Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

01

[ocr errors]

would have made proper provision for its comfort and safety, and not mercilessly exposed it to the fury of the Russian winter. Man's cruelty and lack of thought, not Divine destiny, was the cause of that dreadful catastrophe.

It would be folly to walk along the edge of a precipice, and, if we should fall over the brink to the rocks below, cry out that fate threw us there. If we cannot swim, we are but fools if we leap into the ocean and expect not to drown; or dash our heads against a rock and expect to escape injury. It is our own lack of judgment that is to blame if we go forth into the forest in the dead of winter insufficiently clad, and are bitten by the cold; or if we drop from the top of a high building instead of descending by the stairs. Lack of wisdom, not cruelty of fate, would be responsible for all evil that befell us under such circumstances; and to the same cause must we attribute the failure of Napoleon in Russia.

Want of sympathy was the main defect in the character of this otherwise great man. Had he any sympathy for Josephine, who had given the best years of her life to aiding his fortunes, when he mercilessly divorced her in order to marry the Austrian? No; he thought only of self, thought of strengthening his position by an alliance with

[ocr errors]

that ancient monarchy, thought of perpetuating his name by leaving a son, and sons of that son, to rule for ages over France and the world. Such selfish ambition was doomed to failure, not by destiny, but by the wrongs and suffering of others who were the cause of arousing opposition to his purpose, which even his powerful will was incapable of overcoming.

Individual man is but a part of man and cannot work selfishly in opposition to his other parts and obtain ultimate

success,

no more than one arm of a man can work contrary to the other and accomplish results; and when Napoleon set out on his errand of selfishness, he defeated himself and was not vanquished by destiny.

Did Charles the First lose his head on account of destiny? Was it ordained before he came into the world that a Cromwell would be created in order to destroy him; or did his own actions cause that Cromwell to arise as a representative of the people who had suffered by the acts of Charles? Did Louis XVI go to the guillotine by decree of destiny; or for his failure to remedy the abuses that had accumulated under a succession of kings of that name? Had these monarchs possessed sympathy for their people, and exercised the power they possessed in order to better the material con

[ocr errors]

dition of their fellow man, instead of crushing him to the earth like a worm, those very people would have called them blessed in place of exacting their blood. Both these monarchs went to the scaffold by decree of their own errors and not the mandate of destiny.

Is Washington idolized by his countrymen and admired by civilized man the world over, by command of destiny; or for his unselfish devotion to that country and his endeavors toward the betterment of the condition of mankind? Did he not put aside vaulting ambition, and consider the weal of others? Was his army at Valley Forge saved from destruction during that terrible winter by destiny, or the unselfish sacrifices of his countrymen who composed that noble band? Did he not share with them their sufferings, instead of seizing on the glory alone? Yes; and his star will shine in the zenith, when “ the man of destiny's” has set forever below the horizon of time.

Was Grant a man foreordained by fate to marshall the hosts of the North, and thus prevent the destruction of that Nation brought into being by the sword of Washington? No; he fitted himself for the great task by so moulding his character as to give him the tenacity of purpose which alone insured success; and thus, by his own efforts, he made himself the logical and necessary man of the hour, and was not the mere child of destiny.

Was Lincoln a product of destiny; or the natural result of a life of unremitting toil and absolute devotion to, and love of, mankind? Assuredly the latter.

Thus history, through all ages, shows us, in unmistakable terms, that man is the creator of his own destiny by fitting himself for success or failure according to the uses he makes of the powers which a Divine Creator has planted in his soul, and which, by his own actions and life, he can either cultivate or destroy. Therefore, as he possesses these powers, he is the master of his own destiny.

EVE'S ACCOUNT OF HER FIRST DAY

JOHN MILTON

John Milton was born in London, England, December 9, 1608, and died there November 8, 1674. The following is an extract from “ Paradise Lost," Book IV.

W HAT day I oft remember, when from sleep

VV I first awaked, and found myself reposed. Under a shade, on flowers, much wondering where And what I was, whence thither brought, and how. Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound Of waters issued from a cave, and spread Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved,

Pure as the expanse of Heaven; I thither went
With inexperienced thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite,
A shape within the watery gleam appeared,
Bending to look on me; I started back,
It started back; but pleased I soon returned,
Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
Of sympathy and love; there I had fixed
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warned me: “What thou seest,
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;
With thee it came and goes; but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming and thy soft embraces — he
Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy,
Inseparably thine; to him shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called
Mother of human race.' What could I do,
But follow straight, invisibly thus led?

Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall,
Under a platane; yet methought less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth watery image: back I turned;
Thou following criedst aloud, ‘Return, fair Eve,
Whom fliest thou? whom thou fliest of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone: to give thee being I lent,
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,

« PreviousContinue »