsciously, the architect of the new republic was moving
toward his end. Like Moses, if he had led the people out of the
wilderness it was not given him to see the promised land. For years
his steps had been dogged by hired assassins. There had scarcely been
an hour during his long warfare when bribes and gold were not offered
for his death. It was a miracle that he had escaped the dagger, the
club and the cup of poison. He was now fifty-one years of age. His
portraits exhibit him as a man whose lips were locked with iron, whose
face was furrowed with care, his look alert and strained, his air that
"of a man at bay, having staked his life and life's work." And yet he
was one of the most charming of companions, brilliant of address, of
so winning a manner that it was said "every time he took off his hat
he won a subject from the King of Spain."

One morning, while writing at his desk, a young Spaniard who had
forged the seals obtained access to the Prince's writing room. Because
he had been searched by the guard the visitor was without weapon. But
having delivered his forged letter, he asked the Prince for a Bible
and the loan of a few crowns. He received a gift of twelve pieces of
silver, and went into the courtyard, where, with the Prince's own
money, he purchased a pistol from the guard. Thence he returned to
find a hiding place in the dark passageway, and to empty three shots
into the Prince's breast.

With the death of William the Silent the Netherlands lost their
noblest hero, their most sublime patriot, and one of the greatest
leaders of all time. Few are the names worthy to be ranked with that
of this Prince of the blood who gave his wealth, his strength and
finally his life for the cause of liberty. Ruling with a strong hand,
he was not a despot; brave, he was not reckless; giant, he was also
gentle; warring against the Inquisition, with its thumbscrews and
fagots, he held himself back from bloodthirstiness and revenge. The
victim of every kind of attack that hate could devise or malignity
invent, he never degraded himself by meeting hate with hate or crime
with crime. When the long struggle for liberty which he began was
brought to an issue, Spain had buried 350,000 of her sons and allies
in Holland, spent untold millions for the destroying of freedom, and
sunk from the ranks of the first power in Europe to the level of a
fourth-rate country--stagnant in ideas, cruel in government,
superstitious in religion. But brave little Holland had emerged to
serve forever as a rock against tyranny and a refuge from oppression.



IV

OLIVER CROMWELL

(1599-1658)

_And the Rise of Democracy in England_


Society's ingratitude to its heroes and leaders is proverbial. Earth's
bravest souls have been misunderstood in youth, maligned in manhood
and neglected in old age. The fathers slay the prophets, the children
build the sepulchres, and the grandchildren wear deeply the path the
heroes trod. History teems with illustrations of this principle.
Socrates is the wisest prophet, the noblest teacher, the truest
citizen and patriot that Athens ever had, and Athens rewards him with
a cup of poison. In a critical hour Savonarola saves the liberty of
his city, and Florence burns him in the market-place. Cervantes writes
the only world-wide thing in Spanish literature, and for an abiding
place Spain rewards him, not with a mansion, but with a blanket in a
dungeon, feeds him, not upon the apples of Paradise, but on the apples
of Sodom, and gives him to drink, not the nectar of the gods, but
vinegar mingled with gall.

Next to the Bible in influence upon English literature comes the
_Pilgrim's Progress_. England kept John Bunyan in jail at Bedford for
twelve years, as his reward. For some reason, nations reserve their
wreaths of recognition until the heart is broken, until hope is dead,
and the ambitions are in heaven. The history of the other great
leaders, therefore, leads us to expect that the greatest, because the
most typical, Englishman of all time, shall be unique in his obloquy
and shame, as he was signal in his supreme gifts. During his life the
very skies rained lies and cruel taunts; in his death the mildewed
lips of slander took up new falsehoods. In the grave the very dust of
this hero furnished a sure foundation for the temple of liberty, but
his grave was despoiled. With pomp and pageantry Charles the Second
ordered his bones to be exhumed, and the skeleton hung between thieves
at Tyburn to satisfy his hatred. For twelve years Cromwell's skull was
elevated upon a pole above Westminster Hall, where it stood exposed to
the rains of twelve summers and the snows of twelve winters.

And now that two hundred and fifty years have passed away, these
centuries have not availed for extinguishing the fires of hatred and
controversy, or for doing justice to the memory of this man, Oliver
Cromwell, God's appointed king.

We would naturally expect that time would have availed to clear the
name and fame of Cromwell and to secure for him the recognition that
his achievements deserve. But it was hard for some royalists to
forgive this man who turned his hand against the sacred person of the
King. For nearly three centuries the conflict has raged. The royal
historians count Cromwell the greatest hypocrite in history, the
trickster, the regicide, the political Judas of all time. For a
hundred years after his death, no man was found brave enough to
mention the name of Oliver Cromwell in Windsor Castle or the House of
Lords. England's Abbey has made a place for the statues of that
one-talent general, Burgoyne, whose chief business was to surrender
his troops to our colonial soldiers, but the Abbey has no niche for a
bust of the only English general who ranks with the great soldiers of
history--Alexander, Cæsar, Napoleon, Grant, and now Foch--these six
and no more.

The British Houses of Parliament are crowded with statues of
politicians who gave the people what they wanted, and some statesmen
who gave the people what they ought to have. And there, too, are found
the busts of kings and queens, Bloody Mary, contemptible John, those
little feeblings and parasites named the Georges. But low down and
bespattered with mud she has written the name of her greatest monarch,
and the most powerful ruler that ever sat upon a throne.

Not until Carlyle came forward did the cloud of slander begin to lift.
When the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Cromwell was
celebrated, Great Britain awakened to the fact that too little
recognition had been given to the great reformer whose career was one
of the marvels of English history. The measure of a nation's greatness
is the kind of man it admires. To-day, it is of little consequence
what we think of Cromwell, but it is of the first importance that
Cromwell should approve the leaders of our world-capitals. Only in the
last generation has the tide turned, and the reaction begun to set in.
John Morley, busied with his biography of Gladstone, took time to
write a history of the man whom he calls the maker of English history.
Professor Gardiner asserts that England has done injustice to Cromwell
and that the time has come for her to right a great wrong. All the
world has at last begun to recognise the fact that the farmer of
Huntingdon was an uncrowned king, ruling of his own natural right.

The world's ingratitude to Cromwell becomes the more striking when we
remember what he did for Great Britain, for her people, to right the
wrongs of her poor, to found her free institutions and to give her a
place among the nations of the earth. Oliver Cromwell found England
almost next to nothing in the scale of European politics. France
pitied poor little England, and Spain, the one world-wide force of the
time, despised her. He found her people a group of quarrelling sects,
divided, hostile and full of hate. Her soil was scored with countless
insurrections; her commerce was dead; her navy was so miserably weak
that pirates sailed up the Thames, dropped anchor in the night in
front of Westminster Hall, and flung defiance to the frightened
merchants. In a single year, three thousand Englishmen were impressed
by these pirates and sold in the slave markets of Algiers,
Constantinople and the West Indies. He found the king a tyrant, who
one day made the boast that he had brought every man who had opposed
his will to the Tower or the scaffold. He found Parliament saying, "We
have struggled for twenty years, and every attempt has ended with a
halter, and it is better to endure a present ill than flee to others
that we know not of."

And in the very darkest hour of England's history, this farmer flung
himself into the breach and besought his countrymen to unite in one
supreme effort to achieve liberty for the common people. For forty
years he had been a plain country gentleman, content with his farm;
ten years later he was "the most famous military captain in Europe,
the greatest man in England, and the wisest ruler England ever had."
He lived to hold the destinies of his country in his hands, to
enthrone justice and toleration over a great part of Europe, received
overtures for alliances from many kings, and died in the royal palace
at Whitehall, and was buried amid the lamentations of many who had
been his bitter enemies.

Cromwell's greatness stirs our sense of wonder the more, because he
accomplished what others had sought to achieve and failed. Balfour or
Lloyd George trained for years to his task, is like one who stands in
the midst of an arsenal, protected by walls and battlements, and
served by cannon and machine guns. To employ Carlyle's expressive
figure, a dwarf who stands with a match before a cannon can beat down
a stronghold, but he must be a giant indeed who can capture an armed
fortress with naked fists, as did Oliver Cromwell. He lived in an age
of great men. The era of Shakespeare, of Marlowe, Jonson and Bacon was
closing. It was the era of John Pym, called "The Old Man Eloquent." It
was the era of Hampden, the patrician, the orator and hero. It was the
time of Sir Harry Vane, the distinguished gentleman who came to Boston
to be made ruler of that new city, and whom Wendell Phillips called
the noblest patriot that ever walked the streets of the new capital.
Coke was on the bench, meditating his decisions, while Lyttleton was
perfecting his interpretations of the Constitution. John Milton was
making his plea for the liberty of the press. Owen and Sherlock and
Howe were in the pulpits.

These were among the bravest spirits that have ever stood upon our
earth. All hated tyranny, and all loved liberty. All sought to
overthrow the rule of the despot and yet, when all had done their
best, England was sold like a slave in the market-place. It was the
farmer of Huntingdon who, in that critical hour, came forward and
showed himself equal to the emergency. It was this country gentleman,
without political experience, this general who became a statesman
without the discipline of statecraft, who became the shepherd of his
people and overthrew that citadel of iniquity called the Divine Right
of Kings; who rid England of her pirates, developed a great commerce,
built up the most powerful navy that then sailed the sea--a possession
England has never lost--corrected the code, rectified the
Constitution, laid the foundation for the present Bill of Rights. This
is why John Morley asks us to study carefully the lineaments of this
man whose body England, to her undying shame, and in the days of her
dishonour, hung in chains at Tyburn.

If we are to understand Cromwell's character and career and his place
among the world's leaders, we must recall his age and time and the
England of that far-off day, when he wrought his work and dipped his
sword in heaven. What of the religious condition of England in the era
of intolerance, when the prophet of God was anointed with the ointment
of war, black and sulphurous? It is the year 1630, and Cromwell is
still in his early manhood. One bright morning, with St. Paul's to his
back, Cromwell entered Ludgate Circus. In the midst of the circus
stood a scaffold and around it was a great throng, crowding and
pressing toward the place of torture. At the foot of the scaffold was
a venerable scholar, his white hair flowing upon his shoulders, a man
of stainless character and spotless life, renowned for his devotion,
eloquence and patriotism. When the executioner led the aged pastor up
the steps, the soldiers tore off his garments. He was whipped until
blood ran in streams down his back, both nostrils were slit and his
ears cropped off, hot irons were brought and two letters, "S-S"--sower
of sedition--were burned into his forehead.

What crime had this pastor committed? Perhaps he had lifted a
firebrand upon the King's palace; perhaps he had organized some foul
gunpowder plot to overthrow the throne itself. Perhaps he had been
guilty of treason, or some foul and nameless sin against the State.
Not so. The reading of the decision of the judge and the decree of the
punishment made clear the truth. It seemed that a fortnight before,
the aged pastor had been commanded to give up his extempore prayers
and the singing of the Psalms, and had been commanded to read the
written prayers and sing the hymns prescribed by the state Church. But
the gentle scholar had disregarded the command, and on the following
Sunday walked in the ways familiar and dear to him by reason of long
association. He had dared to sing the same old Psalms and lift his
heart to God in extempore prayer, after the manner of his fathers.
And when the executioner announced that on the following Saturday at
high noon the old scholar would be brought a second time into Ludgate
Circus, and there scourged before the people, the cloud upon Oliver
Cromwell's brow was black as the thunder-storm that stands upon the
western sky, black and vociferous with thunder. Kings, the head of the
Church of Jesus Christ!

Two hundred years later, Abraham Lincoln, standing in the market-place
of New Orleans, was to see a coloured child torn from its mother's
arms, held by the auctioneer upon the block and sold to the highest
bidder. With a lump in his throat, Abraham Lincoln turned to his
brother and said: "If the time ever comes when I can strike, I will
hit slavery as hard a blow as I can." And when Cromwell turned away
from that scene in Ludgate Circus he went home to dream about the era
of toleration and liberty and charity, and registered a vow to strike,
when the time came, the hardest blow he could against the citadel of
intolerance and bigotry on the part of the Church.

But political England was as dark and troublesome as the religious
world of that day. One of the noblest men of the time was Sir John
Eliot. He was the child of wealth and opportunity. The university had
lent him culture, travel had lent breadth, and leisure had given him
the opportunity to grow wise and ripe. His nature was singularly lofty
and devout, his temper ardent and chivalric. His one ambition was to
serve his mother country. A vice-admiral, he was given power to defend
the commerce of the country and overthrow the pirates. After many
attempts, by a clever but dangerous maneuver he entrapped the king of
the pirates, Nutt, who had taken one hundred and twenty English ships
and sold the sailors in the slave market of Algiers and Tripoli. But
King Charles freed the pirate, and punished the vice-admiral by four
months' imprisonment, for he had taken bribes against his own sailors.

When Sir John Eliot had been released, he charged the King with
complicity in a crime. For reply the King levied an illegal fine. Sir
John Eliot was rich, and he might have bought immunity. In his home
dwelt a beautiful wife and little children, and with flight he might
have escaped his prison. His wealth would have enabled him to live
abroad in ease, but he preferred to stay at home and die in London
Tower for principle. And no martyr, going to his stake, no hero,
falling at the head of a battle line, ever did a nobler thing than
Sir John Eliot, when he refused to pay his fine and preferred death to
enjoying the pleasures of expediency for a season. For three years the
hero bore his imprisonment and endured the tortures of confinement.
The rigours of the Tower could not break his dauntless spirit. One day
he found blood upon his handkerchief. Fearing that death was near, he
sent a request to the royal palace. "A little more air, your majesty,
that I may gain strength to die in!" But John Eliot had thwarted the
King's policy, and Charles carried his vindictiveness even to death.
"Not humble enough," was the King's reply. Blows cannot break the
will, waters cannot drown the will, flames cannot consume the will,
and in the hour of Eliot's death, Charles knew that his opponent had
conquered. One day John Eliot's son petitioned the King that he might
carry his father's remains to Cornwall to lie with those of his
ancestors. Charles wrote on the petition: "Let Sir John Eliot's body
be buried in the parish where he died, and his ashes lie unmarked in
the Chapel of the Tower."

But the social England of the era of Cromwell is a darker picture
still. If our age is the era of the rise and reign of the common
people, that was an age when the middle-class was as yet almost
unknown. Feudalism still survived. There were the plebeians on the one
hand, and the patrician class on the other. Theoretically the King
owned the land, and the lords and gentlemen were agents under him.
Kenilworth Castle and its lord stand for the social England of that
day. My lord dwelt in a castle--the people dwelt in mud huts. He wore
purple and fine linen--his people wore coats of sheepskin, slept on
beds of straw, ate black bread, knew sorrow by day and misery by
night. Did a farmer sow a field and reap the harvest? Every third
shock belonged to the lord of the castle. Did the husbandman drive his
flocks afield? In the autumn, every third sheep and bullock belonged
to my lord. Was the grain ripe in the field? If the peasant owed
twenty days' labour without return at the time of sowing to my lord,
he had to give ten days more to the lord of the castle in the time of
the harvest. Again without recompense. And so it generally came about
that for want of proper time to plough and plant and for opportunity
of reaping in the hour when his grain was ripe, the serf fronted the
winter with an empty granary, and the cry of his children was
exceeding bitter.

There were few bridges across the streams, there was no glass in the
farmer's window, not one in a thousand owned a book, sanitation was
almost unknown, every other babe died in infancy; if the upper classes
came out of the Black Death almost unscathed, about a third of the
peasant class was swept off by that scourge, which the physicians now
know was caused by insufficient food and decayed grain. It was an era
of ignorance and brutality among the poor, an era of snobs and of
criminals. Cromwell found a hundred laws upon the English statute
books that involve hanging for petty infringements against the rights
of the King. He found woman a chattel and one day saw a man sell his
wife in the market-place and beheld the purchaser lead the girl off in
a halter. When the traveller rode up to London, he passed between a
line of gibbets, where corpses hung rotting in chains. Highwaymen rode
even into London, at nightfall, and tied their horses in Hyde Park,
robbed people in the streets, broke into stores and rode away
unmolested. One advertisement read thus: "For sale, a negro boy, aged
eleven years. Inquire at the Coffee House, Threadneedle Street, behind
the Royal Exchange."

Drunkenness and gambling were all but universal. One Secretary of
State was notorious as the greatest drunkard and the most unlucky
gambler of his era. A Prime Minister was allowed to appear at the
opera house with his mistress, and was esteemed the finest public man
of his century. We are face to face with corruption in politics,
incompetence in council and paganism in religion. To-day a member of
the Cabinet who would use his private information for purposes of
gambling in Wall Street would be instantly ruined. But in that era,
the King and his courtiers filled their coffers by such methods
without any criticism.

In such an era, Cromwell saw that there was no hope for England until
there was a middle class. He determined to destroy the castles that
offered shelter to the princes who had spoiled and robbed and outraged
the poor, who had no defense to which they could flee when they had
outraged the law. It has often been said that he was an iconoclast; in
razing the castles of England to the ground and overthrowing the
strongholds he was the greatest criminal of his age; but if he loved the
castles and architecture less, it was because he loved the poor more. He
levelled stones down that he might have a foundation upon which the poor
could climb up, and thereby he destroyed the strongholds of feudalism
and laid the foundations of the Bill of Rights of 1832, and was the
forerunner of our own Washington and Lincoln.

Who is this King Charles who stands for the old order, and who is the
great representative of the doctrine of the divine right of kings? He
was a grandson of Mary, Queen of Scots, who, in fleeing from Scotland,
seized the hand of Lord Lindsay, her foe, and holding it aloft in her
grasp swore by it, "I will have your head for this, so I assure you."
His father was James the First of England and Sixth of Scotland, who
had some gifts and also virtues, but who after all was simply an
animated stomach, carried far by a handful of intellectual faculties.
That Charles the First had qualities denied to his father all must
confess. He was gifted with a certain taste for pictures, he had some
imagination, and loved good literature. During his imprisonment he
read Tasso, Spenser's _Faerie Queen_, and, above all, Shakespeare. He
was methodical and decorous, but his favourite essay was Bacon's
"Essay on Simulation and Dissimulation." As a diplomat he believed
that Machiavelli's _Prince_ was the ideal to be followed, in that
truth is so precious a quantity that it ought not to be wasted on the
common people. He was not renowned for chivalry or a sense of
gratitude. Witness his foul desertion of Strafford in the hour when
Strafford exclaimed: "Put not your trust in princes!"

Again and again, through his selfishness, he spoiled his people. To
obtain money he sold to one of his favourites the exclusive right to
use sedan chairs in London, and put chains across the streets and made
it a criminal offense for a gentleman to drive his coach into the
limits of the city. He taxed the shoes the people wore, the salt they
ate, the beds on which they slept, and the very windows through which
the light came. He hired spies to make out a list of merchants who had
an income of more than £2,000 a year and by indirect blackmail
obtained money therefrom. When the Black Death broke out, and the
streets of London were piled with corpses, and the committee of relief
asked for public subscriptions, Charles the First fled to Hampton
Court and made no subscription, large or small, to the relief fund.

And how did he amuse himself during those days when every house in
London was left desolate? In his far-off palace, surrounded by guards,
beyond whom no messenger could pass, Charles the First sat, surrounded
by his court. He sent to Amsterdam for jewellers and paid £10,400 for
a necklace. He paid £8,000 for a gold collar for himself, and £10,000
for a diamond ring for the Queen. On the ground that Parliament had
not imposed taxes sufficient for his expenses, he made a tax
proclamation for himself. Then Parliament, led by Pym and Hampden and
Eliot, brought in a bill of remonstrance. They assumed that the King
ruled under preëxisting laws. They declared that if Charles refused to
call a Parliament and arrogated its power to himself, twelve peers
might call a Parliament, and if this failed, the citizens might come
together through a committee and elect their representatives.

But the King was consumed with egotism and vanity. He sent orders to
Parliament to deliver to him the five leaders who stood for the
liberties of the people, and with a mob of soldiers he entered the
House of Commons to seize Hampden and Pym. But the House refused to
give up its members, and helped them to escape through one of the
windows, and the next day it brought them back in a triumphal
procession. Returning to his palace, the King found the streets
crowded with people, silent, sullen, dark with anger. He heard threats
and growls from every side. One prophet of righteousness called out,
"To your tents, O Israel!" Suddenly Charles the First realized that
his people, driven to bay, had at last bestirred themselves, and,
fearing he might be driven into a corner, his cheek went white as
marble. That night, conscious of his danger, he fled to Hampton Court,
while the whole city applauded the five leaders who had escaped the
snare. He had furnished the dynamite to blow up his throne. The
people, represented by Parliament, stood over against the peers,
represented by the King, as enemies. It was "either your neck, or my
neck," and when a few weeks passed, there began the era of civil war,
with blazing towns and castles and strongholds. "Whom the gods would
destroy, they first make mad."

But who is the man who shall do for England what Savonarola did for
Florence, and Luther for Germany, and William Tell for Switzerland,
and Washington and Lincoln for our own country? Oliver Cromwell was of
Celtic stock and noble family. It is a singular coincidence that he
was a ninth cousin of that Charles whose death warrant he was to sign;
that seventeen of his relatives were in Parliament to sign the Great
Remonstrance, and that ten of his blood-relatives joined with him in
signing the death warrant of the King. Cromwell was sixteen years of
age, and enrolled himself as a student at Cambridge on the very day
that great Shakespeare died in Stratford. The greatest thing England
ever did in literature ended on the day when perhaps the greatest
thing she did in action began. John Milton said that Cromwell nursed
his great soul in silence and solitude. He was but a child when the
news of the Gunpowder Plot filled his father's house with excitement.
He was but a child when a dispatch was laid in his father's hands
announcing the death of Henry of Navarre, the founder of Protestantism
in France. From boyhood he loved the story of the brave and gallant
Sir Walter Raleigh, and the announcement that he was to be executed to
please the King of Spain filled him with tumultuous indignation.

In appearance he was above medium stature, built like Daniel Webster
and Brougham and Beecher, with great, beautiful head, bronzed face,
heavy, projecting eyebrows, large forehead, two eyes burning like
flames of fire beneath the overhanging cliffs. He was of sandy
complexion, like Alexander and Napoleon. But if he were thick set, he
was of finely compacted fiber, and this man, who was to deal a
crushing blow at Marston Moor, and sign the King's death warrant and
"grasp the scepter of a throne" and raze to the ground the citadels
of iniquity, the old strong castles of feudalism, was also strong
enough to lift little England with her six millions to a level with
the thirty millions of mighty Spain. Not until he was forty years of
age did this farmer enter Parliament. One day, in the House of
Commons, Sir Philip Warwick, while listening to a sharp voice, said to
John Hampden, whose seat was near him: "Mr. Hampden, who is that
sloven who spoke just now, for I see he is on our side, by his
speaking so warmly?" "That sloven," replied Hampden, "whom you see
before you--that sloven, I say--if we ever come to a breach with the
King--God forbid--that sloven, I say, would, in that case, be the
greatest man in England." But Hampden knew him also as gentle and
lovable, tender toward his friends, loved by his rustic neighbours,
though this vehement man, with sword stuck close to his side, had
stern and uncompromising work, and the most difficult task ever set
before an Englishman. "A larger soul, I think," writes Carlyle, "had
seldom dwelt in a house of clay than was his."

Much of the criticism of Cromwell that has been so bitter, so rabid
and so persistent would at once disappear if it were understood that
the central element in Cromwell's life was religion. He was first of
all a Puritan, essentially a religious reformer and incidentally a
politician. This is the clue to the maze, this is the key to the
problem, and the solution to this historical enigma. He was by nature
a poet and a prophet, haunted by sublime vision, dreaming of heaven
and hell, as did Dante and Bunyan. "Verily," said he, "I think the
Lord is with me. I undertake strange things, yet do I go through them
to great profit and gladness and furtherance of the Lord's great work.
I do feel myself lifted on by a strange force. I cannot tell why. By
night and by day I am urged forward in the great work."

Had he lived in the days of Jeremiah, he would have dreamed dreams and
seen visions and foretold retribution upon the wrongdoers. Had he
lived in the days of Socrates, he would have made much of the voice of
God. Had he lived in the time of Bernard the Monk, or Francis of
Assisi, he would have dwelt apart from men and fed his soul in
solitude. Like John Bunyan, he was a melancholy, brooding, lonely
figure, who sometimes fought with Apollyon in the Valley of
Humiliation, and sometimes was lifted to the heights of the Delectable
Mountains. He was a man of singular sincerity, who confessed like
Paul: "Oft have I been in hell, and sometimes have I been caught up
into the seventh heaven and heard things not lawful to utter."
Blackness of darkness on one day, blinding radiance of light on
another--both experiences were his. "I think I am the poorest wretch
that lives, but I love God, or rather I am beloved of God." There
speaks the religious leader, and not the ambitious politician.

"In the whole history of Europe," writes Frederic Harrison, "Oliver
Cromwell is the one ruler into whose presence no vicious man could ever
come, into whose service no vicious man might ever enter." What an army
was that which he collected! When one of his officers was guilty of
profanity and vulgarity in his presence, he was immediately dismissed.
Cromwell sought out men like John Milton to be associated with him in
diplomatic work. "If I were to choose," he writes, "any servant--the
meanest officers of the army of the Commonwealth--I would choose a godly
man that hath principle, especially where a trust is to be committed,
because I know where to find a man that hath principle." He believed,
also, and practiced prayer, for more things are wrought by prayer than
are dreamed of in man's philosophy. With Tennyson, he held that "with
prayer men are bound as with chains of gold about the feet of God." One
day, overpressed with work, he went into the country to spend the night
with an old friend. After the Lord Protector had retired, the host heard
words, as of one speaking. Standing by the door of Cromwell's room, in
which he feared that some enemy might have found entrance, he heard
Cromwell pouring out his heart to God, telling Him that this was not a
work that he had taken up for himself; that it was God's work; that the
people were God's children, and the world God's world. Little wonder
that the modern politician cannot understand Oliver Cromwell, and finds
his life full of contradictory elements.

Not all present-day politicians could stand the prayer test. Cromwell
was a God-intoxicated man. He believed that the Sermon on the Mount
and the law of Sinai were the basis of all political creeds. "We
think," writes the historian, "that religion is a part of life; the
Puritan thought it was the whole of life." That which was morally
right could not be politically wrong, that which was politically right
could not be morally wrong. The principles of justice and honesty that
made the individual life worthy were one with the principles that made
national life worthy. Between man and man you expected truth. Was it
a matter of indifference for the King to lie to his ministers, his
people, and his Parliament? Is a king to be excused who broke all
pledges, and laid dishonest taxes on his people? These questions were
incidentally political questions, but primarily moral problems. And
they thrust Cromwell, the religious recluse, into the whirl and
turmoil of politics, and made him a soldier and a statesman.

What a study in contrasts is the story of this farmer of Huntingdon!
One day Parliament makes remonstrance; it sends the King word that he
must call Parliament at regular intervals; that taxes must be voted by
Parliament; that in the event of the King's refusing to call a
Parliament for the correction of injustice, the peers may issue the
call; that if the peers refuse, the judges may issue it, and if the
judges play false, the people may come together for election. Hampden,
Pym and Cromwell indict the King for wrong and tyranny. Charles gives
orders that the five leaders of Parliament shall be delivered to the
Keeper of the Tower. The King flees to Hampton Court, and sends the
gold plate and the crown jewels to Paris, hires foreign troops, lands
them upon English shores and England is plunged into civil war.

For the time being, Parliament is stunned, and the leaders seem
paralyzed. But one man is equal to the emergency. This farmer, in
rural England, assembles the gentlemen who live in his neighbourhood.
They crowd under the trees in his orchard, he reads a psalm, kneels
down and prays with them, then tells them that on the morrow a
representative of the King is to be in Cambridge to call for troops.
Cromwell announces that to-morrow he proposes to hang the King's
representative at the crossroads, and to seize the gold plate of the
university to hire troops. "I want no tapsters, or gamesters or
cowards, but only gentlemen who fear God and keep His commandments." A
few weeks later, Prince Rupert and Charles meet Lord Essex and the
Parliamentary forces at Marston Moor, and at first are overwhelmingly
successful. When the Puritans are defeated, Lord Essex orders Cromwell
to bring up his regiment, and the stroke of Cromwell's Ironsides is
the stroke of an earthquake. The farmer turns defeat into victory.

Then comes the overthrow of Charles at Naseby, and "God's crowning
mercy" at Worcester. When Scotland tries to force the Presbytery upon
England, Cromwell leads his troops north to Edinburgh. When the Irish
rise up at Drogheda, he marches into Ireland. When Charles breaks all
his pledges, and his private correspondence is discovered, exhibiting
him in the light of traitor to the liberties of England, Oliver
Cromwell becomes executioner, for he has to decide between the head of
the King, or the neck of the Parliament. Offered the throne, with the
right of descent passing over to his son, he refuses the crown, for he
wishes to be the protector, to guard the precious seeds of liberty
until such time as a worthy successor for the throne shall appear. If
for a time he rules as military dictator, it grows out of the
necessities of the times, for Parliament is weak, divided into hostile
camps, refusing to correct the laws, investigate the abuses of judges,
revise the principles of taxation, do anything for the navy, lighten
the burdens of the common people. Divided into little cliques,
Parliament wastes weeks and months, and at last Oliver Cromwell enters
the House of Commons and dissolves Parliament, charging them with
having thrown away a great opportunity. "May God choose between you
and me!" exclaims the one man who understands the emergency. He is the
true king who can do the thing that needs to be done!

What were the qualities that made Cromwell the great hero that he
was? Lord Morley tells us that Cromwell was first of all a practical
man, tactful, straightforward, and going straight to his object. With
the instincts of the true general, for soldiers he selected sturdy
farmers, country gentlemen, men of iron nerve, who did not drink nor
gamble, but with whom war meant business. He gave to each of his
soldiers a pocket-Bible, and when he hurled his regiments against the
jaunty and dapper youths who made up the army of Prince Rupert, his
troops swept through the royalist army "as a cannon ball goes through
a heap of egg-shells." "Pray, but keep your powder dry," was his
motto. He had also the genius of hard work, and the love of detail. He
could toil terribly. Nothing escaped his vigilance.

One day he was asked whether he knew that Charles II, then living in
Paris, had a representative in England? "Certainly," he replied. "He
has one representative who sleeps in such a house, and another who
sleeps near the palace. The correspondence of the first is in a trunk
under his bed. The letters of the second are in a certain inn."

When he came at length to live in a palace, Oliver Cromwell was simple
in his tastes, pure in his morals, tireless in his pursuit of duty.
It is said that he was a Philistine, and the enemy of culture. But he
loved music and encouraged the opera. He loved literature, and his
warmest friend was John Milton, the greatest poet and author of the
age. If he levelled the castles of England to the ground, that
feudalism might have no stronghold to which it could flee, it cannot
be said that he hated art, for Cromwell bought the cartoons of Raphael
for England, and preserved the art treasures of Charles the First. It
stirs our sense of wonder that men should think that Cromwell
represents opposition to culture, and that Charles the Second stands
for the refinements of life. Charles the Second, the royalist, was a
king who endeavoured to sell the cartoons of Raphael that Cromwell had
preserved, to the King of France, to obtain money for his court. He
encouraged bull-baiting and cock-fighting and pleasures steeped in
animalism and vulgarity. No one claims that Cromwell himself was a
piece of granite, unhewn and unpolished. The fact is, neither the
Puritan nor the royalist stood for full culture and refinement. But of
the two men, a thousand times preferable is the Cromwell who
maintained friendship with John Milton, who represented genius united
to the noblest character.

But great as was Cromwell, the ruler, he was greater still as father,
citizen and Christian. Alone, amid conspiracies and plots, the weary
Titan staggered on. At last the burden broke his heart. He held the
realm in order by his will, gave law to Europe, and defended the weak,
crushed the bigot, so that far away in Rome the Pope trembled at his
name, and the sons of the martyrs blessed him. Suddenly he realized
that his great work was done. On his death-bed he lay with one hand
upon the breast of Christ, and the other stretched out toward
Washington and Lincoln. For hours he lay, speaking great and noble
words. The storm that passed over London that day and uprooted the
trees in Hyde Park was the fitting dirge for the passing of this noble
soul. "God is good," he murmured. Urged to take a potion and find
sleep, he answered: "It is not my design to drink and sleep, but my
wish is to make what haste I can to be gone." An hour later he lay
calm and speechless. His work was done. He had shattered that citadel
of iniquity, the Divine Right of Kings, and secured for the people of
England the rights of conscience and religion. When the King returned,
he returned to reign in accordance with the people's will. When the
Church was restored, it was restored upon the basis of the Act of
Toleration, and the concession that no church can coerce the
conscience of the people. Cromwell had compacted Scotland and England.
He had outlined the movement of the reform bill of 1832. He had
brought in an epoch when, for the first and only time in Europe,
morality and religion were qualifications insisted upon in a court.
Much of that which is best in the life and thought of America and
England, the republic and the great monarchy alike owe to that stern
workman of God, Oliver Cromwell.



V

JOHN MILTON

(1608-1674)

_The Scholar in Politics_


By common consent, critics acclaim John Milton the greatest Latin
scholar, the foremost man of letters and one of the two first literary
artists England has produced. Historians have united to give him a
place among the ten great names in English history. Take out of our
institutions Milton's plea for the liberty of the printing press, his
views on education, and all modern society would be changed. Tennyson
called Milton "the God-gifted organ-voice of England, the
mighty-mouthed inventor of harmonies; an angel skilled to sing of time
and of eternity; a seer who spent his days and nights listening to the
sevenfold _Hallelujah Chorus_ of Almighty God." Voltaire was not an
Englishman, but Voltaire characterized Milton's poems as "the noblest
product of the human imagination." Many American statesmen believe
that the principles of the Compact signed in the cabin of the
_Mayflower_ and the final Constitution, are none other than the
reproduction in political terms of the dreams of freedom that haunted
the soul of John Milton all his life long. But it remained for
Wordsworth to pay the supreme tribute to this immortal singer:

      "Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart;
      Thou hadst a voice that sounded like the sea;
      Pure as the native heavens, majestic, free.
      We must be free or die that speak the tongue
      That Shakespeare spoke; the faith and morals hold
      Which Milton held."

Poet, statesman, philosopher, champion and martyr of English
literature, John Milton was born at one of the critical moments in the
history of mankind. His era, says Macaulay, "was one of the memorable
eras--the very crisis of the great conflict between liberty and
despotism, reason and prejudice. The battle was fought for no single
generation, for no single land. The destinies of the human race were
staked on the same cast with the freedom of the English people. Then
were first proclaimed those mighty principles which have since worked
their way into the depth of the American forests . . . and from one
end of Europe to the other have kindled an unquenchable fire in the
hearts of the oppressed. Of those principles, then struggling for
their existence, Milton was the most devoted and eloquent champion."

If it be true, as Macaulay would have us believe, that as civilization
advances, poetry necessarily declines, and that in an enlightened and
literary society the poet's difficulties are "in proportion to his
proficiency" as a scholar, then it may truly be said that few poets
have triumphed over greater difficulties than John Milton. He was born
at the end of the heroic age in English literature, and he enjoyed all
the benefits and advantages that travel and culture could bestow upon
him. If, however, as others of us believe, great literature is like a
spring of clear water, bubbling out of the soil, and no man can say
what mysterious elements give it its crystal purity, then it behooves
us to examine somewhat into the nature of Milton's parentage, the
character of his environment and the significance of the training he
received as a young man.

The great poet was born in London, eight years before the death of
Shakespeare. The first sixteen years of his life were the last sixteen
of the reign of James I. In Cheapside, within a block of his father's
house, stood the old "Mermaid" tavern of Marlow, Ben Jonson, Dekker
and Philip Massinger. His father was a scrivener, who drew deeds, made
wills, invested money for his clients, and, in general, fulfilled for
many families the tasks that now devolve upon the modern trust
company. The father's skill and probity won for him an increasing
number of clients, and with money came leisure for study and travel.
He was a musician, a man of culture, a composer of considerable note;
and he made his home an all-round center for young artists and
authors. From the beginning, he recognized the unique genius of his
son, and made the development of that genius to be the chief object of
his life. He never tired of telling the boy that his first duty was to
make the most possible out of himself. He held to those ideals that
were outlined in Plato's and Aristotle's books on education. Whatever
development could come through music, art, lectures, books, teachers,
travel, was given the young poet. Just as misers pursue the
accumulation of gold, just as ambitious statesmen pursue office and
honour, so this father, by day and by night, toiled upon the education
of his son; first teaching the child in his own library; then calling
to his aid wise and experienced tutors; then sending the boy to a
great London grammar school and thence to Cambridge University. The
boy showed promise from the first. His exercises, "in English or other
tongue, prosing or versing, but chiefly the latter," early attracted
attention. He studied hard, at school and at home; often studying till
twelve at night. He loved books, "and he loved better to be foremost."
He was only fifteen years of age when he wrote:

      "Let us blaze his name abroad,
      For of gods, he is the God,

      Who by wisdom did create
      Th' painted heavens so full of state,

      He the golden tressèd sun
      Caused all day his course to run,
      Th' hornèd moon to hang by night
      'Mid her spangled sisters bright;

      For his mercies aye endure,
      Ever faithful, ever sure."

Throughout his youth, Milton's enthusiasm for reading and learning
burned like a fire, by day and by night. He was one of the few students
outside of Italy who could think in Latin, debate in Latin, and write
verse in Latin quite as readily as in English. "He was a profound and
elegant classical scholar; he had studied all the mysteries of
Rabbinical literature; he was intimately acquainted with every language
of modern Europe from which either pleasure or information was then to
be derived." He fulfilled his own definition of education:--"I call a
complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly,
skillfully and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public,
of peace and war." And he believed that culture and character should
have an aggressive note. "I take it to be my portion in this life, by
labour and intense study, to leave something so written to after time,
that they should not willingly let it die." Faithfully did he seek to
live up to these high ideals. He sowed no wild oats, cut no bloody
gashes in his conscience and memory, dwelt apart from vice and
sensualism, and, at last, left the university with the approbation of
the good and with no stain upon his soul.

Upon entering Cambridge it had been his intention to become a clergyman,
but that intention he soon abandoned. The reasons he gives us are "the
tyranny that had invaded the church," and the fact that, finding he
could not honestly subscribe to the oaths and obligations required, he
"thought it better to preserve a blameless silence before the sacred
office of speaking, begun with servitude and forswearing." His father,
meantime, had retired from business, and taken a country house in a
small village near Windsor, about twenty miles from London. Few fathers
have ever been as generous in meeting and encouraging a son's desire to
devote himself to literature. For the next five years and eight months,
in that country quietude, within sight of the towers of Windsor, Milton
describes himself as "wholly intent, through a period of absolute
leisure, on a steady perusal of the Greek and Latin writers." His
father, of course, had provided the funds. His biographer Masson says:
"Not until Milton was thirty-two years of age, if even then, did he earn
a penny for himself." Such a life would have ruined ninety-nine out of
every hundred talented young men; but it is the genius of Milton that he
put those years to good use. Believing himself to be one dedicated to a
high purpose, he not only completed his studies in classical literature
but produced, at the same time, those early immortal classics known as
his "minor" poems. There he wrote the "Lycidas," one of the world's
great elegies; there the "Comus," which alone of all the masques of that
time and preceding time, "has gone in its entirety into the body of
living English literature." And there he wrote those two exquisite,
airy fancies known to every schoolboy under the titles of "L'Allegro,"
and "Il Penseroso."

It was in 1638, at the age of thirty, that Milton determined to
broaden his views by study in foreign lands. Once more his father
generously made possible the fulfillment of his ambition. The young
scholar naturally turned his steps toward Italy, then the home of
painting, letters and the newer learning. His biographer pictures him
for us--"a slight, patrician figure, distinguished alike in mind and
physique. . . . He carries letters from Sir Henry Wotton; he sees the
great Hugo Grotius at Paris; sees the sunny country of olives in
Provence; sees the superb front of Genoa piling up from the blue
waters of the Mediterranean; sees Galileo at Florence--the old
philosopher too blind to study the face of the studious young
Englishman that has come so far to greet him. He sees, too, what is
best and bravest at Rome; among the rest St. Peter's, just then
brought to completion, and in the first freshness of its great tufa
masonry. He is fêted by studious young Italians; has the freedom of
the Accademia della Crusca; blazes out in love-sonnets to some
dark-eyed signorina of Bologna; returns by Venice and by Geneva where
he hobnobs with the Diodati, friends of his old school-fellow,
Charles Diodati." In Rome again, we find him writing Latin poems, some
of which, seen by learned Italians, stir these writers to amazement at
the thought that a Briton could be so excellent a Latin poet. It was
their praise, Milton says in one of his letters, that led to his
renewed resolve to devote his life to literature. Then and there he
determined to do for England what Homer had done for Greece, what
Virgil had done for Rome, what Dante had done for Italy. Lingering in
the Sistine Chapel and in the various galleries of the Vatican, he saw
the religious dramas of Michael Angelo, and the paintings of Raphael,
with the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve, culminating in the
Last Judgment. And in those hours of leisure and contemplation he
stored his memory with the glorious images that he was to use in later
years for unfolding and unveiling the fall of man's soul in his
_Paradise Lost_ and _Paradise Regained_.

It was while he was in the midst of his studies in the libraries of
Rome and Florence, that the news reached him of the civil war
threatening at home. Charles the First had reaffirmed the doctrine of
the divine right of kings--that iniquitous theory which long afterward
was to be revived by Kaiser Wilhelm as an excuse for the Great War.
Over against Charles stood the Parliament, representing the people,
and led by John Eliot and John Pym, John Hampden and Oliver Cromwell.
Milton, with instant decision, turned his steps toward England. "I
thought it dishonourable," he tells us, "that I should be travelling
at ease for amusement when my fellow-countrymen at home were fighting
for liberty." Back in London, he found the country rocking on a red
wave--the Scotch marching over the border--the Long Parliament
portending--Strafford and Laud on the verge of impeachment--city
pitted against city; brother against brother. His own father, drawing
near to the end of his life, was a strong Royalist. The storm had
broken, and in that sea of trouble the King and the old leaders were
to go down. It is the glory of Milton that in that hour he chose to
ally himself with a great cause and abandoning, for the time, his
dream of an immortal epic, threw himself into the struggle for
intellectual and moral liberty.

For the next twenty years, he was engulfed in a maelstrom of politics,
tossed on a feverish tide of political hatred. With his own father and
brother on the side of the King, he could no longer live under their
roof; and unwilling to surrender his convictions of freedom and
self-government, he struck out for himself in London. He took
lodgings, and for years earned a slender livelihood by preparing
pupils for the university. He gave his mornings to his students, and
spent his evenings in writing pleas, attacking the autocracy of the
King, and supporting the Puritan Leaders who wished to found the new
commonwealth. It was not only Milton's life that was so affected. The
lives of almost all his English contemporaries suffered similarly.
Through the twenty years, from 1640 to 1660, there was an eclipse of
pure literature in England. When he wrote he wrote necessarily, in
prose. "I have the use," he explains, "as I may account it, of my
_left hand_." But never once did he lose sight of his ideal--poetry.
"Neither do I think it shame," he explains in one of his pamphlets,
"to covenant with any knowing reader, that for some few years yet I
may go on trust with him toward the payment of what I am now
indebted,"--meaning the composition of some poem which "the world
would not willingly let die." He kept his promise--in the fullness of
time. But in the interval, he played his part in the great drama of
the Civil War.

At the very outset he was forced to endure and triumph over a
personal misfortune. Like Shakespeare and Goethe, and many other
poets, John Milton was most unfortunate in his marital life. At
thirty-five, after a month's rest in the country, he returned to
London, bringing with him a wife. She was young and of a family
virtually committed to the Royalist cause; she had a shallow mind, and
no sympathy either for Milton's artistic aims or his political
convictions. The Civil War was on, Milton was giving himself with
intense application to important public topics, was away from home in
consultation with public men the long day through, and often returned
late at night. The poor girl was in despair. A stranger in a great
city, with no gift for friendship, she slowly became conscious of the
fact that she never could be interested in John Milton's life. Urging
the necessity of a brief visit to her country home, she went away and
later positively refused to return. Milton was first hurt, then
angered and finally disillusioned; and after great mental distress and
careful study of the whole question of marriage and divorce, he
published his views, which have exerted a profound and lasting
influence upon society.

John Milton held that divorce should be as easy as marriage, and that
when two people, beginning their contract in good faith, discover
after honest endeavour, that there can be no happiness in the home,
and both decide that it is best and honourable to separate, then there
should be no legal obstacle to prevent this, providing always that
proper provision be made for the support and education of children,
whose character and disposition could not fail to be injured by the
daily spectacle of unhappiness. Years afterward, when his wife's
family had been rendered homeless, he took them all back into his own
house. When his wife died, he married again, and within a year he was
left a widower. Six years later he married his third wife, but his
home was embittered by endless warfare between his daughters and his
third wife. One of his letters says plainly that his wife was kind to
him in his blind, old age when his daughters were undutiful and inhuman.

The Civil War was scarcely begun before he issued the first of those
thunderbolts of indignation and exhortation known as his pamphlets on
church discipline, education, and the liberty of unlicensed printing.
The years that followed were years of incessant labour. He began and
completed during this period his _History of England_, written from
the viewpoint of the common people and tracing the ills, the poverty,
and rebellion of Britain to misgovernment and tyranny. When Parliament
tried the King upon charges of treason, and executed Charles, it was
John Milton who came forward to defend Parliament, in a treatise which
bore this title upon the title page:

      The Tenure of Kings and Magistrate
      Proving that it is Lawful
      To call to account a tyrant or wicked King
      And, after due conviction, to depose and put him to death.

  By
  JOHN MILTON.

Milton was not only the greatest pamphleteer of his generation--"head
and shoulders above the rest"--but there is no life of that time, not
even Cromwell's, in which the history of the revolution, so far as the
deep underlying ideas were concerned, may be better studied. He was
the first Englishman of note outside of Parliament to attach himself
thus openly to the new Commonwealth. And every one of his prose works
had this great quality, that it struck a blow for liberty.

In beginning any study of Milton it must be remembered that his
intellect was essentially athletic. If he was the great poet of his
era, he was not a dreamer of the closet, but a man who plunged into
the thick of the fight, and made his writing and his doing a vital and
indestructible part of his time. In analyzing the scholar's influence,
De Quincey speaks of "the literature of knowledge" and "the literature
of power." The function of the first is to teach men, the function of
the second is to move and persuade men to action. De Quincey wishes us
to understand that Milton's writings entered almost immediately into
the thinking and the doing of the British people, just as bread enters
into the blood of the physical system. Milton cared nothing for
learning for its own sake. Knowledge was important only to the degree
in which it was vitally creative, inspiring men, correcting their
blunders, rebuking their selfishness, enlightening their darkness, and
lifting them into the realm of silence, peace, and mystery. After
defining the true scholar and Christian, as a knight going forth to
war against every form of ignorance and tyranny, he exclaims, "I
cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue unexercised and
unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks
out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not
without dust and heat." Learning, with Milton, was a means of
enlarging his being and doing. Mark Pattison has well said, "He
cultivated not letters, but himself, and sought to enter into
possession of his own mental kingdom. Not that he might reign there,
but that he might royally use its resources in building up a work
which should bring honour to his country and his native tongue."

The glory of the battle which he fought for freedom--the freedom of
the human mind--is all his own. "Thousands and tens of thousands among
his contemporaries raised their voices against ship-money and the Star
Chamber; but there were few indeed who discerned the more fearful
evils of moral and intellectual slavery, and the benefits which would
result from the liberty of the press and the unfettered exercise of
private judgment." Milton was determined that the people should think
for themselves, as well as tax themselves. And that he might shake the
very foundations of the corruptions which he saw debasing the state,
he selected for himself the most arduous and dangerous literary
service. "At the beginning he wrote with incomparable energy and
eloquence against the bishops. But, when his opinion seemed likely to
prevail, he passed on to other subjects, and abandoned prelacy to the
crowd of writers who now hastened to insult a falling party." He
pressed always into the forlorn hope. The very men who most
disapproved of his opinions were forced to respect the hardihood with
which he maintained them.

Milton's prose pamphlets deserve the close study of every writer who
wishes to know the full power of the English language. They sparkle
with fine passages; they ring with eloquence; they have the fire and
the fervour of a great mind at white heat. For quotable sentences,
they are "a perfect field of cloth of gold." And the fineness and
stiffness of their texture is by no means their greatest splendour.
Every one of these controversial pamphlets answers to its author's
definition of a good book in that it contains "the precious life-blood
of a master spirit."

By far the most popular, and probably the most eloquent of all his
prose writings is the famous _Areopagitica_, his argument for the
liberty of unlicensed printing. It appeared on the 25th of November
1664, deliberately unlicensed and unregistered, and was a remonstrance
addressed to Parliament in the form and style of an oration to be
delivered in the assembly. Nobly eulogistic of Parliament in other
respects, it denounced their printing ordinance as utterly unworthy of
them, and of the new era of English liberties. Admired to-day because
its main doctrine has become axiomatic--at one blow it accomplished
the repeal of the licensing system and established forever the freedom
of the English press--it contains passages which for power and beauty
of prose make the finest declamations of Edmund Burke sink into
insignificance.

It was not, however, the _Areopagitica_, but his vindication of the
execution of Charles the First that procured for Milton the office of
Latin Secretary under Cromwell's government. His boundless admiration
for Cromwell had shown itself already in his immortal sonnet on the
great soldier. He considered Cromwell the greatest and the best man of
his generation, or of many generations; and he regarded Cromwell's
assumption of the supreme power, as well as his retention of that
power with a sovereign title, "as no real suppression of the republic,
but as necessary for the preservation of the republic." Cromwell, in
turn, saw in Milton a most powerful defender of the new commonwealth.
By 1651 it was generally conceded that "the reputation of the
Commonwealth abroad had been established by two agencies, and only
two:--the victories of Cromwell, and the prose pamphlets of John
Milton." In the nature of the case, their friendship and mutual
respect of the two men was inevitable.

After the death of Charles, new treaties had to be drawn between
England and Spain, England and France and Italy and Holland. These
state papers were all written in Latin, and the Secretary of Latin and
of Foreign Relations was a great person in the cabinet of every
country. Milton's knowledge of Spanish, French, Italian, German,
Dutch, as well as Latin and Greek, made him an important figure in the
deliberations of Cromwell's Council of State. His special duty was the
drafting in Latin of letters of state, but from the first, he was
employed in every conceivable kind of work. The council looked to him
for everything in the nature of literary vigilance in the interests of
the struggling Commonwealth. He was employed in personal conferences,
in the examination of suspected papers, in interviews with their
authors and printers, agents of foreign towns, envoys, ambassadors. It
was a period of intense and feverish activity, with cabinet meetings,
conferences between the leaders of the government, necessarily held at
night. In that era of candle-light and flickering torches, with oil
and electricity both still unknown, Milton, with despatches to be
translated, notes to be made at all hours, was soon imperilling his
eyesight. He was forty years of age when he took the post; at
forty-six, as a result of his continuous and indomitable activities,
he had ruined his eyes and was totally blind.

Wonderful the fortitude with which he faced this affliction! Hear the
lines he composed in the first of those dark days:

      "When I consider how my light is spent
      Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
      And that one talent, which is death to hide,
      Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
      To serve therewith my Maker, and present
      My true account, lest he, returning, chide;
      'Dost God exact day-labour, light denied?'
      I fondly ask: But Patience, to prevent
      That murmur, soon replies--'God doth not heed
      Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best
      Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state
      Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
      And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
      They also serve, who only stand and wait.'"

And hard upon this catastrophe came a new turn in the wheel of fortune.
Cromwell died; the Commonwealth came to an end; all London threw its
cap in the air at the Restoration. The leaders of the Commonwealth had
to flee for their lives. Some fled to America for safety and some were
caught and executed. Cromwell's body was taken from its grave in
Westminster Abbey, suspended from the gallows, and left to dangle there.
Past Milton's house, near Red Lion Square, the howling mob went by,
dragging the body of his old leader. Milton himself, blind and in
hiding, narrowly escaped execution. His head was forfeit, his pamphlets
burned by public order. Only chance, and the exertion of influential
friends, saved him from discovery and death. His escape from the
scaffold is a mystery now, as it was a mystery at the time.

In the evil days that followed--the days of the Restoration, with its
revenges and reactions, its return to high Episcopacy and suppression
of every form of dissent and sectarianism, its new and shameless royal
court--Milton, blind and forgotten by the public, turned to his
long-cherished dream of a great poem. For twenty years, through all
the storm and stress of political agitation, it had never been
banished wholly from his thoughts. In the library of Cambridge
University there may be seen to-day a list of over one hundred
possible subjects, written in his own hand during some leisure-hour
when he was pondering the great project of his heart. Living in
retirement, visited only by a few close friends, he now proceeded to
compose the masterpiece planned as a young man. Unable to see a book,
forced to beg every friend who visited him to read aloud to him,
dependent upon the assistance of three rebellious daughters, none of
whom understood the many languages he knew so well, he nevertheless
drove forward, determined to finish his task. _Paradise Lost_, begun
and brought to completion in the face of every sort of discouragement,
was finished in 1665 and published in 1667.

This amazing poem--the glory of English literature--is one of the few
monumental works of the world. The English language possesses no other
epic poem, nor a poem of any other kind, which approaches it in
sustained sublimity. Nothing in modern epic literature is comparable
to it save only the _Divine Comedy_ of Dante. It is impossible, in a
single page or chapter, to call the roll of the beauties of Milton's
poetic style. Much has been written of the organ-music of his verse,
its magical, mysterious influence. Speaking generally, the terms mean
little; but applied to Milton, both have significance. For his
melody, his verse-structure, the very names he employs act like an
incantation, with an almost occult power.

James Russell Lowell emphasizes this quality: "It is wonderful how,
from the most withered and juiceless hint gathered in his reading, his
grand images rise like an exhalation; how from the most battered old
lamp, caught in that huge drag-net with which he swept the waters of
learning, he could conjure up a tall genii to build his palaces." His
words, says Macaulay, in another brilliant summary, "are words of
enchantment. No sooner are they pronounced, than the past is present
and the distant near. New forms of beauty start at once into
existence, and all the burial places of the memory give up their dead.
Change the structure of the sentence; substitute one synonym for
another, and the whole effect is destroyed. There is large learning in
the poem--weighty and recondite; but this spoils no music; great
cumbrous names catch sonorous vibrations under his modulating touch,
and colossal shields and spheres clash together like symbols. The
whole burden of his knowledges--Pagan, Christian, or Hebraic, lift up
and sink away upon the undulations of his sublime verse, as
heavy-laden ships rise and fall upon some great ground swell making
in from outer seas."

Fully to comprehend the peculiar sublimity of _Paradise Lost_, one must
understand the peculiar character of the age in which Milton was living.
It was a theological era, as the next century was a political era. In
their reaction from the absolutism of Rome, the Puritans hated
everything that reminded them of the Roman excesses, and that revulsion
extended not only to the ecclesiastical autocracy of Rome, but to the
lesser things, the clouds of incense, stained glass and the rich dresses
of the clergy, the ecclesiastical holidays. These Puritans are called by
Macaulay the most remarkable body of men that the world has ever
produced. They had a contempt for all terrestrial distinctions.
Confident of the favour of God, they despised the dignities of this
world. "Unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets they were
deeply read in the oracles of God. If their names were not found in the
registers of heralds, they were recorded in the Book of Life. If their
steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of
ministering angels had charge over them. Their palaces were houses not
made with hands; their diadems crowns of glory which shall never fade
away. On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests they looked
down with contempt; for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious
treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language, nobles by right of an
earlier creation and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand. Thus
the Puritan was made up of two different men--the one all
self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other proud, calm,
inflexible, sagacious. He prostrated himself in the dust before his
Maker; but he set his foot on the neck of his King."

It is only to be expected that the literature of such an age--both
prose and poetry--should be to a large degree theological. Milton's
_Paradise Lost_ is an epic of war between good and evil. Not that,
strictly speaking, Milton belonged to the class just described. He was
not a Puritan, any more than he was a Freethinker, or a Royalist. In
his character the noblest qualities of all three groups were combined.
"From the Parliament and from the Court, from the conventicle and from
the Gothic cloister, from the gloomy circles of the Roundheads and the
Christmas revels of the Cavalier, his nature selected and drew to
itself whatever was great and good." But the peculiar religious note
that is in his great epic, the serious note, the note of dignity, is
the distillation of an atmosphere charged and aquiver with the most
intense theological convictions.

Numerous accounts have come down to us of Milton's personal appearance
and habits toward the end of his life. By nature a patrician,
reserved, clothed with a gentle dignity, he was not without a certain
haughty, defiant self-assertion such as Lowell ascribes to Dante and
Michael Angelo. He came to be a familiar figure in the neighbourhood
of his residence, "a slender figure, of middle stature or a little
less, generally dressed in a grey cloak or overcoat, and wearing
sometimes a small silver-hilted sword, evidently in feeble health, but
still looking younger than he was, with his lightish hair, and his
fair, rather than aged or pale, complexion."

He was a very early riser, and regular in the distribution of his day,
"spending the first part, to his midday dinner, always in his own
room, amid his books, with an amanuensis to read for him and write to
his dictation. Usually there was singing in the late afternoon, when
there was a voice to sing for him; and instrumental music, when his,
or a friendly hand touched the old organ." He loved the out-of-door
life, walked much in the fields, loved his garden and his flowers,
made his library to be the world of the open air.

From time to time learned and noble visitors, native and foreign, made
their way to his modest home. They read in the lines of his noble
countenance the proud and mournful history of his glory and his
affliction. They listened to his slightest words, they kneeled to kiss
his hand and weep upon it, for the neglect of an age that was unworthy
of his talents and his virtues. They contested with his daughters the
privilege of reading Homer to him, or of taking down the immortal
accents which flowed from his lips. But, for the most part, his last
days were days of retirement. The grand loneliness of his latter years
makes him the most impressive figure in our literary history. Yet it
is idle to talk of the loneliness of one, the habitual companions of
whose mind were the Past and Future. "I always seem to see him,
leaning in his blindness, one hand on the shoulder of each, sure that
the Future will guard the song which the Past had inspired."

Few characters have stood the test of time and history so well. And no
other man has so fully incarnated himself in literature. Therefore the
tribute of James Russell Lowell: "We say of Shakespeare that he had
the power of transforming himself into everything, but of Milton that
he had the power of transforming everything into himself." Dante is
individual, rather than self-conscious, and he, the cast-iron man,
grows pliable as a field of grain at the breath of Beatrice, and flows
away in waves of sunshine. But Milton never let himself go for a
moment. As other poets are possessed by their theme, so is he
self-possessed, his great theme being John Milton, and his great duty
that of interpreter between him and the world. Puritanism has left an
abiding mark in politics and religion, but its true monuments are the
prose of Bunyan and the verse of Milton. For the epitaph written by
his friend was scrupulously accurate: "Whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are of good report, Milton
thought upon these things."



VI

JOHN WESLEY

(1703-1791)

_And the Moral Awakening of the Common People_


Now that long time has passed, the two bright names of the eighteenth
century are seen to be the names of Washington and Wesley. The
statement will come with a note of shock to many readers, but beyond
most critical estimates, it is one that will stand examination. Time
has a way of reversing judgments, and not the least of the changes in
men's thought has been the gradual transformation in the attitude of
the historian toward Wesley, carried to his grave by six poor men in
1791. Now that one hundred and twenty years have passed, Wesley has
thirty millions of followers, who believe in his method and are
carrying forward his work. The time has come when there is not a city
in Great Britain, or on the North American continent, or in India--and
few indeed, of any size in China or Japan--where there are not some
disciples of this teacher, spreading his message, according to his
plan. During these hundred and twenty years, dynasties have fallen,
empires have perished, cities and states have changed, but the ideas
and the influence of Wesley, stamped upon the memories of his
followers, have spread like leaven, working often in silence and
secrecy, but slowly transforming the world.

The praise of his critics is enough to lend John Wesley enduring fame.
Leslie Stephen called him "the greatest captain of men of his century."
Macaulay ridiculed the historians of his day who failed to see that "the
greatest event of the era was the work of Wesley." To Macaulay's
statement that Wesley had a genius for government, equal to that of
Richelieu, Matthew Arnold added, "He had a genius for godliness." Buckle
called him the first of ecclesiastical statesmen, while Lecky said,
"Wesley's sermons were of greater historic importance to England than
all the victories by land and sea under Pitt."

"No other man," writes Augustine Birrell, "did such a life-work for
England. He helped to save England from the horrors of the French
Revolution." This is not a careless pronouncement, nor an instance of
biographical exaggeration. Born in 1703, belonging to the era just
preceding the French Revolution, John Wesley, with his fifty years among
the working people of Great Britain, changed the thinking of his time.
The eighteenth century was a coarse age; Carlyle summarized it in a
single biting phrase: "soul extinct; stomach well alive." The pictures
of Hogarth, the journals of Wesley, and the _History of Great Criminals_
prove that there was at least a basis for Carlyle's bitterness. Dr.
Johnson, in his _Dictionary_, defines a pension as "pay given to a
street hireling for treason to his country." Burke describes the British
Secretary of State as "the greatest drunkard and most unlucky gambler of
his age." Walpole portrays cabinet ministers and statesmen reeling into
the ferry-boat of Charon at forty-five, worn out with drunkenness and
gout. In his pictures of Beer Street and Gin Lane, Hogarth sketches the
drunkenness and filth of the London that he calls "the city of gallows,"
with a street that was a lane of gibbets, where the corpses of felons
hung. Hume and Walpole both prophesied an inevitable revolution, with
corpses that would be piled up as barricades "in front of human beasts
who fought with the ferocity of tigers." But at the very moment when
France was seething with revolt, across in England, in Newcastle and
Moorfields, thousands of grimy miners were assembled, now weeping in
penitence, now singing hymns of praise to God. When the spirit of
destruction swept over Europe, Wesley's revival had done its work, and
its influence held the people of England back from the horrors of the
guillotine in Paris. It is for this reason that historians rank John
Wesley in terms of abiding influence, above Pitt, Wellington and Nelson.

In _Adam Bede_, George Eliot, the great novelist, describes with the
minuteness of an eye-witness an open-air revival meeting among the early
Methodists of England. Her heroine, Dinah Morris, relates the incident
in the following words: "It was on just such a sort of evening as this,
when I was a little girl, and my aunt took me to hear a good man preach
out-of-doors, just as we are here. I remember his face well; he was a
very old man, and had very long, white hair, his voice was very soft and
beautiful, not like any voice I had ever heard before. I was a little
girl, and scarcely knew anything, and this old man seemed to me such a
different sort of man from anybody I had ever seen before, that I
thought that he had perhaps come down from the skies to preach to us,
and I said, 'Aunt, will he go back into the sky to-night, like the
picture in the Bible?'" . . . That man of God was John Wesley, who had
spent a lifetime going up and down the land, doing good. He had preached
from fifteen to twenty times a week for fifty years--in all, over forty
thousand times. In this, his sixty-second year, he was to preach eight
hundred times. He had ridden nearly two hundred and fifty thousand
miles; and in his long preaching tours through Ireland he had crossed
the Channel forty times. The poor had lost their heart to him. The
ignorant, the outcast, the collier and clerk alike, all pressed and
thronged about this saintly figure, with his beautiful face, his clear
eyes, his musical voice, who never tired of telling people, "God is
love; Christ is love; and religion is life, as it is the happiest, so it
is the cheerfullest thing in the world."

It is written of Moses that his hands were held up by two friends, Aaron
and Hur. Not otherwise John Wesley was supported on either side by two
great comrades,--Whitefield, the evangelist, and his own brother,
Charles Wesley. If any man ever had the gift of eloquence and oratory,
it was George Whitefield. At twenty-one years of age Whitefield received
orders, and within a single year he was England's first preacher in
point of hearers. His warmest friends may have overpraised this
evangelist, but his harshest critics concede that he had the most
musical, carrying voice that ever issued from a speaker's throat. During
his career he wrote some sixty sermons, but he preached them over and
over again, eighteen thousand times. Within a single week he spoke on an
average of forty hours. There is nothing in his sermons, as they have
come down to us, to explain their marvellous transforming influence, but
Whitefield had the vision of the seer, saw heaven and hell as clearly as
he saw the world around him, and could make men see and feel what he
himself experienced. Benjamin Franklin heard Whitefield preach in
Philadelphia, and was carried away by the personality of the preacher,
whose luminous eyes, matchless voice, and transfigured face stirred the
men of the Quaker City as if he were the angel Gabriel.

Charles Wesley, like George Whitefield, was an evangelist who preached
constantly in the open air, to multitudes of fifteen to twenty
thousand people. He was without the iron strength of Whitefield, but
for fifteen years he did preach once a day, and sometimes two and
three times. He lacked Whitefield's organ voice, and the strange
mystic, magical charm of his brother John, but his sentences were
short, with the swiftness of bullets, and he was a most persuasive
orator. The fact was, Charles Wesley's emotions were often beyond his
powers of control. He pled with men with tears running down his
cheeks; his voice shook and quavered; he melted men until their hearts
were like water. Often, in the midst of his sermon, he broke into
song. In theory he was a high-churchman, but in practice he was a
nonconformist, who ordained laymen to the ministry. He was a little
man, short-sighted, quick to resent a wrong, loyal in friendship, most
lovable, full of faults, and full of sorrow by reason of his faults,
an inspired singer of hymns; but he lacked the order, the organizing
gift, the iron purpose and the unyielding will of his brother John.

Far greater than either Whitefield or Charles Wesley was the brother,
preacher, statesman, theologian, scholar, and evangelist. John Wesley
outlived Whitefield by thirty, and his brother Charles, by four years.
If Whitefield preached eighteen thousand times, this amazing man
preached forty-two thousand, four hundred times and within fifty-one
years. His comrades broke down, his friends passed away, bitter
opposition developed, the doors of the churches were closed against
him but Wesley's zeal "burned long, burned undimmed, burned when even
the fire of life turned to ashes." For fifty years he not only
preached, but published seven volumes a year. He did an enormous work
as author and publisher. In the interests of the poor he was the first
man to publish cheap literature, and he brought many wise books within
the reach of colliers and peasants. He wrote a volume on household
medicine; simple books on grammar, style, good health and history. He
translated the writings of other authors, and abridged works that were
beyond the poor man's purse. The germ of the modern lecture system,
social settlement work, night-schools, and the shelter-houses of
General Booth, are all in Wesley's work. He accomplished an incredible
amount as author, publisher, educator, and organizer of social and
political reforms. His _Journal_, covering a period of fifty-four
years, and existing to-day in the shape of twenty-one beautifully
written volumes, has been called "the most amazing record of human
exertion ever penned."

This personal _Journal_ of John Wesley deserves a place among the few
great journals of the world. There are only two other eighteen century
volumes worthy to be spoken of in the same breath:--Walpole's _Letters_
and Boswell's _Johnson_. Horace Walpole was the rich idler, the male
butterfly, who lived for pleasure and position, and in his gossiping
letters embalmed for later generations "all the lords and ladies, the
rakes and flirts, the fools and spendthrifts, the gossip and scandal of
a rich man's career." Dr. Johnson stands for manliness, independence,
courage, robust common sense. His chief interests in life were
literature and politics, and Boswell says that he divided society into
two classes, Whigs who were to be cudgelled and scourged, and Tories who
were to be admired and praised. But Wesley's _Journal_ is upon a far
higher level. His spirit is not that of curiosity, as was Walpole's, nor
of vehement resentment and personal preferences, as was Johnson's. It is
that of a passionate and divine pity. He possessed an overpowering sense
of the value of men apart from their position, their politics, their
knowledge or ignorance, their poverty or wealth; he saw them as God sees
them. And the result is a work far sweeter and finer than either of the
two famous volumes just considered.

Wonderful the picture of serenity and strength given us in these
intimate, vivid pages. The story of a single day is the story of the
whole fifty years. Wesley rose at four o'clock, read his devotional
books until five, preached in the open air to the colliers who had to go
to their tasks at half-past six. After breakfast at seven, he mounted
his horse; drew rein for a few minutes from time to time to read a page
in some book that he was analyzing; after twenty or thirty miles' ride,
preached in a public square or some churchyard at noon; dismissed his
hearers at one o'clock that they might return to their work; rode
rapidly, often twenty miles, to his next appointment, where he preached
at five; after supper, when the evening twilight fell, preached again,
holding a service that often lasted until nine or even ten o'clock.

During the half century, Wesley worked along the lines of a triangle,
westward from London to Bristol, north by Liverpool and Carlisle to
Newcastle; then back to London through the towns of the east coast of
England. His preaching tours followed the lines of England's
industrial centers. He worked where the population was thickest. He
loved the mining districts, where two or three thousand men would
assemble for him at almost any hour of the day. The falling rain
never disturbed him, the rough roads seemed to bring no tire. He loved
crowds, and noise and excitement did not seem to wear upon his
strength. Apparently there was not a tired or sore nerve in his
wonderful little body. An entry in his journal speaks of having
travelled that day ninety miles, and not being in the least tired,
although he seems to have preached three times. "Many a rough journey
have I had before," says the _Journal_, "but one like this I never
had, between wind and rain, ice and snow, and driving sleet and
piercing cold. But it is past; those days will return no more, and are
therefore as though they had never been." His appointments were often
made a fortnight in advance. His journals are filled with pictures of
deep snow, dripping skies, bitter northwest winds.

What is the secret of Wesley's greatness, and how did he ever endure
such labour? The hidings of his power are in his wonderful ancestry.
Long after Samuel Wesley's death, the son found in the garret of the
old rectory a manuscript of his father's, with a scheme of world-wide
evangelization which became a chart for the son, who said, "the world
is my parish." The mother, Susannah, was possessed of so many gifts
that her son felt that to have fallen heir to her mental and moral
treasures was, in itself, a gift of God. Gibbon described his tutor in
Oxford as a "man who remembered that he had a salary to receive and
forgot that he had a duty to perform."

John Wesley had the opposite theory of life. At seventeen, going to
Oxford he won distinction as a scholar of the finest classical taste,
of the most liberal and manly sentiments, and one of the finest men of
his time. Elected a Fellow of Lincoln College when thirty-two years of
age, appointed lecturer in Greek, carrying on his own studies in
Arabic and Hebrew, in poetry and oratory, young Wesley wrote in his
_Journal_ a sentence that describes the next sixty years of his life:
"Leisure and I have taken leave of each other." It was true of him in
middle life, and it was to be true of him to the day of his death.

During the critical years when Wesley was educating himself, his
favourite books were the _Imitation of Christ_, by Thomas à Kempis,
Jeremy Taylor's _Purity of Intention_, and William Law's masterpiece,
_Serious Call_. It was while he was in Oxford that he formed the habit
of reading for one hour before he outlined the duties of the day. Then
came the two years' visit to the United States, his brief ministry in
Georgia, his friendship with the Moravians, and that golden hour on
May 24, 1738, when he went with Peter Böehler and passed through an
experience like that of Paul on the road to Damascus, that has been
described by the critical historian Lecky,--"It is scarcely an
exaggeration to say that the scene which took place at that humble
meeting in Aldersgate Street forms an epoch in English history." But
it is a striking fact that Wesley's real work did not begin until he
had reached full middle life. It was under the influence of George
Whitefield, the greatest pulpit orator England has produced, that
Wesley went to Bristol and under pressure by Whitefield, consented to
speak in the open air to some three thousand people, gathered about a
little eminence. Few careers offer greater encouragement and
inspiration to the man who at middle-age has yet to find himself.

And what was the secret of his incredible strength? The secret is very
simple. During each day he kept two or three little islands of silence
and solitude for himself, betwixt the sermons and crowds. He learned
how to read books on horseback. He never hurried, and never worried.
He preached with physical restraint, so that public speech became a
form of physical exercise, a life-giving kind of gymnastics. He
learned how to breathe, so that speaking three, or four and five hours
a day did not injure his vocal cords. Morley, in his _Life of
Gladstone_, says that at Gravesend, Gladstone spoke for two hours to
an audience of twenty thousand, and his biographer declares that
physically and intellectually, that speech was the greatest of Mr.
Gladstone's career. Gladstone was sixty-two years old when he
performed that feat, which is unique in his career. Wesley's journal
is filled with records like this:--

  Sunday, August 10, 1786. Preached in the churchyard to large
  congregations.

  Preached at one P. M. to twenty thousand.

  At five o'clock to another such congregation.

  All at the utmost stretch of my voice.

  But my strength was as my day.

Seven years later, August 23, 1773, his journal holds this record:

  Preached at Gwennap Pit to above 32,000, perhaps the first time that a
  man of seventy had been heard by 30,000 persons.

Fitchett says that Wesley's voice must have far outranged Gladstone's.
The people all stood closely packed together. At Bristol, after the
audience had gone, one man measured the ground from Wesley's stand to
the outskirts of the audience and found it to be 420 feet. For this
reason his biographers say that Wesley preached more sermons, rode
more miles, worked more hours, printed more books, and influenced more
lives than any Englishman of his age, or _any_ age. In 1773 he writes,
"I am seventy-three years old, and far abler to preach than I was at
twenty-three." Ten years later, the old man writes, "I have entered
into the eighty-third year of my age. I am never tired, either with
preaching, writing or travelling." And yet his emotions had tremendous
intensity. He held thousands of miners in breathless silence for an
hour and a half at a time. When he was ill, he exclaimed that if he
could only go into the pulpit for two hours, and have a good sweat he
thought he might recover. His secret of health was "a little more
work." That was the tonic that cured worry and dissipated all clouds.

The moral courage of John Wesley is one of the wonderful spectacles of
history. He lived in a brutal, cruel century. The crowds did not stop
with jeers, oaths, vulgar epithets. It was a time when disputes were
marked by all the savagery of a Spanish bull-fight. Wesley gives the
details of these persecutions and without complaint. The period
between June 1743, and February 1744, was particularly trying. An
organized movement was carried on to intimidate the people from
following Wesley. In several cities the Methodists were beaten and
plundered by a rabble that broke into their houses, destroyed their
victuals and goods, threatened their lives, and abused their women.
During that winter Wesley received many blows, occasionally lost part
of his clothing and was often covered with dirt. Meanwhile, enemies
went on in advance to sow the towns with wild scandals, and stir up
strife and storm, but Wesley went on building churches, developing
schools, training lay preachers, organizing his people to take care of
the class during his absence.

Wesley was a scholar, and prepared his sermons with the greatest care.
He was also a flaming evangelist, and therefore was freed from what
Robertson of Brighton describes as "the treadmill necessity of being
always ready twice a week with earnest thoughts on solemn themes."
Like Beecher, Wesley was not afraid of repeating his sermons. Like
Wendell Phillips, he thought a lecturer was never in shape until he
had one hundred nights of delivery back of him. Having heard a good
man say, "Once in seven years I burn all my sermons," Wesley answered,
"I cannot write a better sermon on the Good Steward than I did seven
years ago; I cannot write a better on the Great Assize than I did
twenty years ago; I cannot write a better on the use of money than I
did thirty years ago."

As an orator, Wesley had many wonderful gifts. Not a large man, he was
compact and strong, with nerves of silk and sinews of steel. In
moments of impassioned speech he seemed to tower and take on the
dimensions of a giant. His portraits show him to have been a man of
fine figure, and beautiful face, with firm lips, mobile and sensitive,
eyes bright and kindly. His complexion was very beautiful, fair, clear
and somewhat ruddy. His forehead was broad, and beautifully curved.
His voice was called the finest instrument of its kind in England,
always saving that of Whitefield. During his college days he made a
reputation as an accurate scholar, and a keen and skillful logician.
All his life long he retained his analytic method, and was always
working upon his sermons. He was a master of keen, arrowy sentences.
His sermons abound in short paragraphs. His illustrations are simple,
but so perfectly related to his thought, that they become a part of
the argument itself. The chief characteristic of his style is its
clearness. He excelled in the searching force of the application, and
tested the result of each address by the number of hearers whom he had
persuaded to change their lives at a given moment.

Little by little he developed a kingly authority. He carried the
atmosphere of gentle supremacy. "How did you know that Theseus was a
god?" The answer was: "I recognized Apollo by his speech; Mars by his
thunderbolts; Minerva by her wisdom, but I knew that Theseus was a
god, because whatsoever he did, whether he sat, or whether he walked
or whatsoever he did, he conquered." John Wesley was a natural king,
ruling men by the divine right of moral supremacy. One day a mob
threatened to tear him in pieces. "I called," Wesley writes, "for a
chair. Suddenly the winds were hushed, and all was calm and still; my
heart was filled with love; my eyes with tears; my mouth with
arguments. The leaders were amazed; they were ashamed; they were
melted down; they devoured every word." At the end of the sermon the
leader, who held a stone in his hand, with which to strike Wesley,
seemed transformed. He turned to his followers and shouted, "If any
man dares to lift a hand against Mr. Wesley he will have to reckon
with me first!" Those who came to curse remained to pray.

Wesley has had scores of biographers, and every one of them seems to
have emphasized the happiness and the serene cheerfulness of his daily
life. If there ever lived a man who dwelt in constant sunshine, and
maintained unbroken tranquillity and peace amidst endless storm and
tumult, that man was John Wesley. He cared nothing about a great
house, servants, equipage, money. It is said that the profits of his
various publications were about $150,000, but he gave this money away
as fast as it came in. He discovered the simple life long before
Pastor Wagner. He ate sparingly, cared nothing for rich foods or
costly raiment. He loved the temperate zone, far removed alike from
luxury and poverty. He never wrote a creed. In welcoming a member into
his company he asked two questions, "Is thine heart right? If it be,
give me thine hand. Dost thou love and serve God? It is enough. I give
thee the right hand of fellowship." In that spirit, when members of
other churches came to him he bade them keep their own creed if only
"they did love and serve God, and desired to save souls."

And so his work spread into every land. Asbury, the great pioneer, rode
his horse to and fro over the Alleghany Mountains, preaching in hundreds
of settlements between the Atlantic Coast and the Mississippi River.
Simpson, with his unrivalled eloquence, travelled from state to state
for forty years, founding churches, charging class leaders, consecrating
lay preachers, placing the torch in the hand of some gifted youth, and
sending him out to light a thousand other tapers. Taylor made his way
across India with its three hundred millions, and in every cannibal
island in the South Seas and along the path through the jungles of
Africa, went the followers of Wesley. It is a wonderful story. For the
man who counted himself the friend of all the churches and the enemy of
none "has liberalized, broadened and sweetened every Christian faith."

The year 1741 brought the beginning of Wesley's plan of world
evangelization. He saw that the millions of the human race would never
be reached by a handful of preachers. He tells us that it was as if a
veil had fallen from his eyes, after which he saw clearly that Jesus
used lay disciples, both men and women, for the spread of His life and
teaching. Holding a candle in his hand, Wesley lighted another
candle, and watched the flame leap from taper to taper. He organized
each group of one hundred converts into a class and pledged them to
come together in a meeting, when each disciple was to tell the story
of what the living Christ had done for him. He saw that merchants
advertised their cotton and their woollen goods; that manufacturers
went everywhither telling other men the advantages of the new loom, or
locomotive; and instead of having one minister to confess Christ
before five hundred dumb hearers, Wesley conceived the idea of
dedicating each of the five hundred hearers, not to dumbness but to
full speech, and to send them forth, from house to house, and mine to
mine, and school to school.

Scientists tell us that the Gulf Stream, made up of individual drops
of water, each of which has been warmed by the tropic sun, bathes
England and turns a land that is as far north as Labrador into a land
of fruit and flowers. And from that hour, if other churches had one
minister, to five hundred disciples, Wesley dedicated laymen and
laywomen to the task of going forth into all the world to tell the
story of the love of God to sinful men.

The movement he started is still advancing in the world. It was Wesley
who gave the impulse to Wilberforce, the emancipator, to Howard, the
prison reformer, to Livingstone, the missionary, to the Booths with
their work for the submerged classes. Above any other man in modern
times he made it plain to the miner, the peasant, and the criminal, that
they must achieve eminence through penitence and obedience, love and
self-sacrificing service. Having turned multitudes to righteousness, his
name now shines like the brightness of the firmament, and will continue
to shine like the stars for ever and ever.

John Wesley mastered another secret--he knew how to die gloriously. In
his last hours, Moody, the evangelist, turned with smiles to a friend,
and whispered, "They were all wrong. There is no valley, and no
shadow." Wesley died with that memorable word upon his lips, "The best
of all is, God is with us." He preached his last sermon on February
23, 1791. His last letter was addressed to Wilberforce, and was a
protest against the horrors of slavery. A few weeks before, he had
given the first five days of the new year to the task of walking
through the streets of London, soliciting alms for the relief of the
poor. In those days his appearance in the street was the signal for
all passers-by to uncover. Men revered him as a noble saint. He died
singing, in the spirit of serene happiness and outbreaking joy:

      "_I'll praise my Maker while I've breath_
      _And when my voice is lost in death,_
      _Praise shall employ my nobler powers._"

Great was the power of the soldier, Napoleon; wonderful the genius of
his opponent Wellington, the victor; marvellous the influence of Pitt,
with his vision of the expansion of England as a world power; but more
wonderful, a thousand times, the influence of John Wesley, carried to
his grave by six very poor men, but whose work is memorable, whose
influence is immortal, and whose spirit is inshrined in the hearts of
millions of his grateful followers.



VII

GARIBALDI

(1807-1882)

_The Idol of the New Italy_


Among the builders of the New Italy, history has made a large place
for Mazzini, the agitator and author, and for Cavour, the statesman,
but the common people have kept the first place in their heart for
Garibaldi, the soldier, and hero. Mazzini was the John the Baptist of
the movement, who descended upon the political ills and wrongs of his
time, carrying a torch in one hand and a sword in the other. Cavour
was the statesman of the movement, a most skillful diplomat, who
organized political and moral forces against the foul wrongs found in
the prisons of Naples and the palaces of Rome. But it was Garibaldi
who captured the imagination of the Italian people, who turned mobs
into regiments, overthrew the citadels of iniquity, and made possible
the realization of the visions of Mazzini and the reforms of Cavour.

Unlike the other great men whose stories fill the pages of this
little book, Garibaldi was not a man of universal genius; he wrote no
enduring history nor philosophy, he created no body of laws. In terms
of intellect his gifts were modest. No pamphlet, no great speech
survives his death. He was one of the common people. But he was born
with the gift of surrender, and he knew how to dedicate himself to a
great cause. Early in his career Garibaldi allied himself with an
unpopular movement, in the interests of the poor and the oppressed,
and thereby opened the doors of hope to all men of modest gifts, who
are ambitious to serve their fellows.

The career of this soldier, Garibaldi, forms one of the most dramatic
and fascinating tales in history. It is a story so unique and
unexplainable that many Italians speak of the miraculous note in it,
the note of mystery. Garibaldi's mother was a remarkable woman, who
believed that her son had a call from God to do a great piece of work,
and she filled the soul of the child with the firm belief that he
could not be killed by any sword or bullet or cannon-ball. This
supreme conviction explains, in part, deliverances that his
biographers tell us were "miraculous." With words of matchless
simplicity, the apostle Paul tells us the number of times he was
stoned and mobbed, flogged and imprisoned; but the perils of
Garibaldi in the wilderness, in the city and the sea were scarcely
less dramatic. In his boyhood his father was the captain of a sailing
vessel, who owned and commanded his own ship and made the ports
between Nice and Constantinople. At fifteen years of age the boy went
to sea; learned to build a sailing-vessel, to rig the masts, to sail
the boat against opposing winds, and to fight the pirates who were
still occasionally found upon the seas. And he was barely twenty when,
under the influence of Mazzini, he surrendered his soul to the spirit
of Washington and Hamilton and dreamed the dream of a second republic.
From that moment, when, heart and soul, he threw himself into the
cause of liberty, his life was one long chapter of thrilling
adventures and miraculous escapes.

His biography teems with striking incidents. Once, after enlisting on
the side of the revolutionists, he was on a small vessel going up the
La Plata River. Rounding a bend in the stream, Garibaldi's little boat
was attacked by two large vessels, that opened fire, cut down the
masts, carried away the sails, and covered the decks with killed and
wounded. As captain of the boat, Garibaldi wore his red shirt, and so
became the target of the gunners. When several of his men tried to
drag him below, he answered, "I can't be killed!" A few minutes later
a shot struck his neck and cut a part of the jugular vein. Now, many
surgeons say that if the jugular vein be severed it cannot be healed,
because it is always throbbing and throbbing with each pulse beat,
just as it is said that a shot through the heart is fatal. A little
later the boat struck a sandbar, and the battle swept to another part
of the river. The physician told Garibaldi that his wound was fatal,
and asked what word he wished to send home. Garibaldi answered, "Tell
my mother I shall live to be seventy-six."

On another occasion, his place of hiding was surrounded by a company
of soldiers, who opened fire upon the house. Garibaldi awakened, flung
open the door, took his sword in one hand and his dagger in the
other--his ammunition was exhausted--and rushed forth against the
enemy. From their ambush these enemies saw his red shirt. They had
heard that no bullet could kill him, and armed as they were, they fled
in every direction, across fields and into the woods.

At the very outset of his career, Garibaldi's life was threatened by
the State and a price put upon his head. Under the influence of
Mazzini, he had joined a secret society and been made acquainted with
the plans for a revolution in Italy. The plot was betrayed by a spy,
and in the disguise of a peasant trying to buy sheep, Garibaldi was
forced to flee across the line into France. Once on French territory,
he abandoned caution and entered a village inn. "I must have something
to eat," he told the landlord, "I am starving." His host was
suspicious and asked Garibaldi if he was not a fugitive, to which the
youth replied with open truthfulness, "Yes, I am an Italian! I fled
from soldiers who would have shot or hung me, had they been quick
enough." . . . "What have you done?" asked the landlord. Garibaldi
answered: "I met Mazzini. He told me about the republic in the United
States. He said that the American colonists threw off the yoke of a
tyrant and made a constitution for themselves, and asked whether the
people of Italy could not break their own fetters. I answered that
Italy should become a republic."

After that bold statement, the landlord signalled to one of his men,
who put his hand upon Garibaldi's shoulder, saying, "I am an officer
of the French government. Under the treaty with Italy I am sworn to
arrest all those accused of treason who flee across the frontier." . . .
"Very well," said Garibaldi. "And now that is settled, give me
something to eat!"

When the servant asked Garibaldi whether he had money for his dinner,
the youth pulled out his purse. "Since I am going to be either hung or
shot, I may as well have one good meal before I die!" He then asked
two or three strangers who were in the inn to join him in his last
dinner, and extended that invitation until there were fifteen or
twenty about the table, singing, telling stories, and relating
incidents of adventure. When Garibaldi saw that the time had come for
his arrest, since a group of soldiers had appeared at the door, he
arose, and looking out upon his new friends, said, "Well, the
landlord, who is an officer of the government, has sent for these
soldiers to arrest me. It seems I have committed treason. I wanted to
have a republic in Italy. So I joined Mazzini's society." One by one
the inmates of the inn rose. One looked toward the landlord and said,
"Is this true? Are you going to imprison and shoot this man? Why, this
Garibaldi is a great man, and a good man; I never saw him before
to-night, but before you arrest him you will have to arrest me."
Another shouted, "Before you shoot Garibaldi, you will have to shoot
me!" A moment later, the whole company had joined to form a bodyguard
around the brave young stranger. They lifted Garibaldi to their
shoulders. They dared the officers to arrest him. They carried him out
to the stable behind the inn, filled his pockets with copper and
silver, and paid the driver to set him twenty miles beyond the
frontier. Four of them rode with him as a guard to protect him. . . .

Condemned to death, he escaped to South America, where he plunged at
once into the struggle for liberty there. The story of the happiness
and prosperity of the people of the United States under a free
government had spread all over the Southern continent. Unfortunately
there were still many men who believed in autocracy and in the
absolutism of an hereditary despot. Garibaldi at once took sides. He
fought on the sea. He began as a private sailor, but soon became
commander of the fleet. He fought on the land. He began as a private
soldier, but he ended as a general. Once he was captured and beaten
within an inch of his life. Once he was taken from a prison and hung
by his hands from a beam. During those two hours, he tells us, he
suffered the anguish of a hundred deaths.

Then came the dramatic meeting with Anita. One of his soldiers told
Garibaldi about the beauty, bravery and self-sacrifice of a daughter
of a certain rich man. Hearing that this girl, Anita, had gone to
visit a friend in the village, Garibaldi, with several of his men,
rode to the little store. Drawing rein before the door of the shop, he
sent one of his men into the store to buy some trifle. In the upper
window stood Anita. Garibaldi turned his horse and rode close to the
door. Looking up, he met the eyes of Anita, and for a full minute,
without saying a word, the two looked each into the soul of the other.
Suddenly Garibaldi said, "Señorita! I have never seen you before. I do
not know your name, but you belong to me! Sooner or later you will
come to me." Anita arose. She leaned out of the window. In a low voice
she said, "Shall I come now?" And Garibaldi answered, "I will ride up
the street and return within a moment. Be ready at this spot." There
was just time for Anita to grasp a cloak and a few articles of
clothing. A moment later, down the street on a gallop came Garibaldi,
followed by his soldiers. Anita was standing on the stone step. As
Garibaldi dashed by, he put out his right arm, swept her against his
horse and up to the front of the saddle and dashed away for a ten
mile gallop to a little church whose frightened priest refused to
perform the marriage ceremony without publishing the banns for the
next two Sundays. Anita's father was of the other political party and
the soldier knew that the consent would never be given. Garibaldi laid
two revolvers upon the altar and said quietly, "Father, the service
will proceed immediately."

So they were married. Anita was well educated as well as brave and
very beautiful. In a fit of anger and hate, her father organized a
group of conspirators who were to receive a rich reward for killing
Garibaldi. It was Anita who discovered the plot and fired the pistol
that led the conspirators to believe that they had been discovered.
Later, a drunken mob discovered that she was alone in a little house.
The leader of the despot organized a group at midnight, all of them
crazed with liquor. They set fire to the house and then rushed in,
only to find that Garibaldi had not yet returned home. And when these
drunken brigands had beaten Anita down and knocked her into
unconsciousness Garibaldi returned unarmed save for his dagger. One by
one he took these eight men who were standing about the unconscious
girl, and one by one they went down before him.

His life in South America, extending over a period of fourteen years,
was one long struggle against tyranny and oppression. Fighting first
in the revolt against Brazil, then joining the patriots of Uruguay, he
formed the Italian Legion, and in the spring of 1846 won the battles
of Cerro and Sant'Antonio, assuring the freedom of Uruguay. Refusing
all honours and recompense he returned to Italy, having heard of the
incipient struggle for liberty at home. He landed at Nice in 1848 and,
forming a volunteer army of 3,000, plunged at once into the struggle
against the French. His troops were largely students, mere lads, many
of them never before under fire, and the troops of the enemy included
the legions of France, Austria and Spain. The climax of the struggle
came with his wonderful retreat through central Italy toward Venice,
pursued by four armies. Only his consummate generalship and the
matchless loyalty of his men saved them all from annihilation. During
this retreat, Garibaldi was accompanied by his wife, Anita, who had
cut off her hair and mounted a horse, and who wore men's clothing to
avoid observation. Realizing at length that the struggle was hopeless,
Garibaldi issued an order, releasing his soldiers, and bidding them
return to their homes. And leaving Anita hidden at the house of a
friend, he himself took refuge in a cave in the hills, after the
fashion of David the Fugitive and Robert Bruce--a hiding-place from
which he continued to send forth his military orders.

Among the many wonder tales of this period, many of which are
traditional and perhaps untrustworthy, there is one that bears the
stamp of reality. One night Garibaldi was asleep in the cave. A
faithful soldier was on guard. Suddenly the soldier saw a torch waving
in the blackness of the valley below. The torch was spelling a signal,
but the guard was ignorant of its significance. He hurried into the
cave and wakened his leader. Garibaldi knew the signal--it told of the
approaching death of Anita. With instant decision, he started down the
mountainside; made his way to the house of a peasant, and, despatching
a man in advance, found and mounted a horse for the long ride to the
village where Anita lay dying. Ahead of him, the galloping rider
warned the countryside, shouting that Garibaldi was coming and
commanding every man to go into his house and close the door, that no
man might see the face of the fugitive, for whose person a reward had
long been offered. The hurrying hero changed horses, and when the day
was nearly done, rode into the village to the house where his beloved
wife lay dying. In the night, wrestling with the death angel,
Garibaldi was defeated, and left desolate. When the morning came, he
wrapped Anita's body in the flag of the new republic, and buried her
in the corner of the garden. That night he rode back to his handful of
fugitives, hidden in a defile of the mountains.

It was about the year 1850 that, once more a fugitive, Garibaldi
sailed for America, and coming to New York, settled as a chandler on
Staten Island. He had a brother living in New York, and the brother
had never tired of writing letters about the wonderful opportunities
in the United States. It was an era of candles. Kerosene oil was but
little used, while gas and electricity were unknown. As a cattle
drover in the Argentine Republic, Garibaldi had seen the great herds
on the ranches, the tanneries filled with hides, the great stores of
tallow in the warehouses. He entered into an agreement with a friend
in South America to keep him supplied with tallow, and over at St.
George he started his little candle factory. Later, he became a
trading skipper and in 1854 was able to return to Italy with funds
sufficient to purchase the tiny island of Caprera, and build the
house which thenceforth was to be his home.

Throughout the four years in America and on the sea, he had never once
ceased to dream his dream of liberty and a republic to be set up in
Italy. In 1851, while he was living here, Louis Kossuth, the Hungarian
patriot, had landed in New York and received an ovation. While here,
Kossuth had perfected the constitution for the republic he proposed to
set up in Hungary, and had announced his plans for the overthrow of
the royal family, and the enthronement of a president. Garibaldi kept
in touch with every such new movement. He read the daily papers of New
York; met the political leaders of the city and everywhere heard
discussions as to Washington and Franklin, Hamilton and Webster. The
fire burned ever more fiercely in his heart. He wrote a friend saying:
"Whenever they are ready, the people of Italy can shake off the old
tyranny that has come down from the middle ages, just as a peasant in
the forest shakes the fallen leaves from his coat."

And during his trading days, while on a voyage to Hong Kong, he
dreamed another dream, of a different kind. Half-way across the ocean,
he dreamed that he saw his mother kneeling at the foot of a white
cross. He fell upon his knees beside it and heard her say: "Fight
only for liberty, my son! Fight only for liberty!" It was his
birthday, the fifth of May. Months later, he discovered that on that
very night his mother had passed away in the little house in Nice.
From that hour he dedicated the remainder of his life to the
liberation of his native land.

One day, while he was following the plow on his little island farm near
the coast of Sardinia, a messenger brought word that an Austrian
regiment had landed on the shore of Sardinia and seized the island for
Austria. Once more, Garibaldi plunged into the struggle. For a year he
fought at the head of Italian volunteers under Victor Emmanuel, against
the Austrians, liberating the Alpine territory as far as the frontier of
Tyrol. Then, in retirement at Genoa, came another summons--a letter
telling the story of the sufferings of the liberal leaders in Naples.
King Francis, the tyrant of Naples, had been arresting by wholesale men
suspected of sympathy with free institutions. The despot filled the
dungeons, crowded the upper cells, packed the corridors between the rows
of cells, until there was not room for men even to lie down upon the
floor. Without any warning whatsoever, the soldiers would appear at the
home of some citizen. Without any hearing, much less a trial, men were
sent to the royal prison and jammed into corridors already filled to
suffocation with murderers, brigands, thieves, forgers. The under-cells
dripped with filth. There was no sanitation. Vermin, rats, every form of
vice and uncleanliness were there. In the stifling heat some smothered
to death.

Gladstone was at this time in Italy. One day he reached Naples, en
route for Pompeii and Herculaneum. Calling upon the British Consul, he
was told about these prisons, that were death-traps. He hurried back
to London. He used his official position as a statesman under Queen
Victoria to address a letter to the civilized peoples of the world. A
wave of indignation and horror swept over the capitals of Europe. The
hour had struck for Italy. Garibaldi headed a tiny army and started
south to the attack. Naples was besieged. After weeks of fighting, and
oft wounded, one day with clothes covered with blood he addressed a
handful of citizens: "Soldiers, what I have to offer you is
this--hunger, thirst, cold, heat, no pay, no barracks, no rations,
frequent alarms, forced marches, charges at the point of the bayonet.
Whoever loves honour and fatherland, follow me!" Ah, Garibaldi knew
that there is a latent instinct of heroism in every human heart. Why
are there few boys going into the ministry to-day? Because the task
has become too easy. Here are the young fisherman, John; the young
physician, Luke; the young rabbi, Paul;--offer them stones, scourges,
blows, fagot-fires, martyrdom, and they will leap into the breach.
After that appeal of Garibaldi four thousand men followed their leader
to battle. Soon the bloody tyrant of Naples was driven from his city.

Then came the long campaigns in the south, with Garibaldi's entrance
into the city of Palermo; the struggle in Sicily, the siege of the
fortress at Massina, the triumphal march through Calabria, his victory
at Naples, culminating with that great day, September 7th, 1860, when
he handed over a fleet and an army to Victor Emmanuel. Having endured
every form of peril, hunger, and cold, with loss of blood through many
wounds, the citizens of Naples, after the expulsion of their recreant
King, turned with one heart and offered him the throne for his
leverage, and the palace for his home. But Garibaldi refused the
throne, because he believed in the republic, and no bribe nor
blandishment could swerve him a hair's breadth from his conviction
that the fairest, stablest form of government was self-government.

On the day of his entrance, the people went out and carried him into
the city upon their shoulders. All along the central street he was
welcomed with the words, "Secundo Washington"--"Second Washington."
For what Lincoln did for the three million slaves, and what Washington
did for the three million colonists, Garibaldi had wrought for three
million downtrodden Italian peasants. But having freed the people from
cruel oppression, he sent for Victor Emmanuel, the ruler who had
insulted him, and said, looking toward his army and the captains of
his navy, "I have not been trained for civil government! I therefore
abdicate my position as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and I
turn these instruments of defense and offense over to you." History
holds the story of no sublimer act of disinterested patriotism. That
deed insured a united Italy, the chief aim of Garibaldi's life.

From that hour his fame, his place in the history of Italy were fully
established. During the next few years many honours and offices were
offered Garibaldi, all of which he consistently declined. He was the
last hero of the heroic age of the new Italy, the most popular, the
most legendary, in the sense that he resembled a hero of old romance.
A faithful soldier, who might have been a king; a hero always a hero,
even to his own servants and amid sordid circumstances; unspoiled by
the admiration of the world and the adulation of his friends; a
warrior with hands unstained by plunder, cruelty or the useless
shedding of blood, he remained to the end one of the few characters
for whom neither wealth nor rank ever offered temptation. Michelet,
the French historian, wrote of him, "There is one hero in all
Europe--one! I do not know a second. All his life is a romance; and
since he had the greatest reasons for hatred to France, who had stolen
his Nice, caused him to be fired upon at Aspromonte, fought against
him at Mentana, you guess that it was this man who flew (during the
Franco-German War) to immolate himself for France. And how modestly,
withal! Nothing mattered it to him that he was placed in obscure posts
quite unworthy of him. Grand man, my Garibaldi! My single hero! Always
loftier than fortune! How sublimely does his memory rise and swell
toward the future!"

In retrospect, strategists tell us that Garibaldi knew little and
cared less about the usual military tactics, or the plans of
organization and transport taught in military schools. His wonderful
career, with its many and brilliant victories, is explained by the
supreme influence which his person exercised. Knowing neither danger
nor fear, rushing into the most perilous spots, his very daring
fascinated and inspired his followers. "He had all the instincts of
the lion; not merely the headlong courage, but the far nobler
qualities of magnanimity, placability, self-denial. His impulses were
all generous, his motives invariably upright, his conscience
unerring." The most loving among great leaders, the least hating among
great soldiers, he was devoid of all personal ambition, as he was
devoid of all rancour and malice. He was one of the most picturesque
leaders, one of the most dramatic figures in all history. "None could
fail to admire or be inspired by the sight of him on the field of
battle, as with clear, ringing silver voice, his lion-like face, his
plain red shirt and grey trousers, he sat his horse with perfect ease
and calm, guiding his soldiers by plunging into the thick of the enemy
and trusting his troops to follow."

Garibaldi's moral courage was always the equal of his physical
bravery. During the siege of Rome, when he was defending the city
against the forces of Austria and of France, the enemy located the
house from which he was directing the defense. Cannonball, smashing
through the roof, carried away his flag; bullets aimed with unerring
accuracy entered the windows, and buried themselves in the walls.
While the others ran to the cellar, Garibaldi walked out the front
door, stood on the steps, and calmly supervised the carrying to a
place of safety of all the important military papers. That night the
Roman leaders sent messengers to Garibaldi, and insisted upon
surrender. At last Garibaldi exclaimed, "Is it not enough that I must
fight our enemies? Has it come to this, that with equal strength I
must oppose my friends?" And then, he lifted his broken sword, and
exclaimed: "On my monument write these words, 'A man who never
surrendered to the enemies of human freedom!'"

Where were the hidings of this man's power? History tells of no leader
who was so idolized. For Garibaldi men braved martyrdom. For him,
women endured starvation. Priests risked the anathema of their
masters. Boys, wearing the red shirt, flung themselves upon the
bayonets of Austria and France. Captured, they were tortured by the
enemy, but died smiling rather than betray Garibaldi. There is a
tradition not mentioned by his best biographer, that many Italians
claim is absolutely true. Once when he was in hiding, he appeared at
midnight in the public square of Naples. The city was completely
controlled by the King, who had set a price upon Garibaldi's head. But
many of the people were secret followers of Garibaldi, who wished to
confer with one of his friends in the prison. Recognizing a policeman
who was his friend, Garibaldi put his fingers upon his lips and drew
his cloak the closer about his face. After a whispered word the
soldier led Garibaldi to the entrance of the prison. Another whispered
word and the great iron gate swung open. A second whispered
conversation and the inner gate opened. Within, another guard stooped
while Garibaldi whispered in his ear. A little later, out of a cell,
came that captured friend of Garibaldi. The hero asked and obtained
the information he desired. Putting his two fingers upon his lips,
Garibaldi saluted, and was led to the inner gate. Having passed
through he put those two fingers upon his lips, saluted, and was led
to the outer gate. Putting his fingers upon his lips he saluted again,
and with an officer who had become his guide, walked hurriedly to an
alley, where he stepped into his carriage, where he saluted and
disappeared in the darkness--whether cellar or attic no man knows
unto this day. The following morning Garibaldi led his troops into
battle. Now tell me, where is there in history of human heroism a
chapter more thrilling than this story of Garibaldi?

The truism that men without fault are generally men without force, is
well illustrated in the life of Garibaldi. It is the strongest, most
adventurous, romantic and troublous career in history. There are many
blots upon his scutcheon, just as there are many yellow spots upon the
front columns of the Parthenon, and nothing is gained by calling the
roll of faults rehearsed by his critics and enemies. "The evil that men
do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."
Remember the story of the farmer in Sardinia who came home at night,
sick because he had lost a favourite lamb, and how the next morning
Garibaldi returned with the little dumb creature wrapped in his blanket
and lying upon his bosom. Remember, how at Palermo, Garibaldi came out
of the battlefield unshaken, but at sight of the little orphans in the
asylum crying for food the great soldier burst into tears. Even when
they led him to the palace and called him "Your Excellency," he frowned
and moved to the lighthouse, where, the idol of his people, he lived in
a tiny room with no furniture but a couch and a stool. Once he was
offered great riches if he would go out to China and lead a regiment and
ship slaves to South America, but he answered that "Not all the wealth
of the Indies could induce him to buy and sell human flesh." After his
long campaigns and victories for the people of Uruguay the new
government sent him a title deed to an enormous tract of land and
thousands of heads of cattle, but he tore up the deeds because he had
fought for liberty. In time of plague he became a nurse, in time of
shipwreck he risked his life to save his comrades.

It is true that for some years, under the influence of two friends who
were foreigners, he passed under the influence of their own materialism
and doubt, and he tells us that from that hour it seemed as if the
spirit of his mother and of Anita had both deserted him. During the last
years of his life he became almost a hermit and seemed to be confused by
the problems of the world in which he lived. But he had been starved,
imprisoned, tortured, betrayed and shot down. The real Garibaldi speaks
in this message that he addressed to the people of Italy:

"I am a Christian and I speak to Christians.

"I love and venerate the religion of Christ.

"Christ came into the world to deliver humanity from slavery.

"You who are here have the duty to educate the people.

"Educate them to be Christians.

"Education gives liberty.

"On a strong and wholesome education for the people depend the liberty
and greatness of Italy!

"Viva Victor Emmanuel!

"Viva Italia!

"Viva Christianity!"



VIII

JOHN RUSKIN

(1819-1900)

_And the Diffusion of the Beautiful_


The genius of John Ruskin's message is in a single sentence: "Life
without industry is guilt, and industry without art and education is
brutality." He held that all the doing that makes commerce is born of
the thinking that makes scholars, and that all the flying of looms and
the whirling of spindles begins with the quiet thought of some
scholar, hidden in a closet, or sequestered in a cloister. He never
made the mistake of supposing that education would change a ten-cent
boy into a thousand-dollar-a-year man, but he _did_ know that there is
some power in Nature that will transform a seed into a sheaf, an acorn
into an oak, and that the truth will change a child into a sage, a
statesman, a seer, a man with a message for his century.

Ruskin wrote many volumes to prove that wealth is not in raw
material;--not in iron, not in wood, not in stone, not in cotton, not
in wool. Wealth is largely in the intelligence put into the raw
material. Pig-iron is worth twenty dollars a ton, but intelligence
turns that ton of iron into a ton of tempered hair-springs, and it is
worth perhaps ten thousand dollars a ton. The clay in Rodin's
_Thinker_ represents a value of a few francs, but the idea in the
_Thinker_ brought 150,000 francs. On the sixtieth anniversary of the
coronation of Queen Victoria, an editor offered Rudyard Kipling $1,000
for a Commemoration poem. The paper, ink and the pen stand for a few
pennies; all the rest of the $1,000 was for a trained intellect. The
average income of a family in the United States to-day is not far from
$2,000. That income could be carried up to $4,000 if our workers would
only double the intelligence, efficiency and loyalty put into the raw
material they handle!

The career of Edison illustrates the industrial value of one informed
intellect to the nation. In 1910, business men in the United States
had invested in the expired patents of Thomas Edison six billion seven
hundred millions of dollars. These factories brought in an annual
income of a billion and seventy millions of dollars. To-day,
half-a-dozen Edisons, the one showing us how to burn the coal in the
ground, the other taking nitrogen out of the air, another showing us
how to transmute metals, another attacking the enemies of the cotton,
the fruits and the grains, with a teacher who would show the parents
of the country how successfully to assault intellectual and moral
illiteracy, would easily double our annual income. What our
country--what every country--needs is an invasion of knowledge and
sound sense. Therefore Ruskin's message, "the first business of the
nation is the manufacture of souls of a good quality."

During his lifetime John Ruskin wrote some forty volumes. Between the
ages of twenty and thirty he wrote _Modern Painters_, dealing with the
claims of cloud, sun, shower, wave, shrub and flower, land, sea, and
sky upon man's intellectual and moral life. He held that the open-air
world is man's best college and the forces of the winter and the
summer his best teachers. From thirty to forty he wrote the _Lectures
on Architecture_, and _Stones of Venice_, with many studies of the
galleries, towers, and cathedrals of Florence and Rome. In these books
his thought is that the soul of the people within determines the
painting, architecture and civilization of the state without. From
forty to fifty he wrote many books on the claim of the beautiful upon
man's spiritual life, and insisted that those claims were binding not
less upon the working people and the peasants in factory and field,
than upon the scholar in his library and the artist in his studio.

From fifty to sixty he wrote his _Fors Clavigera_, his _Time and
Tide_, _Munera Pulveris_, and _Unto This Last_, studies of the
problems of wealth and poverty, of labour and capital. He tells us
that men, to-day, are charmed with the glitter of gold and silver as
young birds are charmed with the glitter of snakes' eyes; that the
business man is divinely called to serve through property; that there
is, however, such a thing as a despotism of wealth; that the property
of some millionaires represents the breaking of the strength and the
will of competitors and the paralysis of the forces of the people, so
that what seems to be wealth, in verity is only "the gilded index of
far-reaching ruin, a wreckers' handful of coin, gleaned from the beach
to which he has beguiled an argosy; the camp follower's bundle of
rags, unwrapped from the breasts of goodly soldiers dead, the purchase
pieces of potter's fields, wherein shall be buried together the
citizen and the stranger."

And then Ruskin bent himself to what he believed to be the real task
of his life, the writing of a series of books on the problems of
labour and capital, in the hope that he might save the State from
trampled cornfields and from bloody streets. But just at the supreme
moment in his career his health gave way, and he never completed his
studies of the _Robber King_, the _Rust Kings_, the _Moth King_ and
the _Hero Kings_. John Ruskin died believing himself to be an
unfulfilled prophecy, in that he was unable to complete these books
for which he believed all his life had been one long preparation. But
in reality he was a prophet who gave forth a message that is slowly
transforming the institutions of mankind.

A full understanding of Ruskin's life-work begins with an outlook upon
his contribution to modern social reform. Biographers often identify a
great reform with one man's name, as if this man, single handed, had
wrought the social transformation. Thus they speak of Howard as the
reformer of prisons; of Shaftesbury as the author of the Poor Acts; of
Cobden as the author of the Corn Laws; of Lincoln, as the emancipator
of slaves; of Booth as the founder of the City Colony, the Home
Colony, the Farm Colony. But strictly speaking, thousands of leaders
of the movement for the abolition of slavery stood behind the forces
of Wilberforce in England, and Lincoln in the United States. Not
otherwise many biographers have claimed too much for the influence of
Ruskin, certainly more than the master would have claimed for himself.

At the beginning of his career Ruskin started a movement to diffuse
the beautiful in the life of the people. For centuries the beautiful
had been concentrated in the temples of Athens, the palaces and
galleries of Italy, the museums of Paris and London, in the manor
houses of the landed gentry. Meanwhile the poor people of Athens,
Venice and Florence lived in huts, wore leather garments, ate crusts,
dwelt amid ugliness, squalor and filth. Ruskin dreamed a dream of the
beautiful put into the life of the common people. He found that
Sheffield, with its smoking chimneys and grimy streets, had been
spoken of as the ugliest factory town in England. Therefore Ruskin
went to Sheffield, hired a building, installed therein his paintings,
etchings, and illuminated missals, and hired a few instructors to help
him diffuse the beautiful in the daily life of the people. He brought
in men who made the implements of the dining-room, and showed them how
to make the knife, the fork, the spoon, the table linen, minister to
the sentiment of taste and refinement. He brought in men who made
wall-papers for the poor man's house, and showed the craftsmen how to
make the colours soft and warm, delicate and beautiful. He interested
himself in beautiful furniture. He wrought with William Morris for a
more beautiful type of illustrations in books and magazines. He
denounced the ugliness of the houses and clothing and bridges and
railways. He insisted that women should have beautiful garments, the
youth read beautiful books, the men ride in beautiful cars, the
families live in beautiful little houses, the children play upon
beautiful carpets and look upon walls that had one or two beautiful
pictures. John Ruskin laboured, and others wrought with him, and now
at last we have entered into the fruit of their labours. To-day the
beautiful, once concentrated in temples, palaces, and cathedrals, is
diffused in the life of the common people.

In the same fashion Ruskin started a movement among the working men
for a diffusion of sound learning. The St. George Guild represents the
first University Extension Course and the first Chautauqua system our
world ever knew. More than fifty years ago he worked out his plan to
carry the knowledge given to rich men's sons in their lecture halls
and libraries to the working people, who were to carry on their
studies in the evening after the day's labour was over. He laid out a
course of studies for these working men, planned the organization of
lecture centers, gave us the outline of the University Extension
Course of lectures, induced many men in England to go from one working
man's guild and club to another, and after Ruskin's health broke down,
the men in the faculty of Oxford University took Ruskin's mother-idea,
and developed it into the University Extension Course of lectures.
Brought to our country that idea has spread through these lecture
courses carried on in great halls in the winter, in tents and open-air
assemblies in the summer.

We say much of our Social Settlement Work, and trace these thousands
of settlements in the tenement-house region of great cities back to
Arnold Toynbee's work, and that of Canon Barnett, in the East End of
London. But we must remember that when Ruskin was lecturing in Oxford
to some of the richest boys in Great Britain he told them that every
boy who consumed more than he produced was a pauper and that the more
the youth received from his ancestors and the State, the larger his
debt to those who were less fortunate. He believed that every gifted
boy should keep in touch, not only with his own class, but with all
classes, and that every youth would do well to do some physical work
every day. Ruskin and his students built a road outside of Oxford, and
the foreman of the gang of students was young Arnold Toynbee. Toynbee
admired and loved Ruskin, as a young pupil and disciple loves a noble
teacher and a great master.

After his health broke down, Ruskin gave up his work in Whitechapel Road
and urged Arnold Toynbee to give himself to the problems of the poor,
and when Ruskin's health gave way completely, it was Toynbee who rewrote
his lectures on labour and capital and gave them a new form in his
_Industrial Revolution in Great Britain_. The time came when Arnold
Toynbee broke down with overwork and brain fever, as his master had
broken before him, and his friend Canon Barnett raised the money to make
Toynbee Hall a permanent institution. But the seed of the Social
Settlement movement was John Ruskin's brief career in the tenement
region of the East End, and the first full fruit was in his disciple's
Toynbee Hall and in Canon Barnett's noble work at St. Jude's. Little by
little the Social Settlement Idea spread, until in the tenement regions
of Manchester, Birmingham, New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco,
gifted men and women of wealth, leisure and patrician position, began
to give their lives to the neglected poor.

Not less striking, the influence of Ruskin upon the plans of General
Booth. Long before the book called _In Darkest England and the Way
Out_ was published, Ruskin founded his coöperative printing press in a
little colony outside of London. One of his biographers has told the
story of Ruskin's plan to make the men and women in the poorhouses
self-supporting, happy and useful. This biographer has never fully
established the connection between that first coöperative colony of
Ruskin, and Booth's plans for the City Colony, the Farm Colony and the
Foreign Colony. But one thing is certain:--Ruskin had a pioneer mind.
Instead of his chief interest being in mountains and clouds, in wave
and flower, cathedrals, pictures, marbles, illuminated missals, the
overmastering enthusiasm of his life was people, and his real message
was a message of social reform. When long time has passed, Ruskin's
fame will rest upon his work as a social reformer, a man who loved the
poor and weak.

Not less significant, his views of education, that have leavened all
modern schools whatsoever. Matthew Arnold defined culture as "a
familiarity with the best that has ever been done in literature."
Ruskin insisted that there were thousands of scholars living in their
libraries, surrounded by books, who were perfectly familiar with the
best that has ever been thought or done, but whose knowledge was all
but worthless, because it was selfish. He looked upon the informed man
as a sower, going forth to sow the seed of truth over the wide land.
All selfish culture is like salt in a barrel; the salt has no power to
save unless it is scattered. Selfish culture is like seed corn in the
granary, important for a harvest. Under Ruskin's influence many of his
friends gave an evening or two a week to lectures before his working
men's clubs, his art groups, and his classes for the improvement of
the handicrafts.

No modern author has made so much of vision, or tried so hard to teach
people how to see. Many teachers think that education is stuffing the
pocket of memory with a mass of facts. When the mind is filled so that
it cannot hold another truth, the youth receives a diploma. Ruskin held
that education was teaching the child how to see everything true and
beautiful in land and sea and sky. "For a thousand great speakers, there
is only one great thinker; for a thousand great thinkers, there is only
one great see-er; we cut out one 'e' and leave it seer, but the true
poet and sage is simply the see-er." The millions are blind to the
signals hanged out from the battlements of cloud. Isaac Newton was a
see-er,--he saw an apple falling from the tree; saw a moon falling
through space, and gave us the law of gravity. Columbus was a see-er. In
a crevice in a bit of driftwood, tossed upon the shore of Spain, he saw
a strange pebble, and his imagination leaped from the driftwood to the
unknown forest from whence it came, from that bright piece of stone to
the mountain range of which it was a part. Columbus had the seeing eye,
and discovered the continent hidden behind the clouds.

Not otherwise the geologist sees the handwriting of God upon the
rock-pages; the astronomer sees His writing upon the pages of the sky;
the physiologist reads His writing on the pages of the human body; the
moralist deciphers the writing on the tablets of the mind and the
heart. The beginning of Wordsworth's fame was the hour when his eyes
were opened, and he saw man appearing upon the horizon, and like a
bright spirit trailing clouds of glory, coming from God who is man's
home. It was the inner sight of Wordsworth's soul that was "the bliss
of solitude." It was his power of vision that enabled him to look out
upon the field, yellow as gold, a vision that lingered long in his
memory when he said, "and then my heart with rapture thrills, and
dances with the daffodils."

It is useless for people who are colour-blind to look at Rembrandt's
portrait. It is folly for people who cannot follow a tune to buy a
ticket for a symphony concert. Men who by neglect atrophy the
spiritual faculty, or by sin cut gashes in the nerve of conscience,
will soon exclaim, in the spirit of the fool, "There is no God," just
as the blind man is certain that there is no sun. The old black
ex-slave, Sojourner Truth, once illustrated this principle. In those
days excitement ran high. Northern merchants, fearful of losing their
trade with Southern cities, frowned upon any one who dared criticize
"the peculiar institution" of the South. One day, in New York,
Sojourner Truth, just escaped from slavery, went to an Abolition
Meeting, hoping for an opportunity of making a plea for the
emancipation of her race. When the black woman, with her gnarled
hands, and face seamed with pain and sorrow, arose to speak, a young
newspaper reporter slammed his book upon the table, and stamped his
way down the aisle toward the door. Just before he reached the door,
Sojourner Truth stretched out her long black finger and said, "Wait a
minute, honey! You goin' 'way 'cause of me? Listen, honey--I would
give you some ideas to take home with you to your newspaper, but I see
you ain't got nothing to carry 'em in!" . . . Homely but forceful
illustration of an old truth. The angel of truth and the angel of
beauty, leaning from the battlements of heaven, oft whispers, "Oh, my
children! I would fain give you a new tool, a new painting, a new
science, but you have no eyes to see the vision, and no ears to hear
the sweetest music that ever fell from heaven's battlements." It is
the man of vision who founds the new school of painting, or the new
reform or the new liberty. The visions of the idealist to-day become
the laws and institutions of to-morrow.

In this power of the open eye, Ruskin found the secret of daily
happiness, and mental growth. No one knew better than John Ruskin that
the millions of working men and women would never be able to make
their way to the galleries of Paris and Madrid, of Florence and
Venice, to St. Peter's or the Parthenon, much less have time, leisure
and money for travel unto the far-off ends of the earth. Therefore he
taught the people how to see the wonders of God, in every fluted blade
of grass, in every bush that blazed with beauty, and blazing, was not
consumed. He proved that he who knows how to see will find the common
clod to be a casket filled with gems, and that the sky that looks down
upon all workers, spreads out scenes of such loveliness and beauty as
to make travel to distant lands unnecessary!

And yet, for the most part, men turn their eyes toward the sky only in
moments of utter idleness and insipidity. "One says it has been wet,
and another, it has been windy, and another, it has been warm. But
who, among the whole chattering crowd, can tell me of the forms and
precipices of the chain of tall white mountains that girded the
horizon at noon yesterday? Who saw the narrow sunbeam that came out of
the south, and smote upon their summits, until they melted and
mouldered away in a dust of blue rain? Who saw the dance of the dead
clouds, when the sunlight left them last night, and the west wind blew
them before it like withered leaves? All has passed, unregretted, and
unseen. Not in the clash of the hail nor the drift of the whirlwind,
are the highest characters developed. God is not in the earthquake,
nor in the fire, but in the still small voice. Blunt and low those
faculties of our nature, which can only be addressed through
lamp-black and lightning."

The whole world owes Ruskin an immeasurable debt for this: that he
taught us how to see the beauty in the great imperial palace in which
man hath his home.

In his defense of Turner, the world's greatest landscape painter, Ruskin
advanced his theory of first seeing accurately, and then, through the
creative imagination, carrying up to ideal perfection flowers, faces and
landscapes often marred by the storms and upheavals of life. It is
altogether probable that John Ruskin saw as accurately the scene of
loveliness as Turner himself. It seems quite certain that Ruskin was
altogether unique in his capacity for enjoyment. It was not simply that
his eyes saw accurately, and his intellect registered his impressions
without flaw, but that his imagination and his emotions were sensitive
to the last degree, as sensitive as the silken threads of an Æolian harp
that responds to the lightest wind that blows. Many people know the
intense flavour of a strawberry, but Ruskin's soul was pierced with an
intense and tumultuous pleasure at the sight of the clouds piled up upon
the mountains. He loved Nature with all the passion with which Dante
loved Beatrice. In Ruskin's forty odd volumes the scholar can find
registered a hundred experiences in the presence of the mountain glory
and the mountain gloom, in which this delight and happiness sent his
whole body shivering with the piercing intensity that shook the soul of
Romeo during his passionate interview with Juliet. Coarse natures,
gluttonous, avaricious, full of hate, can no more understand the
happiness of Ruskin's life than a deaf man can understand Mozart's
rapture, when he listened to the music in the cathedral. Not even a
tornado can make a crowbar vibrate, but the flutter of a lark's wing can
set a silken thread vibrating and singing.

Ruskin has spread out, like a rich map, the story of the people who
educated him. The overmastering influence in his life was that of his
mother. He tells us that he received from his home in childhood the
priceless gift of peace, in that he had never seen a "moment's trouble
or disorder in any household matter, or anything whatever done in a
hurry or undone in due time." To this gift was added the gift of
obedience. "I obeyed word, or lifted finger, of father or mother,
simply as a ship her helm; not only without idea of resistance but as
necessary to me in every moral action as the law of gravity in
leaping. To the gifts of peace and obedience my parents added the gift
of Faith, in that nothing was ever promised me that was not given;
nothing ever threatened me that was not inflicted, and nothing ever
told me that was not true." And to these was added the habit of fixed
attention with both eyes and mind--this being the main practical
faculty of his life, causing Mazzini to say of Ruskin that he had "the
most analytic mind in Europe."

The books from which Ruskin had his style in childhood were Walter
Scott's novels, Pope's translation of the _Iliad_, Defoe's _Robinson
Crusoe_, Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_, and above all, the Bible. "My
mother forced me, by steady and daily toil, to learn long chapters of
the Bible by heart; as well as to read it every syllable through
aloud, hard names and all, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, about once
a year; and to that discipline, patient, accurate, and resolute, I owe
much of my general power of taking pains, and the best part of my
taste in literature." The great chapters of the Bible from which
Ruskin says he had his style included the fifteenth and twentieth of
Exodus; the twenty-third Psalm, and also the thirty-second, ninetieth,
ninety-first, one hundred and third, one hundred and twelfth, one
hundred and nineteenth, one hundred and thirty-ninth, the Sermon on
the Mount, the conversion of Paul, his vision on the road to Damascus,
Paul's Ode to Love and Immortality. "These chapters of the Bible,"
Ruskin says, "were the most precious, and, on the whole, the one
essential part of my education."

Ruskin's message upon education is of vital importance to the people
of our republic. Strictly speaking, education should teach each
citizen to think aright upon every subject of importance, and to live
a life that is worthy, making the most out of the gifts received from
God and one's ancestors. Ruskin traced the national faults and
miseries of England, to illiteracy and the lack of education in the
art of living. The inevitable result of this illiteracy was that
England "despises literature, despises compassion, and concentrates
the soul on silver." From this illiteracy came physical ugliness,
envy, cowardice, and selfishness, instead of physical beauty, courage
and affection. To the dry facts taught, therefore, he proposed to add
inspiration, and the art of seeing.

Above all, he feared the results of uniformity and the manufacture of
men by machinery, until all youths coming out of the same school, having
studied the same facts, in the same way, became as uniform as crackers,
and also as dry. The important man, he thinks, is the occasional boy,
who has received a gift and can open up new realms for the rest.
"Genius? You can't manufacture a great man, any more than you can
manufacture gold. You find gold, and mint it. You uncover diamonds, but
do not produce them. You find genius, but you cannot create it." Getting
on, therefore, does not mean "more horses, more footmen, more fortune,
more public honour,--it means more personal soul. He only is advancing
in life whose heart is getting softer, whose blood warmer, whose brain
quicker, whose spirit is entering into living peace." Education is a
preparation for complete living; therefore Ruskin adopts Milton's
definition of the complete and generous education as, "that which fits a
man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously, all the duties of
all the offices of life."

Frederic Harrison gives Ruskin's _Unto This Last_ first place as the
most original book in modern English literature. He ranks it as a
masterpiece of pure, incisive, brilliant, imaginative writing, "a book
glowing with wit and fire and passion." The heart of the message is that
every man is born with a gift appointed by his fathers, and that
happiness begins with grasping the handle of one's own being. The
greatest and most enduring work is done for love, and not for wage. The
soldier's task is to keep the state in liberty, and when the second or
third battle of Gettysburg or Ypres comes, he does not go on a strike,
but puts death and duty in front of him and keeps his face to the front;
in like manner the physician is appointed to keep the state in health
and in time of yellow fever or the Black Death he works as hard for
nothing as for a large fee, even as a father, in time of famine,
shipwreck or battle, will sacrifice himself for his son.

Ruskin held that the commercial text, "Buy in the cheapest market and
sell in the dearest," was part truth, and part falsehood. "Buy in the
cheapest market? Yes; but what made your market cheap? Charcoal may be
cheap among the roof timbers after a fire, and bricks may be cheap in
your streets after an earthquake, but fire and earthquake may not be,
therefore, national benefits. Sell in the dearest market? Yes; but
what made your market dear? Was it to a dying man who gave his last
coin rather than starve, or to a soldier on his way to pillage the
bank, that you put your fortune? The final consummation of wealth is
in full-breathed, bright-eyed and happy-hearted human creatures."
Therefore, said Ruskin, "I can imagine that England may cast all
thoughts of possessive wealth back to the barbaric nations among whom
they first arose; and that, while the sand of the Indias and adamant
of Golconda may yet stiffen the housings of the charger, and flash
from the turban of the slave, she at last may be able to lead forth
her sons, saying, 'These are my jewels!'"

Whether, therefore, property shall be a curse or a blessing depends upon
man's administrative intelligence. "For centuries great districts of the
world, rich in soil, and favoured in climate, have lain desert, under
the rage of their own rivers, not only desert, but plague-struck. The
stream which, rightly directed, would have flowed in soft irrigation
from field to field,--would have purified the air, given food to man and
beast, and carried their burdens for them on its bosom--now overwhelms
the plain, and poisons the wind, its breath pestilence, and its work
famine. In like manner, wealth may become water of life, the riches of
the hand and wisdom, or wealth may be the last and deadliest of national
plagues, water of Marah, the water of which feeds the roots of all
evil." Man's body alone is related to factory and mine. No amount of
ingenuity will ever make iron and steel digestible. Neither the avarice
nor the rage of men will ever feed them. And however the apple of Sodom
and the grape of Gomorrah may spread the table with dainties of ashes
and nectar of asps,--so long as men live by bread, the far-away valleys
laugh only as they are covered with the gold of God, and echo the shouts
of His happy multitudes.

During the closing and most fruitful period of his career, Ruskin's
supreme thought had to do with the manufacture of souls of good
quality. Quite beyond the influence of some hero or statesman was the
influence, hidden, constant, but immeasurable, of the spirit of the
invisible God. "If you ask me for the sum of my life-work, the answer
is this,--whatever Jesus saith unto you, do that." Daniel Webster
himself never made a more powerful plea for the Christian Church and
preacher than Ruskin's statement on the importance of the hour on
Sunday, after the people have been exposed for six days to the full
weight of the world's temptation. That hour when men and women come
in, breathless and weary with the week's labour and "a man sent with a
message, which is a matter of life or death, has but thirty minutes to
get at the separate hearts of a thousand men, to convince them of all
their weaknesses, to shame them for all their sins, to warn them of
all their dangers, to try by this way and that to stir the hard
fastenings of those doors, where the Master Himself has stood and
knocked, yet none opened, and to call at the openings of those dark
streets, where Wisdom herself has stretched forth her hands and no man
hath regarded,--thirty minutes to raise the dead in!--let us but once
understand and feel this, and the pulpit shall become a throne like
unto a marble rock in the desert, about which the people gather to
slake their thirst."

And in the very fullness of his power, when his bow was in full
strength, and every sentence and arrow tipped with fire, Ruskin
gathered his strength for a final study of the obligations of wealth
to poverty, of wisdom to ignorance,--the opportunity of rich men to
serve their generation, and make the world once more an Eden garden of
happiness and delight. Just as men sweep together an acre of red
roses, and condense the blossoms into a little vial filled with the
precious attar, we may condense several volumes of Ruskin into a
single parable. Why has one man ten-talent power? Why have ninety-nine
men only one-talent power? Why is one boy ten years of age and strong,
while in the same orphan asylum are ninety-nine little boys one year
old? And what if some kind hand hath spread the table with orange,
date, and plum, with every sweet fruit and nutritious grain? Has the
ten-year-old boy, answering to the ten-talent man, a right to dash up
to the table, and with one hand sweep together all the fruits, and
with the other hand, all the cereals, milk and cream, while he shouts
to the ninety-nine little one-year-old children, "Every fellow for
himself! Get all you can! Keep all you can! The devil take the
hindmost!" This, says Ruskin, is the fashion of certain rust-kings,
and moth-kings. Why is that one boy ten years of age? Is his strength
not for the sole purpose of carrying these foods to the little
one-year-old children, scarcely able to provide for themselves? It is
said of the Master and Lord of us all, that "being rich, for our sakes
He made Himself poor." And the kings in the realm of art, or song, of
industry or finance, have been ordained by God, not to loot the world
of its blossoms, not to squeeze men, like so many purple clusters,
into their own cups. In the vegetable world the expert pinches off
ninety-nine roses, and forces the rich and vital currents into one
great rose at the end of the stock. But what if a ten-talent man
should pinch out ninety-nine lesser men as competitors, and force the
vital elements of all their separate factories and stores, that were
intended to be distributed among many men, of lesser gifts, into his
one treasure house?

Ruskin not only pointed the moral but fashioned his own life after it.
He was one of the few men who have lived what they taught. He fell
heir to what his generation thought was a very large fortune. He made
another fortune by sheer force of genius. But he held his treasure as
a trust fund in the interest of God's poor. And so-called practical
men turned upon him, with the bitterness and hate of wolves that try
to pull down some noble stag. His articles were shut out of the
_Cornhill Magazine_. Through the influence of selfish men who feared
the influence of his teachings upon the people, he was for a time
bitterly assaulted. Scoffed at and maligned, he overworked and passed
from one attack of brain fever to another. When it was too late, the
angry voices died out of the air, and his sun cleared itself of
clouds. When at last a wreath of honour was offered Ruskin, it was as
if an old man had taken the blossoms and the laurel leaf, and carried
them out to God's acre, to be placed in the snow upon his mother's
grave. But ours is a world that first slays the prophet and then
builds his sepulchre. It is indeed, as the wise man said, a world that
crucifies the Saviour.

And we can say of Ruskin what James Martineau said of the world's
injustice, that "in almost every age which has stoned the prophets,
and loaded its philosophers with chains, the ringleaders of the
anarchy have been, not the lawless and infamous of their day, but the
archons and chief priests, who could protect their false idols with a
grand and stiff air, and do their wrongs in the halls of justice, and
commit their murders as a savoury sacrifice; so that it has been by no
rude violence, but by clean and holy hands that the guides, the
saints, the redeemers of men have been poisoned in Athens, tortured in
Rome, burned in Florence, crucified in Jerusalem." And we ought not to
be surprised that a world that threatened Milton, starved Swammerdam,
imprisoned Bunyan, and assassinated Lincoln, should break the health
and the heart of John Ruskin, who poured out his very life-blood to
redeem the people from ignorance, and sloth, and wrong.



Index


  Abelard and Héloise, 19

  Achilles, 37

  Act of Toleration, The, 114

  _Adam Bede_, 146

  Æneas, The wanderings of, 35

  Alexander the Great, 86, 103

  Alexander the Sixth, 42, 51

  Alva, Duke of, 61, 66, 67, 68, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75

  Angelo, Michael, 11, 12, 15, 27, 39, 123, 140

  _Areopagitica_, 131, 132

  Aristotle, 25

  Arnold, Matthew, 144

  Asbury, Francis, 162

  Asia Minor, 55

  Athens, 26, 37, 50, 84, 195

  Augustus Cæsar, 36


  Bacon, Francis, 32

  Balfour, Lord, 89

  Barnett, Canon, 197

  Barrett, Elizabeth, 39

  Beatrice, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 30, 205

  Bedford Jail, 32, 85

  Beecher, Henry Ward, 158

  "Beggars," The fleet of, 73, 74, 77

  Bernard the Monk, 105

  Birrell, Augustine, 144

  Black Death, The, 97, 100

  "Bloody Council," The, 57

  Booth, William, 199

  Boswell's _Life of Johnson_, 151

  Bradford, William, 57

  Brescia, 43

  Brougham, Henry, 103

  Browning, Robert, 39

  Bunyan, John, 12, 32, 85, 105, 142, 216

  Burke, Edmund, 132


  Calvin, John, 54

  Carlyle, Thomas, 89, 145

  Cateau-Cambresis, Treaty of, 70

  Cavour, 39, 166

  Cecilia, St., 21

  Cervantes, 84

  Charles I of England, 94, 95, 99, 101, 102, 103, 109, 110, 112, 123,
            132, 133

  Charles II of England, 111, 112

  Charles V, Emperor of Germany, 69

  Charles VIII of France, 48

  Charles IX of France, 74

  Childe Harold, 23

  Church, The, 15, 41, 53, 63, 93

  Columbus, Christopher, 14, 35, 200

  Common people in the Dark Ages, The, 14

  _Comus_, 121

  Constantinople, 36, 40, 88, 168

  Copernicus, 35

  Cromwell, Oliver, 57, 85, 86, 87, 88, 91, 97, 98, 102, 103, 106, 107,
            108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 123, 132, 133, 134, 135

  "Crowning Mercy of Worcester, The," 109

  Curtis, George William, 9


  Dante, Alighieri, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26,
            27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 40, 50, 105, 123, 136, 140, 142,
            205

  Dark Ages, The, 14, 36

  Dekker, 118

  De Quincey, Thomas, 129

  _Divine Comedy, The_, 19, 22, 23, 24, 136

  Divine Right of Kings, The, 91, 113, 123


  Easter Day, 25

  Eclipse in English literature, 125

  Edison, Thomas, 191

  Eliot, George, 39, 146

  Eliot, Sir John, 95, 101

  England's darkest hour, 89

  England in the days of Charles I, 97, 98, 99

  Erasmus, 54, 57

  Este, Duke of, 41


  Farmer of Huntingdon, The, 90, 108

  Ferrara, 40

  Feudalism, 14

  Ficino, 45

  Florence, 14, 16, 37, 38, 43, 45, 46, 47, 50, 52, 216

  Foch, Marshal, 86

  Francis of Assisi, 105

  Franklin, Benjamin, 12, 147, 178

  French Revolution, The, 144


  Garibaldi, 39, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 173, 174, 176, 177, 179,
           180, 181, 182, 184, 186, 187;
    in the United States, 177

  Garibaldi's aim--a united Italy, 182;
    Anita, 174, 175, 177;
    charmed life, 168, 169;
    power over his troops, 185;
    life in South America, 175;
    reckless courage, 171, 172;
    refusal of throne, 181;
    return to Italy, 175;
    loyalty to Victor Emmanuel, 179;
    victories, 181

  Geography, The science of, 15

  George, David Lloyd, 89

  Geryon, 25

  Gioberti, 38

  Giotto, 7, 38

  Gladstone, 180

  Goethe, 27

  Grant, General, 86

  Great Remonstrance, The, 102

  Gulf Stream, Influence of the, 163


  Hallam the historian, 10

  Hamilton, Alexander, 168, 178

  Hamlet, 13

  Hampden, John, 101, 104, 108, 123

  Harrison, Frederic, 106, 209

  Helen of Troy, 36, 37

  Henry of Navarre, 103

  History, The scope of, 18

  Hogarth, William, 145

  Holland, 55, 56, 57, 59

  Homer, 10, 11, 12, 13, 123

  Horace, 136

  House of Lords, The, 12

  Hume, David, 145


  _Idylls of the King_, 23

  _Imitation of Christ_, 154

  _In Darkest England_, 199

  _Inferno, The_, 31, 32

  Inquisition, The, 65, 74

  Italian language, The, 11

  Italian literature, 18


  James I of England, 117

  Jonson, Ben, 90, 117

  Julius Cæsar, 86


  Keats, John, 12

  Kenilworth Castle, 96

  King Alfred's Bible, 12

  Kipling, Rudyard, 190

  Kossuth, Louis, 178


  _Last Judgment, The_, 27

  Law's _Serious Call_, 154

  Latin tongue, The, 11

  Lecky the historian, 144, 155

  Leonardo, 35

  Leyden, Siege of, 77, 78, 79, 80

  Lincoln, Abraham, 57, 58, 99, 102, 113, 182, 194

  Lorenzo the Magnificent, 45, 46, 47

  Lowell, James Russell, 31, 137, 140, 141

  Lucifer, 25

  Luther, Martin, 49, 54

  _Lycidas_, 121


  Macaulay, Lord, 116 117, 137, 138, 144

  _Macbeth_, 13

  Marlow, 90, 117

  Marston Moor, Battle of, 103, 109

  Martineau, James, 216

  Mary Queen of Scots, 99

  Massacre of St. Bartholomew, 74

  Massinger, Philip, 118

  "Mayflower, The," 115

  Mazzini, 39, 166, 168, 170

  Mæcenas, 36

  Medici, The, 48

  "Mermaid" Tavern, The, 116

  Methodists, The early, 146

  Methodism, world-wide sphere of, 162

  Michelet, 183

  Middle Ages, The, 26

  Mill, John Stuart, 16

  Milton, John, 16, 103,106, 112, 115, 116, 117, 119, 120, 129, 132,
            138, 139, 140, 142, 216;
    and his studies, 120, 121;
    at Cambridge, 120;
    made Secretary of State, 133

  Milton's belief in himself, 121;
    fight for relationships, 126;
    pamphlets, 131;
    views on divorce, 126, 127

  Mirandola, Picadella, 44, 45

  Modern world, The dawn of, 37, 38

  Monte Rosa, 13

  Moravians, The, 155

  Morley, John, 111

  Morley's _Life of Gladstone_, 156

  Morris, William, 196


  Napoleon, 103, 164

  Naseby, Battle of, 109

  Nelson, Lord, 146

  Newton, Sir Isaac, 200


  _Othello_, 13


  Paradise, 26, 28

  _Paradise Lost_, 123, 136, 139

  _Paradise Regained_, 123

  Pattison, Mark, 129

  Paul II, 41

  Penelope, 36, 37

  Pericles, 37

  Peter the Hermit, 49

  Petrarch, 34

  Philip II of Spain, 56, 57, 61, 63, 65, 68, 69, 70, 74

  Phillips, Wendell, 90, 158

  Pius II, 41

  _Pilgrim's Progress, The_, 85

  Pitt, William, 144, 146

  Plato, 45

  Pope, Alexander, 16

  Prince Djem, 51

  Prince Rupert, 109, 111

  Priors of Florence, The, 16

  Purgatory, 25, 29, 30, 32

  Puritanism, 142

  Puritans, The, 138, 139

  Pym, John, 101, 108, 123


  Queen Victoria, 180, 191


  Raleigh, Sir Walter, 103

  Raphael, 11, 21, 112, 123

  Ravenna, 32

  "Renaissance, The Morning Star of," 10

  Renaissance, The, 35

  Restoration, The, 135

  Revival of learning, The, 34

  Richelieu, 144

  _Ring and the Book, The_, 39

  Rodin's _Thinker_, 191

  Rome, 35, 41, 51, 216

  _Romola_, 39

  Ruskin, John, 57, 190, 192, 193, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 203,
            205, 206, 207, 208, 210, 211, 213, 214, 215, 216;
    and social reform, 194;
    books of his childhood, 207;
    world's debt to, 205


  Savonarola, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 46, 49, 51, 53, 84

  Shakespeare, 10, 11, 13, 90, 117, 141

  Shelley, 141

  Socrates, 50, 84

  St. Peter's Cathedral, 15

  _Story of the Dutch Republic_, Motley's, 39

  Swammerdam, 216


  Tasso, 99

  Taylor's _Purity of Intention_, 154

  Tennyson, 106, 115

  Torquemada, 64

  Toynbee, Arnold, 197, 198

  Truth, Sojourner, 202, 203

  Turner, J. W., 205

  Tyndale, William, 54


  Ulysses, 13, 36, 37


  Venice, 55

  Verona, Bishop of, 53

  Virgil, 24, 29

  _Vita Nuova_, 21

  Voltaire, 26, 115


  Walpole, Horace, 145, 151

  Washington, George, 99, 102, 113, 143, 168, 182

  Webster, Daniel, 103, 178, 212

  Wellington, Duke of, 146

  Wesley, Charles, 147, 148

  Wesley, John, 143, 144, 145, 150, 152, 153, 154, 155, 158, 159, 160,
            161, 162, 163, 164;
    at Oxford, 154;
    growth of followers, 143;
    _Journal_ of, 150, 153;
    labours of, 100, 152, 153, 156, 157;
    last words of, 164;
    liberality of, 161;
    moral courage of, 157;
    persecution of, 158;
    personal traits, 159;
    plan for world evangelization, 162

  Wesley, Samuel, 153

  Wesley, Susannah, 153

  Whitefield, George, 147, 148, 149, 155

  Wilberforce, William, 194

  William the Silent, 56, 57, 59, 61, 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 76,
            77, 80, 82

  Wordsworth, William, 200


_Printed in the United States of America_



Transcriber's Note


  Hyphenation inconsistencies left as in the original

  Obvious punctuation and spelling errors repaired

  Pg 84: "...the path the heroes' trod." to "...the path the heroes
    trod."

  Pg 156: Removed extraneous blank line from August 23, 1733 journal
    entry





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