Part 4 out of 5
the beauties of Music; but though there are exceptional individuals, and
even races, almost devoid of any love of Music, still they are happily but
Good Music, moreover, does not necessarily involve any considerable
outlay; it is even now no mere luxury of the rich, and we may hope that as
time goes on, it will become more and more the comfort and solace of the
 _Rowbotham, History of Music_.
THE BEAUTIES OF NATURE.
"Speak to the earth and it shall teach thee."
"And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything."
THE BEAUTIES OF NATURE.
We are told in the first chapter of Genesis that at the close of the sixth
day "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."
Not merely good, but very good. Yet how few of us appreciate the beautiful
world in which we live!
In preceding chapters I have incidentally, though only incidentally,
referred to the Beauties of Nature; but any attempt, however imperfect, to
sketch the blessings of life must contain some special reference to this
lovely world itself, which the Greeks happily called [Greek: chosmos]
Hamerton, in his charming work on _Landscape_, says, "There are, I
believe, four new experiences for which no description ever adequately
prepares us, the first sight of the sea, the first journey in the desert,
the sight of flowing molten lava, and a walk on a great glacier. We feel
in each case that the strange thing is pure nature, as much nature as a
familiar English moor, yet so extraordinary that we might be in another
planet." But it would, I think, be easier to enumerate the Wonders of
Nature for which description can prepare us, than those which are
altogether beyond the power of language.
Many of us, however, walk through the world like ghosts, as if we were in
it, but not of it. We have "eyes and see not, ears and hear not." To look
is much less easy than to overlook, and to be able to see what we do see,
is a great gift. Ruskin maintains that "The greatest thing a human soul
ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a
plain way." I do not suppose that his eyes are better than ours, but how
much more he sees with them!
We must look before we can expect to see. "To the attentive eye," says
Emerson, "each moment of the year has its own beauty; and in the same
field it beholds every hour a picture that was never seen before, and
shall never be seen again. The heavens change every moment and reflect
their glory or gloom on the plains beneath."
The love of Nature is a great gift, and if it is frozen or crushed out,
the character can hardly fail to suffer from the loss. I will not, indeed,
say that a person who does not love Nature is necessarily bad; or that one
who does, is necessarily good; but it is to most minds a great help. Many,
as Miss Cobbe says, enter the Temple through the gate called Beautiful.
There are doubtless some to whom none of the beautiful wonders of Nature;
neither the glories of the rising or setting sun; the magnificent
spectacle of the boundless ocean, sometimes so grand in its peaceful
tranquillity, at others so majestic in its mighty power; the forests
agitated by the storm, or alive with the song of birds; nor the glaciers
and mountains--there are doubtless some whom none of these magnificent
spectacles can move, whom "all the glories of heaven and earth may pass in
daily succession without touching their hearts or elevating their
Such men are indeed pitiable. But, happily, they are exceptions. If we can
none of us as yet fully appreciate the beauties of Nature, we are
beginning to do so more and more.
For most of us the early summer has a special charm. The very life is
luxury. The air is full of scent, and sound, and sunshine, of the song of
birds and the murmur of insects; the meadows gleam with golden buttercups,
it almost seems as if one could see the grass grow and the buds open; the
bees hum for very joy, and the air is full of a thousand scents, above all
perhaps that of new-mown hay.
The exquisite beauty and delight of a fine summer day in the country has
never perhaps been more truly, and therefore more beautifully, described
than by Jefferies in his "Pageant of Summer." "I linger,'" he says, "in
the midst of the long grass, the luxury of the leaves, and the song in the
very air. I seem as if I could feel all the glowing life the sunshine
gives and the south wind calls to being. The endless grass, the endless
leaves, the immense strength of the oak expanding, the unalloyed joy of
finch and blackbird; from all of them I receive a little.... In the
blackbird's melody one note is mine; in the dance of the leaf shadows the
formed maze is for me, though the motion is theirs; the flowers with a
thousand faces have collected the kisses of the morning. Feeling with
them, I receive some, at least, of their fulness of life. Never could I
have enough; never stay long enough.... The hours when the mind is
absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we really live, so that the
longer we can stay among these things so much the more is snatched from
inevitable Time.... These are the only hours that are not wasted-these
hours that absorb the soul and fill it with beauty. This is real life, and
all else is illusion, or mere endurance. To be beautiful and to be calm,
without mental fear, is the ideal of Nature. If I cannot achieve it, at
least I can think it."
This chapter is already so long that I cannot touch on the contrast and
variety of the seasons, each with its own special charm and interest, as
"The daughters of the year
Dance into light and die into the shade." 
Our countrymen derive great pleasure from the animal kingdom, in hunting,
shooting, and fishing, thus obtaining fresh air and exercise, and being
led into much varied and beautiful scenery. Still it will probably ere
long be recognized that even from a purely selfish point of view, killing
animals is not the way to get the greatest enjoyment from them. How much
more interesting would every walk in the country be, if Man would but
treat other animals with kindness, so that they might approach us without
fear, and we might have the constant pleasure of watching their winning
ways. Their origin and history, structure and habits, senses and
intelligence, offer an endless field of interest and wonder.
The richness of life is wonderful. Any one who will sit down quietly on
the grass and watch a little will be indeed surprised at the number and
variety of living beings, every one with a special history of its own,
every one offering endless problems of great interest.
"If indeed thy heart were right, then would every creature be to thee a
mirror of lifer and a book of holy doctrine." 
The study of Natural History has the special advantage of carrying us into
the country and the open air.
Not but what towns are beautiful too. They teem with human interest and
Wordsworth was an intense lover of nature; yet does he not tell us, in
lines which every Londoner will appreciate, that he knew nothing in nature
more fair, no calm more deep, than the city of London at early dawn?
"Earth has not anything to show more fair;
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at its own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!"
Milton also described London as
"Too blest abode, no loveliness we see
In all the earth, but it abounds in thee."
But after being some time in a great city, one feels a longing for the
"The meanest floweret of the vale,
The simplest note that swells the gale,
The common sun, the air, the skies,
To him are opening paradise." 
Here Gray justly places flowers in the first place, for when in any great
town we think of the country, flowers seem first to suggest themselves.
"Flowers," says Ruskin, "seem intended for the solace of ordinary
humanity. Children love them; quiet, tender, contented, ordinary people
love them as they grow; luxurious and disorderly people rejoice in them
gathered. They are the cottager's treasure; and in the crowded town mark,
as with a little broken fragment of rainbow the windows of the workers in
whose heart rest the covenant of peace." But in the crowded street, or
even in the formal garden, flowers always seem, to me at least, as if they
were pining for the freedom of the woods and fields, where they can live
and grow as they please.
There are flowers for almost all seasons and all places. Flowers for
spring, summer, and autumn, while even in the very depth of winter here
and there one makes its appearance. There are flowers of the fields and
woods and hedgerows, of the seashore and the lake's margin, of the
mountain-side up to the very edge of the eternal snow.
And what an infinite variety they present.
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty; violets, dim,
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes,
Or Cytherea's breath; pale primroses,
That die unmarried, ere they can behold
Bright Phoebus in his strength, a malady
Most incident to maids; bold oxlips and
The crown imperial; lilies of all kinds,
The flower-de-luce being one." 
Nor are they mere delights to the eye; they are full of mystery and
suggestions. They almost seem like enchanted princesses waiting for some
princely deliverer. Wordsworth tells us that
"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."
Every color again, every variety of form, has some purpose and
And yet, lovely as Flowers are, Leaves add even more to the Beauty of
Nature. Trees in our northern latitudes seldom own large flowers; and
though of course there are notable exceptions, such as the Horse-chestnut,
still even in these cases the flowers live only a few days, while the
leaves last for months. Every tree indeed is a picture in itself: The
gnarled and rugged Oak, the symbol and source of our navy, sacred to the
memory of the Druids, the type of strength, the sovereign of British
trees; the Chestnut, with its beautiful, tapering, and rich green, glossy
leaves, its delicious fruit, and to the durability of which we owe the
grand and historic roof of Westminster Abbey.
The Birch is the queen of trees, with her feathery foliage, scarcely
visible in spring but turning to leaves of gold in autumn; the pendulous
twigs tinged with purple, and silver stems so brilliantly marked with
black and white.
The Elm forms grand masses of foliage which turn a beautiful golden yellow
in autumn; and the Black Poplar with its perpendicular leaves, rustling
and trembling with every breath of wind, towers over most other forest
The Beech enlivens the country by its tender green in spring, rich green
in summer, and glorious gold and orange in autumn, set off by the graceful
gray stems; and has moreover, such a wealth of leaves that in autumn there
are enough not only to clothe the tree itself but to cover the grass
If the Beech owes much to its delicate gray stem, even more beautiful is
the reddish crimson of the Scotch Pines, in such charming contrast with
the rich green of the foliage, by which it is shown off rather than
hidden; and, with the green spires of the Firs, they keep the woods warm
Nor must I overlook the smaller trees: the Yew with its thick green
foliage; the wild Guelder rose, which lights up the woods in autumn with
translucent glossy berries and many-tinted leaves; or the Bryonies, the
Briar, the Traveler's Joy, and many another plant, even humbler perhaps,
and yet each with some exquisite beauty and grace of its own, so that we
must all have sometimes felt our hearts overflowing with gladness and
gratitude, as if the woods were full of music--as if
"The woods were filled so full with song
There seemed no room for sense of wrong." 
On the whole no doubt, woodlands are less beautiful in the winter: yet
even then the delicate tracery of the branches, which cannot be so well
seen when they are clothed with leaves, has a special beauty of its own;
while every now and then hoar frost or snow settles like silver on every
branch and twig, lighting up the forest as if by enchantment in
preparation for some fairy festival.
I feel with Jefferies that "by day or by night, summer or winter, beneath
trees the heart feels nearer to that depth of life which the far sky
means. The rest of spirit found only in beauty, ideal and pure, comes
there because the distance seems within touch of thought."
The general effect of forests in tropical regions must be very different
from that of those in our latitudes. Kingsley describes it as one of
helplessness, confusion, awe, all but terror. The trunks are very lofty
and straight, and rising to a great height without a branch, so that the
wood seems at first comparatively open. In Brazilian forests, for
instance, the trees struggle upward, and the foliage forms an unbroken
canopy, perhaps a hundred feet overhead. Here, indeed, high up in the air
is the real life of the forest. Everything seems to climb, to the light.
The quadrupeds climb, birds climb, reptiles climb, and the variety of
climbing plants is far greater than anything to which we are accustomed.
Many savage nations worship trees, and I really think my first feeling
would be one of delight and interest rather than of surprise, if some day
when I am alone in a wood one of the trees were to speak to me. Even by
day there is something mysterious in a forest, and this is much more the
case at night.
With wood, water seems to be naturally associated. Without water no
landscape is complete, while overhead the clouds add beauty to the heavens
themselves. The spring and the rivulet, the brook, the river, and the
lake, seem to give life to Nature, and were indeed regarded by our
ancestors as living entities themselves. Water is beautiful in the morning
mist, in the broad lake, in the glancing stream or the river pool, in the
wide ocean, beautiful in all its varied moods. Water nourishes vegetation;
it clothes the lowlands with green and the mountains with snow. It
sculptures the rocks and excavates the valleys, in most cases acting
mainly through the soft rain, though our harder rocks are still grooved by
the ice-chisel of bygone ages.
The refreshing pour of water upon the earth is scarcely greater than that
which it exercises on the mind of man. After a long spell of work how
delightful it is to sit by a lake or river, or on the seashore, and enjoy
"A little murmur in mine ear,
A little ripple at my feet." 
Every Englishman loves the sight of the Sea We feel that it is to us a
second home. It seems to vivify the very atmosphere, so that Sea air is
proverbial as a tonic, and makes the blood dance in our veins. The Ocean
gives an impression of freedom and grandeur more intense perhaps than the
aspect of the heavens themselves. A poor woman from Manchester, on being
taken to the seaside, is said to have expressed her delight on seeing for
the first time something of which there was enough for everybody. The sea
coast is always interesting. When we think of the cliff sections with
their histories of bygone ages; the shore itself teeming with seaweeds and
animals, waiting for the return of the tide, or thrown up from deeper
water by the waves; the weird cries of seabirds; the delightful feeling
that with every breath we are laying in a store of fresh life, and health,
and energy, it is impossible to over-estimate all we owe to the sea.
It is, moreover, always changing. We went for our holiday this year to
Lyme Regis. Let me attempt to describe the changes in the view from our
windows during a single day. Our sitting-room opened on to a little lawn,
beyond which the ground drops suddenly to the sea, while over about two
miles of water were the hills of the Dorsetshire coast--Golden Cap, with
its bright crest of yellow sand, and the dark blue Lias Cliff of Black
Ven. When I came early down in the morning the sun was rising opposite,
shining into the room over a calm sea, along an avenue of light; by
degrees, as it rose, the whole sea was gilt with light, and the hills
bathed in a violet mist. By breakfast-time all color had faded from the
sea--it was like silver passing on each side into gray; the sky was blue,
flecked with fleecy clouds; while, on the gentler slopes of the coast
opposite, fields and woods, and quarries and lines of stratification begin
to show themselves, though the cliffs are still in shadow, and the more
distant headlands still a mere succession of ghosts, each one fainter than
the one before it. As the morning advances the sea becomes blue, the dark
woods, green meadows, and golden cornfields of the opposite coast more
distinct, and the details of the cliffs come gradually into view, and
fishing-boats with dark sails begin to appear.
Gradually the sun rises higher, a yellow line of shore appears under the
opposite cliffs, and the sea changes its color, mapping itself out as it
were, the shallower parts turquoise blue, almost green; the deeper ones
This does not last long--a thunderstorm comes up. The wind mutters
overhead, the rain patters on the leaves, the coast opposite seems to
shrink into itself, as if it would fly from the storm. The sea grows dark
and rough, and white horses appear here and there.
But the storm is soon over. The clouds break, the rain stops, the sun
shines once more, the hills opposite come out again. They are divided now
not only into fields and woods, but into sunshine and shadow. The sky
clears, and as the sun begins to descend westwards the sea becomes one
beautiful clear uniform azure, changing again soon to pale blue in front
and dark violet beyond: and once more as clouds begin to gather again,
into an archipelago of bright blue sea and deep islands of ultramarine. As
the sun travels westward, the opposite hills change again. They scarcely
seem like the same country. What was in sun is now in shade, and what was
in shade now lies bright in the sunshine. The sea once more becomes a
uniform solid blue, only flecked in places by scuds of wind, and becoming
paler towards evening as the sun sinks, the cliffs which catch his setting
rays losing their deep color and in some places looking almost as white as
chalk, while at sunset they light up again for a moment with a golden
glow, the sea at the same time sinking to a cold gray. But soon the hills
grow cold too, Golden Cap holding out bravely to the last, and the shades
of evening settle over cliff and wood, cornfield and meadow.
These are but a part, and a very small part, of the changes of a single
day. And scarce any two days are alike. At times a sea-fog covers
everything. Again the sea which sleeps to-day so peacefully sometimes
rages, and the very existence of the bay itself bears witness to its
The night, again, varies like the day. Sometimes shrouded by a canopy of
darkness, sometimes lit up by millions of brilliant worlds, sometimes
bathed in the light of a moon, which never retains the same form for two
If Lakes are less grand than the sea, they are in some respects even more
lovely. The seashore is comparatively bare. The banks of Lakes are often
richly clothed with vegetation which comes close down to the water's edge,
sometimes hanging even into the water itself. They are often studded with
well-wooded islands. They are sometimes fringed with green meadows,
sometimes bounded by rocky promontories rising directly from comparatively
deep water, while the calm bright surface is often fretted by a delicate
pattern of interlacing ripples, or reflects a second, softened, and
To water again we owe the marvellous spectacle of the rainbow--"God's bow
in the clouds." It is indeed truly a heavenly messenger, and so unlike
anything else that it scarcely seems to belong to this world.
Many things are colored, but the rainbow seems to be color itself.
"First the flaming red
Sprang vivid forth; the tawny orange next,
And next delicious yellow; by whose side
Fell the kind beams of all-refreshing green.
Then the pure blue that swells autumnal skies,
Ethereal play'd; and then, of sadder hue
Emerged the deeper indigo (as when
The heavy-skirted evening droops with frost),
While the last gleamings of refracted light
Died in the fainting violet away." 
We do not, I think, sufficiently realize how wonderful is the blessing of
color. It would have been possible, it would even seem more probable, that
though light might have enabled us to perceive objects, this could only
have been by shade and form. How we perceive color it is very difficult to
comprehend, and yet when we speak of beauty, among the ideas which come to
us most naturally are those of birds and butterflies, flowers and shells,
precious stones, skies, and rainbows.
Our minds might have been constituted exactly as they are, we might have
been capable of comprehending the highest and sublimest truths, and yet,
but for a small organ in the head, the world of sound would have been shut
out from us; we should have lost the sounds of nature, the charms of
music, the conversation of friends, and have been condemned to perpetual
silence: and yet a slight alteration in the retina, which is not thicker
than a sheet of paper, not larger than a finger nail,--and the glorious
spectacle of this beautiful world, the exquisite variety of form, the
glory and play of color, the variety of scenery, of woods and fields, and
lakes and hills, seas and mountains, the glory of the sky alike by day and
night, would all have been lost to us.
Mountains, again, "seem to have been built for the human race, as at once
their schools and cathedrals; full of treasures of illuminated manuscript
for the scholar, kindly in simple lessons for the worker, quiet in pale
cloisters for the thinker, glorious in holiness for the worshipper. And of
these great cathedrals of the earth, with their gates of rock, pavements
of cloud, choirs of stream and stone, altars of snow, and vaults of purple
traversed by the continual stars." 
All these beauties are comprised in Tennyson's exquisite description of
Oenone's vale--the city, flowers, trees, river, and mountains.
"There is a vale in Ida, lovelier
Than all the valleys of Ionian hills.
The swimming vapor slopes athwart the glen,
Puts forth an arm, and creeps from pine to pine,
And loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand
The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down
Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars
The long brook falling thro' the clov'n ravine
In cataract after cataract to the sea.
Behind the valley topmost Gargarus
Stands up and takes the morning; but in front
The gorges, opening wide apart, reveal
Troas and Ilion's column'd citadel,
The crown of Troas."
And when we raise our eyes from earth, who has not sometimes felt "the
witchery of the soft blue sky;" who has not watched a cloud floating
upward as if on its way to heaven, or when
"Sunbeam proof, I hang like a roof
The mountain its columns be." 
And yet "if, in our moments of utter idleness and insipidity, we turn to
the sky as a last resource, which of its phenomena do we speak of? One
says, it has been wet; and another, it has been windy; and another, it has
been warm. Who, among the whole chattering crowd, can tell me of the forms
and the precipices of the chain of tall white mountains that girded the
horizon at noon yesterday? Who saw the narrow sunbeam that came out of the
south, and smote upon their summits until they melted and mouldered away
in a dust of blue rain? Who saw the dance of the dead clouds when the
sunlight left them last night, and the west wind blew them before it like
withered leaves? All has passed, unregretted as unseen; or if the apathy
be ever shaken off, even for an instant, it is only by what is gross, or
what is extraordinary; and yet it is not in the broad and fierce
manifestations of the elemental energies, not in the clash of the hail,
nor the drift of the whirlwind, that the highest characters of the sublime
are developed." 
But exquisitely lovely as is the blue arch of the midday sky, with its
inexhaustible variety of clouds, "there is yet a light which the eye
invariably seeks with a deeper feeling of the beautiful, the light of the
declining or breaking day, and the flakes of scarlet cloud burning like
watch-fires in the green sky of the horizon."  The evening colors
indeed soon fade away, but as night comes on,
"How glorious the firmament
With living sapphires! Hesperus that led
The starry host, rode brightest; till the moon
Rising in clouded majesty, at length,
Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw." 
We generally speak of a beautiful night when it is calm and clear, and the
stars shine brightly overhead; but how grand also are the wild ways of
Nature, how magnificent when the lightning flashes, "between gloom and
"From peak to peak, the rattling crags among
Leaps the live thunder." 
In the words of Ossian--
"Ghosts ride in the tempest to-night;
Sweet is their voice between the gusts of wind,
Their songs are of other worlds."
Nor are the wonders and beauties of the heavens limited by the clouds and
the blue sky, lovely as they are. In the heavenly bodies we have before us
"the perpetual presence of the sublime." They are so immense and so far
away, and yet on soft summer nights "they seem leaning down to whisper in
the ear of our souls." 
"A man can hardly lift up his eyes toward the heavens," says Seneca,
"without wonder and veneration, to see so many millions of radiant lights,
and to observe their courses and revolutions, even without any respect to
the common good of the Universe."
Who does not sympathize with the feelings of Dante as he rose from his
visit to the lower regions, until, he says,
"On our view the beautiful lights of heaven
Dawned through a circular opening in the cave,
Thence issuing, we again beheld the stars."
As we watch the stars at night they seem so still and motionless that we
can hardly realize that all the time they are rushing on with a velocity
far far exceeding any that man has ever accomplished.
Like the sands of the sea, the stars of heaven have ever been used as an
appropriate symbol of number, and we know that there are some 75,000,000,
many, no doubt, with planets of their own. But this is by no means all.
The floor of heaven is not only "thick inlaid with patines of bright
gold," but is studded also with extinct stars, once probably as brilliant
as our own sun, but now dead and cold, as Helmholtz tells us our sun
itself will be some seventeen millions of years hence. Then, again, there
are the comets, which, though but few are visible to us at once, are even
more numerous than the stars; there are the nebulae, and the countless
minor bodies circulating in space, and occasionally visible as meteors.
Nor is it only the number of the heavenly bodies which is so overwhelming;
their magnitude and distances are almost more impressive. The ocean is so
deep and broad as to be almost infinite, and indeed in so far as our
imagination is the limit, so it may be. Yet what is the ocean compared to
the sky? Our globe is little compared to the giant orbs of Jupiter and
Saturn, which again sink into insignificance by the side of the sun. The
sun itself is almost as nothing compared with the dimensions of the solar
system. Sirius is calculated to be a thousand times as great as the Sun,
and a million times as far away. The solar system itself travels in one
region of space, sailing between worlds and worlds, and is surrounded by
many other systems as great and complex as itself; and we know that even
then we have not reached the limits of the Universe itself.
There are stars so distant that their light, though traveling 180,000
miles in a second, yet takes years to reach us; and beyond all these are
other systems of stars which are so far away that they cannot be perceived
singly, but even in our most powerful telescopes appear only as minute
clouds or nebulae. It is, indeed, but a feeble expression of the truth to
say that the infinities revealed to us by Science,--the infinitely great
in the one direction, and the infinitely small in the other,--go far
beyond anything which had occurred to the unaided imagination of Man, and
are not only a never-failing source of pleasure and interest, but seem to
lift us out of the petty troubles and sorrows of life.
 Thomas a Kempis.
THE TROUBLES OF LIFE.
THE TROUBLES OF LIFE.
We have in life many troubles, and troubles are of many kinds. Some
sorrows, alas, are real enough, especially those we bring on ourselves,
but others, and by no means the least numerous, are mere ghosts of
troubles: if we face them boldly, we find that they have no substance or
reality, but are mere creations of our own morbid imagination, and that it
is as true now as in the time of David that "Man disquieteth himself in a
Some, indeed, of our troubles are evils, but not real; while others are
real, but not evils.
"And yet, into how unfathomable a gulf the mind rushes when the troubles
of this world agitate it. If it then forget its own light, which is
eternal joy, and rush into the outer darkness, which are the cares of this
world, as the mind now does, it knows nothing else but lamentations." 
"Athens," said Epictetus, "is a good place,--but happiness is much better;
to be free from passions, free from disturbance."
We should endeavor to maintain ourselves in
"That blessed mood
In which the burden of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight,
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lightened." 
So shall we fear "neither the exile of Aristides, nor the prison of
Anaxagoras, nor the poverty of Socrates, nor the condemnation of Phocion,
but think virtue worthy our love even under such trials."  We should
then be, to a great extent, independent of external circumstances, for
"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage,
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for a hermitage.
"If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free;
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty." 
Happiness indeed depends much more on what is within than without us. When
Hamlet says the world is "a goodly prison; in which there are many
confines, wards, and dungeons; Denmark being one of the worst," and
Rosencrantz differs from him, he rejoins wisely, "Why then, 'tis none to
you: for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to
me it is a prison." "All is opinion," said Marcus Aurelius. "That which
does not make a man worse, how can it make his life worse? But death
certainly, and life, honor and dishonor, pain and pleasure, all these
things happen equally to good men and bad, being things which make us
neither better nor worse."
"The greatest evils," says Jeremy Taylor, "are from within us; and from
ourselves also we must look for our greatest good."
"The mind," says Milton,
"is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."
Milton indeed in his blindness saw more beautiful visions, and Beethoven
in his deafness heard more heavenly music, than most of us can ever hope
We are all apt, when we know not what may happen, to fear the worst. When
we know the full extent of any danger, it is half over. Hence, we dread
ghosts more than robbers, not only without reason, but against reason; for
even if ghosts existed, how could they hurt us? and in ghost stories, few,
even those who say that they have seen a ghost, ever profess or pretend to
have felt one.
Milton, in his description of death, dwells on this characteristic of
"The other shape,
If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
Distinguishable, in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black he stood as night;
Fierce as ten furies; terrible as hell;
And shook a deadly dart. What seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on."
The effect of darkness and night in enhancing terrors is dwelt on in one
of the sublimest passages in Job--
"In thoughts from the visions of the night,
When deep sleep falleth on men,
Fear came upon me, and trembling,
Which made all my bones to shake.
Then a spirit passed before my face;
The hair of my flesh stood up.
It stood still, an image was before mine eyes.
There was silence; and I heard a voice saying
Shall mortal man be more just than God?"
Thus was the terror turned into a lesson of comfort and of mercy.
We often magnify troubles and difficulties, and look at them till they
seem much greater than they really are.
"Dangers are no more light, if they once seem light; and more dangers have
deceived men than forced them: nay, it were better to meet some dangers
half way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch
upon their approaches; for if a man watch too long, it is odds he will
fall asleep." 
Foresight is very wise, but foresorrow is very foolish; and castles are at
any rate better than dungeons, in the air.
Some of our troubles, no doubt, are real enough, but yet are not evils.
It happens, unfortunately too often, that by some false step, intentional
or unintentional, we have missed the right road, and gone wrong. Can we
then retrace our steps? can we recover what is lost? This may be done. It
is too gloomy a view to affirm that
"A word too much, or a kiss too long,
And the world is never the same again."
There are two noble sayings of Socrates, that to do evil is more to be
avoided than to suffer it; and that when a man has done evil, it is better
for him to be punished than to be unpunished.
We generally speak of selfishness as a fault, and as if it interfered with
the general happiness. But this is not altogether correct.
The pity is that so many people are foolishly selfish: that they pursue a
course of action which neither makes themselves nor any one else happy.
"Every man," says Goethe, "ought to begin with himself, and make his own
happiness first, from which the happiness of the whole world would at last
unquestionably follow." It is easy to say that this is too broadly stated,
and of course exceptions might be pointed out: but if every one would
avoid excess, and take care of his own health; would keep himself strong
and cheerful; would make his home happy, and give no cause for the petty
vexations which embitter domestic life; would attend to his own affairs
and keep himself sober and solvent; would, in the words of the Chinese
proverb, "sweep away the snow from before his own door, and never mind the
frost upon his neighbor's tiles;" though it might not be the noblest
course of conduct; still, how well it would be for their family,
relations, and friends. But, unfortunately,
"Look round the habitable world, how few
Know their own good, or, knowing it, pursue." 
It would be a great thing if people could be brought to realize that they
can never add to the sum of their happiness by doing wrong. In the case of
children, indeed, we recognize this; we perceive that a spoilt child is
not a happy one; that it would have been far better for him to have been
punished at first and thus saved from greater suffering in after life.
It is a beautiful idea that every man has with him a Guardian Angel; and
it is true too: for Conscience is ever on the watch, ever ready to warn us
We often feel disposed to complain, and yet it is most ungrateful:
"For who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through Eternity;
To perish rather, swallowed up, and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated thought." 
But perhaps it will be said that we are sent here in preparation for
another and a better world. Well, then, why should we complain of what is
but a preparation for future happiness?
We ought to
"Count each affliction, whether light or grave,
God's messenger sent down to thee; do thou
With courtesy receive him; rise and bow;
And, ere his shadow pass thy threshold, crave
Permission first his heavenly feet to lave;
Then lay before him all thou hast; allow
No cloud of passion to usurp thy brow,
Or mar thy hospitality; no wave
Of mortal tumult to obliterate
The soul's marmoreal calmness: Grief shall be
Like joy, majestic, equable, sedate;
Confirming, cleansing, raising, making free;
Strong to consume small troubles; to commend
Great thoughts, grave thoughts, thoughts lasting to the end." 
Some persons are like the waters of Siloam, and require to be troubled
before they can exercise their virtue.
"We shall get more contentedness," says Plutarch, "from the presence of
all these blessings if we fancy them as absent, and remember from time to
time how people when ill yearn for health, and people in war for peace,
and strangers and unknown in a great city for reputation and friends, and
how painful it is to be deprived of all these when one has once had them.
For then each of these blessings will not appear to us only great and
valuable when it is lost, and of no value when we have it.... And yet it
makes much for contentedness of mind to look for the most part at home and
to our own condition; or if not, to look at the case of people worse off
than ourselves, and not, as people do, to compare ourselves with those who
are better off.... But you will find others, Chians, or Galatians, or
Bithynians, not content with the share of glory or power they have among
their fellow-citizens, but weeping because they do not wear senators'
shoes; or, if they have them, that they cannot be praetors of Rome; or if
they get that office, that they are not consuls; or if they are consuls,
that they are only proclaimed second and not first.... Whenever, then, you
admire any one carried by in his litter as a greater man than yourself,
lower your eyes and look at those that bear the litter." And again, "I am
very taken with Diogenes' remark to a stranger at Lacedaemon, who was
dressing with much display for a feast, 'Does not a good man consider
every day a feast?' ... Seeing then that life is the most complete
initiation into all these things, it ought to be full of ease of mind and
joy; and if properly understood, would enable us to acquiesce in the
present without repining, to remember the past with thankfulness, and to
meet the future hopefully and cheerfully without fear of suspicion."
 King Alfred's translations of the _Consolations of Boethius_.
 Aubrey de Vere.
LABOR AND REST.
"Through labor to rest, through combat to victory."
THOMAS A KEMPIS.
LABOR AND REST.
Among the troubles of life I do not, of course, reckon the necessity of
Work indeed, and hard work, if only it is in moderation, is in itself a
rich source of happiness. We all know how quickly time passes when we are
well employed, while the moments hang heavily on the hands of the idle.
Occupation drives away care and all the small troubles of life. The busy
man has no time to brood or to fret.
"From toil he wins his spirits light,
From busy day the peaceful night;
Rich, from the very want of wealth,
In Heaven's best treasures, peace and health." 
This applies especially to the labor of the field and the workshop. Humble
it may be, but if it does not dazzle with the promise of fame, it gives
the satisfaction of duty fulfilled, and the inestimable blessing of
health. As Emerson reminds those entering life, "The angels that live with
them, and are weaving laurels of life for their youthful brows, are toil
and truth and mutual faith."
Labor was truly said by the ancients to be the price which the gods set
upon everything worth having. We all admit, though we often forget, the
marvellous power of perseverance, and yet all Nature, down to Bruce's
spider, is continually impressing this lesson on us.
Hard writing, it has been said, makes easy reading; Plato is said to have
rewritten the first page of the _Republic_ thirteen times; and Carlo
Maratti, we are told, sketched the head of Antinoues three hundred times
before he wrought it to his satisfaction.
It is better to wear out than to rust out, and there is "a dust which
settles on the heart, as well as that which rests upon the ledge." 
But though labor is good for man, it may be, and unfortunately often is,
carried to excess. Many are wearily asking themselves
Should life all labor be?" 
There is a time for all things, says Solomon, a time to work and a time to
play: we shall work all the better for reasonable change, and one reward
of work is to secure leisure.
It is a good saying that where there's a will there's a way; but while it
is all very well to wish, wishes must not take the place of work.
In whatever sphere his duty lies every man must rely mainly on himself.
Others can help us, but we must make ourselves. No one else can see for
us. To profit by our advantages we must learn to use for ourselves
"The dark lantern of the spirit
Which none can see by, but he who bears it."
It is hardly an exaggeration to say that honest work is never thrown away.
If we do not find the imaginary treasure, at any rate we enrich the
"Work," says Nature to man, "in every hour, paid or unpaid; see only that
thou work, and thou canst not escape the reward: whether thy work be fine
or coarse, planting corn or writing epics, so only it be honest work, done
to thine own approbation, it shall earn a reward to the senses as well as
to the thought: no matter how often defeated, you are born to victory. The
reward of a thing well done is to have done it." 
Nor can any work, however persevering, or any success, however great,
exhaust the prizes of life.
The most studious, the most successful, must recognize that there yet
"So much to do that is not e'en begun,
So much to hope for that we cannot see,
So much to win, so many things to be." 
At the present time, though there may be some special drawbacks, still we
come to our work with many advantages which were not enjoyed in olden
times. We live in much greater security ourselves, and are less liable to
have the fruits of our labor torn violently from us.
In olden times the difficulties of study were far greater than they are
now. Books were expensive and cumbersome, in many cases moreover chained
to the desks on which they were kept. The greatest scholars have often
been very poor. Erasmus used to read by moonlight because he could not
afford a candle, and "begged a penny, not for the love of charity, but for
the love of learning." 
Want of time is no excuse for idleness. "Our life," says Jeremy Taylor,
"is too short to serve the ambition of a haughty prince or a usurping
rebel; too little time to purchase great wealth, to satisfy the pride of a
vainglorious fool, to trample upon all the enemies of our just or unjust
interest: but for the obtaining virtue, for the purchase of sobriety and
modesty, for the actions of religion, God gives us time sufficient, if we
make the outgoings of the morning and evening, that is our infancy and old
age, to be taken into the computations of a man."
Work is so much a necessity of existence, that it is less a question
whether, than how, we shall work. An old proverb tells us that the Devil
finds work for those who do not make it for themselves.
If we Englishmen have succeeded as a race, it has been due in no small
measure to the fact that we have worked hard. Not only so, but we have
induced the forces of Nature to work for us. "Steam," says Emerson, "is
almost an Englishman."
The power of work has especially characterized our greatest men. Cecil
said of Sir W. Raleigh that he "could toil terribly."
We are most of us proud of belonging to the greatest Empire the world has
ever seen. It may be said of us with especial truth in Wordsworth's words
"The world is too much with us; late and soon
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers."
Yes, but what world? The world will be with us sure enough, and whether we
please or not. But what sort of world it will be for us will depend
greatly on ourselves.
We are told to pray not to be taken out of the world, but to be kept from
There are various ways of working. Quickness may be good, but haste is
"Wie das Gestirn
Drehe sich Jeder
Um die eigne Last." 
"Like a star, without haste, without rest, let every one fulfil his own
Newton is reported to have described as his mode of working that "I keep
the subject constantly before me, and wait till the first dawnings open
slowly by little and little into a full and clear light."
"The secret of genius," says Emerson, "is to suffer no fiction to exist
for us; to realize all that we know; in the high refinement of modern
life, in Arts, in Sciences, in books, in men, to exact good faith,
reality, and a purpose; and first, last, midst, and without end, to honor
every truth by use."
Lastly, work secures the rich reward of rest, we must rest to be able to
work well, and work to be able to enjoy rest.
"We must no doubt beware that our rest become not the rest of stones,
which so long as they are torrent-tossed and thunder-stricken maintain
their majesty; but when the stream is silent, and the storm past, suffer
the grass to cover them, and the lichen to feed on them, and are ploughed
down into the dust.... The rest which is glorious is of the chamois
couched breathless in its granite bed, not of the stalled ox over his
When we have done our best we may wait the result without anxiety.
"What hinders a man, who has clearly comprehended these things, from
living with a light heart and bearing easily the reins; quietly expecting
everything which can happen, and enduring that which has already happened?
Would you have me to bear poverty? Come and you will know what poverty is
when it has found one who can act well the part of a poor man. Would you
have me to possess power? Let me have the power, and also the trouble of
it. Well, banishment? Wherever I shall go, there it will be well with
The Buddhists believe in many forms of future punishment; but the highest
reward of virtue is Nirvana--the final and eternal rest.
Very touching is the appeal of Ashmanezer to be left in peace, which was
engraved on his Sarcophagus at Sidon,--now in Paris.
"In the month of Bul, the fourteenth year of my reign, I, King Ashmanezer,
King of the Sidonians, son of King Tabuith, King of the Sidonians, spake,
saying: 'I have been stolen away before my time--a son of the flood of
days. The whilom great is dumb; the son of gods is dead. And I rest in
this grave, even in this tomb, in the place which I have built. My
adjuration to all the Ruling Powers and all men: Let no one open this
resting-place, nor search for treasure, for there is no treasure with us;
and let him not bear away the couch of my rest, and not trouble us in this
resting-place by disturbing the couch of my slumbers.... For all men who
should open the tomb of my rest, or any man who should carry away the
couch of my rest, or any one who trouble me on this couch: unto them there
shall be no rest with the departed: they shall not be buried in a grave,
and there shall be to them neither son nor seed.... There shall be to them
neither root below nor fruit above, nor honor among the living under the
The idle man does not know what it is to rest. Hard work, moreover, tends
not only to give us rest for the body, but, what is even more important,
peace to the mind. If we have done our best to do, and to be, we can rest
"En la sua voluntade e nostra pace."  In His will is our peace; and in
such peace the mind will find its truest delight, for
"When care sleeps, the soul wakes."
In youth, as is right enough, the idea of exertion, and of struggles, is
inspiriting and delightful; but as years advance the hope and prospect of
peace and of rest gain ground gradually, and
"When the last dawns are fallen on gray,
And all life's toils and ease complete,
They know who work, not they who play,
If rest is sweet." 
 From Sir M. S. Grant Duff's _A Winter in Syria_.
"For what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."--MICAH.
"Pure religion and undefiled is this, to visit the fatherless and
widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the
"The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
It would be quite out of place here to enter into any discussion of
theological problems or to advocate any particular doctrines. Nevertheless
I could not omit what is to most so great a comfort and support in sorrow
and suffering, and a source of the purest happiness.
We commonly, however, bring together under this term two things which are
yet very different: the religion of the heart, and that of the head. The
first deals with conduct, and the duties of Man; the second with the
nature of the supernatural and the future of the soul, being in fact a
branch of knowledge.
Religion should be a strength, guide, and comfort, not a source of
intellectual anxiety or angry argument. To persecute for religion's sake
implies belief in a jealous, cruel, and unjust Deity. If we have done our
best to arrive at the truth, to torment oneself about the result is to
doubt the goodness of God, and, in the words of Bacon, "to bring down the
Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a dove, in the shape of a raven."
"The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life," and the first duty of
religion is to form the highest possible conception of God.
Many a man, however, and still more many a woman, render themselves
miserable on entering life by theological doubts and difficulties. These
have reference, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, not to what we
should do, but to what we should think. As regards action, conscience is
generally a ready guide; to follow it is the real difficulty. Theology, on
the other hand, is a most abstruse science; but as long as we honestly
wish to arrive at truth we need not fear that we shall be punished for
unintentional error. "For what," says Micah, "doth the Lord require of
thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
There is very little theology in the Sermon on the Mount, or indeed in any
part of the Gospels; and the differences which keep us apart have their
origin rather in the study than the Church. Religion was intended to bring
peace on earth and goodwill toward men, and whatever tends to hatred and
persecution, however correct in the letter, must be utterly wrong in the
How much misery would have been saved to Europe if Christians had been
satisfied with the Sermon on the Mount!
Bokhara is said to have contained more than three hundred colleges, all
occupied with theology, but ignorant of everything else, and it was
probably one of the most bigoted and uncharitable cities in the world.
"Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."
We must not forget that
"He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small."
Theologians too often appear to agree that
"The awful shadow of some unseen power
Floats, though unseen, among us"; 
and in the days of the Inquisition many must have sighed for the cheerful
child-like religion of the Greeks, if they could but have had the Nymphs
and Nereids, the Fays and Faeries, with Destiny and Fate, but without
Jupiter and Mars.
Sects are the work of Sectarians. No truly great religious teacher, as
Carlyle said, ever intended to found a new Sect.
Diversity of worship, says a Persian proverb, "has divided the human race
into seventy-two nations." From among all their dogmas I have selected
one--"Divine Love." And again, "He needs no other rosary whose thread of
life is strung with the beads of love and thought."
There is more true Christianity in some pagan Philosophers than in certain
Christian theologians. Take, for instance, Plato, Marcus Aurelius,
Epictetus, and Plutarch.
"Now I, Callicles," says Socrates, "am persuaded of the truth of these
things, and I consider how I shall present my soul whole and undefiled
before the judge in that day. Renouncing the honors at which the world
aims, I desire only to know the truth, and to live as well as I can, and,
when the time comes, to die. And, to the utmost of my power, I exhort all
other men to do the same. And in return for your exhortation of me, I
exhort you also to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of
life, and greater than every other earthly conflict."
"As to piety toward the Gods," says Epictetus, "you must know that this is
the chief thing, to have right opinions about them, to think that they
exist, and that they administer the All well and justly; and you must fix
yourself in this principle (duty), to obey them, and to yield to them in
everything which happens, and voluntarily to follow it as being
accomplished by the wisest intelligence."
"Do not act," says Marcus Aurelius, "as if thou wert going to live ten
thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in
thy power, be good....
"Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very moment,
regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away from among men,
if there be gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not
involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not exist, or if they have no
concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid
of gods, or devoid of Providence. But in truth they do exist, and they do
care for human things, and they have put all the means in man's power to
enable him not to fall into real evils. And as for the rest, if there was
anything evil, they would have provided for this also, that it should be
altogether in a man's power not to fall into it."
And Plutarch: "The Godhead is not blessed by reason of his silver and
gold, nor yet Almighty through his thunder and lightnings, but on account
of knowledge and intelligence."
It is no doubt very difficult to arrive at the exact teaching of Eastern
Moralists, but the same spirit runs through Oriental Literature. For
instance, in the _Toy Cart_, when the wicked Prince wishes Vita to murder
the Heroine, and says that no one would see him, Vita declares "All nature
would behold the crime--the Genii of the Grove, the Sun, the Moon, the
Winds, the Vault of Heaven, the firm-set Earth, the mighty Yama who judges
the dead, and the conscious Soul."
Take even the most extreme type of difference. Is the man, says Plutarch,
"a criminal who holds there are no gods; and is not he that holds them to
be such as the superstitious believe them, is he not possessed with
notions infinitely more atrocious? I for my part would much rather have
men say of me that there never was a Plutarch at all, nor is now, than to
say that Plutarch is a man inconstant, fickle, easily moved to anger,
revengeful for trifling provocations, vexed at small things."
There is no doubt a tone of doubting sadness in Roman moralists, as in
Hadrian's dying lines to his soul--
"Animula, vagula, blandula
Hospes, comesque corporis
Qua nunc abibis in loca:
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis jocos."
The same spirit indeed is expressed in the epitaph on the tomb of the Duke
of Buckingham in Westminster Abbey--
"Dubius non improbus vixi
Incertus morior, non perturbatus;
Humanum est nescire et errare,
Ens entium miserere mei."
Many things have been mistaken for religion, selfishness especially, but
also fear, hope, love of music, of art, of pomp; scruples often take the
place of love, and the glory of heaven is sometimes made to depend upon
precious stones and jewelry. Many, as has been well said, run after
Christ, not for the miracles, but for the loaves.
In many cases religious differences are mainly verbal. There is an Eastern
tale of four men, an Arab, a Persian, a Turk, and a Greek, who agreed to
club together for an evening meal, but when they had done so they
quarrelled as to what it should be. The Turk proposed Azum, the Arab Aneb,
the Persian Anghur, while the Greek insisted on Stapylion. While they were
"Before their eyes did pass,
Laden with grapes, a gardener's ass.
Sprang to his feet each man, and showed,
With eager hand, that purple load.
'See Azum,' said the Turk; and 'see
Anghur,' the Persian; 'what should be
Better.' 'Nay Aneb, Aneb 'tis,'
The Arab cried. The Greek said, 'This
Is my Stapylion.' Then they bought
Their grapes in peace.
Hence be ye taught." 
It is said that on one occasion, when Dean Stanley had been explaining his
views to Lord Beaconsfield, the latter replied, "Ah! Mr. Dean, that is all
very well, but you must remember,--No dogmas, no Deans." To lose such
Deans as Stanley would indeed be a great misfortune; but does it follow?
Religions, far from being really built on Dogmas, are too often weighed
down and crushed by them. No one can doubt that Stanley has done much to
strengthen the Church of England.
We may not always agree with Spinoza, but is he not right when he says,
"The first precept of the divine law, therefore, indeed its sum and
substance, is to love God unconditionally as the supreme
good--unconditionally, I say, and not from any love or fear of aught
besides"? And again, that the very essence of religion is belief in "a
Supreme Being who delights in justice and mercy, whom all who would be
saved are bound to obey, and whose worship consists in the practice of
justice and charity toward our neighbors"?
Doubt is of two natures, and we often confuse a wise suspension of
judgment with the weakness of hesitation. To profess an opinion for which
we have no sufficient reason is clearly illogical, but when it is
necessary to act we must do so on the best evidence available, however
slight that may be. Herein lies the importance of common sense, the
instincts of a General, the sagacity of a Statesman. Pyrrho, the
recognized representative of doubt, was often wise in suspending his
judgment, however foolish in hesitating to act, and in apologizing when,
after resisting all the arguments of philosophy, an angry dog drove him
from his position.
Collect from the Bible all that Christ thought necessary for his
disciples, and how little Dogma there is. "Pure religion and undefiled is
this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep
himself unspotted from the world." "By this shall all men know that ye are
my disciples, if ye have love one to another." "Suffer little children to
come unto me." And one lesson which little children have to teach us is
that religion is an affair of the heart and not of the mind only.
Why should we expect Religion to solve questions with reference to the
origin and destiny of the Universe? We do not expect the most elaborate
treatise to tell us the origin of electricity or of heat. Natural History
throws no light on the origin of life. Has Biology ever professed to
"Simonides was asked at Syracuse by Hiero, who or what God was, when he
requested a day's time to think of his answer. On subsequent days he
always doubled the period required for deliberation; and when Hiero
inquired the reason, he replied that the longer he considered the subject,
the more obscure it appeared."
The Vedas say, "In the midst of the sun is the light, in the midst of
light is truth, and in the midst of truth is the imperishable being."
Deity has been defined as a circle whose centre is everywhere, and whose
circumference is nowhere, but the "God is love" of St. John appeals more
forcibly to the human soul.
The Church is not a place for study or speculation. Few but can sympathize
with Eugenie de Gurein in her tender affection for the little Chapel at
Cahuze where she tells us she left "tant de miseres."
Doubt does not exclude Faith.
"Perplexed in faith, but pure in deeds
At last he beat his music out.
There lies more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds." 
And if we must admit that many points are still, and probably long will be
involved in obscurity, we may be pardoned if we indulge ourselves in
various speculations both as to our beginning and our end.
"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life's star
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home." 
Unfortunately many have attempted to compound for wickedness in life by
purity of belief, a vain and fruitless effort. To do right is the sure
ladder which leads up to Heaven, though the true faith will help us to
find and to climb it.
"It is my duty to have loved the highest,
It surely was my profit had I known,
It would have been my pleasure had I seen."
But though religious truth can justify no bitterness, it is well worth any
amount of thought and study.
I hope I shall not be supposed to depreciate any honest effort to arrive
at truth, or to undervalue the devotion of those who have died for their
religion. But surely it is a mistake to regard martyrdom as a merit, when
from their own point of view it was in reality a privilege.
Let every man be persuaded in his own mind
"Truth is the highest thing that man may keep." 
To arrive at truth we should spare ourselves no pain, but certainly
inflict none on others.
We may be sure that quarrels will never advance religion, and that to
persecute is no way to convert. No doubt those who consider that all who
do not agree with them will suffer eternal torments, seem logically
justified in persecution even unto death. Such a course, if carried out
consistently, might stamp out a particular sect, and any sufferings which
could be inflicted here would on this hypothesis be as nothing in
comparison with the pains of Hell. Only it must be admitted that such a
view of religion is incompatible with any faith in the goodness of God,
and seems quite irreconcilable with the teaching of Christ.
Moreover, the Inquisition has even from its own point of view proved
generally a failure. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
"In obedience to the order of the Council of Constance (1415) the remains
of Wickliffe were exhumed and burnt to ashes, and these cast into the
Swift, a neighboring brook running hard by, and thus this brook hath
conveyed his ashes into Avon; Avon into Severn; Severn into the narrow
seas; they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wickliffe are the
emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over." 
The Talmud says that when a man once asked Shamai to teach him the Law in
one lesson, Shamai drove him away in anger. He then went to Hillel with
the same request. Hillel said, "Do unto others as you would have others do
unto you. This is the whole Law; the rest, merely Commentaries upon it."
The Religion of the lower races is almost as a rule one of terror and of
dread. Their deities are jealous and revengeful, cruel, merciless, and
selfish, hateful and yet childish. They require to be propitiated by
feasts and offerings, often even by human sacrifices. They are not only
exacting, but so capricious that, with the best intentions, it is often
impossible to be sure of pleasing them. From such evil beings Sorcerers
and Witches derived their hellish powers. No one was safe. No one knew
where danger lurked. Actions apparently the most trifling might be fraught
with serious risk: objects apparently the most innocent might be fatal.
In many cases there are supposed to be deities of Crime, of Misfortunes,
of Disease. These wicked Spirits naturally encourage evil rather than
good. An energetic friend of mine was sent to a district in India where
smallpox was specially prevalent, and where one of the principal Temples
was dedicated to the Goddess of that disease. He had the people
vaccinated, in spite of some opposition, and the disease disappeared, much
to the astonishment of the natives. But the priests of the Deity of
Smallpox were not disconcerted; only they deposed the Image of their
discomfited Goddess, and petitioned my friend for some emblem of himself
which they might install in her stead.
We who are fortunate enough to live in this comparatively enlightened
century hardly realize how our ancestors suffered from their belief in the
existence of mysterious and malevolent beings; how their life was
embittered and overshadowed by these awful apprehensions.
As men, however, have risen in civilization, their religion has risen with
them; they have by degrees acquired higher and purer conceptions of divine
We are only just beginning to realize that a loving and merciful Father
would not resent honest error, not even perhaps the attribution to him of
such odious injustice. Yet what can be clearer than Christ's teaching on
this point. He impressed it over and over again on his disciples. "The
letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
"If," says Ruskin, "for every rebuke that we titter of men's vices, we put
forth a claim upon their hearts; if, for every assertion of God's demands
from them, we should substitute a display of His kindness to them; if side
by side, with every warning of death, we could exhibit proofs and promises
of immortality; if, in fine, instead of assuming the being of an awful
Deity, which men, though they cannot and dare not deny, are always
unwilling, sometimes unable, to conceive; we were to show them a near,
visible, inevitable, out all-beneficent Deity, whose presence makes the
earth itself a heaven, I think there would be fewer deaf children sitting
in the market-place."
But it must not be supposed that those who doubt whether the ultimate
truth of the Universe can be expressed in human words, or whether, even if
it could, we should be able to comprehend it, undervalue the importance of
religious study. Quite the contrary. Their doubts arise not from pride,
but from humility: not because they do not appreciate divine truth, but on
the contrary they doubt whether we can appreciate it sufficiently, and are
sceptical whether the infinite can be reduced to the finite.
We may be sure that whatever may be right about religion, to quarrel over
it must be wrong. "Let others wrangle," said St. Augustine, "I will
Those who suspend their judgment are not on that account sceptics, and it
is often those who think they know most, who are especially troubled by
doubts and anxiety.
It was Wordsworth who wrote
"Great God, I had rather be
A Pagan suckled in some creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn."
In religion, as with children at night, it is darkness and ignorance which
create dread; light and love cast out fear.
In looking forward to the future we may fairly hope with Ruskin that "the
charities of more and more widely extended peace are preparing the way for
a Christian Church which shall depend neither on ignorance for its
continuance, nor on controversy for its progress, but shall reign at once
in light and love."
 Arnold. _Pearls of the Faith_.
THE HOPE OF PROGRESS.
"To what then may we not look forward, when a spirit of scientific
inquiry shall have spread through those vast regions in which the
progress of civilization, its sure precursor, is actually commenced
and in active progress? And what may we not expect from the exertions
of powerful minds called into action under circumstances totally
different from any which have yet existed in the world, and over an
extent of territory far surpassing that which has hitherto produced
the whole harvest of human intellect."
THE HOPE OF PROGRESS.
There are two lines, if not more, in which we may look forward with hope
to progress in the future. In the first place, increased knowledge of
nature, of the properties of matter, and of the phenomena which surround
us, may afford to our children advantages far greater even than those
which we ourselves enjoy. Secondly, the extension and improvement of
education, the increasing influence of Science and Art, of Poetry and
Music, of Literature and Religion,--of all the powers which are tending to
good, will, we may reasonably hope, raise man and make him more master of
himself, more able to appreciate and enjoy his advantages, and to realize
the truth of the Italian proverb, that wherever light is, there is joy.
One consideration which has greatly tended to retard progress has been the
floating idea that there was some sort of ingratitude, and even impiety,
in attempting to improve on what Divine Providence had arranged for us.
Thus Prometheus was said to have incurred the wrath of Jove for bestowing
on mortals the use of fire; and other improvements only escaped similar
punishment when the ingenuity of priests attributed them to the special
favor of some particular deity. This feeling has not even yet quite died
out. Even I can remember the time when many excellent persons had a
scruple or prejudice against the use of chloroform, because they fancied
that pain was ordained under certain circumstances.
We are told that in early Saxon days Edwin, King of Northumbria, called
his nobles and his priests around him, to discuss whether a certain
missionary should be heard or not. The king was doubtful. At last there
rose an old chief, and said:--"You know, O King, how, on a winter evening,
when you are sitting at supper in your hall, with your company around you,
when the night is dark and dreary, when the rain and the snow rage
outside, when the hall inside is lighted and warm with a blazing fire,
sometimes it happens that a sparrow flies into the bright hall out of the
dark night, flies through the hall and then flies out at the other end
into the dark night again. We see him for a few moments, but we know not
whence he came nor whither he goes in the blackness of the storm outside.
So is the life of man. It appears for a short space in the warmth and
brightness of this life, but what came before this life, or what is to
follow this life, we know not. If, therefore, these new teachers can
enlighten us as to the darkness that went before, and the darkness that is
to come after, let us hear what they have to teach us."
It is often said, however, that great and unexpected as recent discoveries
have been, there are certain ultimate problems which must ever remain
unsolved. For my part, I would prefer to abstain from laying down any such
limitations. When Park asked the Arabs what became of the sun at night,
and whether the sun was always the same, or new each day, they replied
that such a question was foolish, being entirely beyond the reach of human
M. Comte, in his _Cours de Philosophie Positive_, as recently as 1842,
laid it down as an axiom regarding the heavenly bodies, "We may hope to
determine their forms, distances, magnitude, and movements, but we shall
never by any means be able to study their chemical composition or
mineralogical structure." Yet within a few years this supposed
impossibility has been actually accomplished, showing how unsafe it is to
limit the possibilities of science. 
It is, indeed, as true now as in the time of Newton, that the great ocean
of truth lies undiscovered before us. I often wish that some President of
the Royal Society, or of the British Association, would take for the theme
of his annual address "The things we do not know." Who can say on the
verge of what discoveries we are perhaps even now standing! It is
extraordinary how slight a margin may stand for years between Man and some
important improvement. Take the case of the electric light, for instance.
It had been known for years that if a carbon rod be placed in an exhausted
glass receiver, and a current of electricity be passed through it the
carbon glowed with an intense light, but on the other hand it became so
hot that the glass burst. The light, therefore, was useless, because the
lamp burst as soon as it was lighted. Edison hit on the idea that if you
made the carbon filament fine enough, you would get rid of the heat and
yet have abundance of light. Edison's right to his patent has been
contested on this very ground. It has been said that the mere introduction
of so small a difference as the replacement of a thin rod by a fine
filament was so slight an item that it could not be patented. The
improvements by Swan, Lane Fox, and others, though so important as a
whole, have been made step by step.
Or take again the discovery of anaesthetics. At the beginning of the
century Sir Humphrey discovered laughing gas, as it was then called. He
found that it produced complete insensibility to pain and yet did not
injure health. A tooth was actually taken out under its influence, and of
course without suffering. These facts were known to our chemists, they
were explained to the students in our great hospitals, and yet for half a
century the obvious application occurred to no one. Operations continued
to be performed as before, patients suffered the same horrible tortures,
and yet the beneficent element was in our hands, its divine properties
were known, but it never occurred to any one to make use of it.
I may give one more illustration. Printing is generally said to have been
discovered in the fifteenth century; and so it was for all practical
purposes. But in fact printing was known long before. The Romans used
stamps; on the monuments of Assyrian kings the name of the reigning
monarch may be found duly printed. What then is the difference? One
little, but all-important step. The real inventor of printing was the man
into whose mind flashed the fruitful idea of having separate stamps for
each letter, instead of for separate words. How slight seems the
difference, and yet for 3000 years the thought occurred to no one. Who can
tell what other discoveries, as simple and yet as far-reaching, lie at
this very moment under our very eyes!
Archimedes said that if you would give him room to stand on, he would move
the earth. One truth leads to another; each discovery renders possible
another, and, what is more, a higher.
We are but beginning to realize the marvelous range and complexity of
Nature. I have elsewhere called attention to this with special reference
to the problematical organs of sense possessed by many animals. 
There is every reason to hope that future studies will throw much light on
these interesting structures. We may, no doubt, expect much from the
improvement in our microscopes, the use of new re-agents, and of
mechanical appliances; but the ultimate atoms of which matter is composed
are so infinitesimally minute, that it is difficult to foresee any manner
in which we may hope for a final solution of these problems.
Loschmidt, who has since been confirmed by Stoney and Sir W. Thomson,
calculates that each of the ultimate atoms of matter is at most 1/50000000
of an inch in diameter. Under these circumstances we cannot, it would
seem, hope at present for any great increase of our knowledge of atoms by
improvements in the microscope. With our present instruments we can
perceive lines ruled on glass which are 1/90000 of an inch apart; but
owing to the properties of light itself, it would appear that we cannot
hope to be able to perceive objects which are much less than 1/100000 of
an inch in diameter. Our microscopes may, no doubt, be improved, but the
limitation lies not in the imperfection of our optical appliances, but in
the nature of light itself.
It has been calculated that a particle of albumen 1/80000 of an inch in
diameter contains no less than 125,000,000 of molecules. In a simpler
compound the number would be much greater; in water, for instance, no less
than 8,000,000,000. Even then, if we could construct microscopes far more
powerful than any which we now possess, they could not enable us to obtain
by direct vision any idea of the ultimate organization of matter. The
smallest sphere of organic matter which could be clearly defined with our
most powerful microscopes may be, in reality, very complex; may be built
up of many millions of molecules, and it follows that there may be an
almost infinite number of structural characters in organic tissues which
we can at present foresee no mode of examining. 
Again, it has been shown that animals hear sounds which are beyond the
range of our hearing, and I have proved they can perceive the ultra-violet
rays, which are invisible to our eyes. 
Now, as every ray of homogeneous light which we can perceive at all,
appears to us as a distinct color, it becomes probable that these
ultra-violet rays must make themselves apparent to animals as a distinct
and separate color (of which we can form no idea), but as different from
the rest as red is from yellow, or green from violet. The question also
arises whether white light to these creatures would differ from our white
light in containing this additional color.
These considerations cannot but raise the reflection how different the
world may--I was going to say must--appear to other animals from what it
does to us. Sound is the sensation produced on us when the vibrations of
the air strike on the drum of our ear. When they are few, the sound is
deep; as they increase in number, it becomes shriller and shriller; but
when they reach 40,000 in a second, they cease to be audible. Light is the
effect produced on us when waves of light strike on the eye. When 400
millions of millions of vibrations of ether strike the retina in a second,
they produce red, and as the number increases the color passes into
orange, then yellow, green, blue, and violet. But between 40,000
vibrations in a second and 400 millions of millions we have no organ of
sense capable of receiving the impression. Yet between these limits any
number of sensations may exist. We have five senses, and sometimes fancy
that no others are possible. But it is obvious that we cannot measure the
infinite by our own narrow limitations.
Moreover, looking at the question from the other side, we find in animals
complex organs of sense, richly supplied with nerves, but the function of
which we are as yet powerless to explain. There may be fifty other senses
as different from ours as sound is from sight; and even within the
boundaries of our own senses there may be endless sounds which we cannot
hear, and colors, as different as red from green, of which we have no
conception. These and a thousand other questions remain for solution. The
familiar world which surrounds us may be a totally different place to
other animals. To them it may be full of music which we cannot hear, of
color which we cannot see, of sensations which we cannot conceive. To
place stuffed birds and beasts in glass cases, to arrange insects in
cabinets, and dried plants in drawers, is merely the drudgery and
preliminary of study; to watch their habits, to understand their relations
to one another, to study their instincts and intelligence, to ascertain
their adaptations and their relations to the forces of Nature, to realize
what the world appears to them; these constitute, as it seems to me at
least, the true interest of natural history, and may even give us the clue
to senses and perceptions of which at present we have no conception. 
From this point of view the possibilities of progress seem to me to be
So far again as the actual condition of man is concerned, the fact that
there has been some advance cannot, I think, be questioned.
In the Middle Ages, for instance, culture and refinement scarcely existed
beyond the limits of courts, and by no means always there. The life in
English, French, and German castles was rough and almost barbarous. Mr.
Galton has expressed the opinion, which I am not prepared to question,
that the population of Athens, taken as a whole, was as superior to us as
we are to Australian savages. But even if that be so, our civilization,
such as it is, is more diffused, so that unquestionably the general
European level is much higher.
Much, no doubt, is owing to the greater facility of access to the
literature of our country, to that literature, in the words of Macaulay,
"the brightest, the purest, the most durable of all the glories of our
country; to that Literature, so rich in precious truth and precious
fiction; to that Literature which boasts of the prince of all poets, and
of the prince of all philosophers; to that Literature which has exercised
an influence wider than that of our commerce, and mightier than that of
Few of us make the most of our minds. The body ceases to grow in a few
years; but the mind, if we will let it, may grow as long as life lasts.
The onward progress of the future will not, we may be sure, be confined to
mere material discoveries. We feel that we are on the road to higher
mental powers; that problems which now seem to us beyond the range of
human thought will receive their solution, and open the way to still
further advance. Progress, moreover, we may hope, will be not merely
material, not merely mental, but moral also.
It is natural that we should feel a pride in the beauty of England, in the
size of our cities, the magnitude of our commerce, the wealth of our
country, the vastness of our Empire. But the true glory of a nation does
not consist in the extent of its dominion, in the fertility of the soil,
or the beauty of Nature, but rather in the moral and intellectual
pre-eminence of the people.
And yet how few of us, rich or poor, have made ourselves all we might be.
If he does his best, as Shakespeare says, "What a piece of work is man!
How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! in form and movement, how
express and admirable!" Few indeed, as yet, can be said to reach this high
The Hindoos have a theory that after death animals live again in a
different form; those that have done well in a higher, those that have
done ill in a lower grade. To realize this is, they find, a powerful
incentive to a virtuous life. But whether it be true of a future life or
not, it is certainly true of our present existence. If we do our best for
a day, the next morning we shall rise to a higher life; while if we give
way to our passions and temptations, we take with equal certainty a step
downward toward a lower nature.
It is an interesting illustration of the Unity of Man, and an
encouragement to those of us who have no claims to genius, that, though of
course there have been exceptions, still on the whole, periods of progress
have generally been those when a nation has worked and felt together; the
advance has been due not entirely to the efforts of a few great men, but
also of a thousand little men; not to a single genius, but to a national
Think, indeed, what might be.
"Ah! when shall all men's good
Be each man's rule, and universal Peace
Lie like a shaft of light across the land,
And like a lane of beams athwart the sea,
Thro' all the circle of the golden year." 
Our life is surrounded with mystery, our very world is a speck in
boundless space; and not only the period of our own individual life, but
that of the whole human race is, as it were, but a moment in the eternity
of time. We cannot imagine any origin, nor foresee the conclusion.
But though we may not as yet perceive any line of research which can give
us a clue to the solution, in another sense we may hold that every
addition to our knowledge is one small step toward the great revelation.
Progress may be more slow, or more rapid. It may come to others and not to
us. It will not come to us if we do not strive to deserve it. But come it
"Yet one thing is there that ye shall not slay,
Even thought, that fire nor iron can affright." 
The future of man is full of hope, and who can foresee the limits of his
 Lubbock. _Fifty Years of Science_.
 _The Senses of Animals_.
 Lubbock. _Fifty Years of Science_.
 _Ants, Bees, and Wasps_.
 Lubbock. _The Senses of Animals_.
THE DESTINY OF MAN.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."--ROMANS
THE DESTINY OF MAN.
But though we have thus a sure and certain hope of progress for the race,
still, as far as man is individually concerned, with advancing years we
gradually care less and less, for many things which gave us the greatest
pleasure in youth. On the other hand, if our time has been well used, if
we have warmed both hands wisely "before the fire of life," we may gain
even more than we lose. If our strength becomes less, we feel also the
less necessity for exertion. Hope is gradually replaced by memory: and
whether this adds to our happiness or not depends on what our life has
There are of course some lives which diminish in value as old age
advances, in which one pleasure fades after another, and even those which
remain gradually lose their zest; but there are others which gain in
richness and peace all, and more, than that of which time robs them.
The pleasures of youth may excel in keenness and in zest, but they have at
the best a tinge of anxiety and unrest; they cannot have the fulness and
depth which may accompany the consolations of age, and are amongst the
richest rewards of an unselfish life.
For as with the close of the day, so with that of life; there may be
clouds, and yet if the horizon is clear, the evening may be beautiful.
Old age has a rich store of memories. Life is full of
"Joys too exquisite to last,
And yet more exquisite when past." 
Swedenborg imagines that in heaven the angels are advancing continually to
the spring-time of their youth, so that those who have lived longest are
really the youngest; and have we not all had friends who seem to fulfil
this idea? who are in reality--that is in mind--as fresh as a child: of
whom it may be said with more truth than of Cleopatra that
"Age cannot wither nor custom stale
Their infinite variety."
"When I consider old age," says Cicero, "I find four causes why it is
thought miserable: one, that it calls us away from the transaction of
affairs; the second, that it renders the body more feeble; the third, that
it deprives us of almost all pleasures; the fourth, that it is not very
far from death. Of these causes let us see, if you please, how great and
how reasonable each of them is."
To be released from the absorbing affairs of life, to feel that one has
earned a claim to leisure and repose, is surely in itself no evil.
To the second complaint against old age, I have already referred in
speaking of Health.
The third is that it has no passions. "O noble privilege of age! if indeed
it takes from us that which is in youth our greatest defect." But the
higher feelings of our nature are not necessarily weakened; or rather,
they may become all the brighter, being purified from the grosser elements
of our lower nature.
Then, indeed, it might be said that "Man is the sun of the world; more
than the real sun. The fire of his wonderful heart is the only light and
heat worth gauge or measure." 
"Single," says Manu, "is each man born into the world; single he dies;
single he receives the rewards of his good deeds; and single the
punishment of his sins. When he dies his body lies like a fallen tree upon
the earth, but his virtue accompanies his soul. Wherefore let Man harvest
and garner virtue, that so he may have an inseparable companion in that
gloom which all must pass through, and which it is so hard to traverse."
Is it not extraordinary that many men will deliberately take a road which
they know is, to say the least, not that of happiness? That they prefer to
make others miserable, rather than themselves happy?
Plato, in the Phaedrus, explains this by describing Man as a Composite
Being, having three natures, and compares him to a pair of winged horses
and a charioteer. "Of the two horses one is noble and of noble origin, the
other ignoble and of ignoble origin; and the driving, as might be
expected, is no easy matter." The noble steed endeavors to raise the
chariot, but the ignoble one struggles to drag it down.
"Man," says Shelly, "is an instrument over which a series of external and
internal impressions are driven, like the alternations of an ever-changing
wind over an Aeolian lyre, which move it by their motion to ever-changing
Cicero mentions the approach of death as the fourth drawback of old age.
To many minds the shadow of the end is ever present, like the coffin in
the Egyptian feast, and overclouds all the sunshine of life. But ought we
so to regard death?
Shelly's beautiful lines,
"Life, like a Dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until death tramples it to fragments,"
contain, as it seems to me at least, a double error. Life need not stain
the white radiance of eternity; nor does death necessarily trample it to
Man has, says Coleridge,
"Three treasures,--love and light
And calm thoughts, regular as infants' breath;
And three firm friends, more sure than day and night,
Himself, his Maker, and the Angel Death."
Death is "the end of all, the remedy of many, the wish of divers men,
deserving better of no men than of those to whom she came before she was
It is often assumed that the journey to
"The undiscovered country from whose bourne
No traveler returns"
must be one of pain and suffering. But this is not so. Death is often
peaceful and almost painless.
Bede during his late illness was translating St. John's Gospel into
Anglo-Saxon, and the morning of his death his secretary, observing his
weakness, said, "There remains now only one chapter, and it seems
difficult to you to speak." "It is easy," said Bede; "take your pen and
write as fast as you can," At the close of the chapter the scribe said,
"It is finished," to which he replied, "Thou hast said the truth,
_consummatum est_." He then divided his little property among the
brethren, having done which he asked to be placed opposite to the place
where he usually prayed, said "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and
to the Holy Ghost," and as he pronounced the last words he expired.
Goethe died without any apparent suffering, having just prepared himself
to write, and expressed his delight at the return of spring.