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242 GOLD WIN SMITH
imagine more, there speaks to us a Being whose nature is akin to ours, and who has made our hearts capable of such converse. Astronomy has its practical uses, without which man's intellect would scarcely rouse itself to those speculations; but its greatest result is a revelation of immensity pervaded by one informing mind; and this revelation is made by astronomy only in the same sense in which the telescope reveals the stars to the eye of the astronomer. Science finds no law for the thoughts which, with her aid, are ministered to man by the starry skies. Science can explain the hues of sunset, but she cannot tell from what urns of pain and pleasure its pensiveness is poured. These things are felt by all men, felt the more in proportion as the mind is higher. They are a part of human nature; and why should they not be as sound a basis for philosophy as any other part 2 But if they are, the solid wall of material law melts away, and through the whole order of the material world pours the influence, the personal influence, of a spirit corresponding to our own. Again, is it true that the fixed or unvarying is the last revelation of science 2 These risings in the scale of created beings, this gradual evolution of planetary systems from their centre, do they bespeak mere creative force P Do they not rather bespeak something which, for want of an adequate word, we must call creative effort, corresponding to the effort by which man raises himself and his estate? And where effort can be discovered, does not spirit reign again 2 A creature whose sphere of vision is a speck, whose experience is a second, sees the pencil of Raphael moving over the canvas of the Transfiguration. It sees the pencil moving over its own speck, during its own second of existence, in one particular direction, and it concludes that the formula expressing that direction is the secret of the whole. There is truth as well as vigor in the lines of Pope on the discoveries
of Newton :
If they could not show a Newton as we show an ape, or a Newton's discoveries as we show the feats of apish cunning, it was because Newton was not a mere intellectual power, but a moral being, laboring in the service of his kind, and because his discoveries were the reward, not of sagacity only, but of virtue. We can imagine a mere organ of vision so constructed by Omnipotence as to see at a glance infinitely more than could be discovered by all the Newtons, but the animal which possessed that organ would not be higher than the moral being.
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Reason, no doubt, is our appointed guide to truth. The limits set to it by each dogmatist, at the point where it comes into conflict with his dogma, are human limits; the providential limits we can learn only by dutifully exerting it to the utmost. Yet reason must be impartial in the acceptance of data and in the demand of proof. Facts are not the less facts because they are not facts of sense; materialism is not necessarily enlightenment; it is possible to be at once chimerical and gross.
We may venture, without any ingratitude to science as the source of material benefits and the training school of inductive reason, to doubt whether the great secret of the moral world is likely to be discovered in her laboratory, or to be revealed to those minds which have been imbued only with her thoughts, and trained in her processes alone. Some, indeed, among the men of science who have given us sweeping theories of the world, seem to be not only one-sided in their view of the facts, leaving out of sight the phenomena of our moral nature, but to want one of the two faculties necessary for sound investigation. They are acute observers, but bad reasoners. And science must not expect to be exempt from the rules of reasoning. We cannot give credit for evidence which does not exist, because if it existed it would be of a scientific kind; nor can we pass at a bound from slight and precarious premises to a tremendous conclusion, because the conclusion would annihilate the spiritual nature and annul the divine origin of man.
SIR WILFRID LAURIER (1841 —)
HE Dominion of Canada, as is well known, has a population T made up of two distinct races, the French and the British, representing to-day the successive ownership of that great area. Though these are amalgamated to a considerable extent, their original diversity has by no means disappeared, the French stratum of the population retaining its old language and many of its old ideas. In 1896 the Canadian French became more intimately affiliated with the Government than ever before, when Wilfrid Laurier, a statesman of their race, was appointed to the high dignity of Premier of the Dominion, the first of his people to hold that position. He was invested with the honor of knighthood in the following year. For many years the Conservative party had been predominant in Canada. With Laurier the Liberals came into power, after a long interregnum. They could not have done so under an abler leader than Sir Wilfrid, who is considered by many as the ablestorator Canada has ever known, and is distinguished “not more by the finished grace of his oratory than by the boldness and authority with which he handled the deepest political problems” in the Dominion House of Commons. He designates himself “A Liberal of the English school, a pupil of Charles James Fox, Daniel O'Connell, and William Ewart Gladstone.”
GLADSTONE'S ELEMENTS OF GREATNESS
[Laurier's political orations are numerous, and many of them evince great ability. We append from these an example of his powers as a political orator, but we give in precedence his eulogy of Gladstone, as one of the most appreciative, striking and brilliant estimates of the character of the great English statesman.]
The last half century in which we live has produced many able and strong men, who, in different walks of life, have attracted the attention
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of the world at large; but of the men who have illustrated this age, it seems to me that in the eyes of posterity four will outlive and outshine all others—Cavour, Lincoln, Bismarck, and Gladstone. If we look simply at the magnitude of the results obtained, compared with the exiguity of the resources at command; if we remember that out of the small kingdom of Sardinia grew United Italy, we must come to the conclusion that Count Cavour was undoubtedly a statesman of marvelous skill and prescience. Abraham Lincoln, unknown to fame when he was elected to the presidency, exhibited a power for the government of men which has scarcely been surpassed in any age. He saved the American Union, he enfranchised the black race, and for the task he had to perform he was endowed in some respects almost miraculously. No man ever displayed a greater insight into the motives, the complex motives, which shape the public opinion of a free country, and he possessed almost to the degree of an instinct the supreme quality in a statesman of taking the right decision, taking it at the right moment, and expressing it in language of incomparable felicity. Prince Bismarck was the embodiment of resolute common sense, unflinching determination, relentless strength, moving onward to his end, and crushing everything in his way as unconcernedly as fate itself. Mr. Gladstone undoubtedly excelled every one of these men. He had in his person a combination of varied powers of the human intellect rarely to be found in one single individual. He had the imaginative fancy, the poetic conception of things, in which Count Cavour was deficient. He had the aptitude for business, the financial ability, which Lincoln never exhibited. He had the lofty impulses, the generous inspirations, which Prince Bismarck always discarded, even if he did not treat them with scorn. He was at once an orator, a statesman, a poet, and a man of business. As an orator he stands certainly in the very front rank of orators of his country or any country, of his age or any age. I remember when Louis Blanc was in England, in the days of the Second Empire, he used to write to the press of Paris, and in one of his letters to Le Temps he stated that Mr. Gladstone would undoubtedly have been the foremost orator of England if it were not for the existence of Mr. Bright. It may be admitted, and I think it is admitted generally, that on some occasions Mr. Bright reached heights of grandeur and pathos which even Mr. Gladstone did not attain. But Mr. Gladstone had an ability, a vigor, a fluency which no man in his age, or any age, ever rivaled, or even approached. That is not all. To his marvelous mental powers he added no less marvelous physical gifts. He had the eye of a god ; the voice of a silver bell ; and the very fire of his eye, the very music of his voice, swept the
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hearts of men even before they had been dazzled by the torrents of his eloquence. . In a character so complex and diversified one may be asked what was the dominant feature, what was the supreme quality, the one characteristic which marked the nature of the man. Was it his incomparable genius for finance 2 Was it his splendid oratorical powers ? Was it his marvelous fecundity of mind 2 In my estimation it was not any one of those qualities. Great as they were, there was one still more marked ; and, if I have to give my own impression, I would say that the one trait which was dominant in his nature, which marked the man more distinctly than any other, was his intense humanity, his paramount sense of right, his abhorrence of injustice, wrong, and oppression wherever to be found, or in whatever shape they might show themselves. Injustice, wrong, oppres
sion, acted upon him, as it were, mechanically, and aroused every fibre of .
his being, and, from that moment, to the repairing of the injustice, the undoing of the wrong, and the destruction of the oppression, he gave his mind, his heart, his soul, his whole life, with an energy, with an intensity, with a vigor paralleled in no man unless it be the First Napoleon.
RIEL AND THE GOVERNMENT
[In the Dominion House of Commons in the early months of 1886 an acrimonious debate took place, in which Mr. Laurier and Mr. Blake took the ground that in the execution for treason of Louis Riel, the half breed insurgent, the Government was seriously culpable, having knowingly and deliberately goaded the half-breeds to desperation and revolt. Sir John Thompson and others as vigorously defended the Government in its action. Mr. Laurier's speech on this subject, delivered March 16, 1886, is looked upon by many as his best effort and the finest oration ever heard in
Canadian Parliament. We give its opening and closing passages.]
Mr. Speaker : Since no one on the other side of the House has the courage to continue this debate, I will do so myself. The Minister of Public Works stated the Government were ready and anxious to discuss this question; and is this an evidence of the courage they pretend to possess P Sir, in all that has been said so far, and that has fallen from the lips of honorable gentlemen opposite, there is one thing in which we can all agree, and one thing only—we can all agree in the tribute which was paid to the volunteers by the Minister of Public Works when he entered into a defence of the Government. The volunteers had a most painful duty to perform, and they performed it in a most creditable manner to themselves and the country. Under the uniform of a soldier there is generally to be found a warm and merciful heart. Moreover, our soldiers are citizens who have an interest in this country; but when they are on duty they know nothing but duty. At the same time it can fairly be presumed