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They rush to see an emperor or a president, but they are quick to admire an Augustus and curse a Tiberius, to see the disparity between a Jackson and a Johnson. The British queen holds her subjects' hearts far more by her womanly and motherly qualities than by her exalted rank. The men of rank now feel constrained to show by their good services the utility of their nobility. A Prince of Wales must to some degree verify the motto of his crest : “I serve." Great place but exposes the small soul. The modern display of the moral bankruptcy of that marvelous man, the first emperor of the French, is making sad havoc with the bright image that once captivated every youthful imagination. Not even the genius of Carlyle can canonize the cynical egotism and reckless rapacity of Frederick the Second.
Literature brings higher honors ; but not brilliancy alone. It must be gold, and not tinsel. To lay hold on humanity it must speak to humanity, and it must, therefore, speak from true and deep humanity. Tricks of speech and contortions of thought, vagaries and conceits, “storm and stress,” mock sentiment and mechanical emotion, specious and spurious thinking pass with their authors to oblivion. The thin romance, laden it may be with epigrams, though Aoated by all the breath of the publisher, the paid journalist, and the hired critic, soon sinks. Such things fall around as thick as autumnal leaves in Vallombrosa, and like leaves they blow away. The tales that both realize and idealize our very life, histories that seize the spirit
of the times, musings and reasonings that utter the best voices of the heart, the poetry, idyllic, epic, tragic, or lyric, that tells the best meditations of man to his fellow man these immortalize their author. be but one thing -- the high and true thing – in which the whole man has uttered himself - some massive argument, a great “Analogy or some simple song of “ Home, sweet home.” It speaks to mankind.
A worn and weary woman in a western city, loaded down with family cares and poverty, writes a tale not only bright with thought and keen with observation, but glowing with philanthropic fire, tender with woman's sympathies, vitalized with a mother's love, and throbbing with a Christian heartbeat, and she emerges from poverty and obscurity to competence and fame. But what is it that in the visit to a foreign land not only opens the doors of wealth and rank but throngs the thoroughfares and halting places with humble crowds eager to catch a sight of that modest face and brings the street greeting from strange voices : “Ye're welcome to Scotland !”? It was not so much the novelty of the plot, the strangeness of the scenes, or the brilliancy of the writing as the fullness of the inner life, the powerful portraiture of “God's image carved in ebony,” the masterly touch of the deepest chords of human feeling, the swelling undertone of soul that was in it.
If this hold good of the life's utterances, much more of the life itself. Even here every man is ultimately to be weighed and estimated by his character. In due time it will force its way out.
• The sober second thought” of aftertimes corrects the rash judgments of the present. After two centuries of laborious disguise “the blessed martyr Charles " stands forth as a false and perfidious despot, and the “canting fanatic' Cromwell as the grand ruler.
The earlier and darker days were not altogether forgetful of this standard. From the later times of chivalry there come down to us the names of two contemporary knights, a Spaniard and a Frenchman, in the new world and in the old. They were of equal daring and not unequal powers. The Spaniard wrought a vastly greater achievement; for he conquered an ancient empire and poured into Europe the gold of America. The Frenchman, though but a subordinate officer, served a sovereign from whom neither king, emperor, nor pope could detach him. The one stands out as a fearless warrior and conqueror, with a history of marvelous ability, daring, and energy, but a tale of rapacity, treachery, and butchery; a vision filled with ghosts of betrayed, tortured, and murdered monarchs and of slaughtered myriads of their loyal subjects. We shut our eyes in horror. The story of the other is not so much of the Bayard defending the bridge of Garigliano single-handed against two hundred, scaling the fortress of Genoa and the rampart of Padua, charging through the morass breast-deep at Aguadillo, knighting his king upon the battlefield and saving his kingdom at Mésières, as of the Bayard sharing his purse with friends and with strangers, keeping his word with the treacherous spy, abhorring perfidy, rebuking the profane, relieving the poor, protecting the defenseless, incorruptible in his integrity, and breathing out his soul in prayer upon the battlefield ; it is this that has handed down his name to perpetual honor as “the knight without fear and without reproach.”
It is a significant token of the growing sway of Christian sentiment that both public and private life are now brought to this test. Men stand or fall by what they do, rather than what they say, and not always by what they do so much as how, when, and why they do it. The candidate for high office must, as a rule, show a clean record. A vile physician can practice only with the vile. The criminal's lawyer must beware of the criminal's taint. The infidel even must renounce the morals of Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Paine, and show himself a good family man and a good citizen in order to sell tickets to his lectures. A man cannot live meanly, then
“ Die and endow a college or a cat,”
and so rise to respectability and honor. Benefactions of the dead man do not atone for the worthlessness of the live man. Two millions' worth of white marble walls, filled with a thousand orphans, have won no honor for one who was ungracious, ill-tempered, divorced, living and dying without a friend. And while it is better that bad men's money should be used for God than for Satan, I have known a fine educational building where the tablet perpetuated the shame of its founder. And it is a sad damper in gazing on a fine edifice to hear a gruff voice say, “Rum did it.”
The demand upon men of position and of culture to be also men of character has perhaps never been so exacting. The occasional and startling breaches of trust do not disprove the statement. For those men sink to rise no more. The gentleman of blue blood and haut ton has blown out his brains in token that with his character all was lost. Men will indeed pardon many crudities, some follies and faults in an earnest, honest man - all the more for his honesty and earnestness. But for the man who is believed to be corrupt at heart there is no tolerance. There may be great veins or arteries of meanness traversing the whole soul, incompatible with honor or honorable feeling - an omnivorous selfishness, a dull malignity, a foxy craftiness, a heedless levity, an habitual falsity, or even some one breach of confidence so utter that you never could confide in that man again. On such rocks as these men wreck themselves. If a good name is better than precious ointment, the perfume of a good name belongs only to the upright and wholesouled man. IV. Character brings power.
It is power. I take it that all ultimate force in the universe is will force; and character is will force rightly wielded, working firmly and fixedly in harmony with God's eternal law. It is activity, pure and simple. It sees and seizes its sphere and function and holds it fast. It avoids friction within and waste without, internecine war and beating