Слике страница

system can be easily defined; they reflect well the main features of his mind, fiery realism, and statesmanlike constructiveness. He was one of the most determined opponents that conservatism, in the various forms in which it has stereotyped itself, ever met. He deemed it always, in its essence erroneous; to halt was of necessity wrong; it was only by progress, he would have said, that what is good could be preserved : proceed as slowly as is necessary for sureness, but pause in the ocean, and that moment your ship begins to rot, or the revolutionary tempest awakens behind, and then the acceleration is fatal. His words on the subject are deliberate and bold :-“ As I feel that, of the two besetting sins of human nature, selfish neglect and selfish agitation, the former is the more common, and has, in the long run, done far more harm than the latter, although the outbreaks of the latter, while they last, are of a far more atrocious character; so I have in a manner vowed to myself, and prayed that, with God's blessing, no excesses of popular wickedness, though I should be myself, as I expect, the victim of them, no temporary evils produced by revolution, shall ever make me forget the wickedness of Toryism—of that spirit which crucified Christ himself, which has, throughout the long experience of all history, continually thwarted the cause of God and goodness, and has gone on abusing its opportuni. ties, and heaping up wrath, by a long series of selfish neglect, against the day of wrath and judgment.” Again :-“There is nothing so revolutionary, because there is nothing so unnatural and so convulsive to society, as the strain to keep things fixed, when all the world is by the very law of its creation in eternal progress; and the cause of all the evils of the world may be traced to that natural but most deadly error of human indolence and corruption, that our business is to preserve, and not to improve.” He challenges a wide induction :-“Search

and look whether you can find that any constitution was destroyed from within, by faction or discontent, without its destruction having been, either just penally, or necessary, because it could not any longer answer its proper purposes.” At times he breaks forth in a fine strong figure “ Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo,' is the cry of Reform, when, long repulsed and scorned, she is on the point of changing her visage to that of Revolution.” From these characteristic sentences, compared with other parts of his works, we learn aocurately his position as a political thinker. Selfishness in its two forms he shunned on either hand : the selfishness that will sit in icy and relentless indifference on its throne, though that throne be placed on a pyramid of skulls; this is the selfishness of those for whom it has, in all ages, been hard to enter into the kingdom of heaven : and the selfishness which cries simply, Give, give; let religion, honor, valor, all be flung aside, let Throne, Church, Aristocracy be cast into the fire, that we may be warmed at the blaze; this is the selfishness of anarchy and atheism; between the two he trimmed, in the golden mean of a manly patriotism, a reasonable, unresting, unhasting progress, and a stooping to the majesty of law. The Warburton theory of government, as we have seen, he rejected; he recognized the duties and responsibilities of nations; and thus we trace his political system to its union with his Christianity in the responsible civil-religious church-state. The laissez-faire school he opposed absolutely, looking with feelings of profound and melancholy interest upon the eighteenth century in its first half, as a time of rest, which might have been improved, but was lost forever.

In 1842, we find Arnold writing thus in his diary:—“The day after to-morrow is my birth-day, if I am permitted to live to see it-my forty-seventh birth-day since my birth. How

large a portion of my life on earth is already passed. And then-what is to follow this life? How visibly my outward work seems contracting and softening away into the gentler emotions of old age. In one sense, how nearly can I now say, •Vixi.' And I thank God that, as far as ambition is concerned, it is, I trust, fully mortified; I have no desire other than to step back from my present place in the world, and not to rise to a higher. Still, there are works which, with God's permission, I would do before the night cometh; especially that great work, if I might be permitted to take part in it. But, above all, let me mind my own personal work—to keep myself pure, and zealous, and believing—laboring to do God's will, yet not anxious that it should be done by me rather than by others, if God disapproves of my doing it.”

Christianity has wrought its work; the armor is girded on, yet there is the willingness to unbrace it, the noble warrior valor yearns to share the combat, but yet is embraced and transfigured in the nobler, that hides self altogether in desire for the glory of God. Next morning he hears the voice of death; the sun of that birth-day looked upon his corpse.

There is something to us martially stirring, and even beautiful, in the death of Arnold. It is like that of a warrior on the stricken field; so suddenly does it come, and with such a calm pride does he meet it. That brief, decisive inquiry as to the nature of his ailment is strangely interesting; he is racked with pain, and yet he is as pointed, cool, and explicit, as if he were examining a pupil. And the last look seen in his filming eye was that of unutterable kindness!

At the time when Arnold died, he could be ill spared to England. In the peaceful retirement toward which he had for some time looked, his eye might have taken a calmer, a wider, a more searching look, at those great questions with

which his life had made him so thoroughly conversant, and on which the thought of a lifetime was well spent; in the still and rich light of a restful evening, he might have seen what escaped his somewhat agitated gaze in the glare and bustle of day. Indications there were, as we have seen, of a change. It is not our part, however, to complain ; rather let us join in that noble expression of satisfied acquiescence in the plans of God, which so appropriately and sublimely closed his last writing.



Thomas CHALMERS was born in one of those homes which have been the pride and the blessing of Scotland : to which, rather than to aught else, Scotland may point as her achievement among the nations, and to whose final uprearing countless influences and agencies have co-operated. It is often in the far distance that causes work, whose effects are seen in living bloom around: the cloud was gathered from the remote Atlantic, whose drops cause the farmer's little corn-field to spring; the hillock on whose side his cottage turns its bright face toward the southern sun was upheaved by the might of central fire ere mankind was born. The fierce struggle in the dark wood of Falkirk, the victorious charge on the bright plain of Bannockburn, the wrestling of Luther with Satan in his silent chamber at Erfurt, the far flight and inevitable gaze of the intellect of Calvin, the rugged earnestness of Knox, the godly valor of Peden and Cameron, all conjoined their agencies to build up the quiet homes of Presbyterian Scotland. Nor was this an unworthy or insignificant consummation : the almost reverential admiration with which all men have looked into the circle of “The Cottar's Saturday Night” proclaims it to have been noble and sufficient. Of such homes, substantial comfort and cheerful piety were the characteristics; religious thoughtfulness and industrious peace dwelt there in kindly

« ПретходнаНастави »