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BOOKS AND THEIR USES.
FROM "SESAME AND LILIES."
EARLY all our associations are determined
by chance or necessity; and restricted within a narrow circle. We can not know whom we would; and those whom we know, we can not have at our side when we most need them. All the higher circles of human intelligence are, to those beneath, only momentarily and partially open. We may, by good fortune, obtain a glimpse of a great poet, and hear the sound of his voice; or put a question to a man of science, and be answered good-humoredly. We may intrude ten minutes' talk on a cabinet minister, answered probably with words worse than silence, being deceptive; or snatch, once or twice in our lives, the privilege of throwing a bouquet in the path of a princess, or arresting the kind glance of a Queen. And yet those momentary chances we covet; and spend our years, and passions, and powers, in pursuit of little more than these; while, meantime, there is a society continually open to us, of people who will talk to us as long as we like, whatever our rank or occupation; talk to us in the best words they can choose, and with thanks if we listen to them. And this society, because it is so numerous and so gentle, and can be kept waiting round us all. day long, not to grant audience, but to gain it; kings and statesmen lingering patiently in those plainly furnished and narrow anterooms, our bookcase shelves,we make no account of that company; perhaps never listen to a word they would say, all day long!
But a book is written, not to multiply the voice merely, not to carry it merely, but to preserve it. The author has something to say which he perceives to be true and useful, or helpfully beautiful. So far as he knows, no one has yet said it; so far as he knows, no one else can say it. He is bound to say it, clearly and melodiously if he may; clearly, at all events. In the sum of his life he finds this to be the thing, or group of things, manifest to him;-this the piece of true knowledge, or sight, which his share of sunshine and earth has permitted him to seize. He would fain set it down forever; engrave it
on rock, if he could; saying, "This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another; my life was as the vapor, and is not; but this I saw and knew ; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory." That is his "writing"; it is, in his small human way, and with whatever degree of true inspiration is in him, his inscription, or scripture. That is, a "Book."
Now, books of this kind have been written in all ages by their greatest men; by great leaders, great statesmen, and great thinkers. These are all at your choice; and life is short. You have heard as much before;-yet have you measured and mapped out this short life and its possibilities? Do you know if you read this, that you can not read that-that what you lose to-day you can not gain to-morrow? Will you go and gossip with your housemaid, or your stable-boy, when you may talk with queens and kings; or flatter yourselves that it is with any worthy consciousness of your own claims to respect that you jostle with the common crowd for entree here, and audience there, when all the while this eternal court is open to you, with its society wide as the world, multitudinous as its days, the chosen, and the mighty, of every place and time? Into that you may enter always; in that you may take fellowship and rank according to your wish; from that, once entered into it, you can never be outcast but by your own fault; by your aristocracy of companionship there, your own inherent aristocracy will be assuredly tested, and the motives with which you strive to take high place in the society of the living, measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are in them, by the place you desire to take in this company of the dead.
"The place you desire," and the place you fit yourself for, I must also say; because, observe, this court of the past differs from all living aristocracy in this: it is open to labor and to merit, but to nothing else. No wealth will bribe, no name overawe, no artifice deceive, the guardian of those Elysian gates. In the deep sense, no vile or vulgar person ever enters there.
FROM "THE ETHICS OF THE DUST."
The lecturer is seated in the library with the children about him.
JOU might think Miss Edgeworth meant that the right was to be done mainly because one is always rewarded for doing it. It is an injustice to her to say that; her heroines always do right simply for its own sake, as they should; and her examples of conduct and motive are wholly admirable. But her representation of events is false and misleading. Her good characters never are brought into the deadly trial of goodness,-the doing right, and suffering for it, quite finally. And that is life, as God arranges it. "Taking up one's cross "' does not at all mean having ovations at dinner parties, and being put over every body else's head.
Dora. But what does it mean then? That is just what we could n't understand, when you were telling us about not sacrificing ourselves, yesterday.
L. My dear, it means simply that you are to go the road which you see to be the straight one; carrying whatever you find is given you to carry, as well and stoutly as you can; without making faces, or calling people to come and look at you. Above all, you are neither to load, nor unload, yourself; nor cut your cross to your own liking. Some people think it would be better for them to have it large; and many, that they could carry it much faster if it were small; and even those who like it largest are usually very particular about its being ornamental, and made of the best ebony. But all that you have really to do is to keep your back as straight as you can; and not think about what is upon it-above all, not.to boast of what is upon it. The real and essential meaning of
"virtue" is in that straightness of back.
L. Yes; but a particular kind of courage. It means courage of the nerve; vital courage. That first syllable of it, if you look in Max Müller, you will find really means "nerve," and from it come "vis," and "vir," and "virgin" (through vireo), and the connected word "virga "-"a rod";-the green rod, or springing bough of a tree, being the type of perfect human strength, both in the use of it in the Mosaic story, when it becomes a serpent, or strikes the rock; or when Aaron's bears its almonds; and in the metaphorical expressions, the "Rod out of the stem of Jesse," and the "Man whose name is the Branch,” and so on.
And the essential idea of real virtue is that of a vital human strength, which instinctively, constantly, and without motive, does what is right. You must train men to this by habit, as you would the branch of a tree; and give them instincts and manners (or morals) of purity, justice, kindness, and courage. Once rightly trained, they act as they should, irrespective of all motive, of fear, or of reward. It is the blackest sign of putrescence in a national religion, when men speak as if it were the only safeguard of conduct; and assume that, but for the fear of being burned, or for the hope of being rewarded, everybody would pass their lives in lying, stealing, and murdering.
Violet (after long pause). But, then, what con
F it were possible for Art to give all the truths of Nature, it ought to do it. But this is not possible. Choice must always be made of some facts, which can be represented, from among others which must be passed by in silence, or even, in some respects, misrepresented. The inferior artist chooses unimportant and scattered truths; the great artist chooses the most necessary first, and afterward the most consistent with these, so as to obtain the greatest possible and most harmonious sum. For instance, Rembrandt always chooses to represent the exact force with which the light on the most illuminated part of an object is opposed to its obscurer portions. In order to obtain this in most cases not very important truth, he sacrifices the light and color of five-sixths of his picture; and the expression of every character of objects which depends on tenderness of shape or tint. But he obtains his single truth, and what picturesque and forcible expression is dependent upon it, with magnificent skill and subtlety.
Veronese, on the contrary, chooses to represent
the great relations of visible things to each other, to the heaven above, and to the earth beneath them. He holds it more important to show how a figure stands relieved from delicate air, or marble wall; how, as a red, or a purple, or a white figure, it separates itself, in clear discernibility, from things not red, nor purple, nor white; how infinite daylight shines round it; how innumerable veils of faint shadow invest it; how its blackness and darkness are, in the excess of their nature, just as limited and local as its intensity of light; all this, I say, he feels to be more important than merely showing the exact measure of the spark of sunshine that gleams on a dagger-hilt, or glows on a jewel.
All this, however, he feels to be harmonious-capable of being joined in one great system of spacious truth. And with inevita ble watchfulness, inestimable subtlety, he unites all this in tenderest balance, noting in each hair'sbreadth of color not merely what is rightness or wrongness in itself, but what its relation is to every other on his canvas.
DEAN OF CANTERBURY, AUTHOR OF THE MOST POPULAR "LIFE OF CHRIST."
UR age is frequently described as one of skepticism, if not of infidelity; but a truer reading of the signs of the times leads to the conclusion that it is rather an age of broader and more genuine Christianity-the age in which the so-called conflict between science and religion has ended, and men are coming to see the unity of truth. No man has done more to bring about this result than Dean Farrar. He was born in Bombay in 1831, and was educated at King William's College, Isle of Man, King's College, London, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was admitted to priest's orders in 1857, and was an assistant master at the famous school of Harrow for several years. He then became head master of Marlborough College, where he remained until he was appointed canon in Westminster Abbey, in 1876. He became Archdeacon of Westminster in 1883, and, later, Dean of Canterbury. He has sketched the story of his school life on the Isle of Man in the story of "Eric, or Little by Little,' which was his first book, the proposal to write which came to him unsought, and made him an author, as he says, by accident. The book has passed through twenty-six editions. He has written two other works of fiction, the popular romances, "Darkness and Dawn" and "Gathering Clouds"; many volumes of sermons and theological papers; three learned books, "The Origin of Language," Chapters on Language," and "Families of Speech"; a course of lectures on the "Witness of History to Christ"; a great volume on the doctrines of judgment and a future state; besides the three books by which he is chiefly known, the "Life of Christ," "Life and Work of St. Paul," and "Beginnings of Christianity." He is a voluminous and most acceptable writer in religious papers, and his literary work seems to be nowhere near completion.
Any American visiting England should not fail, if possible, to hear a sermon by the eloquent Rector of St. Margaret's, the Dean of Canterbury. To his oriental birthplace some of the vivid rhetoric and pictorial imagination which mark both his books and sermons may be owing. He has more than once aroused controversy by the announcement of theological views at variance with those held as rigidly "orthodox." This has apparently died out as religious thought has advanced, and Dean Farrar's latest writings dealing with the authority and interpretation of the Scriptures have met with little hostile criticism.