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Thro' sunny ways,
Of coming days
Blow, Western gale,
From every vale,
BY THE LATE CHARLES READE, D.C.L., AUTHOR OF “It's NEVER Too Late to MEND,” ETC.
I.-A LITERARY MARVEL.
THE HE characters in Scripture are a literary of civilisation no country with independent marvel.
states ever got those states to unite in leavIt is very hard to write characters in one ing home and besieging a distant city to recountry to be popular in every land and age. cover the person of a solitary adultress. The
Especially hard in narrative. (Drama pa- manner: the first dawn of civilisation showed rades characters by numberless speeches, and men that cities placed like Troy can always autographs them by soliloquy—an expedient be taken by one of two methods, blockade or false in nature, but convenient in art.) assault. But Homer's Zulus had neither the
Hardest of all to create such world-wide sense to blockade that civilised city and and everlasting characters in few words, a starve it out, nor the invention to make ladbare record of great things said and done. ders, covered ways, and battering-rams, nor
One test of difficulty is rarity : number, the courage to scale walls, nor even to burn then, the world-wide characters — if any– or break through a miserable gate. The in Thucydides and Herodotus, and observe civilised Trojans had a silver currency, the whether Josephus, when he leaves watering Tyrian shekel
, called by scholars with Homer the Bible and proceeds to supplement it, has on the brain "the Homeric shekel.” Homer added one deathless character to the picture- never mentions it, never saw it. The uncivigalleries of Holy Writ. Shall we carry the lised Greeks had no currency but bullocks; comparison higher, and include poetic narra- no trade but exchange of commodities. The tive ? then go to the top of the tree at attack and defence of Troy were of a piece once, and examine the two great epics of with the two currencies: the civilised antiquity.
Orientals, with a silver currency, barred out The Æneid—what a stream of narrative ! the Zulus, with bullock currency and what fire of description! what march and calves' brains, like a pack of school-boys, and music of words ! But the characters - showed their contempt of them by coming Æneas mediocre, his staff lay figures. Dido out and attacking them in the open with just interesting enough to make one angry their inferior numbers. Yet the genius of with Æneas. Perhaps the strongest colour Homer could dazzle men's eyes, and bewitch is in the friendship and fate of Nisus and their ears, and confound their judgments, Euryalus; and there a Jewish pen had shown and sing black white. So behold the bar
barians gilt for ever, and the civilised people The less polished but mightier Homer has smirched. Carent quia vate sacro. achieved the highest feat of genius : he has But turn from the glories of the wondrous made puny things grand, and fertilised peb- tale this magician has built on a sorry subbles. He has bewitched even scholars into ject-fitter for satire than epic—to his chathinking his Greeks wiser and braver than the racters, and he is no longer supreme. Trojans; whereas, if you can shut your ears To be sure, he does not dose us with to his music, his Greeks were barbarians be- monotonies, abstractions, lay figures; fortemsieging a civilised city for a motive and in a que Gyan, fortemque Cloanthum : he discrimimanner incompatible with one ray of civili- nates the brute courage of Ajax and the airy sation. The motive : from the first dawn valour of Tydides, the wisdom of Nestor and
the astuteness of Ulysses. But his gods and them in the very text of the story. But it goddesses ?-mere human animals; blue would be paying this false method—which blood for red, and there ends his puerile in microscopes real mediocrity into false imvention in things divine. His leading heroes portance--too great a compliment to compare are characters, but not on a par with his its fruits with the characters that are selfdescriptions, his narrative, and his music. evolved in the sacred writers, and indeed in They are the one ephemeral element in an Homer and Virgil
, for their method was, at immortal song. Achilles, with his unsoldier- all events, the true one, though its results in like egotism, his impenetrable armour, his the single particular of character were inZulu cruelty to his helpless foe, and his an- ferior. tique tender friendship, is a brave Greek of In further support of my present position the day, but he is not for all time; two- let me submit a few truths to be taken in thirds of him no modern soldier would deign conjunction. to copy.
first. Moderate excellence in writing is The twenty-four books devoted by so great geographical ; loses fifty per cent. in human a poet to Ulysses have not engraved “the esteem by crossing a channel or a frontier. much-enduring man” on the Western heart. Second. Translation lowers it ten per cent.
In short, the leading heroes of Homer's Third. But when you carry into the West epics are immortal in our libraries, but dead a translation of a work the East admires ever in our lives.
so much, ten to one it will miss the Western Now take the two little books called mind. Eastern music is a dreamy noise to a Samuel. The writer is not a great master Western ear, but one degree_beyond the like Homer and Virgil; he is artless, and sweet illogical wail of an Æolian harp. careless to boot; forgets what he had said Eastern poetry is to the Western a glue of a few pages before, and spoils more than one honeyed words, a tinkling cymbal, or good incident by putting the cart before the drowsy chime. The sacred Koran, the Bible horse-I mean by false transposition, by of a hundred million Orientals, is to your presenting events out of their true and in- Anglo-Saxon the weakest twaddle that ever teresting sequence : a sad fault in composi- drivelled from a human skull. It does not tion. But the characters that rise from the shock an Occidental Christian, or rouse his historical strokes of that rude pen are im- theological ire. It is a mild emetic to his mortal : so solid, and full of colour too, that understanding, and there's an end of it. they stand amidst the waves of time like Fourth. The world is a very large place : rocks, carved into statues by Phidias, and Palestine is a small province in the East. coloured by Apelles.
Fifth. What the whole world outside PalesYet this writer has no monopoly of the tine could very seldom do at all, this petty art in ancient Palestine ; he shares it with province did on a very large scale. About about sixteen other historians, all Hebrews, seventeen writers, all Israelites, some of them though some of them write Hebrew and some with what would nowadays be called a little Greek.
learning, some without, some writing in In our day character-painting is much Hebrew, some in Greek, all achieved one attempted by certain writers of fictitious wonder. They sat down to record great narrative; but their method excludes them deeds done, and great words spoken, in from a serious comparison with Homer, Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine, Virgil, and the sacred historians. They do which districts united are but a slice of the not evolve characters by simple narration. East, and they told them wondrous briefly, They clog the story with a hundred little yet so that immortal and world-wide chaessays on the character of each character. racters rise like exhalations from the record. They keep putting their heads from behind Written in the East, these characters live the show, and openly analysing their pale for ever in the West; written in one procreations, and dissecting them, and eking vince, they pervade the world; penned in them out with comments, and microscoping rude times, they are prized more and more their poodles into lions. These are the easy as civilisation advances; product of antiexpedients of feeble art. They succeed with quity, they come home to the business and contemporaries, and, indeed, are sure to be bosoms of men, women, and children in popular for a time, because most readers modern days. have slow or lazy minds, and love a writer Then is it any exaggeration to say that who will save them the trouble of studying “THE CHARACTERS OF SCRIPTURE ARE A and penetrating character by doing it for MARVEL OF THE MIND ?”
LORD SHAFTESBURY AS A SOCIAL REFORMER.
BY JOHN RAE, M.A., AUTHOR OF “CONTEMPORARY SOCIALISM,” ETC. TOWA TOWARDS the end of his long life, Lord mother in fashion—to give proper thought
Shaftesbury was one day visiting Har- to the simplest and most natural of parental row, his old school, and as he walked down duties. Shaftesbury himself was always reHarrow Hill with the Master the latter said spectfully reticent about all the harshness he to him, “Can your Lordship remember any endured as a boy at home, but on one occaparticular incident or occasion which induced sion the remark escaped him, that “it would you to dedicate your life as you have done be incredible to most men, and perhaps it to the cause of the poor and the wretched ?” would do no good, if such facts were recorded.” “It is a most extraordinary coincidence,” was And school was even worse than home. At the reply, “that you should ask me that the tender age of seven he was sent to a priquestion here, for it was within ten yards of vate boarding school at Chiswick, where he the spot where we are now standing that I underwent such misery at the hands of first resolved to make the cause of the poor masters and bullies that the memory of it my own." The circumstances were these. used to make him shudder to the end of his In his school days at Harrow he was once life, though he took some consolation from sauntering on that very part of the hill, when the reflection that perhaps "it might have he met a pauper's funeral. There were no given him an early horror of oppression and relations or mourners, and the plain deal cruelty.” coffin in which the body was placed was borne The other influence I have alluded to as conby four or five drunken men, who were shout-tributing to mould the beginnings of his future ing and singing at the top of their voices as character is not less important. There was they went along, and who eventually let their only one patch of sunshine on all that desolate burden fall with a crash on the ground, and time; it was the simple affection and fidelity of then broke into violent swearing over it. his old nurse. She taught him his first words That sight made a social reformer of Lord of prayer and bent his heart to religion; she Shaftesbury. It was intolerable, he felt, seems to have been the only person in the that merely because a man was poor and world who showed him any genuine care or friendless he should be thus left to suffer solicitude, or to whom he could venture to things that were a shame to our common man. confide his troubles. It was her gold watch hood, and so then and there he declared that which she left to him on her death-that if God spared him he would in after years he always wore, and he was fond of showing stand as the friend and kinsman of the poor. it and saying, "That was given me by the
This first breath of humane indignation best friend I ever had in the world.” His was itself, however, in some measure the two chief characteristics in after life, the two product of still earlier influences in his his- springs of all the work he did, were his tender, tory, and among these there are two in par- abounding human sympathy, and his proticular that may be selected as being of para- found religious principle; and though there mount interest and importance. In the first is that in the growth of character which will place, young though he was, and brought always elude our poor and perhaps preup, as we may say, in the purple, he had yet sumptuous analysis, it is surely permissible tasted much in his own lot of the very suf- to believe that for the development of these ferings of the poor. The future champion two great gifts of heart and conscience of neglected children had been a neglected Lord Shaftesbury owed much to this kindly child himself. He often knew what it was daughter of the poor. Wherever all over the to go days without food, and pass nights weary world his beneficent work has scattered blessand sleepless from sheer cold. His parents ings in the homes of labour the name of Maria treated their children with a strange absence Millis deserves to be held in remembrance. of affection. For one thing, they no doubt Of the religious side of the man I shall not shared a mischievous error which, happily, is touch here further than to point out that to less prevalent now than it was in their day, his own mind his social work was always that children cannot be kept obedient except really and essentially religious work—"an by severity of discipline and a wholesome affair,” as he said, “less of feeling than of fear of their elders; but besides that, they religion,” from which consequently, having seem to have been too much absorbed in once put his hand to it, he dared not turn their own pursuits—the father in politics, the back or turn aside. Though, as we have
seen, he had tresolved at a very early period his factory agitation. Palmerston urged him
-as indeed many other young men have to join his Cabinet in 1855, and Derby in resolved before and since—that he would 1866; but his answer was that there were still live to brighten the lot of the poor, it was 1,600,000 factory children to provide protecsome time before it appeared that this was to tion for, and he could not give up the freedom be the main vocation of his life. His Oxford necessary to plead their cause for the sake of career, which ended in the distinction of a place, emolument, or power. To enter into first class in classics, had given him the the full significance of this ever-renewed thought of devoting himself to science or choice of Xercules, we must bear in mind literature, and the thought continued to that Lord Shaftesbury was, for a peer, a very haunt him for a few years even after his poor man, and that down to the very end entrance on parliamentary work. Even his life was one long struggle with pecuniary tually, however, he perceived that what-straits. His income was always narrow, and ever his tastes, his circumstances marked him before his accession to the title half of it was for a political career, because with his advan borrowed money, which accumulated at high tages of station and connection, it was in interest and left him a crippled and embarsuch a career he would be able to be most rassed man for years after his accession. useful to his generation. But when launched His father had made him a very inadequate in politics, he had then to choose between allowance—only £100 a year more, when he the career of the ordinary placeman and the was a public man and had a career of the philanthropic reformer. No family, than he had received as a young doubt his natural bent soon discovered itself; bachelor at Oxford ; and when he took up his very first speech was in demand of lunacy the factory question, the father so strongly legislation to humanise the treatment of the disapproved of his conduct that they became insane; in his first office, as Indian Commis- absolutely estranged for ten years, and there sioner, to which he was soon appointed by seemed no alternative but to go into debt. the Duke of Wellington, he made some en- The pecuniary penalty of this alienation was deavours to suppress suttee; and before he not the worst of the trial; but to Shaftesbury was half-a-dozen years in Parliament he had the voices of the children rang in his ear acquired such a character as a general friend like the voice of God, and to prefer father of the miserable that the Short Time Com- or mother was to make the great renunmittee asked him, in 1833, to take charge in ciation. His straitened circumstances were the House of Commons of the “ Ten Hours peculiarly distressing to him as a philanBill,” in place of Mr. M. T. Sadler, who had thropist, because his labours in that capacity failed to secure a seat in the Reformed Par- brought in upon him, from people who liament. Curiously enough, he had known imagined he must be rich as well as charinothing of the subject till Mr. Sadler's com- table, a continual crowd of claims which he mittee had published their evidence a year was unable to support as he desired. And before; but that evidence had made a pro- after he entered on his estates, it is touching found impression on his mind, and he be to read of his gratitude to his sister for lieved that the factory children were suffering offering to build some decent cottages on inhuman and disastrous wrongs which no the property for him in room of the filthy Christian nation ought to allow. He therefore and abominable huts which he found there, accepted the invitation and fairly embarked but lacked the means of replacing with on what turned out a most remarkable and better. It enabled him to take the beam protracted struggle. He probably could not out of his own eye, for he was distressed to then have foreseen that this struggle was to find that, after rating others for the wretched occupy him for the rest of his life, but he dwellings they let their poor labourers live certainly knew the responsibility he under- in, he had himself come into an estate took; he knew he had to face much obloquy which, as he himself says, was "rife with from all sides and to risk alienation from abominations to make one's flesh
and his political patrons and forfeiture of the ex- I have not a farthing to set them right." pectation of office. But he made the choice The multifarious character of his activity then without a back-thought, and again and as a social reformer is most striking. In again in his life he did the same. Peel general politics he interposed only now and offered him a place in the Household in 1841 again, chiefly when some grave moral quesand a seat in the Cabinet in 1845; but each tion seemed involved, but the interests of time Shaftesbury declined the office on the the poor found him always a ready pleader, ground that party obligations might cripple and the interests of the poor are many. He
was not only a zealous but an effective he had been a traitor-he who might be pleader, because he was always a convinced thought to have already sufficiently estab
In fact he said himself he could not lished his sincerity by his prolonged sacrispeak at all except from conviction, that he fices for the cause ? or to take an example had little of the ordinary politician's aptitude from another field of social effort, while to make a good appearance for his side whe- losing no opportunity of exposing the sad ther he agreed with it completely or not. evils of drunkenness, he never saw his way Then he had always previously mastered the to be a total abstainer, still less a prodetails, and generally, by personal inspection hibitionist. Temperance was the virtue, of the circumstances. He had taken tea not abstinence; and in 1868 he made at a hundreds of times in workmen's houses ; he public banquet what will seem to many a had “slummed" so far back as 1846, and the curious speech in defence of "a very old result was the Model Lodging House Act; custom which seems to have been going out he visited asylums and mills, and saw every- of late, but which,” he says, “I am glad to thing with his own eyes before he exposed it see is being revived—the custom of drinking in the fierce light of Parliament. No account a glass of wine with your fellow-man.” He can be given in the present limited space of speaks of it as “one of the wisest institutions” his successive and continuous labours for the because he had often known it to be the insane, for the blind, for the homeless boys means of composing quarrels and cementing of the streets, for sanitary legislation of all friendship, and concluded, “Therefore, I say, sorts, for ragged schools and training ships, never give up this convivial system, only for children in mines and brickfields and mills, take it, like you should every other means for needle-women and flower-girls, for poor of enjoyment, in moderation."
He was a Jack at sea, or for his humble but particular simple, manly nature who liked the touch of cronies the costermongers, to whose brother- honest friendship; his attachment to Palhood he belonged, owning a barrow, and hiring merston, for example, is very beautiful; and it like one of themselves, and once suggesting while respecting abstainers he would not in joke that he might be addressed “K.G. follow them because he would not have men and Coster.” The combination is character- ascetic, though he would have them sober. istic; he was probably as truly touched by The violent language I have spoken of the honour that sprang from the gratitude of was no exclusive characteristic of Shaftesthese simple folk as by the decoration from bury's speeches, but was indeed an unhappy the Crown. And speaking of honours, it is quality of the whole factory agitation and singular how few of them seem to have come all who took part in it on whatever side. his way. The Garter he had indeed twice Charles Greville says it was the bitterest refused before he finally accepted it, partly agitation he remembers in his day, though because he feared it might entail party obli- it was outside ordinary party lines, and gations that would hamper his social work, arrayed Tory against Tory and Whig against but chiefly, we fear, because he could not Whig. Shaftesbury himself often complained afford the £1,000 of initiation fees. Up, how of the strangely assorted host that was enever, till his decoration with the Garter, he had camped against him, and of the asperity he never received any public recognition what- endured in quarters where he believed he ever, except the freedom of the burgh of Tain. had a right to expect support. He was, he
As a reformer, Shaftesbury was no fanatic thought, the best-hated man of his time. and no sentimentalist. He was often blamed Wilberforce had begun his work with a for interfering with things he could know powerful committee and a prime minister at nothing about by men who claimed to be his back, and attacking as he did a system ex" practical" men because they were merchants ternal to the country, excited few animosior millionaires, but the event has now proved ties at home. But with the Factory Acts on which side the true practicality lay, and the case stood otherwise. The manufacturthough his language was occasionally violent, ing interest was naturally opposed to him as his advocacy was always really distinguished a body, though individual mill-owners sided by a close adherence to facts and by a with him, and factory legislation was started moderation in policy. Did he not, for ac- by a mill-owner, the first Sir Robert Peel; cepting the practicable compromise of ten the landed interest
, which sometimes claims and a half hours instead of ten in 1847, now to have stood his friend, really held aloof, incur the fierce and ungrateful denuncia- so that he found it difficult to get a peer to tions of Oastler, the Fieldens, and other take charge of his Bill in the Upper House ; more extreme friends of the measure, as if ministers thought him dangerous, Sir James