Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Dish Of Orts by George MacDonald

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download A Dish Of Orts pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Perhaps the highest moral height which a man can reach, and at the same
time the most difficult of attainment, is the willingness to be
_nothing_ relatively, so that he attain that positive excellence which
the original conditions of his being render not merely possible, but
imperative. It is nothing to a man to be greater or less than
another--to be esteemed or otherwise by the public or private world in
which he moves. Does he, or does he not, behold, and love, and live, the
unchangeable, the essential, the divine? This he can only do according
as God hath made him. He can behold and understand God in the least
degree, as well as in the greatest, only by the godlike within him; and
he that loves thus the good and great, has no room, no thought, no
necessity for comparison and difference. The truth satisfies him. He
lives in its absoluteness. God makes the glow-worm as well as the star;
the light in both is divine. If mine be an earth-star to gladden the
wayside, I must cultivate humbly and rejoicingly its green earth-glow,
and not seek to blanch it to the whiteness of the stars that lie in the
fields of blue. For to deny God in my own being is to cease to behold
him in any. God and man can meet only by the man's becoming that which
God meant him to be. Then he enters into the house of life, which is
greater than the house of fame. It is better to be a child in a green
field than a knight of many orders in a state ceremonial.

"One biography may help conjecture or satisfy reason concerning the
story of a thousand unrecorded lives. And how few even of the deserving
among the multitude can deserve, as 'dear sons of memory,' to be shrined
in the public heart. Few of us die unwept, but most of us unwritten. We
shall find a grave--less certainly a tombstone--and with much less
likelihood a biographer. Those 'bright particular' stars that at evening
look towards us from afar, yet still are individual in the distance, are
at clearest times but about a thousand; but the milky lustre that runs
through mid heaven is composed of a million million lights, which are
not the less separate because seen undistinguishably. Absorbed, not
lost, in the multitude of the unrecorded, our private dear ones make
part in this mild, blissful shining of the 'general assembly,' the great
congregation of the skies. Thus the past is aglow with the unwritten,
the nameless. The leaders, sons of fame, conspicuous in lustre, eminent
in place; these are the few, whose great individuality burns with
distinct, starry light through the dark of ages. Such stars, without the
starry way, would not teach us the vastness of heaven; and the 'way,'
without these, were not sufficient to gladden and glorify the night with
pomp of Hierarchical Ascents of Domination."

There are many passages in this essay with which the reviewer would be
glad to enrich his notice of the book, but limitation of space, and
perhaps justice to the essay itself, which ought to be read in its own
completeness, forbid. Mr. Lynch looks to the heart of the matter, and
makes one put the question--"Would not a biography written by Mr. Lynch
himself be a valuable addition to this kind of literature?" His would
not be an interesting account of outward events and relationships and
progress, nor even a succession of revelations of inward conditions, but
we should expect to find ourselves elevated by him to a point of view
from which the life of the man would assume an artistic individuality,
as it were an isolation of existence; for the supposed author could not
choose for his regard any biography for which this would be impossible;
or in which the reticulated nerves of purpose did not combine the whole,
with more or less of success, into a true and remarkable unity. One
passage more from this essay,--

"Biography, then, makes life known to us as more wealthy in character,
and much more remarkable in its every-day stories, than we had deemed
it. Another good it does us is this. It introduces us to some of our
most agreeable and stimulative friendships. People may be more
beneficially intimate with one they never saw than even with a neighbour
or brother. Many a solitary, puzzled, incommunicative person, has found
society provided, his riddle read, and his heart's secret, that longed
and strove for utterance, outspoken for him in a biography. And both a
love purer than any yet entertained may be originated, and a pure but
ungratified love already existing, find an object, by the visit of a
biography. In actual life you see your friend to-day, and will see him
again to-morrow or next year; but in the dear book, you have your friend
and all his experiences at once and ever. He is with you wholly, and may
be with you at any time. He lives for you, and has already died for you,
to give finish to the meaning, fulness, and sanctity, to the comfort of
his days. He is mysteriously above as well as before you, by this fact,
that he has died. Thus your intimate is your superior, your solace, but
your support, too, and an example of the victory to which he calls you.
His end, or her end, is our own in view, and the flagging spirit
revives. We see the goal, and gird our loins anew for the race. Or,
speaking of things minor, there is fresh prospect of the game, there is
companionship in the hunt, and spirit for the winning. Such biography,
too, is a mirror in which we see ourselves; and we see that we may trim
or adorn, or that the plain signs of our deficient health or ill-ruled
temper may set us to look for, and to use the means of improvement. But
such a mirror is as a water one; in which first you may see your face,
and which then becomes for you a bath to wash away the stains you see,
and to offer its pure, cool stream as a restorative and cosmetic for
your wrinkles and pallors. And what a pleasure there will be sometimes
as we peruse a biography, in finding another who is so like ourself
--saying the same things, feeling the same dreads, and shames, and
flutterings; hampered and harassed much as poor self is. Then, the
escapes of such a friend give us hope of deliverance for ourself; and
his better, or if not better, yet rewarded, patience, freshens our eye
and sinews, and puts a staff into our hand. And certain seals of
impossibility that we had put on this stone, and on that, beneath which
our hopes lay buried, are by this biography, as by a visiting angel,
effectually broken, and our hopes arise again. Our view of life becomes
more complete because we see the whole of his, or of hers. We view life,
too, in a more composed, tender way. Wavering faith, in its chosen
determining principles, is confirmed. In quiet comparison of ourselves
with one of our own class, or one who has made the mark for which we are
striving, we are shamed to have done no better, and stirred to attempt
former things again, or fresh ones in a stronger and more patient

It is, indeed, well with him who has found a friend whose spirit touches
his own and illuminates it.

"I missed him when the sun began to bend;
I found him not when I had lost his rim;
With many tears I went in search of him,
Climbing high mountains which did still ascend,
And gave me echoes when I called my friend;
Through cities vast and charnel-houses grim,
And high cathedrals where the light was dim;
Through books, and arts, and works without an end--
But found him not, the friend whom I had lost.
And yet I found him, as I found the lark,
A sound in fields I heard but could not mark;
I found him nearest when I missed him most,
I found him in my heart, a life in frost,
A light I knew not till my soul was dark."

Next to possessing a true, wise, and victorious friend seated by your
fireside, it is blessed to have the spirit of such a friend
embodied--for spirit can assume any embodiment--on your bookshelves. But
in the latter case the friendship is all on one side. For full
friendship your friend must love you, and know that you love him. Surely
these biographies are not merely spiritual links connecting us in the
truest manner with past times and vanished minds, and thus producing
strong half friendships. Are they not likewise links connecting us with
a future, wherein these souls shall dawn upon ours, rising again from
the death of the past into the life of our knowledge and love? Are not
these biographies letters of introduction, forwarded, but not yet
followed by him whom they introduce, for whose step we listen, and whose
voice we long to hear; and whom we shall yet meet somewhere in the
Infinite? Shall I not one day, "somewhere, somehow," clasp the large
hand of Novalis, and, gazing on his face, compare his features with
those of Saint John?

The essay on light literature must be left to the spontaneous
appreciation of those who are already acquainted with this book, or who
may be induced, by the representations here made, to become acquainted
with it. Before proceeding to notice the first essay in the little
volume, namely, that on Poetry, its subject suggests the fact of the
publication of a second edition of the Memorials of Theophilus Trinal,
by the same author, a portion of which consists of interspersed poems.
These are of true poetic worth; and although in some cases wanting in
rhythmic melody, yet in most of these cases they possess a wild and
peculiar rhythm of their own. The reviewer knows of some whose hearts
this book has made glad, and doubtless there are many such.

The essay on Poetry is itself poetic throughout in its expression. And
how else shall Poetry be described than by Poetry? What form shall
embrace and define the highest? Must it not be self-descriptive as
self-existent? For what man is to this planet, what the eye is to man
himself, Poetry is to Literature. Yet one can hardly help wishing that
the poetic forms in this Essay were fewer and less minute, and the whole
a little more scientific; though it is a question how far we have a
right to ask for this. As you open it, however, the pages seem
absolutely to sparkle, as if strewn with diamond sparks. It is no dull,
metallic, surface lustre, but a shining from within, as well as from the
superficies. Still one cannot deny that fancy is too prominent in Mr.
Lynch's writings. It is true that his Fancy is the fairy attendant on
his Imagination, which latter uses the former for her own higher ends;
and that there is little or no _mere_ fancy to be found in his books;
for if you look below the surface-form you find a truth. But it were to
be desired that the Truth clothed herself always in the living forms of
Imagination, and thus walked forth amongst her worshippers, looking on
them from living eyes, rather than that she should show herself through
the windows of fancy. Sometimes there may be an offence against taste,
as in page 20; sometimes an image may be expanded too much, and
sometimes the very exuberance of imaginative fancy (if the combination
be correct) may lead to an association of images that suggests
incongruity. Still the essay is abundantly beautiful and true. The
poetical quotations are not isolated, or exposed to view as specimens,
but are worked into the web of the prose like the flowers in the damask,
and do their part in the evolution of the continuous thought.

"If poetry, as light from the heart of God, is for our heart, that we
may brighten and distinguish individual things; if it is to transfigure
for us the round, dusk world as by an inner radiance; if it is to
present human life and history as Rembrandt pictures, in which darkness
serves and glorifies light; if, like light, formless in its essence, all
things shapen towards the perfection of their forms under its influence;
if, entering as through crevices in single beams, it makes dimmest
places cheerful and sacred with its golden touch: then must the heart of
the Poet in which this true light shineth be as a hospice on the
mountain pathways of the world, and his verse must be the lamp seen from
far that burns to tell us where bread and shelter, drink, fire, and
companionship, may be found; and he himself should have the
mountaineer's hardiness and resolution. From the heart as source, to the
heart in influence, Poetry comes. The inward, the upward, and the
onward, whether we speak of an individual or a nation, may not be
separated in our consideration. Deep and sacred imaginative meditations
are needed for the true earthward as well as for the heavenward progress
of men and peoples. And Poetry, whether old or new, streaming from the
heart moved by the powerful spirit of love, has influence on the heart
public and individual, and thence on the manners, laws, and institutions
of nations. If Poesy visit the length and breadth of a country after
years unfruitfully dull, coming like a showery fertilizing wind after
drought, the corners and the valley-hidings are visited too, and these
perhaps she now visits first, as these sometimes she has visited only.
For miles and for miles, the public corn, the bread of the nation's
life, is bettered; and in our own endeared spot, the roses, delight of
our individual eye and sense, yield us more prosperingly their colour
and their fragrance. For the universal sunshine which brightens a
thousand cities, beautifies ten thousand homesteads, and rejoices ten
times ten thousand hearts. And as rains in the mid season renew for
awhile the faded greenness of spring; and trees in fervent summers, when
their foliage has deepened or fully fixed its hue, bedeck themselves
through the fervency with bright midsummer shoots; so, by Poetry are the
youthful hues of the soul renewed, and truths that have long stood
full-foliaged in our minds, are by its fine influences empowered to put
forth fresh shoots. Thus age, which is a necessity for the body, may be
warded off as a disease from the soul, and we may be like the old man in
Chaucer, who had nothing hoary about him but his hairs--

"'Though I be hoor I fare as doth a tree
That blosmeth er the fruit ywoxen be,
The blosmy tree n' is neither drie ne ded:
I feel me nowhere hoor, but on my head.
Min herte and all my limmes ben as grene
As laurel through the yere is for to sene.'"

Hear our author again as to the calling of the poet:--

"To unite earthly love and celestial--'true to the kindred points of
heaven and home;' to reconcile time and eternity; to draw presage of
joy's victory from the delight of the secret honey dropping from the
clefts of rocky sorrow; _to harmonize our instinctive longings for the
definite and the infinite, in the ideal Perfect_; to read creation as a
human book of the heart, both plain and mystical, and divinely written:
such is the office fulfilled by best-loved poets. Their ladder of
celestial ascent must be fixed on its base, earth, if its top is to
securely rest on heaven."

Beautifully, too, does he describe the birth of Poetry; though one may
doubt its correctness, at least if attributed to the highest kind of

"When words of felt truth were first spoken by the first pair, in love
of their garden, their God, and one another, and these words were with
joyful surprise felt to be in their form and glow answerable to the
happy thought uttered; then Poetry sprang. And when the first Father and
first Mother, settling their soul upon its thought, found that thought
brighten; and when from it, as thus they mused, like branchlets from a
branch, or flowerets from their bud, other thoughts came, ranging
themselves by the exerted, yet painlessly exerted, power of the soul, in
an order felt to be beautiful, and of a sound pleasant in utterance to
ear and soul; being withal, through the sweetness of their impression on
the heart, fixed for memory's frequentest recurrence; then was the
world's first poem composed, and in the joyful flutter of a heart that
had thus become a maker, the maker of a 'thing of beauty,' like in
beauty even unto God's heaven, and trees, and flowers, the secret of
Poesy shone tremulously forth."

Whether this be so or not, the highest poetic feeling of which we are
now conscious springs not from the beholding of perfected beauty, but
from the mute sympathy which the creation with all its children
manifests with us in the groaning and travailing which looketh for the
sonship. Because of our need and aspiration, the snowdrop gives birth in
our hearts to a loftier spiritual and poetic feeling, than the rose most
complete in form, colour, and odour. The rose is of Paradise--the
snowdrop is of the striving, hoping, longing Earth. Perhaps our highest
poetry is the expression of our aspirations in the sympathetic forms of
visible nature. Nor is this merely a longing for a restored Paradise;
for even in the ordinary history of men, no man or woman that has fallen
can be restored to the position formerly occupied. Such must rise to a
yet higher place, whence they can behold their former standing far
beneath their feet. They must be restored by attaining something better
than they ever possessed before, or not at all. If the law be a
weariness, we must escape it by being filled with the spirit, for not
otherwise can we fulfil the law than by being above the law. There is
for us no escape, save as the Poet counsels us:--

"Is thy strait horizon dreary?
Is thy foolish fancy chill?
Change the feet that have grown weary,
For the wings that never will.
Burst the flesh and live the spirit;
Haunt the beautiful and far;
Thou hast all things to inherit,
And a soul for every star."

But the Reviewer must hasten to take leave, though unwillingly, of this
pleasing, earnest, and profitable book. Perhaps it could be wished that
the writer helped his readers a little more into the channel of his
thought; made it easier for them to see the direction in which he is
leading them; called out to them, "Come up hither," before he said, "I
will show you a thing." But the Reviewer says this with deference; and
takes his leave with the hope that Mr. Lynch will be listened to for two
good reasons: first, that he speaks the truth; last, that he has already
suffered for the Truth's sake.

THE HISTORY AND HEROES OF MEDICINE. [Footnote: By J. Rutherfurd Russell,

In this volume, Dr. Russell has not merely aimed at the production of a
book that might be serviceable to the Faculty, by which the history of
its own art is not at all sufficiently studied, but has aspired to the
far more difficult success of writing a history of medicine which shall
be readable to all who care for true history--that history, namely, in
which not merely growth and change are represented, but the secret
supplies and influences as well, which minister to the one and occasion
the other. If the difficulty has been greater (although with his
evidently wide sympathies and keen insight into humanity we doubt if it
has), the success is the more honourable; for a success it certainly is.
The partially biographical plan on which he has constructed his work has
no doubt aided in the accomplishment of this purpose; for it is much
easier to present the subject in its human relations, when its history
is given in connexion with the lives of those who were most immediately
associated with it. But it would be a great mistake to conclude from
this, that it is the less a history of the art itself; for no art or
science has life in itself, apart from the minds which foresee,
discover, and verify it. Whatever point in its progress it may have
reached, it will there remain until a new man appears, whose new
questions shall illicit new replies from nature--replies which are the
essential food of the science, by which it lives, grows, and makes
itself a history.

Nor must our readers suppose that because the book is readable, it is
therefore slight, either in material or construction. Much reading and
research have provided the material, while real thought and argument
have superintended the construction. Nor is it by any means without the
adornment that a poetic temperament and a keen sense of humour can

Naturally, the central life in the book is that of Lord Bacon, the man
who brought out of his treasures things both new and old. Up to him the
story gradually leads from the prehistoric times of Aesculapius, the
pathway first becoming plainly visible in the life and labours of
Hippocrates. His fine intellect and powers of acute observation afforded
the material necessary for the making of a true physician. The Greek
mind, partly, perhaps, from its artistic tendencies, seems to have been
peculiarly impatient of incomplete forms, and therefore, to have much
preferred the construction of a theory from the most shadowy material,
to the patient experiment and investigation necessary for the procuring
of the real substance; and Hippocrates, not knowing how to advance to a
theory by rational experiment, and too honest to invent one, assumes the
traditional theories, founded on the vaguest and most obtrusive
generalizations. Those which his experience taught him to reject, were
adopted and maintained by Galen and all who followed him for centuries,
the chief instance of progress being only the substitution by the
Arabians of some of the milder medicines now in use, for the terrible
and often fatal drugs employed by the Greek and Roman physicians. The
fanciful classification of diseases into four kinds--hot, cold, moist
and dry, with the corresponding arbitrary classification of remedies to
be administered by contraries, continued to be the only recognized
theory of medicine for many centuries after the Christian era.

But Lord Bacon, amongst other branches of knowledge which he considers
ill-followed, makes especial mention of medicine, which he would submit
to the same rules of observation and experiment laid down by him for the
advancement of learning in general. With regard to it, as with regard to
the discovery of all the higher laws of nature, he considers "that men
have made too untimely a departure, and too remote a recess from
particulars." Men have hurried to conclusions, and then argued from them
as from facts. Therefore let us have no traditional theories, and make
none for ourselves but such as are revealed in the form of laws to the
patient investigator, who has "straightened and held fast Proteus, that
he might be compelled to change his shapes," and so reveal his nature.
Hence one of the aspects in which Lord Bacon was compelled to appear was
that of a destroyer of what preceded. In this he resembled Cardan and
Paracelsus who went before him, and who like him pulled down, but could
not, like him, build up. He resembled them, however, in the possession
of another element of character, namely, that poetic imagination which
looks abroad into the regions of possibilities, and foresees or invents.
But in the case of the charlatan, the vaguest suggestions of his mind in
its favourite mood, is adopted as a theory all but proved, if not as a
direct revelation to the favoured individual; while the true thinker
seeks but an hypothesis corresponding in some measure to facts already
discovered, in order that he may have the suggestion of new experiments
and investigations in the course of his attempts to verify or disprove
the hypothesis. Lord Bacon considered hypothesis invaluable in the
discovery of truth, but he only used it as a board upon which to write
his questions to nature; or, to use another figure, hypothesis with him
is as the next stepping-stone in the swollen river, which he supposes to
be here or there, and so feels for with his staff. But it must be proved
before it be regarded as a law, and greatly corroborated before it be
even adopted as a theory. Cardan and Paracelsus were destroyers and
mystics only; they destroyed on the earth that they might build in the
air: Lord Bacon united both characters in the philosopher. He looked
abroad into the regions of the unknown, whence all knowledge comes; he
called wonder the seed of knowledge; but he would build nowhere but on
the earth--on the firm land of ascertained truth. That which kept him
right was his practical humanity. It was for the sake of delivering men
from the ills of life, by discovering the laws of the elements amidst
which that life must be led, that he laboured and thought. This object
kept him true, made him able to discover the very laws of discovery;
brought him so far into _rapport_ with the heart of nature herself,
that, like a physical prophet, his seeing could outspeed his knowing,
and behold a law--dimly, it is true, but yet behold it--long before his
intellect, which had to build bridges and find straw to make the bricks,
could dare to affirm its approach to the same conclusion. Truth to
humanity made him true to fact; and truth to fact made him true in

It was in this spirit of devotion to his kind that he said, "Therefore
here is the deficience which I find, that physicians have not ... set
down and delivered over certain experimental medicines for the cure of
particular diseases."

Dr. Russell's true insight into the relation of Lord Bacon to the
medical as well as to all science, has suggested the above remarks. What
our author chiefly desires is, that the same principles which made
medicine what it is, should be allowed to carry it yet further, and make
it what it ought to be, and must become. As he goes on to show, through
succeeding lives and theories, that just in proportion as these
principles have been followed--the principles of careful observation,
hypothesis, and experiment--have men made discoveries that have been
helpful to their fellow-men; while, on the other hand, the most
elaborate theories of the most popular physicians, which have owed their
birth to premature generalization and invention, have passed away, like
the crackling of thorns under a pot. Belonging to the latter class of
men, we have Stahl, Hoffman, Boerhaave, Cullen, and Brown; while to the
former belong Harvey, Sydenham, Jenner, and Hahnemann.

After the last name, there is no need to say that our author is a
homoeopath. Whatever may be our private opinion of the system, justice
requires that we should say at least that books such as these are quite
as open to refutation as to ridicule; for it is only a good argument
that is worth refuting by a better. But we fear there are few books on
this subject that treat of it with the calmness and fairness which would
incline an honest homoeopath to put them into the hands of one of the
opposite party as an exposition of his opinions. There is no excitement
in these pages. They are the work of a man of liberal education, of
refinement, and of truthfulness, with power to understand, and facility
to express; one of whose main objects is to vindicate for homoeopathy,
on the most rightful of all grounds--those on which alone science can
stand--on the ground, that is, of laws discovered by observation and
experiment--the place not only of a fact in the history of medicine, but
the right to be considered as one of the greatest advances towards the
establishment of a science of curing. Certainly if he and the rest of
its advocates should fail utterly in this, the heresy will yet have
established for itself a memorial in history, as one of the most
powerful illusions that have ever deceived both priests and people. But
the chief advantage which the system will derive from Dr. Russell's book
will spring, it seems to us, from his attempt--a successful one it must
be confessed--to prove _that homoeopathy is a development, and not a
mere reaction_; that it has its roots far down in the history of
science. The first mention of it in the book, however, is made for the
purpose of disavowing the claim, advanced by many homoeopathists, to
Hippocrates as one of their order. Not to mention the curious story
about Galen and the patient ill from an overdose of theriacum, who was
cured by another dose of the same substance, nor the ridicule of the
doctrine of contraries by Paracelsus and Van Helmont, nor the fact that
the _contraries_ of Boerhaave, by his own explanation, merely signify
whatever substances prove their contrariety to the disease by curing
it--to pass by these, we find one of the main objects of homoeopathy,
the discovery of specifics, insisted upon by Lord Bacon in his words
already quoted. Not that homoeopaths, while they depend upon specifics,
believe that there is any such thing as a specific for a disease--a
disease being as various as the individuality of the human beings whom
it may attack; but that an approximate specific may be found for every
well-defined stage in every individual disease; a disease having its
process of change, development, and decline, like a vegetable or animal
life. Besides an equally strong desire for specifics, and a determined
opposition to compound medicines, Boyle, who was born the year of
Bacon's death, and inherited the mantle of the great philosopher,
manifests a strong belief in the power of the infinitesimal dose.
Neither Bacon nor Boyle, however, were medical men by profession. But
Sydenham followed them, according to Dr. Russell, in their tendency
towards specifics. It is almost needless to mention Jenner's victory
over the small-pox as, in the eyes of the homoeopaths, a grand step in
the development of their system. It gives Dr. Russell an opportunity of
showing in a strong instance that the best discoveries for delivering
mankind from those ills even of which they are most sensible have been
received with derision, with more than bare unbelief. This is one of his
objects in the book, and while it is no proof whatever of the truth of
homoepathy, it shows at least that the opposition manifested to it is no
proof of its falsehood. This is enough; for it seeks to be tried on its
own merits; and its foes are bound to accord it this when it is
advocated in such an honest and dignified manner as in the book before

The need of man, in physics as well as in higher things, is the guide to
truth. With evils of any sort we need no further acquaintance than may
be gained in the endeavour to combat them. The discovery of what will
cure diseases seems the only natural mode of rising by generalization to
the discovery of the laws of cure and the nature of disease.

Those portions of the volume which discuss the influence of Christianity
on the healing art, likewise those relating to the different feelings
with which at different times in different countries physicians have
been regarded, are especially interesting.

The only portion of the book we should be inclined to find fault with,
as to the quality of the thought expended upon it, is the dissertation
in the second chapter on the [Greek: psuchae] and [Greek: pneuma]. We
doubt likewise whether the author gives the Archaeus of Van Helmont
quite fair play; but these are questions so purely theoretical that they
scarcely admit of discussion here. We rise from the perusal of the
book, whatever may be our feelings with regard to the truth or falsehood
of the system it advocates, with increased respect for the profession of
medicine, with enlarged hope for its future, and with a strong feeling
of the nobility conferred by the art upon every one of its practitioners
who is aware of the dignity of his calling.

WORDSWORTH'S POETRY [Footnote: Delivered extempore at Manchester.]

The history of the poetry of Wordsworth is a true reflex of the man
himself. The life of Wordsworth was not outwardly eventful, but his
inner life was full of conflict, discovery, and progress. His outward
life seems to have been so ordered by Providence as to favour the
development of the poetic life within. Educated in the country, and
spending most of his life in the society of nature, he was not subjected
to those violent external changes which have been the lot of some poets.
Perfectly fitted as he was to cope with the world, and to fight his way
to any desired position, he chose to retire from it, and in solitude to
work out what appeared to him to be the true destiny of his life.

The very element in which the mind of Wordsworth lived and moved was a
Christian pantheism. Allow me to explain the word. The poets of the Old
Testament speak of everything as being the work of God's hand:--We are
the "work of his hand;" "The world was made by him." But in the New
Testament there is a higher form used to express the relation in which
we stand to him--"We are his offspring;" not the work of his hand, but
the children that came forth from his heart. Our own poet Goldsmith,
with the high instinct of genius, speaks of God as having "loved us into
being." Now I think this is not only true with regard to man, but true
likewise with regard to the world in which we live. This world is not
merely a thing which God hath made, subjecting it to laws; but it is an
expression of the thought, the feeling, the heart of God himself. And so
it must be; because, if man be the child of God, would he not feel to be
out of his element if he lived in a world which came, not from the heart
of God, but only from his hand? This Christian pantheism, this belief
that God is in everything, and showing himself in everything, has been
much brought to the light by the poets of the past generation, and has
its influence still, I hope, upon the poets of the present. We are not
satisfied that the world should be a proof and varying indication of the
intellect of God. That was how Paley viewed it. He taught us to believe
there is a God from the mechanism of the world. But, allowing all the
argument to be quite correct, what does it prove? A mechanical God, and
nothing more.

Let us go further; and, looking at beauty, believe that God is the first
of artists; that he has put beauty into nature, knowing how it will
affect us, and intending that it should so affect us; that he has
embodied his own grand thoughts thus that we might see them and be glad.
Then, let us go further still, and believe that whatever we feel in the
highest moments of truth shining through beauty, whatever comes to our
souls as a power of life, is meant to be seen and felt by us, and to be
regarded not as the work of his hand, but as the flowing forth of his
heart, the flowing forth of his love of us, making us blessed in the
union of his heart and ours.

Now, Wordsworth is the high priest of nature thus regarded. He saw God
present everywhere; not always immediately, in his own form, it is true;
but whether he looked upon the awful mountain-peak, sky-encompassed with
loveliness, or upon the face of a little child, which is as it were eyes
in the face of nature--in all things he felt the solemn presence of the
Divine Spirit. By Keats this presence was recognized only as the spirit
of beauty; to Wordsworth, God, as the Spirit of Truth, was manifested
through the forms of the external world.

I have said that the life of Wordsworth was so ordered as to bring this
out of him, in the forms of _his_ art, to the ears of men. In childhood
even his conscience was partly developed through the influences of
nature upon him. He thus retrospectively describes this special
influence of nature:--

One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat, tied to a willow tree,
Within a rocky cave, its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in,
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth,
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain echoes did my boat move on,
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep, till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,
And, growing still in stature, the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own,
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;
There in her mooring place I left my bark,
And through the meadows homeward went, in grave
And serious mood; but after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
There hung a darkness, call it solitude,
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea, or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.

Here we see that a fresh impulse was given to his life even in boyhood,
by the influence of nature. If we have had any similar experience, we
shall be able to enter into this feeling of Wordsworth's; if not, the
tale will be almost incredible.

One passage more I would refer to, as showing what Wordsworth felt with
regard to nature, in his youth; and the growth that took place in him in
consequence. Nature laid up in the storehouse of his mind and heart her
most beautiful and grand forms, whence they might be brought,
afterwards, to be put to the highest human service. I quote only a few
lines from that poem, deservedly a favourite with all the lovers of
Wordsworth, "Lines written above Tintern Abbey:"--

I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.--That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompense. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh, nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

In this little passage you see the growth of the influence of nature on
the mind of the poet. You observe, too, that nature passes into poetry;
that form is sublimed into speech. You see the result of the conjunction
of the mind of man, and the mind of God manifested in His works; spirit
coming to know the speech of spirit. The outflowing of spirit in nature
is received by the poet, and he utters again, in his form, what God has
already uttered in His. Wordsworth wished to give to man what he found
in nature. It was to him a power of good, a world of teaching, a
strength of life. He knew that nature was not his, and that his
enjoyment of nature was given to him that he might give it to man. It
was the birthright of man.

But what did Wordsworth find in nature? To begin with the lowest; he
found amusement in nature. Right amusement is a part of teaching; it is
the childish form of teaching, and if we can get this in nature, we get
something that lies near the root of good. In proof that Wordsworth
found this, I refer to a poem which you probably know well, "The Daisy."
The poet sits playing with the flower, and listening to the suggestions
that come to him of odd resemblances that this flower bears to other
things. He likens the daisy to--

A little cyclops, with one eye
Staring to threaten and defy,
That thought comes next--and instantly
The freak is over,
The shape will vanish--and behold
A silver shield with boss of gold,
That spreads itself, some faery bold
In fight to cover!

Look at the last stanza, too, and you will see how close amusement may
lie to deep and earnest thought:--

Bright _Flower_! for by that name at last
When all my reveries are past,
I call thee, and to that cleave fast,
Sweet silent creature!
That breath'st with me in sun and air,
Do thou, as thou art wont, repair
My heart with gladness, and a share
Of thy meek nature!

But Wordsworth found also joy in nature, which is a better thing than
amusement, and consequently easier to be found. We can often have joy
where we can have no amusement,--

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

* * * * *

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What Health the show to me had brought.

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

This is the joy of the eye, as far as that can be separated from the joy
of the whole nature; for his whole nature rejoiced in the joy of the
eye; but it was simply joy; there was no further teaching, no attempt to
go through this beauty and find the truth below it. We are not always to
be in that hungry, restless condition, even after truth itself. If we
keep our minds quiet and ready to receive truth, and _sometimes_ are
hungry for it, that is enough.

Going a step higher, you will find that he sometimes _draws_ a lesson
from nature, seeming almost to force a meaning from her. I do not object
to this, if he does not make too much of it as _existing_ in nature. It
is rather finding a meaning in nature that he brought to it. The meaning
exists, if not _there_. For illustration I refer to another poem.
Observe that Wordsworth found the lesson because he looked for it, and
_would_ find it.

This Lawn, a carpet all alive
With shadows flung from leaves--to strive
In dance, amid a press
Of sunshine, an apt emblem yields
Of Worldlings revelling in the fields
Of strenuous idleness.

* * * * *

Yet, spite of all this eager strife,
This ceaseless play, the genuine life
That serves the steadfast hours,
Is in the grass beneath, that grows
Unheeded, and the mute repose
Of sweetly-breathing flowers.

Whether he forced this lesson from nature, or not, it is a good lesson,
teaching a great many things with regard to life and work.

Again, nature sometimes flashes a lesson on his mind; _gives_ it to
him--and when nature gives, we cannot but receive. As in this sonnet
composed during a storm,--

One who was suffering tumult in his soul
Yet failed to seek the sure relief of prayer,
Went forth; his course surrendering to the care
Of the fierce wind, while mid-day lightnings prowl
Insiduously, untimely thunders growl;
While trees, dim-seen, in frenzied numbers tear
The lingering remnant of their yellow hair,
And shivering wolves, surprised with darkness, howl
As if the sun were not. He raised his eye
Soul-smitten; for, that instant, did appear
Large space (mid dreadful clouds) of purest sky,
An azure disc--shield of Tranquillity;
Invisible, unlooked-for, minister
Of providential goodness ever nigh!

Observe that he was not looking for this; he had not thought of praying;
he was in such distress that it had benumbed the out-goings of his
spirit towards the source whence alone sure comfort comes. He went out
into the storm; and the uproar in the outer world was in harmony with
the tumult within his soul. Suddenly a clear space in the sky makes him
feel--he has no time to think about it--that there is a shield of
tranquillity spread over him. For was it not as it were an opening up
into that region where there are no storms; the regions of peace,
because the regions of love, and truth, and purity,--the home of God

There is yet a higher and more sustained influence exercised by nature,
and that takes effect when she puts a man into that mood or condition in
which thoughts come of themselves. That is perhaps the best thing that
can be done for us, the best at least that nature can do. It is
certainly higher than mere intellectual teaching. That nature did this
for Wordsworth is very clear; and it is easily intelligible. If the
world proceeded from the imagination of God, and man proceeded from the
love of God, it is easy to believe that that which proceeded from the
imagination of God should rouse the best thoughts in the mind of a being
who proceeded from the love of God. This I think is the relation between
man and the world. As an instance of what I mean, I refer to one of
Wordsworth's finest poems, which he classes under the head of "Evening
Voluntaries." It was composed upon an evening of extraordinary splendour
and beauty:--

"Had this effulgence disappeared
With flying haste, I might have sent,
Among the speechless clouds, a look
Of blank astonishment;
But 'tis endued with power to stay,
And sanctify one closing day,
That frail Mortality may see--
What is?--ah no, but what _can_, be!
Time was when field and watery cove
With modulated echoes rang,
While choirs of fervent Angels sang
Their vespers in the grove;
Or, crowning, star-like, each some sovereign height,
Warbled, for heaven above and earth below,
Strains suitable to both. Such holy rite,
Methinks, if audibly repeated now
From hill or valley, could not move
Sublimer transport, purer love,
Than doth this silent spectacle--the gleam--
The shadow--and the peace supreme!

"No sound is uttered,--but a deep
And solemn harmony pervades
The hollow vale from steep to steep,
And penetrates the glades.

* * * * *

"Wings at my shoulders seem to play;
But, rooted here, I stand and gaze
On those bright steps that heaven-ward raise
Their practicable way.
Come forth, ye drooping old men, look abroad,
And see to what fair countries ye are bound!

* * * * *

"Dread Power! whom peace and calmness serve
No less than Nature's threatening voice,
From THEE, if I would swerve,
Oh, let Thy grace remind me of the light
Full early lost, and fruitlessly deplored;
Which, at this moment, on my waking sight
Appears to shine, by miracle restored;
My soul, though yet confined to earth,
Rejoices in a second birth!"

Picture the scene for yourselves; and observe how it moves in him the
sense of responsibility, and the prayer, that if he has in any matter
wandered from the right road, if he has forgotten the simplicity of
childhood in the toil of life, he may, from this time, remember the vow
that he now records--from this time to press on towards the things that
are unseen, but which are manifested through the things that are seen. I
refer you likewise to the poem "Resolution and Independence," commonly
called "The Leech Gatherer;" also to that grandest ode that has ever
been written, the "Ode on Immortality." You will find there, whatever
you may think of his theory, in the latter, sufficient proof that nature
was to him a divine teaching power. Do not suppose that I mean that man
can do without more teaching than nature's, or that a man with only
nature's teaching would have seen these things in nature. No, the soul
must be tuned to such things. Wordsworth could not have found such
things, had he not known something that was more definite and helpful to
him; but this known, then nature was full of teaching. When we
understand the Word of God, then we understand the works of God; when we
know the nature of an artist, we know his pictures; when we have known
and talked with the poet, we understand his poetry far better. To the
man of God, all nature will be but changeful reflections of the face of

Loving man as Wordsworth did, he was most anxious to give him this
teaching. How was he to do it? By poetry. Nature put into the crucible
of a loving heart becomes poetry. We cannot explain poetry
scientifically; because poetry is something beyond science. The poet may
be man of science, and the man of science may be a poet; but poetry
includes science, and the man who will advance science most, is the man
who, other qualifications being equal, has most of the poetic faculty in
him. Wordsworth defines poetry to be "the impassioned expression which
is on the face of science." Science has to do with the construction of
things. The casting of the granite ribs of the mighty earth, and all the
thousand operations that result in the manifestations on its surface,
this is the domain of science. But when there come the grass-bearing
meadows, the heaven-reared hills, the great streams that go ever
downward, the bubbling fountains that ever arise, the wind that wanders
amongst the leaves, and the odours that are wafted upon its wings; when
we have colour, and shape, and sound, then we have the material with
which poetry has to do. Science has to do with the underwork. For what
does this great central world exist, with its hidden winds and waters,
its upheavings and its downsinkings, its strong frame of rock, and its
heart of fire? What do they all exist for? Not for themselves surely,
but for the sake of this out-spreading world of beauty, that floats up,
as it were, to the surface of the shapeless region of force. Science has
to do with the one, and poetry with the other: poetry is "the
impassioned expression that is on the face of science." To illustrate it
still further. You are walking in the woods, and you find the first
primrose of the year. You feel almost as if you had found a child. You
know in yourself that you have found a new beauty and a new joy, though
you have seen it a thousand times before. It is a primrose. A little
flower that looks at me, thinks itself into my heart, and gives me a
pleasure distinct in itself, and which I feel as if I could not do
without. The impassioned expression on the face of this little outspread
flower is its childhood; it means trust, consciousness of protection,
faith, and hope. Science, in the person of the botanist, comes after
you, and pulls it to pieces to see its construction, and delights the
intellect; but the science itself is dead, and kills what it touches.
The flower exists not for it, but for the expression on its face, which
is its poetry,--that expression which you feel to mean a living thing;
that expression which makes you feel that this flower is, as it were,
just growing out of the heart of God. The intellect itself is but the
scaffolding for the uprearing of the spiritual nature.

It will make all this yet plainer, if you can suppose a human form to be
created without a soul in it. Divine science _has_ put it together, but
only for the sake of the outshining soul that shall cause it to live,
and move, and have a being of its own in God. When you see the face
lighted up with soul, when you recognize in it thought and feeling, joy
and love, then you know that here is the end for which it was made. Thus
you see the relation that poetry has to science; and you find that, to
speak in an apparent paradox, the surface is the deepest after all; for,
through the surface, for the sake of which all this building went on, we
have, as it were, a window into the depths of truth. There is not a form
that lives in the world, but is a window cloven through the blank
darkness of nothingness, to let us look into the heart, and feeling, and
nature of God. So the surface of things is the best and the deepest,
provided it is not mere surface, but the impassioned expression, for the
sake of which the science of God has thought and laboured.

Satisfied that this was the nature of poetry, and wanting to convey this
to the minds of his fellow-men, "What vehicle," Wordsworth may be
supposed to have asked himself, "shall I use? How shall I decide what
form of words to employ? Where am I to find the right language for
speaking such great things to men?" He saw that the poetry of the
eighteenth century (he was born in 1770) was not like nature at all, but
was an artificial thing, with no more originality in it than there would
be in a picture a hundred times copied, the copyists never reverting to
the original. You cannot look into this eighteenth century poetry,
excepting, of course, a great proportion of the poetry of Cowper and
Thompson, without being struck with the sort of agreement that nothing
should be said naturally. A certain set form and mode was employed for
saying things that ought never to have been said twice in the same way.
Wordsworth resolved to go back to the root of the thing, to the natural
simplicity of speech; he would have none of these stereotyped forms of
expression. "Where shall I find," said he, "the language that will be
simple and powerful?" And he came to the conclusion that the language of
the common people was the only language suitable for his purpose. Your
experience of the everyday language of the common people may be that it
is not poetical. True, but not even a poet can speak poetically in his
stupid moments. Wordsworth's idea was to take the language of the common
people in their uncommon moods, in their high and, consequently, simple
moods, when their minds are influenced by grief, hope, reverence,
worship, love; for then he believed he could get just the language
suitable for the poet. As far as that language will go, I think he was
right, if I may venture to give an opinion in support of Wordsworth. Of
course, there will occur necessities to the poet which would not be
comprehended in the language of a man whose thoughts had never moved in
the same directions, but the kind of language will be the right thing,
and I have heard such amongst the common people myself--language which
they did not know to be poetic, but which fell upon my ear and heart as
profoundly poetic both in its feeling and its form.

In attempting to carry out this theory, I am not prepared to say that
Wordsworth never transgressed his own self-imposed laws. But he adhered
to his theory to the last. A friend of the poet's told me that
Wordsworth had to him expressed his belief that he would be remembered
longest, not by his sonnets, as his friend thought, but by his lyrical
ballads, those for which he had been reviled and laughed at; the most by
critics who could not understand him, and who were unworthy to read what
he had written. As a proof of this let me read to you three verses,
composing a poem that was especially marked for derision:--

She dwelt among the untrodden ways,
Beside the springs of Dove;
A maid whom there were none to praise,
And very few to love.

A violet by a mossy stone.
Half hidden from the eye;
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and Oh!
The difference to me.

The last line was especially chosen as the object of ridicule; but I
think with most of us the feeling will be, that its very simplicity of
expression is overflowing in suggestion, it throws us back upon our own
experience; for, instead of trying to utter what he felt, he says in
those simple and common words, "You who have known anything of the kind,
will know what the difference to me is, and only you can know." "My
intention and desire," he says in one of his essays, "are that the
interest of the poem shall owe nothing to the circumstances; but that
the circumstances shall be made interesting by the thing itself." In
most novels, for instance, the attempt is made to interest us in
worthless, commonplace people, whom, if we had our choice, we would far
rather not meet at all, by surrounding them with peculiar and
extraordinary circumstances; but this is a low source of interest.
Wordsworth was determined to owe nothing to such an adventitious cause.
For illustration allow me to read that well-known little ballad, "The
Reverie of Poor Susan," and you will see how entirely it bears out what
he lays down as his theory. The scene is in London:--

At the corner of Wood-street, when daylight appears,
Hangs a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years;
Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has heard,
In the silence of morning, the song of the Bird.

'Tis a note of enchantment: what ails her? She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.

Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,
Down which she so often has tripped with her pail;
And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's,
The one only dwelling on earth that she loves.

She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:
The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes!

Is any of the interest here owing to the circumstances? Is it not a very
common incident? But has he not treated it so that it is not
_commonplace_ in the least? We recognize in this girl just the feelings
we discover in ourselves, and acknowledge almost with tears her
sisterhood to us all.

I have tried to make you feel something of what Wordsworth attempts to
do, but I have not given you the best of his poems. Allow me to finish
by reading the closing portion of the _Prelude_, the poem that was
published after his death. It is addressed to Coleridge:--

Oh! yet a few short years of useful life,
And all will be complete, thy race be run,
Thy monument of glory will be raised;
Then, though (too weak to head the ways of truth)
This age fall back to old idolatry,
Though men return to servitude as fast
As the tide ebbs, to ignominy and shame
By nations sink together, we shall still
Find solace--knowing what we have learnt to know--
Rich in true happiness, if allowed to be
Faithful alike in forwarding a day
Of firmer trust, joint labourers in the work
(Should Providence such grace to us vouchsafe)
Of their deliverance, surely yet to come.
Prophets of Nature, we to them will speak
A lasting inspiration, sanctified
By reason, blest by faith: what we have loved,
Others will love, and we will teach them how;
Instruct them how the mind of man becomes
A thousand times more beautiful than the earth
On which he dwells, above this frame of things
(Which, 'mid all revolution in the hopes
And fears of men, doth still remain unchanged)
In beauty exalted, as it is itself
Of quality and fabric more divine.


Whatever opinion may be held with regard to the relative position
occupied by Shelley as a poet, it will be granted by most of those who
have studied his writings, that they are of such an individual and
original kind, that he can neither be hidden in the shade, nor lost in
the brightness, of any other poet. No idea of his works could be
conveyed by instituting a comparison, for he does not sufficiently
resemble any other among English writers to make such a comparison

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born at Field Place, near Horsham, in the
county of Sussex, on the 4th of August, 1792. He was the son of Timothy
Shelley, Esq., and grandson of Sir Bysshe Shelley, the first baronet.
His ancestors had long been large landed proprietors in Sussex.

As a child his habits were noticeable. He was especially fond of
rambling by moonlight, of inventing wonderful tales, of occupying
himself with strange, and sometimes dangerous, amusements. At the age of
thirteen he went to Eton. In this little world, that determined
opposition to whatever appeared to him an invasion of human rights and
liberty, which was afterwards the animating principle of most of his
writings, was first roused in the mind of Shelley. Were we not aware of
far keener distress which he afterwards endured from yet greater
injustice, we might suppose that the sufferings he had to bear from
placing himself in opposition to the custom of the school, by refusing
to fag, had made him morbidly sensitive on the point of liberty. At a
time, however, when freedom of speech, as indicating freedom of thought,
was especially obnoxious to established authorities; when no allowance
could be made on the score of youth, still less on that of individual
peculiarity, Shelley became a student at Oxford. He was then eighteen.
Devoted to metaphysical speculation, and especially fond of logical
discussion, he, in his first year, printed and distributed among the
authorities and members of his college a pamphlet, if that can be called
a pamphlet which consisted only of two pages, in which he opposed the
usual arguments for the existence of a Deity; arguments which, perhaps,
the most ardent believers have equally considered inconclusive. Whether
Shelley wrote this pamphlet as an embodiment of his own opinions, or
merely as a logical confutation of certain arguments, the mode of
procedure adopted with him was certainly not one which necessarily
resulted from the position of those to whose care the education of his
opinions was entrusted. Without waiting to be assured that he was the
author, and satisfying themselves with his refusal to answer when
questioned as to the authorship, they handed him his sentence of
expulsion, which had been already drawn up in due form.

About this time Shelley wrote, or commenced writing, _Queen Mab_, a poem
which he never published, although he distributed copies among his
friends. In after years he had such a low opinion of it in every
respect, that he regretted having printed it at all; and when an edition
of it was published without his consent, he applied to the Court of
Chancery for an injunction to suppress it.

Shelley's opinions in politics and theology, which he appears to have
been far more anxious to maintain than was consistent with the peace of
the household, were peculiarly obnoxious to his father, a man as
different from his son as it is possible to conceive; and his expulsion
from Oxford was soon followed by exile from his home. He went to London,
where, through his sisters, who were at school in the neighbourhood, he
made the acquaintence of Harriet West brook, whom he eloped with and
married, when he was nineteen and she sixteen years of age. It seems
doubtful whether the attachment between them was more than the result of
the reception accorded by the enthusiasm of the girl to the enthusiasm
of the youth, manifesting itself in wild talk about human rights, and
equally wild plans for their recovery and security. However this may be,
the result was unfortunate. They wandered about England, Scotland, and
Ireland, with frequent and sudden change of residence, for rather more
than two years. During this time Shelley gained the friendship of some
of the most eminent men of the age, of whom the one who exercised the
most influence upon his character and future history was William Godwin,
whose instructions and expostulations tended to reduce to solidity and
form the vague and extravagant opinions and projects of the youthful
reformer. Shortly after the commencement of the third year of their
married life, an estrangement of feeling, which had been gradually
widening between them, resulted in the final separation of the poet and
his wife. We are not informed as to the causes of this estrangement,
further than that it seems to have been owing, in a considerable degree,
to the influence of an elder sister of Mrs. Shelley, who domineered over
her, and whose presence became at last absolutely hateful to Shelley.
His wife returned to her father's house; where, apparently about three
years after, she committed suicide. There seems to have been no
immediate connection between this act and any conduct of Shelley. One of
his biographers informs us, that while they were living happily
together, suicide was with Mrs. Shelley a favourite subject of
speculation and conversation.

Shortly after his first wife's death, Shelley married the daughter of
William Godwin. He had lived with her almost from the date of the
separation, during which time they had twice visited Switzerland. In the
following year (1817), it was decreed in Chancery that Shelley was not a
proper person to take charge of his two children by his first wife, who
had lived with her till her death. The bill was filed in Chancery by
their grandfather, Mr. Westbrook. The effects of this proceeding upon
Shelley may be easily imagined. Perhaps he never recovered from them,
for they were not of a nature to pass away. During this year he resided
at Marlow, and wrote _The Revolt of Islam_, besides portions of other
poems; and the next year he left England, not to return. The state of
his health, for he had appeared to be in a consumption for some time,
and the fear lest his son, by his second wife, should be taken from him,
combined to induce him to take refuge in Italy from both impending
evils. At Lucca he began his _Prometheus_, and wrote _Julian and
Maddalo_. He moved from place to place in Italy, as he had done in his
own country. Their two children dying, they were for a time left
childless; but the loss of these grieved Shelley less than that of his
eldest two, who were taken from him by the hand of man. In 1819, Shelley
finished his _Prometheus Unbound_, writing the greater part at Rome, and
completing it at Florence. In this year also he wrote his tragedy, _The
Cenci_, which attracted more attention during his lifetime than any
other of his works. The _Ode to a Skylark_ was written at Leghorn in the
spring of 1820; and in August of the same year, the _Witch of Atlas_ was
written, near Pisa. In the following year Shelley and Byron met at Pisa.
They were a good deal together; but their friendship, although real,
does not appear to have been of a very profound nature; for though
unlikeness be one of the necessary elements of friendship, there are
kinds of unlikeness which will not harmonize. During all this time, he
was not only maligned by unknown enemies, and abused by anonymous
writers, but attempts of other kinds are said to have been made to
render his life as uncomfortable as possible. There are grounds,
however, for doubting whether Shelley was not subject to a kind of
monomania upon this and similar points. In 1821, he wrote his _Adonais_,
a monody on the death of Keats. Part of this poem had its origin in the
mistaken notion, that the illness and death of Keats were caused by a
brutal criticism of his _Endymion_, which appeared in the _Quarterly
Review_. The last verse of the _Adonais_ seems almost prophetic of his
own end. Passionately fond of boating, he and a friend of his, Mr.
Williams, united in constructing a boat of a peculiar build, a very fast
sailer, but difficult to manage. On the 8th of July, 1822, Shelley and
his friend Williams sailed from Leghorn for Lerici, on the Bay of
Spezia, near which lay his home for the time. A sudden squall came on,
and their boat disappeared. The bodies of the two friends were cast on
shore; and, according to quarantine regulations, were burned to ashes.
Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, and Mr. Trelawney were present when the body of
Shelley was burned; so that his ashes were saved, and buried in the
Protestant burial-ground at Rome, near the grave of Keats, whose body
had been laid there in the spring of the preceding year. _Cor Cordium_
were the words inscribed by his widow on the tomb of the poet.

The character of Shelley has been sadly maligned. Whatever faults he may
have committed against society, they were not the result of sensuality.
One of his biographers, who was his companion at Oxford, and who does
not seem inclined to do him _more_ than justice, asserts that while
there his conduct was immaculate. The whole picture he gives of the
youth, makes it easy to believe this. To discuss the moral question
involved in one part of his history would be out of place here; but even
on the supposition that a man's conduct is altogether inexcusable in
individual instances, there is the more need that nothing but the truth
should be said concerning that, and other portions thereof. And whatever
society may have thought itself justified in making subject of
reprobation, it must be remembered that Shelley was under less
obligation to society than most men. Yet his heart seemed full of love
to his kind; and the distress which the oppression of others caused him,
was the source of much of that wild denunciation which exposed him to
the contempt and hatred of those who were rendered uncomfortable by his
unsparing and indiscriminate anathemas. In private, he was beloved by
all who knew him; a steady, generous, self-denying friend, not only to
those who moved in his own circle, but to all who were brought within
the reach of any aid he could bestow. To the poor he was a true and
laborious benefactor. That man must have been good to whom the heart of
his widow returns with such earnest devotion and thankfulness in the
recollection of the past, and such fond hope for the future, as are
manifested by Mrs. Shelley in those extracts from her private journal
given us by Lady Shelley.

As regards his religious opinions, one of the thoughts which most
strongly suggest themselves is,--how ill he must have been instructed in
the principles of Christianity! He says himself in a letter to Godwin,
"I have known no tutor or adviser (_not excepting my father_) from whose
lessons and suggestions I have not recoiled with disgust." So far is he
from being an opponent of Christianity properly so called, that one can
hardly help feeling what a Christian he would have been, could he but
have seen Christianity in any other way than through the traditional and
practical misrepresentations of it which surrounded him. All his attacks
on Christianity are, in reality, directed against evils to which the
true doctrines of Christianity are more opposed than those of Shelley
could possibly be. How far he was excusable in giving the name of
Christianity to what he might have seen to be only a miserable
perversion of it, is another question, and one which hardly admits of
discussion here. It was in the _name_ of Christianity, however, that the
worst injuries of which he had to complain were inflicted upon him.
Coming out of the cathedral at Pisa one day, [Footnote: From _Shelley
Memorials_, edited by Lady Shelley, which the writer of this paper has
principally followed in regard to the external facts of Shelley's
history.] Shelley warmly assented to a remark of Leigh Hunt, "that a
divine religion might be found out, if charity were really made the
principle of it instead of faith." Surely the founders of Christianity,
even when they magnified faith, intended thereby a spiritual condition,
of which the central principle is coincident with charity. Shelley's own
feelings towards others, as judged from his poetry, seem to be tinctured
with the very essence of Christianity. [Footnote: His _Essay on
Christianity_ is full of noble views, some of which are held at the
present day by some of the most earnest believers. At what time of his
life it was written we are not informed; but it seems such as would
insure his acceptance with any company of intelligent and devout
Unitarians.] He did not, at one time at least, believe that we could
know the source of our being; and seemed to take it as a self-evident
truth, that the Creator could not be like the creature. But it is unjust
to fix upon any utterance of opinion, and regard it as the religion of a
man who died in his thirtieth year, and whose habits of thinking were
such, that his opinions must have been in a state of constant change.
Coleridge says in a letter: "His (Shelley's) discussions, tending
towards atheism of a certain sort, would not have scared _me;_ for _me_
it would have been a semitransparent larva, soon to be sloughed, and
through which I should have seen the true _image_--the final
metamorphosis. Besides, I have ever thought that sort of atheism the
next best religion to Christianity; nor does the better faith I have
learned from Paul and John interfere with the cordial reverence I feel
for Benedict Spinoza."

Shelley's favourite study was metaphysics. The more impulse there is in
any direction, the more education and experience are necessary to
balance that impulse: one cannot help thinking that Shelley's _taste_
for exercises of this kind was developed more rapidly than the
corresponding _power_. His favourite physical studies were chemistry and
electricity. With these he occupied himself from his childhood;
apparently, however, with more delight in the experiments themselves,
than interest in the general conclusions to be arrived at by means of
them. In the embodiment of his metaphysical ideas in poetry, the
influence of these studies seems to show itself; for he uses forms which
appeal more to the outer senses than to the inward eye; and his similes
belong to the realm of the fancy, rather than the imagination: they lack
_vital_ resemblance. Logic had considerable attractions for him. To
geometry and mathematics he was quite indifferent. One of his
biographers states that "he was neglectful of flowers," because he had
no interest in botany; but one who derived such full delight from the
contemplation of their external forms, could hardly be expected to feel
very strongly the impulse to dissect them. He derived exceeding pleasure
from Greek literature, especially from the works of Plato.

Several little peculiarities in Shelley's tastes are worth mentioning,
because, although in themselves insignificant, they seem to correspond
with the nature of his poetry. Perhaps the most prominent of these was
his passion for boat-sailing. He could not pass any piece of water
without launching upon it a number of boats, constructed from what paper
he could find in his pockets. The fly-leaves of the books he was in the
way of carrying with him, for he was constantly reading, often went to
this end. He would watch the fate of these boats with the utmost
interest, till they sank or reached the opposite side. He was just as
fond of real boating, and that frequently of a dangerous kind; but it is
characteristic of him, that all the boats he describes in his poems are
of a fairy, fantastic sort, barely related to the boats which battle
with earthly winds and waves. Pistol-shooting was also a favourite
amusement. Fireworks, too, gave him great delight. Some of his habits
were likewise peculiar. He was remarkably abstemious, preferring bread
and raisins to anything else in the way of eating, and very seldom
drinking anything stronger than water. Honey was a favourite luxury with
him. While at college, his biographer Hogg says he was in the habit,
during the evening, of going to sleep on the rug, close to a blazing
fire, heat seeming never to have other than a beneficial effect upon
him. After sleeping some hours, he would awake perfectly restored, and
continue actively occupied till far into the morning. His whole
movements are represented as rapid, hurried, and uncertain. He would
appear and disappear suddenly and unexpectedly; forget appointments;
burst into wild laughter, heedless of his situation, whenever anything
struck him as peculiarly ludicrous. His changes of residence were most
numerous, and frequently made with so much haste that whole little
libraries were left behind, and often lost. He was very fond of
children, and used to make humorous efforts to induce them to disclose
to him the still-remembered secrets of their pre-existence. He seemed to
have a peculiar attraction towards mystery, and was ready to believe in
a hidden secret, where no one else would have thought of one. His room,
while he was at college, was in a state of indescribable confusion. Not
only were all sorts of personal necessaries mingled with books and
philosophical instruments, but things belonging to one department of
service were not unfrequently pressed into the slavery of another. He
dressed well but carelessly. In person he was tall, slender, and
stooping; awkward in gait, but in manners a thorough gentleman. His
complexion was delicate; his head, face, and features, remarkably small;
the last not very regular, but in expression, both intellectual and
moral, wonderfully beautiful. His eyes were deep blue, "of a wild,
strange beauty;" his forehead high and white; his hair dark brown,
curling, long, and bushy. His appearance in later life is described as
singularly combining the appearances of premature age and prolonged

The only art in which his taste appears to have been developed was
poetry. Even in his poetry, taken as a whole, the artistic element is
not generally very manifest. His earliest verses (none of which are
included in his collected works) can hardly be said to be good in any
sense. He seems in these to have chosen poetry as a fitting material for
the embodiment of his ardent, hopeful, indignant thoughts and feelings,
but, provided he can say what he wants to say, does not seem to
care much about _how_ he says it. Indeed, there is too much of
this throughout his works; for if the _utterance_, instead of
the _conveyance_ of thought, were the object pursued in art, of
course not merely imperfection of language, but absolute external
unintelligibility, would be admissible. But his art constantly increases
with his sense of its necessity; so that the _Cenci_, which is the last
work of any pretension that he wrote, is decidedly the most artistic of
all. There are beautiful passages in _Queen Mab_, but it is the work of
a boy-poet; and as it was all but repudiated by himself, it is not
necessary to remark further upon it. _The Revolt of Islam_ is a poem of
twelve cantos, in the Spenserian stanza; but in all respects except the
arrangement of lines and rimes, his stanza, in common with all other
imitations of the Spenserian, has little or nothing of the spirit or
individuality of the original. The poem is dedicated to the cause of
freedom, and records the efforts, successes, defeats, and final
triumphant death of two inspired champions of liberty--a youth and
maiden. The adventures are marvellous, not intended to be within the
bounds of probability, scarcely of possibility. There are very noble
sentiments and fine passages throughout the poem. Now and then there is
grandeur. But the absence of art is too evident in the fact that the
meaning is often obscure; an obscurity not unfrequently occasioned by
the difficulty of the stanza, which is the most difficult mode of
composition in English, except the rigid sonnet. The words and forms he
employs to express thought seem sometimes mechanical devices for that
purpose, rather than an utterance which suggested itself naturally to a
mind where the thought was vitally present. The words are more a
_clothing_ for the thought than an _embodiment_ of it. They do not lie
near enough to the thing which is intended to be represented by them. It
is, however, but just to remark, that some of the obscurity is owing to
the fact, that, even with Mrs. Shelley's superintendence, the works have
not yet been satisfactorily edited, or at least not conducted through
the press with sufficient care. [Footnote: This statement is no longer

_The Cenci_ is a very powerful tragedy, but unfitted for public
representation by the horrible nature of the historical facts upon which
it is founded. In the execution of it, however, Shelley has kept very
much nearer to nature than in any other of his works. He has rigidly
adhered to his perception of artistic propriety in respect to the
dramatic utterance. It may be doubted whether there is sufficient
difference between the modes of speech of the different actors in the
tragedy, but it is quite possible to individualize speech far too
minutely for probable nature; and in this respect, at least, Shelley has
not erred. Perhaps the action of the whole is a little hurried, and a
central moment of awful repose and fearful anticipation might add to the
force of the tragedy. The scenes also might, perhaps, have been
constructed so as to suggest more of evolution; but the central point of
horror is most powerfully and delicately handled. You see a possible
spiritual horror yet behind, more frightful than all that has gone
before. The whole drama, indeed, is constructed around, not a prominent
point, but a dim, infinitely-withdrawn, underground perspective of
dismay and agony. Perhaps it detracts a little from our interest in the
Lady Beatrice, that after all she should wish to live, and should seek
to preserve her life by a denial of her crime. She, however, evidently
justifies the denial to herself on the ground that, the deed being
absolutely right, although regarded as most criminal by her judges, the
only way to get true justice is to deny the fact, which, there being no
guilt, she might consider as only a verbal lie. Her very purity of
conscience enables her to utter this with the most absolute innocence of
look, and word, and tone. This is probably a historical fact, and
Shelley had to make the best of it. In the drama there is great
tenderness, as well as terror; but for a full effect, one feels it
desirable to be brought better acquainted with the individuals than the
drama, from its want of graduation, permits. Shelley, however, was only
six-and-twenty when he wrote it. He must have been attracted to the
subject by its embodying the concentration of tyranny, lawlessness, and
brutality in old Cenci, as opposed to, and exercised upon, an ideal
loveliness and nobleness in the person of Beatrice.

But of all Shelley's works, the _Prometheus Unbound_ is that which
combines the greatest amount of individual power and peculiarity. There
is an airy grandeur about it, reminding one of the vast masses of cloud
scattered about in broken, yet magnificently suggestive forms, all over
the summer sky, after a thunderstorm. The fundamental ideas are grand;
the superstructure, in many parts, so ethereal, that one hardly knows
whether he is gazing on towers of solid masonry rendered dim and
unsubstantial by intervening vapour, or upon the golden turrets of
cloudland, themselves born of the mist which surrounds them with a halo
of glory. The beings of Greek, mythology are idealized and etherealized
by the new souls which he puts into them, making them think his thoughts
and say his words. In reading this, as in reading most of his poetry, we
feel that, unable to cope with the evils and wrongs of the world as it
and they are, he constructs a new universe, wherein he may rule
according to his will; and a good will in the main it is--good always in
intent, good generally in form and utterance. Of the wrongs which
Shelley endured from the collision and resulting conflict between his
lawless goodness and the lawful wickedness of those in authority, this
is one of the greatest,--that during the right period of pupillage, he
was driven from the place of learning, cast on his own mental resources
long before those resources were sufficient for his support, and
irritated against the purest embodiment of good by the harsh treatment
he received under its name. If that reverence which was far from wanting
to his nature, had been but presented, in the person of some guide to
his spiritual being, with an object worthy of its homage and trust, it
is probable that the yet free and noble result of Shelley's
individuality would have been presented to the world in a form which,
while it attracted still only the few, would not have repelled the many;
at least, not by such things as were merely accidental in their
association with his earnest desires and efforts for the well-being of

That which chiefly distinguishes Shelley from other writers is the
unequalled exuberance of his fancy. The reader, say for instance of that
fantastically brilliant poem, _The Witch of Atlas_, the work of three
days, is overwhelmed in a storm, as it were, of rainbow snow-flakes and
many-coloured lightnings, accompanied ever by "a low melodious thunder."
The evidences of pure imagination in his writings are unfrequent as
compared with those of fancy: there are not half the instances of the
direct embodiment of idea in form, that there are of the presentation of
strange resemblances between external things.

One of the finest short specimens of Shelley's peculiar mode is his _Ode
to the West Wind_, full of mysterious melody of thought and sound. But
of all his poems, the most popular, and deservedly so, is the _Skylark_.
Perhaps the _Cloud_ may contest it with the _Skylark_ in regard to
popular favour; but the _Cloud_, although full of beautiful words and
fantastic cloud-like images, is, after all, principally a work of the
fancy; while the _Skylark_, though even in it fancy predominates over
imagination in the visual images, forms, as a whole, a lovely, true,
individual work of art; a _lyric_ not unworthy of the _lark_, which
Mason apostrophizes as "sweet feathered lyric." The strain of sadness
which pervades it is only enough to make the song of the lark human.

In _The Sensitive Plant_, a poem full of the peculiarities of his
genius, tending through a wilderness of fanciful beauties to a thicket
of mystical speculation, one curious idiosyncrasy is more prominent than
in any other--curious, as belonging to the poet of beauty and
loveliness: it is the tendency to be fascinated by what is ugly and
revolting, so that he cannot withdraw his thoughts from it till he has
described it in language, powerful, it is true, and poetic, when
considered as to its fitness for the desired end, but, in force of these
very excellences in the means, nearly as revolting as the objects
themselves. Associated with this is the tendency to discover strangely
unpleasant likenesses between things; which likenesses he is not content
with seeing, but seems compelled, perhaps in order to get rid of them
himself, to force upon the observation of his reader. But the admirer of
Shelley is not pleased to find that one or two passages of this nature
have been omitted in some editions of his works.

Few men have been more misunderstood or misrepresented than Shelley.
Doubtless this has in part been his own fault, as Coleridge implies when
he writes to this effect of him: that his horror of hypocrisy made him
speak in such a wild way, that Southey (who was so much a man of forms
and proprieties) was quite misled, not merely in his estimate of his
worth, but in his judgment of his character. But setting aside this
consideration altogether, and regarding him merely as a poet, Shelley
has written verse which will last as long as English literature lasts;
valuable not only from its excellence, but from the peculiarity of its
excellence. To say nothing of his noble aims and hopes, Shelley will
always be admired for his sweet melodies, lovely pictures, and wild
prophetic imaginings. His indignant remonstrances, intermingled with
grand imprecations, burst in thunder from a heart overcharged with the
love of his kind, and roused to a keener sense of all oppression by the
wrongs which sought to overwhelm himself. But as he recedes further in
time, and men are able to see more truly the proportions of the man,
they will judge, that without having gained the rank of a great
reformer, Shelley had in him that element of wide sympathy and lofty
hope for his kind which is essential both to the _birth_ and the
subsequent _making_ of the greatest of poets.

A SERMON. [Footnote: Read in the Unitarian chapel, Essex-street, London,

PHILIPPIANS iii. 15, 16.--Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be
thus minded; and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal
even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let
us walk by that same.

This is the reading of the oldest manuscripts. The rest of the verse is
pretty clearly a not overwise marginal gloss that has crept into the

In its origin, opinion is the intellectual body, taken for utterance and
presentation by something necessarily larger than any intellect can
afford stuff sufficient for the embodiment of. To the man himself,
therefore, in whose mind it arose, an opinion will always represent and
recall the spirit whose form it is,--so long, at least, as the man
remains true to his better self. Hence, a man's opinion may be for him
invaluable, the needle of his moral compass, always pointing to the
truth whence it issued, and whose form it is. Nor is the man's opinion
of the less value to him that it may change. Nay, to be of true value,
it must have in it not only the possibility, but the necessity of
change: it must change in every man who is alive with that life which,
in the New Testament, is alone treated as life at all. For, if a man's
opinion be in no process of change whatever, it must be dead, valueless,
hurtful Opinion is the offspring of that which is itself born to grow;
which, being imperfect, must grow or die. Where opinion is growing, its
imperfections, however many and serious, will do but little hurt; where
it is not growing, these imperfections will further the decay and
corruption which must already have laid hold of the very heart of the
man. But it is plain in the world's history that what, at some given
stage of the same, was the embodiment in intellectual form of the
highest and deepest of which it was then spiritually capable, has often
and speedily become the source of the most frightful outrages upon
humanity. How is this? Because it has passed from the mind in which it
grew into another in which it did not grow, and has of necessity altered
its nature. Itself sprung from that which was deepest in the man, it
casts seeds which take root only in the intellectual understanding of
his neighbour; and these, springing up, produce flowers indeed which
look much the same to the eye, but fruit which is poison and
bitterness,--worst of it all, the false and arrogant notion that it is
duty to force the opinion upon the acceptance of others. But it is
because such men themselves hold with so poor a grasp the truth
underlying their forms that they are, in their self-sufficiency, so
ambitious of propagating the forms, making of themselves the worst
enemies of the truth of which they fancy themselves the champions. How
truly, in the case of all genuine teachers of men, shall a man's foes be
they of his own household! For of all the destroyers of the truth which
any man has preached, none have done it so effectually or so grievously
as his own followers. So many of them have received but the forms, and
know nothing of the truth which gave him those forms! They lay hold but
of the non-essential, the specially perishing in those forms; and these
aspects, doubly false and misleading in their crumbling disjunction,
they proceed to force upon the attention and reception of men, calling
that the truth which is at best but the draggled and useless fringe of
its earth-made garment. Opinions so held belong to the theology of
hell,--not necessarily altogether false in form, but false utterly in
heart and spirit. The opinion then that is hurtful is not that which is
formed in the depths, and from the honest necessities of a man's own
nature, but that which he has taken up at second hand, the study of
which has pleased his intellect; has perhaps subdued fears and mollified
distresses which ought rather to have grown and increased until they had
driven the man to the true physician; has puffed him up with a sense of
superiority as false as foolish, and placed in his hand a club with
which to subjugate his neighbour to his spiritual dictation. The true
man even, who aims at the perpetuation of his opinion, is rather
obstructing than aiding the course of that truth for the love of which
he holds his opinion; for truth is a living thing, opinion is a dead
thing, and transmitted opinion a deadening thing.

Let us look at St. Paul's feeling in this regard. And, in order that we
may deprive it of none of its force, let us note first the nature of the
truth which he had just been presenting to his disciples, when he
follows it with the words of my text:--

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of
all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the
law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness
which is of God by faith:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the
fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I
follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am
apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I
do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto
those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

St. Paul, then, had been declaring to the Philippians the idea upon
which, so far as it lay with him, his life was constructed, the thing
for which he lived, to which the whole conscious effort of his being was
directed,--namely, to be in his very nature one with Christ, to become
righteous as he is righteous; to die into his death, so that he should
no more hold the slightest personal relation to evil, but be alive in
every fibre to all that is pure, lovely, loving, beautiful, perfect. He
had been telling them that he spent himself in continuous effort to lay
hold upon that for the sake of which Christ had laid hold on him. This
he declares the sole thing worth living for: the hope of this, the hope
of becoming one with the living God, is that which keeps a glorious
consciousness awake in him, amidst all the unrest of a being not yet at
harmony with itself, and a laborious and persecuted life. It cannot
therefore be any shadow of indifference to the truth to which he has
borne this witness, that causes him to add, "If in anything ye be
otherwise minded." It is to him even the test of perfection, whether
they be thus minded or not; for, although a moment before, he has
declared himself short of the desired perfection, he now says, "Let as
many of us as are perfect be thus minded." There is here no room for
that unprofitable thing, bare logic: we must look through the shifting
rainbow of his words,--rather, we must gather all their tints together,
then turn our backs upon the rainbow, that we may see the glorious light
which is the soul of it. St. Paul is not that which he would be, which
he must be; but he, and all they who with him believe that the
perfection of Christ is the sole worthy effort of a man's life, are in
the region, though not yet at the centre, of perfection. They are, even
now, not indeed grasping, but in the grasp of, that perfection. He tells
them this is the one thing to mind, the one thing to go on desiring and
labouring for, with all the earnestness of a God-born existence; but, if
any one be at all otherwise minded,--that is, of a different
opinion,--what then? That it is of little or no consequence? No, verily;
but of such endless consequence that God will himself unveil to them the
truth of the matter. This is Paul's faith, not his opinion. Faith is
that by which a man lives inwardly, and orders his way outwardly. Faith
is the root, belief the tree, and opinion the foliage that falls and is
renewed with the seasons. Opinion is, at best, even the opinion of a
true man, but the cloak of his belief, which he may indeed cast to his
neighbour, but not with the truth inside it: that remains in his own
bosom, the oneness between him and his God. St. Paul knows well--who
better?--that by no argument, the best that logic itself can afford, can
a man be set right with the truth; that the spiritual perception which
comes of hungering contact with the living truth--a perception which is
in itself a being born again--can alone be the mediator between a man
and the truth. He knows that, even if he could pass his opinion over
bodily into the understanding of his neighbour, there would be little or
nothing gained thereby, for the man's spiritual condition would be just
what it was before. God must reveal, or nothing is known. And this,
through thousands of difficulties occasioned by the man himself, God is
ever and always doing his mighty best to effect.

See the grandeur of redeeming liberality in the Apostle. In his heart of
hearts he knows that salvation consists in nothing else than being one
with Christ; that the only life of every man is hid with Christ in God,
and to be found by no search anywhere else. He believes that for this
cause was he born into the world,--that he should give himself, heart
and soul, body and spirit, to him who came into the world that he might
bear witness to the truth. He believes that for the sake of this, and
nothing less,--anything more there cannot be,--was the world, with its
endless glories, created. Nay, more than all, he believes that for this
did the Lord, in whose cross, type and triumph of his self-abnegation,
he glories, come into the world, and live and die there. And yet, and
yet, he says, and says plainly, that a man thinking differently from all
this or at least, quite unprepared to make this whole-hearted profession
of faith, is yet his brother in Christ, in whom the knowledge of Christ
that he has will work and work, the new leaven casting out the old
leaven until he, too, in the revelation of the Father, shall come to the
perfect stature of the fulness of Christ. Meantime, Paul, the Apostle,
must show due reverence to the halting and dull disciple. He must and
will make no demand upon him on the grounds of what he, Paul, believes.
He is where he is, and God is his teacher. To his own Master,--that is,
Paul's Master, and not Paul,--he stands. He leaves him to the company of
his Master. "Leaves him?" No: that he does not; that he will never do,
any more than God will leave him. Still and ever will he hold him and
help him. But how help him, if he is not to press upon him his own
larger and deeper and wiser insights? The answer is ready: he will
press, not his opinion, not even the man's opinion, but the man's own
faith upon him. "O brother, beloved of the Father, walk in the
light,--in the light, that is, which is thine, not which is mine; in the
light which is given to thee, not to me: thou canst not walk by my
light, I cannot walk by thine: how should either walk except by the
light which is in him? O brother, what thou seest, that do; and what
thou seest not, that thou shalt see: God himself, the Father of Lights,
will show it to you." This, this is the condition of all growth,--that
whereto we have attained, we mind that same; for such, following the
manuscripts, at least the oldest, seems to me the Apostle's meaning.
Obedience is the one condition of progress, and he entreats them to
obey. If a man will but work that which is in him, will but make the
power of God his own, then is it well with him for evermore. Like his
Master, Paul urges to action, to the highest operation, therefore to the
highest condition of humanity. As Christ was the Son of his Father
because he did the will of the Father, so the Apostle would have them
the sons of the Father by doing the will of the Father. Whereto ye have
attained, walk by _that_.

But there is more involved in this utterance than the words themselves
will expressly carry. Next to his love to the Father and the Elder
Brother, the passion of Paul's life--I cannot call it less--is love to
all his brothers and sisters. Everything human is dear to him: he can
part with none of it. Division, separation, the breaking of the body of
Christ, is that which he cannot endure. The body of his flesh had once
been broken, that a grander body might be prepared for him: was it for
that body itself to tear itself asunder? With the whole energy of his
great heart, Paul clung to unity. He could clasp together with might and
main the body of his Master--the body that Master loved because it was a
spiritual body, with the life of his Father in it. And he knew well that
only by walking in the truth to which they had attained, could they ever
draw near to each other. Whereto we have attained, let us walk by that.

My honoured friends, if we are not practical, we are nothing. Now, the
one main fault in the Christian Church is separation, repulsion, recoil
between the component particles of the Lord's body. I will not, I do not
care to inquire who is more to blame than another in the evil fact. I
only care to insist that it is the duty of every individual man to be
innocent of the same. One main cause, perhaps I should say _the one_
cause of this deathly condition, is that whereto we had, we did not,
whereto we have attained, we do not walk by that. Ah, friend! do not now
think of thy neighbour. Do not applaud my opinion as just from what thou
hast seen around thee, but answer it from thy own being, thy own
behaviour. Dost thou ever feel thus toward thy neighbour,--"Yes, of
course, every man is my brother; but how can I be a brother to him so
long as he thinks me wrong in what I believe, and so long as I think he
wrongs in his opinions the dignity of the truth?" What, I return, has
the man no hand to grasp, no eyes into which yours may gaze far deeper
than your vaunted intellect can follow? Is there not, I ask, anything in
him to love? Who asks you to be of one opinion? It is the Lord who asks
you to be of one heart. Does the Lord love the man? Can the Lord love,
where there is nothing to love? Are you wiser than he, inasmuch as you
perceive impossibility where he has failed to discover it? Or will you
say, "Let the Lord love where he pleases: I will love where I please"?
or say, and imagine you yield, "Well, I suppose I must, and therefore I
will,--but with certain reservations, politely quiet in my own heart"?
Or wilt thou say none of all these things, but do them all, one after
the other, in the secret chambers of thy proud spirit? If you delight to
condemn, you are a wounder, a divider of the oneness of Christ. If you
pride yourself on your loftier vision, and are haughty to your
neighbour, you are yourself a division and have reason to ask: "Am I a
particle of the body at all?" The Master will deal with thee upon the
score. Let it humble thee to know that thy dearest opinion, the one thou
dost worship as if it, and not God, were thy Saviour, this very opinion
thou art doomed to change, for it cannot possibly be right, if it work
in thee for death and not for life.

Friends, you have done me the honour and the kindness to ask me to speak
to you. I will speak plainly. I come before you neither hiding anything
of my belief, nor foolishly imagining I can transfer my opinions into
your bosoms. If there is one role I hate, it is that of the
proselytizer. But shall I not come to you as a brother to brethren?
Shall I not use the privilege of your invitation and of the place in
which I stand, nay, must I not myself be obedient to the heavenly
vision, in urging you with all the power of my persuasion to set
yourselves afresh to _walk_ according to that to which you have
attained. So doing, whatever yet there is to learn, you shall learn it.
Thus doing, and thus only, can you draw nigh to the centre truth; thus
doing, and thus only, shall we draw nigh to each other, and become
brothers and sisters in Christ, caring for each other's honour and
righteousness and true well-being. It is to them that keep his
commandments that he and his Father will come to take up their abode
with them. Whether you or I have the larger share of the truth in that
which we hold, of this I am sure, that it is to them that keep his
commandments that it shall be given to eat of the Tree of Life. I
believe that Jesus is the eternal son of the eternal Father; that in him
the ideal humanity sat enthroned from all eternity; that as he is the
divine man, so is he the human God; that there was no taking of our
nature upon himself, but the showing of himself as he really was, and
that from evermore: these things, friends, I believe, though never would
I be guilty of what in me would be the irreverence of opening my mouth
in dispute upon them. Not for a moment would I endeavour by argument to
convince another of this, my opinion. If it be true, it is God's work to
show it, for logic cannot. But the more, and not the less, do I believe
that he, who is no respecter of persons, will, least of all, respect the
person of him who thinks to please him by respecting his person, calling
him, "Lord, Lord," and not doing the things that he tells him. Even if I
be right, friend, and thou wrong, to thee who doest his commandments
more faithfully than I, will the more abundant entrance be administered.
God grant that, when thou art admitted first, I may not be cast out, but
admitted to learn of thee that it is truth in the inward parts that he
requireth, and they that have that truth, and they alone, shall ever
know wisdom. Bear with me, friends, for I love and honour you. I seek
but to stir up your hearts, as I would daily stir up my own, to be true
to that which is deepest in us,--the voice and the will of the Father of
our spirits.

Friends, I have not said we are not to utter our opinions. I have only
said we are not to make those opinions the point of a fresh start, the
foundation of a new building, the groundwork of anything. They are not
to occupy us in our dealings with our brethren. Opinion is often the
very death of love. Love aright, and you will come to think aright; and
those who think aright must think the same. In the meantime, it matters
nothing. The thing that does matter is, that whereto we have attained,
by that we should walk. But, while we are not to insist upon our
opinions, which is only one way of insisting upon ourselves, however we
may cloak the fact from ourselves in the vain imagination of thereby
spreading the truth, we are bound by loftiest duty to spread the truth;
for that is the saving of men. Do you ask, How spread it, if we are not
to talk about it? Friends, I never said, Do not talk about the truth,
although I insist upon a better and the only indispensable way: let your
light shine. What I said before, and say again, is, Do not talk about
the lantern that holds the lamp, but make haste, uncover the light, and
let it shine. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your
good works,--I incline to the Vatican reading of _good things_,--and
glorify your Father who is in heaven. It is not, Let your good works
shine, but, Let your light shine. Let it be the genuine love of your
hearts, taking form in true deeds; not the doing of good deeds to prove
that your opinions are right. If ye are thus true, your very talk about
the truth will be a good work, a shining of the light that is in you. A
true smile is a good work, and may do much to reveal the Father who is
in heaven; but the smile that is put on for the sake of looking right,
or even for the sake of being right, will hardly reveal him, not being
like him. Men say that you are cold: if you fear it may be so, do not
think to make yourselves warm by putting on the cloak of this or that
fresh opinion; draw nearer to the central heat, the living humanity of
the Son of Man, that ye may have life in yourselves, so heat in
yourselves, so light in yourselves; understand him, obey him, then your
light will shine, and your warmth will warm. There is an infection, as
in evil, so in good. The better we are, the more will men glorify God.
If we trim our lamps so that we have light in our house, that light will
shine through our windows, and give light to those that are not in the
house. But remember, love of the light alone can trim the lamp. Had Love
trimmed Psyche's lamp, it had never dropped the scalding oil that scared
him from her.

The man who holds his opinion the most honestly ought to see the most
plainly that his opinion must change. It is impossible a man should hold
anything aright. How shall the created embrace the self-existent
Creator? That Creator, and he alone, is _the truth_: how, then, shall a
man embrace the truth? But to him who will live it,--to him, that is,
who walks by that to which he has attained,--the truth will reach down a
thousand true hands for his to grasp. We would not wish to enclose that
which we can do more than enclose,--live in, namely, as our home,
inherit, exult in,--the presence of the infinitely higher and better,
the heart of the living one. And, if we know that God himself is our
inheritance, why should we tremble even with hatred at the suggestion
that we may, that we must, change our opinions? If we held them aright,
we should know that nothing in them that is good can ever be lost; for
that is the true, whatever in them may be the false. It is only as they
help us toward God, that our opinions are worth a straw; and every
necessary change in them must be to more truth, to greater uplifting
power. Lord, change me as thou wilt, only do not send me away. That in
my opinions for which I really hold them, if I be a true man, will never
pass away; that which my evils and imperfections have, in the process of
embodying it, associated with the truth, must, thank God, perish and
fall. My opinions, as my life, as my love, I leave in the hands of him
who is my being. I commend my spirit to him of whom it came. Why, then,
that dislike to the very idea of such change, that dread of having to
accept the thing offered by those whom we count our opponents, which is
such a stumbling-block in the way in which we have to walk, such an
obstruction to our yet inevitable growth? It may be objected that no man
will hold his opinions with the needful earnestness, who can entertain
the idea of having to change them. But the very objection speaks
powerfully against such an overvaluing of opinion. For what is it but to
say that, in order to be wise, a man must consent to be a fool. Whatever
must be, a man must be able to look in the face. It is because we cleave
to our opinions rather than to the living God, because self and pride
interest themselves for their own vile sakes with that which belongs
only to the truth, that we become such fools of logic and temper that we
lie in the prison-houses of our own fancies, ideas, and experiences,
shut the doors and windows against the entrance of the free spirit, and
will not inherit the love of the Father.

Yet, for the help and comfort of even such a refuser as this, I would
say: Nothing which you reject can be such as it seems to you. For a
thing is either true or untrue: if it be untrue, it looks, so far like
itself that you reject it, and with it we have nothing more to do; but,
if it be true, the very fact that you reject it shows that to you it has
not appeared true,--has not appeared itself. The truth can never be even
beheld but by the man who accepts it: the thing, therefore, which you
reject, is not that which it seems to you, but a thing good, and
altogether beautiful, altogether fit for your gladsome embrace,--a thing
from which you would not turn away, did you see it as it is, but rush to
it, as Dante says, like the wild beast to his den,--so eager for the
refuge of home. No honest man holds a truth for the sake of that because
of which another honest man rejects it: how it may be with the
dishonest, I have no confidence in my judgment, and hope I am not bound
to understand.

Let us then, my friends, beware lest our opinions come between us and
our God, between us and our neighbour, between us and our better selves.
Let us be jealous that the human shall not obscure the divine. For we
are not _mere_ human: we, too, are divine; and there is no such
obliterator of the divine as the human that acts undivinely. The one
security against our opinions is to walk according to the truth which
they contain.

And if men seem to us unreasonable, opposers of that which to us is
plainly true, let us remember that we are not here to convince men, but
to let our light shine. Knowledge is not necessarily light; and it is
light, not knowledge, that we have to diffuse. The best thing we can do,
infinitely the best, indeed the only thing, that men may receive the
truth, is to be ourselves true. Beyond all doing of good is the being
good; for he that is good not only does good things, but all that he
does is good. Above all, let us be humble before the God of truth,
faithfully desiring of him that truth in the inward parts which alone
can enable us to walk according to that which we have attained. May the
God of peace give you his peace; may the love of Christ constrain you;
may the gift of the Holy Spirit be yours. Amen.

TRUE CHRISTIAN MINISTERING. [Footnote: A spoken sermon.]

MATT. xx. 25--28--But Jesus called them unto him and said, Ye know that
the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that
are great exercise authority upon them. But it should not be so among
you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as
the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to
give his life a ransom for many.

How little this is believed! People think, if they think about it at
all, that this is very well in the church, but, as things go in the
world, it won't do. At least, their actions imply this, for every man is
struggling to get above the other. Every man would make his neighbour
his footstool that he may climb upon him to some throne of glory which
he has in his own mind. There is a continual jostling, and crowding, and
buzzing, and striving to get promotion. Of course there are known and
noble exceptions; but still, there it is. And yet we call ourselves
"Christians," and we are Christians, all of us, thus far, that the truth
is within reach of us all, that it has come nigh to us, talking to us at
our door, and even speaking in our hearts, and yet this is the way in
which we go on! The Lord said, "It shall not be so among you." Did he
mean only his twelve disciples? This was all that he had to say to them,
but--thanks be to him!--he says the same to every one of us now. "It
shall not be so among you: that is not the way in my kingdom." The
people of the world--the people who live in the world--will always think
it best to get up, to have less and less of service to do, more and more
of service done to them. The notion of rank in the world is like a
pyramid; the higher you go up, the fewer are there who have to serve
those above them, and who are served more than those underneath them.
All who are under serve those who are above, until you come to the apex,
and there stands some one who has to do no service, but whom all the
others have to serve. Something like that is the notion of position--of
social standing and rank. And if it be so in an intellectual way
even--to say nothing of mere bodily service--if any man works to a
position that others shall all look up to him and that he may have to
look up to nobody, he has just put himself precisely into the same
condition as the people of whom our Lord speaks--as those who exercise
dominion and authority, and really he thinks it a fine thing to be

But it is not so in the kingdom of heaven. The figure there is entirely
reversed. As you may see a pyramid reflected in the water, just so, in a
reversed way altogether, is the thing to be found in the kingdom of God.
It is in this way: the Son of Man lies at the inverted apex of the
pyramid; he upholds, and serves, and ministers unto all, and they who
would be high in his kingdom must go near to him at the bottom, to
uphold and minister to all that they may or can uphold and minister
unto. There is no other law of precedence, no other law of rank and
position in God's kingdom. And mind, that is _the_ kingdom. The other
kingdom passes away--it is a transitory, ephemeral, passing, bad thing,
and away it must go. It is only there on sufferance, because in the mind
of God even that which is bad ministers to that which is good; and when
the new kingdom is built the old kingdom shall pass away.

But the man who seeks this rank of which I have spoken, must be honest
to follow it. It will not do to say, "I want to be great, and therefore
I will serve." A man will not get at it so. He may begin so, but he will
soon find that that will not do. He must seek it for the truth's sake,
for the love of his fellows, for the worship of God, for the delight in
what is good. In the kingdom of heaven people do not think whether I am
promoted, or whether you are promoted. They are so absorbed in the
delight and glory of the goodness that is round about them, that they
learn not to think much about themselves. It is the bad that is in us
that makes us think about ourselves. It is necessary for us, because
there is bad in us, to think about ourselves, but as we go on we think
less and less about ourselves, until at last we are possessed with the
spirit of the truth, the spirit of the kingdom, and live in gladness and
in peace. We are prouder of our brothers and sisters than of ourselves;
we delight to look at them. God looks at us, and makes us what he
pleases, and this is what we must come to; there is no escape from it.

But the Lord says, that "the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto."
Was he not ministered unto then? Ah! he was ministered unto as never man
was, but he did not come for that. Even now we bring to him the
burnt-offerings of our very spirits, but he did not come for that. It
was to help us that he came. We are told, likewise, that he is the
express image of the Father. Then what he does, the Father must do; and
he says himself, when he is accused of breaking the Sabbath by doing
work on it, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Then this must be
God's way too, or else it could not have been Jesus's way. It is God's
way. Oh! do not think that God made us with his hands, and then turned
us out to find out our own way. Do not think of him as being always over

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest