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Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 4 by Charles Dudley Warner

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the dead bodies of his most faithful subjects, all of which were thrown
on the top of the pile.


From 'The History of the Caliph Vathek'

The Caliph and Nouronihar beheld each other with amazement, at finding
themselves in a place which, though roofed with a vaulted ceiling, was
so spacious and lofty that at first they took it for an immeasurable
plain. But their eyes at length growing familiar with the grandeur of
the objects at hand, they extended their view to those at a distance,
and discovered rows of columns and arcades, which gradually diminished
till they terminated in a point, radiant as the sun when he darts his
last beams athwart the ocean; the pavement, strewed over with gold dust
and saffron, exhaled so subtle an odor as almost overpowered them; they
however went on, and observed an infinity of censers, in which ambergris
and the wood of aloes were continually burning; between the several
columns were placed tables, each spread with a profusion of viands, and
wines of every species sparkling in vases of crystal. A throng of genii
and other fantastic spirits of each sex danced lasciviously in troops,
at the sound of music which issued from beneath.

In the midst of this immense hall a vast multitude was incessantly
passing, who severally kept their right hands on their hearts, without
once regarding anything around them; they had all the livid paleness of
death; their eyes, deep sunk in their sockets, resembled those
phosphoric meteors that glimmer by night in places of interment. Some
stalked slowly on, absorbed in profound reverie; some, shrieking with
agony, ran furiously about, like tigers wounded with poisoned arrows;
whilst others, grinding their teeth in rage, foamed along, more frantic
than the wildest maniac. They all avoided each other, and though
surrounded by a multitude that no one could number, each wandered at
random, unheedful of the rest, as if alone on a desert which no foot
had trodden.

Vathek and Nouronihar, frozen with terror at a sight so baleful,
demanded of the Giaour what these appearances might seem, and why these
ambulating spectres never withdrew their hands from their hearts.

"Perplex not yourselves," replied he bluntly, "with so much at once; you
will soon be acquainted with all: let us haste and present you
to Eblis."

They continued their way through the multitude; but notwithstanding
their confidence at first, they were not sufficiently composed to
examine with attention the various perspectives of halls and of
galleries that opened on the right hand and left, which were all
illuminated by torches and braziers, whose flames rose in pyramids to
the centre of the vault. At length they came to a place where long
curtains, brocaded with crimson and gold, fell from all parts in
striking confusion; here the choirs and dances were heard no longer, the
light which glimmered came from afar.

After some time Vathck and Nouronihar perceived a gleam brightening
through the drapery, and entered a vast tabernacle carpeted with the
skins of leopards; an infinity of elders with streaming beards, and
Afrits in complete armor, had prostrated themselves before the ascent of
a lofty eminence, on the top of which, upon a globe of fire, sat the
formidable Eblis. His person was that of a young man, whose noble and
regular features seemed to have been tarnished by malignant vapors; in
his large eyes appeared both pride and despair; his flowing hair
retained some resemblance to that of an angel of light; in his hand,
which thunder had blasted, he swayed the iron sceptre that causes the
monster Ouranabad, the Afrits, and all the powers of the abyss to
tremble; at his presence the heart of the Caliph sunk within him, and
for the first time he fell prostrate on his face. Nouronihar, however,
though greatly dismayed, could not help admiring the person of Eblis;
for she expected to have seen some stupendous giant. Eblis, with a voice
more mild than might be imagined, but such as transfused through the
soul the deepest melancholy, said:--

"Creatures of clay, I receive you into mine empire; ye are numbered
amongst my adorers. Enjoy whatever this palace affords: the treasures of
the pre-Adamite Sultans, their bickering sabres, and those talismans
that compel the Dives to open the subterranean expanses of the mountain
of Kaf, which communicate with these. There, insatiable as your
curiosity may be, shall you find sufficient to gratify it; you shall
possess the exclusive privilege of entering the fortress of Aherman, and
the halls of Argenk, where are portrayed all creatures endowed with
intelligence, and the various animals that inhabited the earth prior to
the creation of that contemptible being whom ye denominate the Father
of Mankind."

Vathek and Nouronihar, feeling themselves revived and encouraged by
this harangue, eagerly said to the Giaour:--

"Bring us instantly to the place which contains these precious

"Come!" answered this wicked Dive, with his malignant grin, "come! and
possess all that my Sovereign hath promised, and more."

He then conducted them into a long aisle adjoining the tabernacle,
preceding them with hasty steps, and followed by his disciples with the
utmost alacrity. They reached at length a hall of great extent, and
covered with a lofty dome, around which appeared fifty portals of
bronze, secured with as many fastenings of iron. A funereal gloom
prevailed over the whole scene. Here, upon two beds of incorruptible
cedar, lay recumbent the fleshless forms of the pre-Adamite kings, who
had been monarchs of the whole earth. They still possessed enough of
life to be conscious of their deplorable condition; their eyes retained
a melancholy motion; they regarded each other with looks of the deepest
dejection, each holding his right hand motionless on his heart. At their
feet were inscribed the events of their several reigns, their power,
their pride, and their crimes. Soliman Raad, Soliman Daki, and Soliman
Di Gian Ben Gian, who, after having chained up the Dives in the dark
caverns of Kaf, became so presumptuous as to doubt of the Supreme
Power,--all these maintained great state, though not to be compared with
the eminence of Soliman Ben Daoud [Solomon the son of David].

This king, so renowned for his wisdom, was on the loftiest elevation,
and placed immediately under the dome; he appeared to possess more
animation than the rest, though from time to time he labored with
profound sighs, and like his companions, kept his right hand on his
heart; yet his countenance was more composed, and he seemed to be
listening to the sullen roar of a vast cataract, visible in part through
the grated portals; this was the only sound that intruded on the silence
of these doleful mansions. A range of brazen vases surrounded the

"Remove the covers from these cabalistic depositaries," said the Giaour
to Vathek, "and avail thyself of the talismans, which will break asunder
all these gates of bronze, and not only render thee master of the
treasures contained within them, but also of the spirits by which they
are guarded."

The Caliph, whom this ominous preliminary had entirely disconcerted,
approached the vases with faltering footsteps, and was ready to sink
with terror when he heard the groans of Soliman. As he proceeded, a
voice from the livid lips of the Prophet articulated these words:--

"In my lifetime I filled a magnificent throne, having on my right hand
twelve thousand seats of gold, where the patriarchs and the prophets
heard my doctrines; on my left the sages and doctors, upon as many
thrones of silver, were present at all my decisions. Whilst I thus
administered justice to innumerable multitudes, the birds of the air
librating over me served as a canopy from the rays of the sun; my people
flourished, and my palace rose to the clouds; I erected a temple to the
Most High which was the wonder of the universe. But I basely suffered
myself to be seduced by the love of women, and a curiosity that could
not be restrained by sublunary things; I listened to the counsels of
Aherman and the daughter of Pharaoh, and adored fire and the hosts of
heaven; I forsook the holy city, and commanded the Genii to rear the
stupendous palace of Istakhar, and the terrace of the watch-towers, each
of which was consecrated to a star. There for a while I enjoyed myself
in the zenith of glory and pleasure; not only men, but supernatural
existences were subject also to my will. I began to think, as these
unhappy monarchs around had already thought, that the vengeance of
Heaven was asleep, when at once the thunder burst my structures asunder
and precipitated me hither; where however I do not remain, like the
other inhabitants, totally destitute of hope, for an angel of light hath
revealed that, in consideration of the piety of my early youth, my woes
shall come to an end when this cataract shall for ever cease to flow.
Till then I am in torments, ineffable torments! an unrelenting fire
preys on my heart."

Having uttered this exclamation, Soliman raised his hands towards Heaven
in token of supplication, and the Caliph discerned through his bosom,
which was transparent as crystal, his heart enveloped in flames. At a
sight so full of horror, Nouronihar fell back like one petrified into
the arms of Vathek, who cried out with a convulsive sob:--

"O Giaour! whither hast thou brought us? Allow us to depart, and I will
relinquish all thou hast promised. O Mahomet! remains there no
more mercy?"

"None! none!" replied the malicious Dive, "Know, miserable prince! thou
art now in the abode of vengeance and despair; thy heart also will be
kindled, like those of the other votaries of Eblis. A few days are
allotted thee previous to this fatal period. Employ them as thou wilt:
recline on these heaps of gold; command the Infernal Potentates; range
at thy pleasure through these immense subterranean domains; no barrier
shall be shut against thee. As for me, I have fulfilled my mission; I
now leave thee to thyself." At these words he vanished.

The Caliph and Nouronihar remained in the most abject affliction; their
tears unable to flow, scarcely could they support themselves. At length,
taking each other despondingly by the hand, they went faltering from
this fatal hall, indifferent which way they turned their steps. Every
portal opened at their approach; the Dives fell prostrate before them;
every reservoir of riches was disclosed to their view: but they no
longer felt the incentives of curiosity, pride, or avarice. With like
apathy they heard the chorus of Genii, and saw the stately banquets
prepared to regale them. They went wandering on from chamber to chamber,
hall to hall, and gallery to gallery, all without bounds or limit, all
distinguishable by the same lowering gloom, all adorned with the same
awful grandeur, all traversed by persons in search of repose and
consolation, but who sought them in vain; for every one carried within
him a heart tormented in flames. Shunned by these various sufferers, who
seemed by their looks to be upbraiding the partners of their guilt, they
withdrew from them, to wait in direful suspense the moment which should
render them to each other the like objects of terror.

"What!" exclaimed Nouronihar; "will the time come when I shall snatch my
hand from thine?"

"Ah," said Vathek; "and shall my eyes ever cease to drink from thine
long draughts of enjoyment! Shall the moments of our reciprocal
ecstasies be reflected on with horror! It was not thou that broughtest
me hither: the principles by which Carathis perverted my youth have been
the sole cause of my perdition!" Having given vent to these painful
expressions, he called to an Afrit, who was stirring up one of the
braziers, and bade him fetch the Princess Carathis from the palace
of Samarah.

After issuing these orders, the Caliph and Nouronihar continued walking
amidst the silent crowd, till they heard voices at the end of the
gallery. Presuming them to proceed from some unhappy beings who, like
themselves, were awaiting their final doom, they followed the sound, and
found it to come from a small square chamber, where they discovered
sitting on sofas five young men of goodly figure, and a lovely female,
who were all holding a melancholy conversation by the glimmering of a
lonely lamp; each had a gloomy and forlorn air, and two of them were
embracing each other with great tenderness. On seeing the Caliph and the
daughter of Fakreddin enter, they arose, saluted and gave them place;
then he who appeared the most considerable of the group addressed
himself thus to Vathek:

"Strangers!--who doubtless are in the same state of suspense with
ourselves, as you do not yet bear your hand on your heart,--if you are
come hither to pass the interval allotted previous to the infliction of
our common punishment, condescend to relate the adventures that have
brought you to this fatal place, and we in return will acquaint you with
ours, which deserve but too well to be heard. We will trace back our
crimes to their source, though we are not permitted to repent; this is
the only employment suited to wretches like us!"

The Caliph and Nouronihar assented to the proposal, and Vathek began,
not without tears and lamentations, a sincere recital of every
circumstance that had passed. When the afflicting narrative was closed,
the young man entered on his own. Each person proceeded in order, and
when the fourth prince had reached the midst of his adventures, a sudden
noise interrupted him, which caused the vault to tremble and to open.

Immediately a cloud descended, which, gradually dissipating, discovered
Carathis on the back of an Afrit, who grievously complained of his
burden. She, instantly springing to the ground, advanced towards her son
and said:--

"What dost thou here in this little square chamber? As the Dives are
become subject to thy beck, I expected to have found thee on the throne
of the pre-Adamite Kings."

"Execrable woman!" answered the Caliph; "cursed be the day thou gavest
me birth! Go, follow this Afrit, let him conduct thee to the hall of the
Prophet Soliman; there thou wilt learn to what these palaces are
destined, and how much I ought to abhor the impious knowledge thou hast
taught me."

"The height of power to which thou art arrived has certainly turned thy
brain," answered Carathis; "but I ask no more than permission to show my
respect for the Prophet. It is however proper thou shouldest know that
(as the Afrit has informed me neither of us shall return to Samarah) I
requested his permission to arrange my affairs, and he politely
consented: availing myself therefore of the few moments allowed me, I
set fire to the tower, and consumed in it the mutes, negresses, and
serpents which have rendered me so much good service; nor should I have
been less kind to Morakanabad, had he not prevented me by deserting at
last to my brother. As for Bababalouk, who had the folly to return to
Samarah, and all the good brotherhood to provide husbands for thy wives,
I undoubtedly would have put them to the torture, could I but have
allowed them the time; being however in a hurry, I only hung him after
having caught him in a snare with thy wives, whilst them I buried alive
by the help of my negresses, who thus spent their last moments greatly
to their satisfaction. With respect to Dilara, who ever stood high in my
favor, she hath evinced the greatness of her mind by fixing herself near
in the service of one of the Magi, and I think will soon be our own."

Vathek, too much cast down to express the indignation excited by such a
discourse, ordered the Afrit to remove Carathis from his presence, and
continued immersed in thought, which his companion durst not disturb.

Carathis, however, eagerly entered the dome of Soliman, and without
regarding in the least the groans of the Prophet, undauntedly removed
the covers of the vases, and violently seized on the talismans. Then,
with a voice more loud than had hitherto been heard within these
mansions, she compelled the Dives to disclose to her the most secret
treasures, the most profound stores, which the Afrit himself had not
seen; she passed by rapid descents known only to Eblis and his most
favored potentates, and thus penetrated the very entrails of the earth,
where breathes the Sansar, or icy wind of death. Nothing appalled her
dauntless soul; she perceived however in all the inmates, who bore their
hands on their hearts, a little singularity, not much to her taste. As
she was emerging from one of the abysses, Eblis stood forth to her view;
but notwithstanding he displayed the full effulgence of his infernal
majesty, she preserved her countenance unaltered, and even paid her
compliments with considerable firmness.

This superb Monarch thus answered:--"Princess, whose knowledge and whose
crimes have merited a conspicuous rank in my empire, thou dost well to
employ the leisure that remains; for the flames and torments which are
ready to seize on thy heart will not fail to provide thee with full
employment." He said this, and was lost in the curtains of his

Carathis paused for a moment with surprise; but, resolved to follow the
advice of Eblis, she assembled all the choirs of Genii, and all the
Dives, to pay her homage; thus marched she in triumph through a vapor of
perfumes, amidst the acclamations of all the malignant spirits, with
most of whom she had formed a previous acquaintance. She even attempted
to dethrone one of the Solimans for the purpose of usurping his place,
when a voice proceeding from the abyss of Death proclaimed, "All is
accomplished!" Instantaneously the haughty forehead of the intrepid
princess was corrugated with agony; she uttered a tremendous yell, and
fixed, no more to be withdrawn, her right hand upon her heart, which was
become a receptacle of eternal fire.

In this delirium, forgetting all ambitious projects and her thirst for
that knowledge which should ever be hidden from mortals, she overturned
the offerings of the Genii, and having execrated the hour she was
begotten and the womb that had borne her, glanced off in a whirl that
rendered her invisible, and continued to revolve without intermission.

At almost the same instant the same voice announced to the Caliph,
Nouronihar, the five princes, and the princess, the awful and
irrevocable decree. Their hearts immediately took fire, and they at once
lost the most precious of the gifts of Heaven--Hope. These unhappy
beings recoiled with looks of the most furious distraction; Vathek
beheld in the eyes of Nouronihar nothing but rage and vengeance, nor
could she discern aught in his but aversion and despair. The two princes
who were friends, and till that moment had preserved their attachment,
shrunk back, gnashing their teeth with mutual and unchangeable hatred.
Kalilah and his sister made reciprocal gestures of imprecation, whilst
the two other princes testified their horror for each other by the most
ghastly convulsions, and screams that could not be smothered. All
severally plunged themselves into the accursed multitude, there to
wander in an eternity of unabating anguish.




The life of Henry Ward Beecher may be either compressed into a sentence
or expanded into a volume. He was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, on
the 24th day of June, 1813, the child of the well-known Lyman Beecher;
graduated at Amherst College in 1834, and subsequently studied at Lane
Theological Seminary (Cincinnati), of which his father was the
president; began his ministerial life as pastor of a Home Missionary
(Presbyterian) church at the little village of Lawrenceburg, twenty
miles south of Cincinnati on the Ohio River; was both sexton and pastor,
swept the church, built the fires, lighted the lamps, rang the bell, and
preached the sermons; was called to the pastorate of the First
Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana, where he
remained for eight years, 1839 to 1847, and where his preaching soon won
for him a reputation throughout the State, and his occasional writing a
reputation beyond its boundaries; thence was called in 1847 to be the
first pastor of the newly organized Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, where he
remained with an ever increasing reputation as preacher, lecturer,
orator, and writer, until the day of his death, March 8th, 1887.

Such is the outline of a life, the complete story of which would be the
history of the United States during the most critical half-century of
the nation's existence. Living in an epoch when the one overshadowing
political issue was pre-eminently a moral issue, and when no man could
be a faithful preacher of righteousness and not a political preacher;
concerned in whatever concerned humanity; believing that love is the
essence of all true religion, and that love to God is impossible without
love to man; moral reformer not less than gospel preacher, and statesman
even more than theologian: throwing himself into the anti-slavery
conflict with all the courage of a heroic nature and all the ardor of an
intensely impulsive one,--he stands among the first half-score of
writers, orators, reformers, statesmen, and soldiers, who combined to
make the half-century from 1835 to 1885 as brilliant and as heroic as
any in human history.

The greatness of Henry Ward Beecher consisted not so much in a
predominance of any one quality as in a remarkable combination of many.
His physique justified the well-known characterization of Mr. Fowler,
the phrenologist, "Splendid animal." He was always an eager student,
though his methods were desultory. He was familiar with the latest
thought in philosophy, had studied Herbert Spencer before his works were
republished in the United States, yet was a child among children, and in
his old age retained the characteristic faults and virtues of childhood,
and its innocent impulsiveness.

His imagination might have made him a poet, his human sympathies a
dramatic poet, had not his strong common-sense kept him always in touch
with the actualities of life, and a masterful conscience compelled him
to use his aesthetic faculties in sterner service than in the
entertainment of mankind. The intensity of his moral nature enhanced
rather than subdued his exuberant humor, which love prevented from
becoming satire, and seriousness preserved from degenerating into wit.
His native faculty of mimicry led men to call him an actor, yet he
wholly lacked the essential quality of a good actor,--power to take on
another's character,--and used the mimic art only to interpret the truth
which at the moment possessed him.

Such power of passion as was his is not often seen mated to such
self-control; for while he spoke with utter abandon, he rarely if ever
did so until he had carefully deliberated the cause he was espousing. He
thought himself deficient in memory, and in fact rarely borrowed
illustrations from his reading either of history or of literature; but
his keenness of observation photographed living scenes upon an unfading
memory which years after he could and did produce at will. All these
contrary elements of his strangely composite though not incongruous
character entered into his style,--or, to speak more accurately, his
styles,--and make any analysis of them within reasonable limits
difficult, if not impossible.

For the writer is known by his style as the wearer by his clothes. Even
if it be no native product of the author's mind, but a conscious
imitation of carefully studied models,--what I may call a tailor-made
style, fashioned in a vain endeavor to impart sublimity to commonplace
thinking,--the poverty of the author is thereby revealed, much as the
boor is most clearly disclosed when wearing ill-at-ease, unaccustomed
broadcloth. Mr. Beecher's style was not artificial; its faults as well
as its excellences were those of extreme naturalness. He always wrote
with fury; rarely did he correct with phlegm. His sermons were published
as they fell from his lips,--correct and revise he would not. The too
few editorials which he wrote, on the eve of the Civil War, were written
while the press was impatiently waiting for them, were often taken page
by page from his hand, and were habitually left unread by him to be
corrected in proof by others.

[Illustration: HENRY WARD BEECHER.]

His lighter contributions to the New York Ledger were thrown off in
the same way, generally while the messenger waited to take them to the
editorial sanctum. It was his habit, whether unconscious or deliberate I
do not know, to speak to a great congregation with the freedom of
personal conversation, and to write for the press with as little reserve
as to an intimate friend. This habit of taking the public into his
confidence was one secret of his power, but it was also the cause of
those violations of conventionality in public address which were a great
charm to some and a grave defect to others. There are few writers or
orators who have addressed such audiences with such effect, whose style
has been so true and unmodified a reflection of their inner life. The
title of one of his most popular volumes might be appropriately made the
title of them all--'Life Thoughts.'

But while his style was wholly unartificial, it was no product of mere
careless genius; carelessness never gives a product worth possessing.
The excellences of Mr. Beecher's style were due to a careful study of
the great English writers; its defects to a temperament too eager to
endure the dull work of correction. In his early manhood he studied the
old English divines, not for their thoughts, which never took hold of
him, but for their style, of which he was enamored. The best
characterization of South and Barrow I ever heard he gave me once in a
casual conversation. The great English novelists he knew; Walter Scott's
novels, of which he had several editions in his library, were great
favorites with him, but he read them rather for the beauty of their
descriptive passages than for their romantic and dramatic interest.
Ruskin's 'Modern Painters' he both used himself and recommended to
others as a text-book in the observation of nature, and certain passages
in them he read and re-read.

But in his reading he followed the bent of his own mind rather than any
prescribed system. Neither in his public utterances nor in his private
conversation did he indicate much indebtedness to Shakespeare among the
earlier writers, nor to Emerson or Carlyle among the moderns. Though not
unfamiliar with the greatest English poets, and the great Greek poets in
translations, he was less a reader of poetry than of poetical prose. He
had, it is true, not only read but carefully compared Dante's 'Inferno'
with Milton's 'Paradise Lost'; still it was not the 'Paradise Lost,' it
was the 'Areopagitica' which he frequently read on Saturday nights, for
the sublimity of its style and the inspiration it afforded to the
imagination. He was singularly deficient in verbal memory, a deficiency
which is usually accompanied by a relatively slight appreciation of the
mere rhythmic beauty of literary form. It is my impression that for
amorous poems, such as Moore's songs, or even Shakespeare's sonnets, and
for purely descriptive poetry, such as the best of 'Childe Harold' and
certain poems of Wordsworth, he cared comparatively little.

But he delighted in religious poetry, whether the religion was that of
the pagan Greek Tragedies, the mediaeval Dante, or the Puritan Milton.
He was a great lover of the best hymns, and with a catholicity of
affection which included the Calvinist Toplady, the Arminian Wesley, the
Roman Catholic Faber, and the Unitarian Holmes. Generally, however, he
cared more for poetry of strength than for that of fancy or sentiment.
It was the terrific strength in Watts's famous hymn beginning

"My thoughts on awful subjects dwell,
Damnation and the dead,"

which caused him to include it in the 'Plymouth Collection,' abhorrent
as was the theology of that hymn alike to his heart and to his

In any estimate of Mr. Beecher's style, it must be remembered that he
was both by temperament and training a preacher. He was brought up not
in a literary, but in a didactic atmosphere. If it were as true as it is
false that art exists only for art's sake, Mr. Beecher would not have
been an artist. His art always had a purpose; generally a distinct moral
purpose. An overwhelming proportion of his contributions to literature
consists of sermons or extracts from sermons, or addresses not less
distinctively didactic. His one novel was written avowedly to rectify
some common misapprehensions as to New England life and character. Even
his lighter papers, products of the mere exuberance of a nature too full
of every phase of life to be quiescent, indicated the intensity of a
purposeful soul, much as the sparks in a blacksmith's shop come from the
very vigor with which the artisan is shaping on the anvil the nail
or the shoe.

But Mr. Beecher was what Mr. Spurgeon has called him, "the most
myriad-minded man since Shakespeare"; and such a mind must both deal
with many topics, and if it be true to itself, exhibit many styles. If
one were to apply to Mr. Beecher's writings the methods which have
sometimes been applied by certain Higher Critics to the Bible, he would
conclude that the man who wrote the Sermons on Evolution and Theology
could not possibly have also written the humorous description of a house
with all the modern improvements. Sometimes grave, sometimes gay,
sometimes serious, sometimes sportive, concentrating his whole power on
whatever he was doing, working with all his might but also playing with
all his might, when he is on a literary frolic the reader would hardly
suspect that he was ever dominated by a strenuous moral purpose. Yet
there were certain common elements in Mr. Beecher's character which
appeared in his various styles, though mixed in very different
proportions and producing very different combinations. Within the
limits of such a study as this, it must suffice to indicate in very
general terms some of these elements of character which appear in and
really produce his literary method.

Predominant among them was a capacity to discriminate between the
essentials and the accidentals of any subject, a philosophical
perspective which enabled him to see the controlling connection and to
discard quickly such minor details as tended to obscure and to perplex.
Thus a habit was formed which led him not infrequently to ignore
necessary limitations and qualifications, and to make him scientifically
inaccurate, though vitally and ethically true. It was this quality which
led critics to say of him that he was no theologian, though it is
doubtful whether any preacher in America since Jonathan Edwards has
exerted a greater influence on its theology. But this quality imparted
clearness to his style. He always knew what he wanted to say and said it
clearly. He sometimes produced false impressions by the very
strenuousness of his aim and the vehemence of his passion; but he was
never foggy, obscure, or ambiguous.

This clearness of style was facilitated by the singleness of his
purpose. He never considered what was safe, prudent, or expedient to
say, never reflected upon the effect which his speech might have on his
reputation or his influence, considered only how he could make his
hearers apprehend the truth as he saw it. He therefore never played with
words, never used them with a double meaning, or employed them to
conceal his thoughts. He was indeed utterly incapable of making a speech
unless he had a purpose to accomplish; when he tried he invariably
failed; no orator ever had less ability to roll off airy nothings for
the entertainment of an audience.

Coupled with this clearness of vision and singleness of purpose was a
sympathy with men singularly broad and alert. He knew the way to men's
minds, and adapted his method to the minds he wished to reach. This
quality put him at once _en rapport_ with his auditors, and with men of
widely different mental constitution. Probably no preacher has ever
habitually addressed so heterogeneous a congregation as that which he
attracted to Plymouth Church. In his famous speech at the Herbert
Spencer dinner he was listened to with equally rapt attention by the
great philosopher and by the French waiters, who stopped in their
service, arrested and held by his mingled humor, philosophy, and
restrained emotion. This human sympathy gave a peculiar dramatic quality
to his imagination. He not only recalled and reproduced material images
from the past with great vividness, he re-created in his own mind the
experiences of men whose mold was entirely different from his own. As an
illustration of this, a comparison of two sermons on Jacob before
Pharaoh, one by Dr. Talmage, the other by Mr. Beecher, is interesting
and instructive. Dr. Talmage devotes his imagination wholly to
reproducing the outward circumstances,--the court in its splendor and
the patriarch with his wagons, his household, and his stuff; this scene
Mr. Beecher etches vividly but carelessly in a few outlines, then
proceeds to delineate with care the imagined feelings of the king, awed
despite his imperial splendor by the spiritual majesty of the peasant
herdsman. Yet Mr. Beecher could paint the outer circumstances with care
when he chose to do so. Some of his flower pictures in 'Fruits, Flowers,
and Farming' will always remain classic models of descriptive
literature, the more amazing that some of them are portraits of flowers
he had never seen when he wrote the description.

While his imagination illuminated nearly all he said or wrote, it was
habitually the instrument of some moral purpose; he rarely ornamented
for ornament's sake. His pictures gave beauty, but they were employed
not to give beauty but clearness. He was thus saved from mixed
metaphors, the common fault of imaginative writings which are directed
to no end, and thus are liable to become first lawless, then false,
finally self-contradictory and absurd. The massive Norman pillars of
Durham Cathedral are marred by the attempt which some architect has made
to give them grace and beauty by adding ornamentation. Rarely if ever
did Mr. Beecher fall into the error of thus mixing in an incongruous
structure two architectural styles. He knew when to use the Norman
strength and solidity, and when the Gothic lightness and grace.

Probably his keen sense of humor would have preserved him from this not
uncommon error. It is said that the secret of humor is the quick
perception of incongruous relations. This would seem to have been the
secret of Mr. Beecher's humor, for he had in an eminent degree what the
phrenologists call the faculty of comparison. This was seen in his
arguments, which were more often analogical than logical; seen not less
in that his humor was not employed with deliberate intent to relieve a
too serious discourse, but was itself the very product of his
seriousness. He was humorous, but rarely witty, as, for the same reason,
he was imaginative but not fanciful. For both his imagination and his
humor were the servants of his moral purpose; and as he did not employ
the one merely as a pleasing ornament, so he never went out of his way
to introduce a joke or a funny story to make a laugh.

Speaking broadly, Mr. Beecher's style as an orator passed through three
epochs. In the first, best illustrated by his 'Sermons to Young Men,'
preached in Indianapolis, his imagination is the predominant faculty.
Those sermons will remain in the history of homiletical literature as
remarkable of their kind, but not as a pulpit classic for all times; for
the critic will truly say that the imagination is too exuberant, the
dramatic element sometimes becoming melodramatic, and the style lacking
in simplicity. In the second epoch, best illustrated by the Harper and
Brothers edition of his selected sermons, preached in the earlier and
middle portion of his Brooklyn ministry, the imagination is still
pervasive, but no longer predominant. The dramatic fire still burns, but
with a steadier heat. Imagination, dramatic instinct, personal sympathy,
evangelical passion, and a growing philosophic thought-structure,
combine to make the sermons of this epoch the best illustration of his
power as a popular preacher. In each sermon he holds up a truth like his
favorite opal, turning it from side to side and flashing its opalescent
light upon his congregation, but so as always to show the secret fire at
the heart of it. In the third epoch, best illustrated by his sermons on
Evolution and Theology, the philosophic quality of his mind
predominates; his imagination is subservient to and the instrument of
clear statement, his dramatic quality shows itself chiefly in his
realization of mental conditions foreign to his own, and his style,
though still rich in color and warm with feeling, is mastered, trained,
and directed by his intellectual purpose. In the first epoch he is the
painter, in the second the preacher, in the third the teacher.

Judgments will differ: in mine the last epoch is the best, and its
utterances will long live a classic in pulpit literature. The pictures
of the first epoch are already fading; the fervid oratory of the second
epoch depends so much on the personality of the preacher, that as the
one grows dim in the distance the other must grow dim also; but the
third, more enduring though less fascinating, will remain so long as the
heart of man hungers for the truth and the life of God,--that is, for a
rational religion, a philosophy of life which shall combine reverence
and love, and a reverence and love which shall not call for the
abdication of the reason.

[Illustration: Signature: Lyman Abbott]


From 'Star Papers'

Nothing marks the increasing wealth of our times, and the growth of the
public mind toward refinement, more than the demand for books. Within
ten years the sale of common books has increased probably two hundred
per cent., and it is daily increasing. But the sale of expensive works,
and of library editions of standard authors in costly bindings, is yet
more noticeable. Ten years ago such a display of magnificent works as is
to be found at the Appletons' would have been a precursor of bankruptcy.
There was no demand for them. A few dozen, in one little show-case, was
the prudent whole. Now, one whole side of an immense store is not only
filled with admirably bound library books, but from some inexhaustible
source the void continually made in the shelves is at once refilled. A
reserve of heroic books supply the places of those that fall. Alas!
where is human nature so weak as in a book-store! Speak of the appetite
for drink; or of a _bon vivant's_ relish for a dinner! What are these
mere animal throes and ragings compared with those fantasies of taste,
those yearnings of the imagination, those insatiable appetites of
intellect, which bewilder a student in a great bookseller's

How easily one may distinguish a genuine lover of books from a worldly
man! With what subdued and yet glowing enthusiasm does he gaze upon the
costly front of a thousand embattled volumes! How gently he draws them
down, as if they were little children; how tenderly he handles them! He
peers at the title-page, at the text, or the notes, with the nicety of a
bird examining a flower. He studies the binding: the leather,--russia,
English calf, morocco; the lettering, the gilding, the edging, the hinge
of the cover! He opens it and shuts it, he holds it off and brings it
nigh. It suffuses his whole body with book magnetism. He walks up and
down in a maze at the mysterious allotments of Providence, that gives so
much money to men who spend it upon their appetites, and so little to
men who would spend it in benevolence or upon their refined tastes! It
is astonishing, too, how one's necessities multiply in the presence of
the supply. One never knows how many things it is impossible to do
without till he goes to Windle's or Smith's house-furnishing stores.
One is surprised to perceive, at some bazaar or fancy and variety store,
how many _conveniences_ he needs. He is satisfied that his life must
have been utterly inconvenient aforetime. And thus too one is inwardly
convicted, at Appletons', of having lived for years without books which
he is now satisfied that one cannot live without!

Then, too, the subtle process by which the man convinces himself that he
can afford to buy. No subtle manager or broker ever saw through a maze
of financial embarrassments half so quick as a poor book-buyer sees his
way clear to pay for what he _must_ have. He promises himself marvels of
retrenchment; he will eat less, or less costly viands, that he may buy
more food for the mind. He will take an extra patch, and go on with his
raiment another year, and buy books instead of coats. Yea, he will write
books, that he may buy books! The appetite is insatiable. Feeding does
not satisfy it. It rages by the fuel which is put upon it. As a hungry
man eats first and pays afterward, so the book-buyer purchases and then
works at the debt afterward. This paying is rather medicinal. It cures
for a time. But a relapse takes place. The same longing, the same
promises of self-denial. He promises himself to put spurs on both heels
of his industry; and then, besides all this, he will _somehow_ get along
when the time for payment comes! Ah! this SOMEHOW! That word is as big
as a whole world, and is stuffed with all the vagaries and fantasies
that Fancy ever bred upon Hope. And yet, is there not some comfort in
buying books, _to be_ paid for? We have heard of a sot who wished his
neck as long as the worm of a still, that he might so much the longer
enjoy the flavor of the draught! Thus, it is a prolonged excitement of
purchase, if you feel for six months in a slight doubt whether the book
is honestly your own or not. Had you paid down, that would have been the
end of it. There would have been no affectionate and beseeching look of
your books at you, every time you saw them, saying, as plain as a book's
eyes can say, "Do not let me be taken from you."

Moreover, buying books before you can pay for them promotes caution. You
do not feel quite at liberty to take them home. You are married. Your
wife keeps an account-book. She knows to a penny what you can and what
you cannot afford. She has no "speculation" in _her_ eyes. Plain figures
make desperate work with airy "_somehows_." It is a matter of no small
skill and experience to get your books home, and into their proper
places, undiscovered. Perhaps the blundering express brings them to the
door just at evening. "What is it, my dear?" she says to you. "Oh!
nothing--a few books that I cannot do without." That smile! A true
housewife that loves her husband can smile a whole arithmetic at him at
one look! Of course she insists, in the kindest way, in sympathizing
with you in your literary acquisition. She cuts the strings of the
bundle (and of your heart), and out comes the whole story. You have
bought a complete set of costly English books, full bound in calf, extra
gilt! You are caught, and feel very much as if bound in calf yourself,
and admirably lettered.

Now, this must not happen frequently. The books must be smuggled home.
Let them be sent to some near place. Then, when your wife has a
headache, or is out making a call, or has lain down, run the books
across the frontier and threshold, hastily undo them, stop only for one
loving glance as you put them away in the closet, or behind other books
on the shelf, or on the topmost shelf. Clear away the twine and
wrapping-paper, and every suspicious circumstance. Be very careful not
to be too kind. That often brings on detection. Only the other day we
heard it said, somewhere, "Why, how good you have been lately. I am
really afraid that you have been carrying on mischief secretly." Our
heart smote us. It was a fact. That very day we had bought a few books
which "we could not do without." After a while you can bring out one
volume, accidentally, and leave it on the table. "Why, my dear, _what_ a
beautiful book! Where _did_ you borrow it?" You glance over the
newspaper, with the quietest tone you can command: "_That_! oh! that is
_mine_. Have you not seen it before? It has been in the house these two
months." and you rush on with anecdote and incident, and point out the
binding, and that peculiar trick of gilding, and everything else you can
think of; but it all will not do; you cannot rub out that roguish,
arithmetical smile. People may talk about the equality of the sexes!
They are not equal. The silent smile of a sensible, loving woman will
vanquish ten men. Of course you repent, and in time form a habit of

Another method which will be found peculiarly effective is to make a
_present_ of some fine work to your wife. Of course, whether she or you
have the name of buying it, it will go into your collection, and be
yours to all intents and purposes. But it stops remark in the
presentation. A wife could not reprove you for so kindly thinking of
her. No matter what she suspects, she will say nothing. And then if
there are three or four more works which have come home with the
gift-book--they will pass through the favor of the other.

These are pleasures denied to wealth and old bachelors. Indeed, one
cannot imagine the peculiar pleasure of buying books if one is rich and
stupid. There must be some pleasure, or so many would not do it. But the
full flavor, the whole relish of delight only comes to those who are so
poor that they must engineer for every book. They sit down before them,
and besiege them. They are captured. Each book has a secret history of
ways and means. It reminds you of subtle devices by which you insured
and made it yours, in spite of poverty!

Copyrighted by Fords, Howard and Hulbert, New York.


From 'Selections from the Published Works of Henry Ward Beecher',
compiled by Eleanor Kirk.

An intelligent conscience is one of the greatest of luxuries. It can
hardly be called a necessity, or how would the world have got along as
well as it has to this day?--SERMON: 'Conscience.'

A man undertakes to jump across a chasm that is ten feet wide, and jumps
eight feet; and a kind sympathizer says, "What is going to be done with
the eight feet that he did jump?" Well, what _is_ going to be done with
it? It is one of those things which must be accomplished in whole, or it
is not accomplished at all.--SERMON: 'The True Value of Morality.'

It is hard for a strong-willed man to bow down to a weak-willed man. It
is hard for an elephant to say his prayers to an ant.--SERMON: 'The
Reward of Loving.'

When Peter heard the cock crow, it was not the tail-feathers that crew.
The crowing came from the inside of the cock. Religion is something more
than the outward observances of the church.--SERMON: 'The Battle of

I have heard men, in family prayer, confess their wickedness, and pray
that God would forgive them the sins that they got from Adam; but I do
not know that I ever heard a father in family prayer confess that he had
a bad temper. I never heard a mother confess in family prayer that she
was irritable and snappish. I never heard persons bewail those sins
which are the engineers and artificers of the moral condition of the
family. The angels would not know what to do with a prayer that began,
"Lord, thou knowest that I am a scold."--SERMON: 'Peaceableness.'

Getting up early is venerable. Since there has been a literature or a
history, the habit of early rising has been recommended for health, for
pleasure, and for business. The ancients are held up to us for examples.
But they lived so far to the east, and so near the sun, that it was much
easier for them than for us. People in Europe always get up several
hours before we do; people in Asia several hours before Europeans do;
and we suppose, as men go toward the sun, it gets easier and easier,
until, somewhere in the Orient, probably they step out of bed
involuntarily, or, like a flower blossoming, they find their bed-clothes
gently opening and turning back, by the mere attraction of light.--'EYES

There are some men who never wake up enough to swear a good oath. The
man who sees the point of a joke the day after it is uttered,--because
_he_ never is known to act hastily, is he to take credit for
that?--SERMON: 'Conscience.'

If you will only make your ideal mean enough, you can every one of you
feel that you are heroic.--SERMON: 'The Use of Ideals.'

There is nothing more common than for men to hang one motive outside
where it can be seen, and keep the others in the background to turn the
machinery.--SERMON: 'Paul and Demetrius.'

Suppose I should go to God and say, "Lord, be pleased to give me salad,"
he would point to the garden and say, "There is the place to
get salad; and if you are too lazy to work for it, you may go
without."--LECTURE-ROOM TALKS: 'Answers to Prayer.'

God did not call you to be canary-birds in a little cage, and to hop up
and down on three sticks, within a space no larger than the size of the
cage. God calls you to be eagles, and to fly from sun to sun, over
continents.--SERMON: 'The Perfect Manhood.'

Do not be a spy on yourself. A man who goes down the street thinking of
himself all the time, with critical analysis, whether he is doing this,
that, or any other thing,--turning himself over as if he were a goose on
a spit before a fire, and basting himself with good resolutions,--is
simply belittling himself.--'LECTURES ON PREACHING.'

Many persons boil themselves down to a kind of molasses goodness. How
many there are that, like flies caught in some sweet liquid, have got
out at last upon the side of the cup, and crawl along slowly, buzzing a
little to clear their wings! Just such Christians I have seen,
creeping up the side of churches, soul-poor, imperfect, and

No man, then, need hunt among hair-shirts; no man need seek for blankets
too short at the bottom and too short at the top; no man need resort to
iron seats or cushionless chairs; no man need shut himself up in grim
cells; no man need stand on the tops of towers or columns,--in order to
deny himself.--SERMON-'Problem of Joy and Suffering in Life.'

Copyrighted by Fords, Howard and Hulbert, New York, 1887.



TEXTS: Luke iv. 17-21, Matt. xi. 2-6

Here was Christ's profession of his faith; here is the history also of
his examination, to see whether he were fit to preach or not. It is
remarkable that in both these instances the most significant indication
that he had, both of his descent from God and of his being worthy of the
Messiahship, consisted in this simple exposition of the line of his
preaching,--that he took sides with the poor, neglected, and lost. He
emphasized this, that his gospel was a gospel of mercy to the poor; and
that word "poor," in its most comprehensive sense, looked at
historically, includes in it everything that belongs to human misery,
whether it be by reason of sin or depravity, or by oppression, or by any
other cause. This, then, is the disclosure by Christ himself of the
genius of Christianity. It is his declaration of what the gospel meant.

It is still further interpreted when you follow the life of Christ, and
see how exactly in his conduct he interpreted, or rather fortified, the
words of the declaration. His earliest life was that of labor and
poverty, and it was labor and poverty in the poorest districts of
Palestine. The dignified, educated, and aristocratic part of the nation
dwelt in Judea, and the Athens of Palestine was Jerusalem. There Christ
spent the least part of his life, and that in perpetual discussions. But
in Galilee the most of his miracles, certainly the earlier, were
performed, and the most of his discourses that are contained bodily in
the gospels were uttered. He himself carried out the declaration that
the gospel was for the poor. The very miracles that Christ performed
were not philosophical enigmas, as we look at them. They were all of
them miracles of mercy. They were miracles to those who were suffering
helplessly where natural law and artificial means could not reach them.
In every case the miracles of Christ were mercies, though we look at
them in a spirit totally different from that in which he performed them.

In doing thus, Christ represented the best spirit of the Old Testament.
The Jewish Scriptures teach mercy, the very genius of Jewish
institutions was that of mercy, and especially to the poor, the weak,
the helpless. The crimes against which the prophets thundered their
severest denunciations were crimes upon the helpless. It was the avarice
of the rich, it was the unbounded lust and cruelty of the strong, that
were denounced by them. They did not preach against human nature in
general. They did not preach against total depravity and the original
condition of mankind. They singled out violations of the law in the
magistrate, in the king, in rich men, everywhere, and especially all
those wrongs committed by power either unconsciously or with purpose,
cruelty upon the helpless, the defenseless, the poor and the needy. When
Christ declared that this was his ministry, he took his text from the
Old Testament; he spoke in its spirit. It was to preach the gospel to
the poor that he was sent. He had come into the world to change the
condition of mankind. Beginning at the top? No; beginning at the bottom
and working up to the top from the bottom.

When this view of the gospel enters into our understanding and is fully
comprehended by us, how exactly it fits in with the order of nature, and
with the order of the unfolding of human life and human society! It
takes sides with the poor; and so the universal tendency of Providence
and of history, slowly unfolded, is on the whole going from low to high,
from worse to better, and from good toward the perfect. When we
consider, we see that man begins as a helpless thing, a baby zero
without a figure before it; and every step in life adds a figure to it
and gives it more and more worth. On the whole, the law of unfolding
throughout the world is from lower to higher; and though when applied to
the population of the globe it is almost inconceivable, still, with many
back-sets and reactions, the tendency of the universe is thus from lower
to higher. Why? Let any man consider whether there is not of necessity a
benevolent intelligence somewhere that is drawing up from the crude
toward the ripe, from the rough toward the smooth, from bad to good, and
from good through better toward best. The tendency upward runs like a
golden thread through the history of the whole world, both in the
unfolding of human life and in the unfolding of the race itself. Thus
the tendency of nature is in accordance with the tendency of the gospel
as declared by Jesus Christ, namely, that it is a ministry of mercy to
the needy.

The vast majority of mankind have been and yet are poor. There are ten
thousand men poor where there is one man even comfortably provided for,
body and soul, and hundreds of thousands where there is one rich, taking
the whole world together. The causes of poverty are worthy a moment's
consideration. Climate and soil have much to do with it. Men whose
winter lasts nine or ten months in the year, and who have a summer of
but one or two months, as in the extreme north,--how could they amass
property, how could they enlarge their conditions of peace and of
comfort? There are many parts of the earth where men live on the borders
of deserts, or in mountain fastnesses, or in arctic rigors, where
anything but poverty is impossible, and where it requires the whole
thought, genius, industry, and foresight of men, the year round, just to
feed themselves and to live. Bad government, where men are insecure in
their property, has always been a very fertile source of poverty. The
great valley of Esdraelon in Northern Palestine is one of the most
fertile in the world, and yet famine perpetually stalks on the heels of
the population; for if you sow and the harvest waves, forth come hordes
of Bedouins to reap your harvest for you, and leave you, after all your
labor, to poverty and starvation. When a man has lost his harvest in
that way two or three times, and is deprived of the reward of his
labors, he never emerges from poverty, but sinks into indolence; and
that, by and by, breeds apathetic misery. So where the government
over-taxes its subjects, as is the case in the Orient with perhaps
nearly all of the populations there to-day, it cuts the sinews and
destroys all the motives of industry; and without industry there can be
neither virtue, morality, nor religion in any long period. Wars breaking
out, from whatever cause, tend to absorb property, or to destroy
property, or to prevent the development of property. Yet, strange as it
may seem, the men who suffer from war are those whose passions generally
lead it on. The king may apply the spark, but the combustion is with the
common people. They furnish the army, they themselves become destroyers;
and the ravages of war, in the history of the human family, have
destroyed more property than it is possible to enter into the thoughts
of men to conceive.

But besides these external reasons of poverty, there are certain great
primary and fundamental reasons. Ignorance breeds poverty. What is
property? It is the product of intelligence, of skill, of thought
applied to material substances. All property is raw material that has
been shaped to uses by intelligent skill. Where intelligence is low, the
power of producing property is low. It is the husbandman who thinks,
foresees, plans, and calls on all natural laws to serve him, whose farm
brings forth forty, fifty, and a hundred fold. The ignorant peasant
grubs and groans, and reaps but one handful where he has sown two. It is
knowledge that is the gold mine; for although every knowing man may not
be able to be a rich man, yet out of ignorance riches do not spring
anywhere. Ignorant men may be made the factors of wealth when they are
guided and governed by superior intelligence. Slave labor produced
gigantic plantations and estates. The slave was always poor, but his
master was rich, because the master had the intelligence and the
knowledge, and the slave gave the work. All through human society, men
who represent simple ignorance will be tools, and the men who represent
intelligence will be the master mechanics, the capitalists. All society
to-day is agitated with this question of justice as between the laborer
and the thinker. Now, it is no use to kick against the pricks. A man who
can only work and not think is not the equal in any regard of the man
who can think, who can plan, who can combine, and who can live not for
to-day alone, but for to-morrow, for next month, for the next year, for
ten years. This is the man whose volume will just as surely weigh down
that of the unthinking man as a ton will weigh down a pound in the
scale. Avoirdupois is moral, industrial, as well as material, in this
respect; and the primary, most usual cause of unprosperity in industrial
callings therefore lies in the want of intelligence,--either in the
slender endowment of the man, or more likely the want of education in
his ordinary and average endowment. Any class of men who live for
to-day, and do not care whether they know anything more than they did
yesterday or last year--those men may have a temporary and transient
prosperity, but they are the children of poverty just as surely as the
decrees of God stand. Ignorance enslaves men among men; knowledge is the
creator of liberty and wealth.

As with undeveloped intelligence, so the appetites of men and their
passions are causes of poverty. Men who live from the basilar faculties
will invariably live in inferior stations. The men who represent
animalism are as a general fact at the bottom. They may say it is
government, climate, soil, want of capital, they may say what they
please, but it is the devil of laziness that is in them, or of passion,
that comes out in eating, in gluttony, in drinking and drunkenness, in
wastefulness on every side. I do not say that the laboring classes in
modern society are poor because they are self-indulgent, but I say that
it unquestionably would be wise for all men who feel irritated that they
are so unprosperous, if they would take heed to the moral condition in
which they are living, to self-denial in their passions and appetites,
and to increasing the amount of their knowledge and fidelity. Although
moral conditions are not the sole causes, they are principal causes, of
the poverty of the working classes throughout the world. It is their
misfortune as well as their fault; but it is the reason why they do not
rise. Weakness does not rise; strength does.

All these causes indicate that the poor need moral and intellectual
culture. "I was sent to preach the gospel to the poor:" not to
distribute provisions, not to relieve their wants; that will be
included, but that was not Christ's primary idea. It was not to bring in
a golden period of fruitfulness when men would not be required to work.
It was not that men should lie down on their backs under the trees, and
that the boughs should bend over and drop the ripe fruit into their
mouths. No such conception of equality and abundance entered into the
mind of the Creator or of Him who represented the Creator. To preach the
gospel to the poor was to awaken the mind of the poor. It was to teach
the poor--"Take up your cross, deny yourselves, and follow me. Restrain
all those sinful appetites and passions, and hold them back by the power
of knowledge and by the power of conscience; grow, because you are the
sons of God, into the likeness of your Father." So he preached to the
poor. That was preaching prosperity to them. That was teaching them how
to develop their outward condition by developing their inward forces. To
develop that in men which should make them wiser, purer, and stronger,
is the aim of the gospel. Men have supposed that the whole end of the
gospel was reconciliation between God and men who had fallen--though
they were born sinners in their fathers and grandfathers and ancestors;
to reconcile them with God--as if an abstract disagreement had been the
cause of all this world's trouble! But the plain facts of history are
simply that men, if they have not come from animals, have yet dwelt in
animalism, and that that which should raise them out of it was some such
moral influence as should give them the power of ascension into
intelligence, into virtue, and into true godliness. That is what the
gospel was sent for; good news, a new power that is kindled under men,
that will lift them from their low ignorances and degradations and
passions, and lift them into a higher realm; a power that will take away
all the poverty that needs to be taken away. Men may be doctrinally
depraved; they are much more depraved practically. Men may need to be
brought into the knowledge of God speculatively; but what they do need
is to be brought into the knowledge of themselves practically. I do not
say that the gospel has nothing in it of this kind of spiritual
knowledge; it is full of it, but its aim and the reason why it should be
preached is to wake up in men the capacity for good things, industries,
frugalities, purities, moralities, kindnesses one toward another: and
when men are brought into that state they are reconciled. When men are
reconciled with the law of creation and the law of their being, they are
reconciled with God. Whenever a man is reconciled with the law of
knowledge, he is reconciled with the God of knowledge, so far. Whenever
a man is reconciled with the law of purity he is so far reconciled with
a God of purity. When men have lifted themselves to that point that
they recognize that they are the children of God, the kingdom of God has
begun within them.

Although the spirit and practice of the gospel will develop charities,
will develop physical comfort, will feed men, will heal men, will
provide for their physical needs, yet the primary and fundamental result
of the gospel is to develop man himself, not merely to relieve his want
on an occasion. It does that as a matter of course, but that is scarcely
the first letter of the alphabet. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and
his righteousness, and all these things [food and raiment] shall be
added unto you." The way to relieve a man is to develop him so that he
will need no relief, or to raise higher and higher the character of the
help that he demands.

In testing Christianity, then, I remark first that it is to be tested
not by creeds, but by conduct. The evidence of the gospel, the reality
of the gospel that is preached in schools or churches, is to be found in
the spirit that is developed by it, not in the technical creeds that men
have constructed out of it. The biography of men who have died might be
hung up in their sepulchres; but you could not tell what kind of a man
this one had been, just by reading his life there--while he lay dead in
dust before you. There are thousands of churches that have a creed of
Christianity hung up in them, but the church itself is a sepulchre full
of dead men's bones; and indeed, many churches in modern times are
gnawing the bones of their ancestors, and doing almost nothing else.

The gospel, changed from a spirit of humanity into a philosophical
system of doctrine, is perverted. It is not the gospel. The great heresy
in the world of religion is a cold heart, not a luminous head. It is not
that intelligence is of no use in religion. By no means. Neither would
we wage a crusade against philosophical systems of moral truth. But
where the active sympathy and humanity of loving hearts for living men,
and for men in the ratio in which they are low, is laid aside or
diminished to a minimum, and in its place is a well-elaborated
philosophical system of moral truths, hewn and jointed,--the gospel is
gone. If you go along the sea-shores, you will often find the shells of
fish--the fish dead and gone, the shells left. And if you go along the
shores of ecclesiastical organization, you will find multitudes of
shells of the gospel, out of which the living substance has gone long
ago. Organized Christianity--that is, the institutions of Christianity
have been in the first instance its power, and in the second instance
its damnation. The moment you substitute the machinery of education for
education itself, the moment you build schools and do not educate, build
colleges that do not increase knowledge in the pupils, you have
sacrificed the aim for the instrument by which you were to gain that
aim. In churches, the moment it is more important to maintain buildings,
rituals, ministers, chanters, and all the paraphernalia of moral
education than the spirit of personal sympathy, the moment these are
more sacred to men than is the welfare of the population round about
which they were set to take care of, that very moment Christ is dead in
that place; that very moment religion in the midst of all its
institutions has perished. I am bound to say that in the history of the
world, while religious institutions have been valuable and have done a
great deal of good, they have perhaps done as much harm as good. There
is scarcely one single perversion of civil government, there is scarcely
one single persecution of men, there is scarcely a single one of the
great wars that have depopulated the globe, there is scarcely one great
heresy developed out of the tyranny of the church, that has not been the
fruit of institutional religion; while that spirit of humanity which was
to give the institution its motive power has to a certain extent died
out of it.

Secondly, churches organized upon elective affinities of men are
contrary to the spirit of the gospel. We may associate with men who are
of like taste with ours. We have that privilege. If men are
knowledgeable and intellectual, there is no sin in their choosing for
intimate companions and associates men of like pursuits and like
intellectual qualities. That is right. If men are rich, there is no
reason why men who hold like property should not confer with each other,
and form interests and friendships together. If men are refined, if they
have become aesthetic, there is no reason why they should not associate
in the realm of beauty, artists with artists, nor why the great enjoyers
of beauty should not be in sympathy. Exit all these are not to be
allowed to do it at the price of abandoning common humanity; you have no
right to make your nest in the boughs of knowledge, and let all the rest
of the world go as it will. You have no right to make your home among
those who are polished and exquisite and fastidious in their tastes,
whose garments are beauty, whose house is a temple of art, and all whose
associations are of like kind, and neglect common humanity. You have no
right to shut yourself up in a limited company of those who are like you
in these directions, and let all the rest of men go without sympathy and
without care. It is a right thing for a man to salute his neighbor who
salutes him; but if you salute those who salute you, says Christ, what
thank have ye--do not even the publicans so? It is no sin that a man,
being intellectual in his nature, should like intellectual people, and
gratify that which is divine and God-like in him; but if, because he
likes intellectual people, he loses all interest in ignorant people, it
convicts him of depravity and of moral perversion. When this is carried
out to such an extent that churches are organized upon sharp
classification, upon elective affinities, they not only cease to be
Christian churches, but they are heretical; not perhaps in doctrine, but
worse than that, heretical in heart.

The fact is that a church needs poor men and wicked men as much as it
does pure men and virtuous men and pious men. What man needs is
familiarity with universal human nature. He needs never to separate
himself from men in daily life. It is not necessary that in our houses
we should bring pestilential diseases or pestilential examples, but
somehow we must hold on to men if they are wicked; somehow the
circulation between the top and the bottom must be carried on; somehow
there must be an atoning power in the heart of every true believer of
the Lord Jesus Christ who shall say, looking out and seeing that the
world is lost, and is living in sin and misery, "I belong to it, and it
belongs to me." When you take the loaf of society and cut off the upper
crust, slicing it horizontally, you get an elect church. Yes, it is the
peculiarly elect church of selfishness. But you should cut the loaf of
society from the top down to the bottom, and take in something of
everything. True, every church would be very much edified and advantaged
if it had in it scholarly men, knowledgeable men; but the church is
strong in proportion as it has in it something of everything, from the
very top to the very bottom.

Now, I do not disown creeds--provided they are my own! Well, you smile;
but that is the way it has been since the world began. No denomination
believes in any creed except its own. I do not say that men's knowledge
on moral subjects may not be formulated. I criticize the formulation of
beliefs from time to time, in this: that they are very partial; that
they are formed upon the knowledge of a past age, and that that
knowledge perishes while higher and nobler knowledge comes in; that
there ought to be higher and better forms; and that while their power is
relatively small, the power of the spirit of humanity is relatively
great. When I examine a church, I do not so much care whether its
worship is to the one God or to the triune God. I do not chiefly care
for the catechism, nor for the confession of faith, although they are
both interesting. I do not even look to see whether it is a synagogue or
a Christian church--I do not care whether it has a cross over the top of
it or is Quaker plain. I do not care whether it is Protestant, Catholic,
or anything else. Let me read the living--- the living book! What is the
spirit of the people? How do they feel among each other? How do they
feel toward the community? What is their life and conduct in regard to
the great prime moral duty of man, "Love the Lord thy God and thy
neighbor as thyself," whether he be obscure or whether he be smiling in
the very plenitude of wealth and refinement? Have you a heart for
humanity? Have you a soul that goes out for men? Are you Christ-like?
Will you spend yourself for the sake of elevating men who need to be
lifted up? That is orthodox. I do not care what the creed is. If a
church has a good creed, that is all the more felicitous; and if it has
a bad creed, a good life cures the bad creed.

One of the dangers of our civilization may be seen in the light of these
considerations. We are developing so much strength founded on popular
intelligence, and this intelligence and the incitements to it are
developing such large property interests, that if the principle of
elective affinity shall sort men out and classify them, we are steering
to the not very remote danger of the disintegration of human society. I
can tell you that the classes of men who by their knowledge, refinement,
and wealth think they are justified in separating themselves, and in
making a great void between them and the myriads of men below them, are
courting their own destruction. I look with very great interest on the
process of change going on in Great Britain, where the top of society
had all the "blood," but the circulation is growing larger and larger,
and a change is gradually taking place in their institutions. The old
nobility of Great Britain is the lordliest of aristocracies existing in
the world. Happily, on the whole, a very noble class of men occupy the
high positions: but the spirit of suffrage, this angel of God that so
many hate, is coming in on them; and when every man in Great Britain can
vote, no matter whether he is poor or rich, whether he has knowledge or
no knowledge, there must be a very great change. Before the great day of
the Lord shall come, the valleys are to go up and the mountains are to
come down; and the mountains have started already in Great Britain and
must come down. There may be an aristocracy in any nation,--that is to
say, there may be "best men"; there ought to be an aristocracy in every
community,--that is, an aristocracy of men who speak the truth, who are
just, who are intelligent: but that aristocracy will be like a wave of
the sea; it has to be reconstituted in every generation, and the men who
are the best in the State become the aristocracy of that State. But
where rank is hereditary, if political suffrage becomes free and
universal, aristocracy cannot live. The spirit of the gospel is
democratic. The tendency of the gospel is leveling; leveling up, not
down. It is carrying the poor and the multitude onward and upward.

It is said that democracies have no great men, no heroic men. Why is it
so? When you raise the average of intelligence and power in the
community it is very hard to be a great man. That is to say, when the
great mass of citizens are only ankle-high, when among the Lilliputians
a Brobdingnagian walks, he is a great man. But when the Lilliputians
grow until they get up to his shoulder, he is not so great a man as he
was by the whole length of his body. So, make the common people grow,
and there is nobody tall enough to be much higher.

* * * * *

The remarkable people of this world are useful in their way; but the
common people, after all, represent the nation, the age, and the
civilization. Go into any town or city: do not ask who lives in that
splendid house; do not say, This is a fine town, here are streets of
houses with gardens and yards, and everything that is beautiful the
whole way through. Go into the lanes, go into the back streets, go where
the mechanic lives; go where the day-laborer lives. See what is the
condition of the streets there. See what they do with the poor, with the
helpless, and the mean. If the top of society bends perpetually over the
bottom with tenderness, if the rich and strong are the best friends of
the poor and needy, that is a civilized and a Christian community; but
if the rich and the wise are the cream and the great bulk of the
population skim-milk, that is not a prosperous community.

There is a great deal of irreligion in men, there is a great deal of
wickedness and depravity in men, but there are times when it is true
that the church is more dissipated than the dissipated classes of the
community. If there is one thing that stood out more strongly than any
other in the ministry of our Lord, it is the severity with which he
treated the exclusiveness of men with knowledge, position, and a certain
sort of religion, a religion of particularity and carefulness; if there
is one class of the community against which he hurled his thunderbolts
without mercy and predicted woes, it was the scribes, Pharisees,
scholars, and priests of the temples. He told them in so many words,
"The publican and the harlot will enter the kingdom of God before you."
The worst dissipation in this world is the dry-rot of morality, and of
the so-called piety that separates men of prosperity and of power from
the poor and ignoble. They are our wards....

I am not a socialist. I do not preach riot. I do not preach the
destruction of property. I regard property as one of the sacred things.
The real property established by a man's own intelligence and labor is
the crystallized man himself. It is the fruit of what his life-work has
done; and not in vain, society makes crime against it amongst the most
punishable. But nevertheless, I warn these men in a country like ours,
where every man votes, whether he came from Hungary, or from Russia, or
from Germany, or from France or Italy, or Spain or Portugal, or from the
Orient,--from Japan and China, because they too are going to vote! On
the Niagara River, logs come floating down and strike an island, and
there they lodge and accumulate for a little while, and won't go over.
But the rains come, the snows melt, the river rises, and the logs are
lifted up and down, and they go swinging over the falls. The stream of
suffrage of free men, having all the privileges of the State, is this
great stream. The figure is defective in this, that the log goes over
the Niagara Falls, but that is not the way the country is going or will
go.... There is a certain river of political life, and everything has to
go into it first or last; and if, in days to come, a man separates
himself from his fellows without sympathy, if his wealth and power make
poverty feel itself more poor and men's misery more miserable, and set
against him the whole stream of popular feeling, that man is in danger.
He may not know who dynamites him, but there is danger; and let him take
heed who is in peril. There is nothing easier in the world than for rich
men to ingratiate themselves with the whole community in which they
live, and so secure themselves. It is not selfishness that will do it;
it is not by increasing the load of misfortune, it is not by wasting
substance in riotous living upon appetites and passions. It is by
recognizing that every man is a brother. It is by recognizing the
essential spirit of the gospel, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." It is by
using some of their vast power and riches so as to diffuse joy in every
section of the community.

Here then I close this discourse. How much it enrolls! How very simple
it is! It is the whole gospel. When you make an application of it to all
the phases of organization and classification of human interests and
developments, it seems as though it were as big as the universe. Yet
when you condense it, it all comes back to the one simple creed: "Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as
thyself." Who is my neighbor? A certain man went down to Jericho, and so
on. That tells you who your neighbor is. Whosoever has been attacked by
robbers, has been beaten, has been thrown down--by liquor, by gambling,
or by any form of wickedness; whosoever has been cast into distress, and
you are called on to raise him up--that is your neighbor. Love your
neighbor as yourself. That is the gospel.


From 'Norwood'

It is worth all the inconveniences arising from the occasional
over-action of New England Sabbath observance, to obtain the full flavor
of a New England Sunday. But for this, one should have been born there;
should have found Sunday already waiting for him, and accepted it with
implicit and absolute conviction, as if it were a law of nature, in the
same way that night and day, summer and winter, are parts of nature. He
should have been brought up by parents who had done the same thing, as
_they_ were by parents even more strict, if that were possible; until
not religious persons peculiarly, but everybody--not churches alone, but
society itself, and all its population, those who broke it as much as
those who kept it--were stained through with the color of Sunday. Nay,
until Nature had adopted it, and laid its commands on all birds and
beasts, on the sun and winds, and upon the whole atmosphere; so that
without much imagination one might imagine, in a genuine New England
Sunday of the Connecticut River Valley stamp, that God was still on that
day resting from all the work which he had created and made, and that
all his work rested with him!

Over all the town rested the Lord's peace! The saw was ripping away
yesterday in the carpenter's shop, and the hammer was noisy enough.
Today there is not a sign of life there. The anvil makes no music
to-day. Tommy Taft's buckets and barrels give forth no hollow, thumping
sound. The mill is silent--only the brook continues noisy. Listen! In
yonder pine woods what a cawing of crows! Like an echo, in a wood still
more remote other crows are answering. But even a crow's throat to-day
is musical. Do they think, because they have black coats on, that they
are parsons, and have a right to play pulpit with all the pine-trees?
Nay. The birds will not have any such monopoly,--they are all singing,
and singing all together, and no one cares whether his song rushes
across another's or not. Larks and robins, blackbirds and orioles,
sparrows and bluebirds, mocking cat-birds and wrens, were furrowing the
air with such mixtures as no other day but Sunday, when all artificial
and human sounds cease, could ever hear. Every now and then a bobolink
seemed impressed with the duty of bringing these jangling birds into
more regularity; and like a country singing-master, he flew down the
ranks, singing all the parts himself in snatches, as if to stimulate and
help the laggards. In vain! Sunday is the birds' day, and they will have
their own democratic worship.

There was no sound in the village street. Look either way--not a
vehicle, not a human being. The smoke rose up soberly and quietly, as if
it said--It is Sunday! The leaves on the great elms hung motionless,
glittering in dew, as if they too, like the people who dwelt under their
shadow, were waiting for the bell to ring for meeting. Bees sung and
flew as usual; but honey-bees have a Sunday way with them all the week,
and could scarcely change for the better on the seventh day.

But oh, the Sun! It had sent before and cleared every stain out of the
sky. The blue heaven was not dim and low, as on secular days, but curved
and deep, as if on Sunday it shook off all incumbrance which during the
week had lowered and flattened it, and sprang back to the arch and
symmetry of a dome. All ordinary sounds caught the spirit of the day.
The shutting of a door sounded twice as far as usual. The rattle of a
bucket in a neighbor's yard, no longer mixed with heterogeneous noises,
seemed a new sound. The hens went silently about, and roosters crowed in
psalm-tunes. And when the first bell rung, Nature seemed overjoyed to
find something that it might do without breaking Sunday, and rolled the
sound over and over, and pushed it through the air, and raced with it
over field and hill, twice as far as on week-days. There were no less
than seven steeples in sight from the belfry, and the sexton said:--"On
still Sundays I've heard the bell, at one time and another, when the day
was fair, and the air moving in the right way, from every one of them
steeples, and I guess likely they've all heard our'n."

"Come, Rose!" said Agate Bissell, at an even earlier hour than when Rose
usually awakened--"Come, Rose, it is the Sabbath. We must not be late
Sunday morning, of all days in the week. It is the Lord's day."

There was little preparation required for the day. Saturday night, in
some parts of New England, was considered almost as sacred as Sunday
itself. After sundown on Saturday night no play, and no work except such
as is immediately preparatory to the Sabbath, were deemed becoming in
good Christians. The clothes had been laid out the night before. Nothing
was forgotten. The best frock was ready; the hose and shoes were
waiting. Every article of linen, every ruffle and ribbon, were selected
on Saturday night. Every one in the house walked mildly. Every one spoke
in a low tone. Yet all were cheerful. The mother had on her kindest
face, and nobody laughed, but everybody made it up in smiling. The nurse
smiled, and the children held on to keep down a giggle within the lawful
bounds of a smile; and the doctor looked rounder and calmer than ever;
and the dog flapped his tail on the floor with a softened sound, as if
he had fresh wrapped it in hair for that very day. Aunt Toodie, the cook
(so the children had changed Mrs. Sarah Good's name), was blacker than
ever and shinier than ever, and the coffee better, and the cream
richer, and the broiled chickens juicier and more tender, and the
biscuit whiter, and the corn-bread more brittle and sweet.

When the good doctor read the Scriptures at family prayer, the infection
of silence had subdued everything except the clock. Out of the wide hall
could be heard in the stillness the old clock, that now lifted up its
voice with unwonted emphasis, as if, unnoticed through the bustling
week, Sunday was its vantage ground, to proclaim to mortals the swift
flight of time. And if the old pedant performed the task with something
of an ostentatious precision, it was because in that house nothing else
put on official airs, and the clock felt the responsibility of doing it
for the whole mansion.

And now came mother and catechism; for Mrs. Wentworth followed the old
custom, and declared that no child of hers should grow up without
catechism. Secretly, the doctor was quite willing, though openly he
played off upon the practice a world of good-natured discouragement, and
declared that there should be an opposition set up--a catechism of
Nature, with natural laws for decrees, and seasons for Providence, and
flowers for graces! The younger children were taught in simple
catechism. But Rose, having reached the mature age of twelve, was now
manifesting her power over the Westminster Shorter Catechism; and as it
was simply an achievement of memory and not of the understanding, she
had the book at great advantage, and soon subdued every question and
answer in it. As much as possible, the doctor was kept aloof on such
occasions. His grave questions were not to edification, and often they
caused Rose to stumble, and brought down sorely the exultation with
which she rolled forth, "They that are effectually called do in this
life partake of justification, adoption, sanctification, and the several
benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them."

"What do those words mean, Rose?"

"Which words, pa?"

"Adoption, sanctification, and justification?"

Rose hesitated, and looked at her mother for rescue.

"Doctor, why do you trouble the child? Of course she don't know yet all
the meaning. But that will come to her when she grows older."

"You make a nest of her memory, then, and put words there, like eggs,
for future hatching?"

"Yes, that is it exactly: birds do not hatch their eggs the minute they
lay them. They wait."

"Laying eggs at twelve to be hatched at twenty is subjecting them to
some risk, is it not?"

"It might be so with eggs, but not with the catechism. That will keep
without spoiling a hundred years!"

"Because it is so dry?"

"Because it is so good. But do, dear husband, go away, and not put
notions in the children's heads. It's hard enough already to get them
through their tasks. Here's poor Arthur, who has been two Sundays on one
question, and has not got it yet."

Arthur, aforesaid, was sharp and bright in anything addressed to his
reason, but he had no verbal memory, and he was therefore wading
painfully through the catechism like a man in a deep-muddy road; with
this difference, that the man carries too much clay with him, while
nothing stuck to poor Arthur.

* * * * *

The beauty of the day, the genial season of the year, brought forth
every one; old men and their feebler old wives, young and hearty men and
their plump and ruddy companions,--young men and girls and children,
thick as punctuation points in Hebrew text, filled the street. In a low
voice, they spoke to each other in single sentences.

"A fine day! There'll be a good congregation out to-day."

"Yes; we may expect a house full. How is Widow Cheney--have you heard?"

"Well, not much better; can't hold out many days. It will be a great
loss to the children."

"Yes; but we must all die--nobody can skip his turn. Does she still talk
about them that's gone?"

"They say not. I believe she's sunk into a quiet way; and it looks as if
she'd go off easy."

"Sunday is a good day for dying--it's about the only journey that speeds
well on this day!"

There was something striking in the outflow of people into the street,
that till now had seemed utterly deserted. There was no fevered hurry;
no negligent or poorly dressed people. Every family came in groups--old
folks and young children; and every member blossomed forth in his best
apparel, like a rose-bush in June. Do you know that man in a silk hat
and new black coat? Probably it is some stranger. No; it is the
carpenter, Mr. Baggs, who was racing about yesterday with his sleeves
rolled up, and a dust-and-business look in his face! I knew you would
not know him. Adams Gardner, the blacksmith,--does he not look every
inch a judge, now that he is clean-washed, shaved, and dressed? His eyes
are as bright as the sparks that fly from his anvil!

Are not the folks proud of their children? See what groups of them! How
ruddy and plump are most! Some are roguish, and cut clandestine capers
at every chance. Others seem like wax figures, so perfectly proper are
they. Little hands go slyly through the pickets to pluck a tempting
flower. Other hands carry hymn-books or Bibles. But, carry what they
may, dressed as each parent can afford, is there anything the sun shines
upon more beautiful than these troops of Sunday children?

The old bell had it all its own way up in the steeple. It was the
licensed noise of the day. In a long shed behind the church stood a
score and half-score of wagons and chaises and carryalls,--the horses
already beginning the forenoon's work of stamping and whisking the
flies. More were coming. Hiram Beers had "hitched up," and brought two
loads with his new hack; and now, having secured the team, he stood with
a few admiring young fellows about him, remarking on the people as
they came up.

"There's Trowbridge--he'll git asleep afore the first prayer's over. I
don't b'lieve he's heerd a sermon in ten years. I've seen him sleep
standin' up in singin'.

"Here comes Deacon Marble,--smart old feller, ain't he?--wouldn't think
it, jest to look at him! Face looks like an ear of last summer's sweet
corn, all dried up; but I tell ye he's got the juice in him yit! Aunt
Polly's gittin' old, ain't she? They say she can't walk half the
time--lost the use of her limbs; but it's all gone to her tongue. That's
as good as a razor, and a sight better 'n mine, for it never needs

"Stand away, boys, there's 'Biah Cathcart. Good horses--not fast, but
mighty strong, just like the owner."

And with that Hiram touched his new Sunday hat to Mrs. Cathcart and
Alice; and as he took the horses by the bits, he dropped his head and
gave the Cathcart boys a look of such awful solemnity, all except one
eye, that they lost their sobriety. Barton alone remained sober as
a judge.

"Here comes 'Dot-and-Go-One' and his wife. They're my kind o'
Christians. She is a saint, at any rate."

"How is it with you, Tommy Taft?"

"Fair to middlin', thank'e. Such weather would make a hand-spike
blossom, Hiram."

"Don't you think that's a leetle strong, Tommy, for Sunday? P'raps you
mean afore it's cut?"

"Sartin; that's what I mean. But you mustn't stop me, Hiram. Parson
Buell 'll be lookin' for me. He never begins till I git there."

"You mean you always git there 'fore he begins."

Next, Hiram's prying eyes saw Mr. Turfmould, the sexton and undertaker,
who seemed to be in a pensive meditation upon all the dead that he had
ever buried. He looked upon men in a mild and pitying manner, as if he
forgave them for being in good health. You could not help feeling that
he gazed upon you with a professional eye, and saw just how you would
look in the condition which was to him the most interesting period of a
man's earthly state. He walked with a soft tread, as if he was always at
a funeral; and when he shook your hand, his left hand half followed his
right, as if he were about beginning to lay you out. He was one of the
few men absorbed by his business, and who unconsciously measured all
things from its standpoint.

"Good-morning, Mr. Turfmould! How's your health? How is business with

"Good--the Lord be praised! I've no reason to complain."

And he glided silently and smoothly into the church.

"There comes Judge Bacon, white and ugly," said the critical Hiram. "I
wonder what he comes to meetin' for. Lord knows he needs it, sly,
slippery old sinner! Face's as white as a lily; his heart's as black as
a chimney flue afore it's cleaned. He'll get his flue burned out if he
don't repent, that's certain. He don't believe the Bible. They say he
don't believe in God. Wal, I guess it's pretty even between 'em.
Shouldn't wonder if God didn't believe in him neither."

As soon as the afternoon service was over, every horse on the green knew
that it was time for him to go home. Some grew restless and whinnied for
their masters. Nimble hands soon put them into the shafts or repaired
any irregularity of harness. Then came such a scramble of vehicles to
the church door for the older persons; while young women and children,
venturing further out upon the green, were taken up hastily, that the
impatient horses might as soon as possible turn their heads homeward.
Clouds of dust began to arise along every outward-going road. In less
than ten minutes not a wagon or chaise was seen upon the village green.
They were whirling homeward at the very best pace that the horses could
raise. Stiff old steeds vainly essayed a nimbler gait, but gave it up in
a few rods, and fell back to the steady jog. Young horses, tired of long
standing, and with a strong yearning for evening oats, shot along the
level ground, rushed up the little hills, or down upon the other side,
in the most un-Sunday-like haste. The scene was not altogether unlike
the return from a military funeral, _to_ which men march with sad music
and slow, but _from_ which they return nimbly marching to the most
brilliant quick-step.

In half an hour Norwood was quiet again. The dinner, on Sunday, when for
the sake of the outlying population the two services are brought near
together in the middle of the day, was usually deferred till the
ordinary supper hour. It was evident that the tone of the day was
changed. Children were not so strictly held in. There was no loud
talking, nor was laughing allowed, but a general feeling sprung up
around the table that the severer tasks of the day were ended.

Devout and age-sobered people sat in a kind of golden twilight of
meditation. The minister, in his well-ordered house, tired with a double
service, mingled thoughts both glad and sad. His tasks were ended. He
was conscious that he had manfully done his best. But that best doing,
as he reflected upon it, seemed so poor, so unworthy of the nobleness of
the theme, and so relatively powerless upon the stubborn stuff of which
his people's dispositions were made, that there remained a vague,
unquiet sense of blame upon his conscience.

It was Dr. Wentworth's habit to walk with his family in the garden,
early in the morning and late in the afternoon. If early, Rose was
usually his company; in the afternoon the whole family, Agate Bissell
always excepted. She had in full measure that peculiar New England
feeling that Sunday is to be kept by staying in the house, except such
time as is spent at church. And though she never, impliedly even,
rebuked the doctor's resort to his garden, it was plain that deep down
in her heart she thought it an improper way of spending Sunday; and in
that view she had the secret sympathy of almost all the noteworthy
villagers. Had any one, upon that day, made Agate a visit, unless for
some plain end of necessity or mercy, she would have deemed it a
personal affront.

Sunday was the Lord's day. Agate acted as if any use of it for her own
pleasure would be literal and downright stealing.

"We have six days for our own work. We ought not to begrudge the Lord
one whole day."

Two circumstances distressed honest Agate's conscience. The one was that
the incursion of summer visitors from the city was tending manifestly to
relax the Sabbath, especially after the church services. The other was
that Dr. Wentworth would occasionally allow Judge Bacon to call in and
discuss with him topics suggested by the sermons. She once expressed
herself in this wise:--

"Either Sunday is worth keeping, or it is not. If you do keep it, it
ought to be strictly done. But lately Sunday is raveling out at the end.
We take it on like a summer dress, which in the morning is clean and
sweet, but at night it is soiled at the bottom and much rumpled
all over."

Dr. Wentworth sat with Rose on one side and her mother on the other, in
the honeysuckle corner, where the west could be seen, great trees lying
athwart the horizon and checkering the golden light with their dark
masses. Judge Bacon had turned the conversation upon this very topic.

"I think our Sundays in New England are Puritan and Jewish more than
Christian. They are days of restriction rather than of joyousness. They
are fast days, not feast days."

"Do you say that as a mere matter of historical criticism, or do you
think that they could be improved practically?"

"Both. It is susceptible of proof that the early Christian Sunday was a
day of triumph and of much social joy. It would be well if we could
follow primitive example."

"Judge, I am hardly of your opinion. I should be unwilling to see our
New England Sunday changed, except perhaps by a larger social liberty
_in_ each family. Much might be done to make it attractive to children,
and relieve older persons from _ennui_. But after all, we must judge
things by their fruits. If you bring me good apples, it is in vain to
abuse the tree as craggy, rude, or homely. The fruit redeems the tree."

"A very comely figure, Doctor, but not very good reasoning. New England
has had something at work upon her beside her Sundays. What you call the
'fruit' grew, a good deal of it at any rate, on other trees than
Sunday trees."

"You are only partly right. New England character and history are the
result of a wide-spread system of influences of which the Sabbath day
was the type--and not only so, but the grand motive power. Almost every
cause which has worked benignly among us has received its inspiration
and impulse largely from this One Solitary Day of the week.

"It is true that all the vegetable growths that we see about us here
depend upon a great variety of causes; but there is one cause that is
the condition of power in every other, and that is the Sun! And so, many
as have been the influences working at New England character, Sunday has
been a generic and multiplex force, inspiring and directing all others.
It is indeed the _Sun's_ day.

"It is a little singular that, borrowing the name from the heathen
calendar, it should have tallied so well with the Scripture name, the
Lord's day--that Lord who was the Morning Star in early day, and at
length the Sun of Righteousness!

"The Jews called it the Sabbath--a day of rest. Modern Christians call
it the _Sun's_ day, or the day of light, warmth, and growth. If this
seems fanciful so far as the names of the day are concerned, it is
strikingly characteristic of the real spirit of the two days, in the
ancient and modern dispensation. I doubt if the old Jews ever kept a
Sabbath religiously, as we understand that term. Indeed, I suspect there
was not yet a religious strength in that national character that could
hold up religious feeling without the help of social and even physical
adjuvants. Their religious days were either fasts or like our
Thanksgiving days. But the higher and richer moral nature which has been
developed by Christianity enables communities to sustain one day in
seven upon a high spiritual plane, with the need of but very little
social help, and without the feasting element at all."

"That may be very well for a few saints like you and me, Doctor, but it
is too high for the majority of men. Common people find the strict
Sundays a great annoyance, and clandestinely set them aside."

"I doubt it. There are a few in every society that live by their
sensuous nature. Sunday must be a dead day to them--a dark room. No
wonder they break through. But it is not so with the sturdy,
unsophisticated laboring class in New England. If it came to a vote, you
would find that the farmers of New England would be the defenders of the
day, even if screwed up to the old strictness. Their instinct is right.
It is an observance that has always worked its best effects upon the
common people, and if I were to change the name, I should call Sunday

"Men do not yet perceive that the base of the brain is full of
despotism, and the coronal brain is radiant with liberty. I mean that
the laws and relations which grow out of men's relations in physical
things are the sternest and hardest, and at every step in the assent
toward reason and spirituality, the relations grow more kindly and free.

"Now, it is natural for men to prefer an animal life. By-and-by they
will learn that such a life necessitates force, absolutism. It is
natural for unreflecting men to complain when custom or institutions
hold them up to some higher degree. But that higher degree has in it an
element of emancipation from the necessary despotisms of physical life.
If it were possible to bring the whole community up to a plane of
spirituality, it would be found that there and there only could be the
highest measure of liberty. And this is my answer to those who grumble
at the restriction of Sunday liberty. It is only the liberty of the
senses that suffers. A higher and nobler civil liberty, moral liberty,
social liberty, will work out of it. Sunday is the common people's
Magna Charta."

"Well done, Doctor! I give up. Hereafter you shall see me radiant on
Sunday. I must not get my hay in if storms do threaten to spoil it; but
I shall give my conscience a hitch up, and take it out in that. I must
not ride out; but then I shall regard every virtuous self-denial as a
moral investment with good dividends coming in by-and-by. I can't let
the children frolic in the front dooryard; but then, while they sit
waiting for the sun to go down, and your _Sun_-day to be over, I shall
console myself that they are one notch nearer an angelic condition every
week. But good-night, good-night, Mrs. Wentworth. I hope you may not
become so spiritual as quite to disdain the body. I really think, for
this world, the body has some respectable uses yet. Good-night, Rose.
The angels take care of you, if there is one of them good enough."

And so the judge left.

They sat silently looking at the sun, now but just above the horizon. A
few scarfs of cloud, brilliant with flame-color, and every moment
changing forms, seemed like winged spirits, half revealed, that hovered
round the retiring orb.

Mrs. Wentworth at length broke the silence.

"I always thought, Doctor, that you believed Sunday over-strictly kept,
and that you were in favor of relaxation."

"I am. Just as fast as you can make it a day of real religious
enjoyment, it will relax itself. True and deep spiritual feeling is the
freest of all experiences. And it reconciles in itself the most perfect
consciousness of liberty with the most thorough observance of outward
rules and proprieties. Liberty is not an outward condition. It is an
inward attribute, or rather a name for the quality of life produced by
the highest moral attributes. When communities come to that condition,
we shall see fewer laws and higher morality.

"The one great poem of New England is her Sunday! Through that she has
escaped materialism. That has been a crystal dome overhead, through
which Imagination has been kept alive. New England's imagination is to
be found, not in art and literature, but in her inventions, her social
organism, and above all in her religious life. The Sabbath has been the
nurse of that. When she ceases to have a Sunday, she will be as this
landscape is:--now growing dark, all its lines blurred, its distances
and gradations fast merging into sheeted darkness and night. Come, let
us go in!"

Copyrighted by Fords, Howard and Hulbert.




We are warned on high authority that no man can serve two masters. The
caution should obtain in aesthetics as well as in ethics. As a general
rule, the painter must stick to his easel, the sculptor must carve, the
musician must score or play or sing, the actor must act,--each with no
more than the merest coquettings with sister arts. Otherwise his genius
is apt to suffer from what are side-issues for temperament. To many
minds a taste, and even a singular capacity, for an avocation has
injured the work done in the real vocation.

[Illustration: BEETHOVEN]

Of course there are exceptions. The versatility has not always been
fatal. We recall Leonardo, Angelo, Rossetti, and Blake among painters;
in the ranks of musicians we note Hoffmann, Berlioz, Schumann, Wagner,
Boito. In other art-paths, such personal pages as those of Cellini, and
the critical writings of Story, of to-day, may add their evidence. The
essentially autobiographic in such a connection must be accepted with
reserve. So must be taken much admirable writing as to the art in which
the critic or teacher has labored. Didactics are not necessarily
literature. Perhaps the best basis of determining the right to literary
recognition of men and women who have written and printed more or less
without actually professing letters, will be the interest of the matter
they have left to the kind of reader who does not care a pin about their
real life-work, or about their self-expression as it really comes
down to us.

In painting, the dual capacity--for the brush and for letters--has more
shining examples than in music. But with Beethoven, Schumann, Boito, and
Wagner, comes a striking succession of men who, as to autobiography or
criticism or verse, present a high quality of interest to the general
reader. In the instance of Beethoven the critical or essayistic side is
limited. It is by his letters and diary that we study (only less vividly
than in his music) a character of profound depth and imposing nobility;
a nature of exquisite sensitiveness. In them we follow, if
fragmentarily, the battle of personality against environment, the
secrets of strong but high passion, the artist temperament,--endowed
with a dignity and a moral majesty seldom equaled in an art indeed
called divine, but with children who frequently remind us that Pan
absorbed in playing his syrinx has a goat's hoof.

Beethoven in all his correspondence wrote himself down as what he
was,--a superior man, a mighty soul in many traits, as well as a supreme
creative musician. His letters are absorbing, whether they breathe love
or anger, discouragement or joy, rebellion against untoward conditions
of daily life or solemn resignation. The religious quality, too, is
strong in them; that element more in touch with Deism than with one or
another orthodoxy. Withal, he is as sincere in every line of such matter
as he was in the spoken word. His correspondence holds up the mirror to
his own nature, with its extremes of impulse and reserve, of affection
and austerity, of confidence and suspicion. It abounds, too, in that
brusque yet seldom coarse humor which leaps up in the Finale of the
Seventh Symphony, in the Eighth Symphony's waggery, the last movement of
the Concerto in E flat. They offer likewise verbal admissions of such
depression of heart as we recognize in the sternest episodes of the
later Sonatas and of the Galitzin Quartets, and in the awful Allegretto
of the Symphony in A. They hint at the amorous passion of the slow
movements of the Fourth and Ninth Symphonies, at the moral heroism of
the Fifth, at the more human courage of the 'Heroic,' at the mysticism
of the Ninth's tremendous opening. In interesting relation to the group,
and merely of superficial interest, are his hasty notes, his occasional
efforts to write in English or in French, his touches of musical

[Illustration: _BEETHOVEN._ Photogravure from the Original Painting
by C. Jaeger.]

It is not in the purpose of these prefatory paragraphs to a too-brief
group of Beethoven's letters to enter upon his biography. That is
essentially a musician's life; albeit the life of a musician who, as Mr.
Edward Dannreuther suggests, leaves behind him the domain of mere art
and enters upon that of the seer and the prophet. He was born in Bonn in
1770, on a day the date of which is not certain (though we know that his
baptism was December 17th). His youth was not a sunshiny period.
Poverty, neglect, a drunken father, violin lessons under compulsion,
were the circumstances ushering him into his career. He was for a brief
time a pupil of Mozart; just enough so to preserve that succession of
royal geniuses expressed in linking Mozart to Haydn, and in remembering
that Liszt played for Beethoven and that Schubert stood beside
Beethoven's last sick-bed. High patronage and interest gradually took
the composer under its care. Austria and Germany recognized him,
England accepted him early, universal intelligence became enthusiastic
over utterances in art that seemed as much innovations as Wagneristic
writing seemed to the next generation. In Vienna, Beethoven may be said
to have passed his life. There were the friends to whom he wrote--who
understood and loved him. Afflicted early with a deafness that became
total,--the irony of fate,--the majority of his master-works were
evolved from a mind shut away from the pleasures and disturbances of
earthly sounds, and beset by invalidism and suffering. Naturally genial,
he grew morbidly sensitive. Infirmities of temper as well as of body
marked him for their own. But underneath all superficial shortcomings of
his intensely human nature was a Shakespearean dignity of moral and
intellectual individuality.

It is not necessary here even to touch on the works that follow him.
They stand now as firmly as ever--perhaps more firmly--in the honor and
the affection of all the world of auditors in touch with the highest
expressions in the tone-world. The mere mention of such monuments as the
sonatas, the nine symphonies, the Mass in D minor, the magnificent chain
of overtures, the dramatic concert-arias, does not exhaust the list.
They are the vivid self-expressions of one who learned in suffering what
he taught in song: a man whose personality impressed itself into almost
everything that he wrote, upon almost every one whom he met, and who
towers up as impressively as the author of 'Hamlet,' the sculptor of
'Moses,' the painter of 'The Last Supper.'

It is perhaps interesting to mention that the very chirography of
Beethoven's letters is eloquent of the man. Handwriting is apt to be.
Mendelssohn, the well-balanced, the precise, wrote like copper-plate.
Wagner wrote a fine strong hand, seldom with erasures. Spontini, the
soldier-like, wrote with the decision of a soldier. Beethoven's letters
and notes are in a large, open, dashing hand, often scrawls, always with
the blackest of ink, full of changes, and not a flourish to spare--the
handwriting of impulse and carelessness as to form, compared with a
writer's desire of making his meaning clear.

[Illustration: Signature: E. IRENAEUS STEVENSON]


In what an odious light have you exhibited me to myself! Oh! I
acknowledge it, I do not deserve your friendship. It was no intentional
or deliberate malice that induced me to act towards you as I did--but
inexcusable thoughtlessness alone.

I say no more. I am coming to throw myself into your arms, and to
entreat you to restore me my lost friend; and you will give him back to
me, to your penitent, loving, and ever grateful



VIENNA, June 29th, 1800.

_My dear and valued Wegeler:_

How much I thank you for your remembrance of me, little as I deserve it
or have sought to deserve it; and yet you are so kind that you allow
nothing, not even my unpardonable neglect, to discourage you, always
remaining the same true, good, and faithful friend. That I can ever
forget you or yours, once so dear and precious to me, do not for a
moment believe. There are times when I find myself longing to see you
again, and wishing that I could go to stay with you. My fatherland, that
lovely region where I first saw the light, is still as distinct and
beauteous in my eyes as when I quitted you; in short, I shall esteem the
time when I once more see you, and again greet Father Rhine, as one of
the happiest periods of my life. When this may be I cannot yet tell, but
at all events I may say that you shall not see me again till I have
become not only eminent as an artist, but better and more perfect as a
man; and if the condition of our fatherland be then more prosperous, my
art shall be entirely devoted to the benefit of the poor. Oh, blissful
moment!--how happy do I esteem myself that I can expedite it and bring
it to pass!

You desire to know something of my position: well! it is by no means
bad. However incredible it may appear, I must tell you that Lichnowsky
has been, and still is, my warmest friend (slight dissensions occurred
occasionally between us, and yet they only served to strengthen our
friendship). He settled on me last year the sum of six hundred florins,
for which I am to draw on him till I can procure some suitable
situation. My compositions are very profitable, and I may really say
that I have almost more commissions than it is possible for me to
execute. I can have six or seven publishers or more for every piece if I
choose: they no longer bargain with me--I demand, and they pay--so you
see this is a very good thing. For instance, I have a friend in
distress, and my purse does not admit of my assisting him at once, but I
have only to sit down and write, and in a short time he is relieved. I
am also become more economical than formerly....

To give you some idea of my extraordinary deafness, I must tell you that
in the theatre I am obliged to lean close up against the orchestra in
order to understand the actors, and when a little way off I hear none of
the high notes of instruments or singers. It is most astonishing that in
conversation some people never seem to observe this; as I am subject to
fits of absence, they attribute it to that cause. Often I can scarcely
hear a person if he speaks low; I can distinguish the tones but not the
words, and yet I feel it intolerable if any one shouts to me. Heaven
alone knows how it is to end! Vering declares that I shall certainly
improve, even if I be not entirely restored. How often have I cursed my
existence! Plutarch led me to resignation. I shall strive if possible to
set Fate at defiance, although there must be moments in my life when I
cannot fail to be the most unhappy of God's creatures. I entreat you to

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