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and therefore it is not possible for him to exist | wise men try to keep as the best legacy of
as stars exist.
Let your rest be perfect in its season, like the rest of waters that are still. If you will have a model for your living, take neither the stars, for they fly without ceasing, nor the ocean that ebbs and flows, nor the river that cannot stay, but rather let your life be like that of the summer air, which has times of noble energy and times of perfect peace. It fills the sails of ships upon the sea, and the miller thanks it on the breezy uplands; it works generously for the health and wealth of all men, yet it claims its hours of rest. "I have pushed the fleet, I have turned the mill,
You will object to this criticism that it handles a delicate little poem very roughly, and you may tell me that I am unfit to receive the wisdom of the poets, which is always uttered with a touch of Oriental exaggeration. Certainly Goethe could mean that a man should kill himself by labors literally incessant. Goethe's own life is the best elucidation of his true meaning. The example of the star was held up to us to be followed only within the limits of our human nature, as a Christian points to the example of Christ. In the same spirit Matthew Arnold wrote his noble poem "Self-dependence," I have refreshed the city, and now, though in which he tells us to live like the stars and the sea:
"Ah, once more," I cried, "ye stars, ye waters, On my heart your mighty charm renew;
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you."
From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
In the rustling night-air came the answer:
"Unaffrighted by the silence round them
The true intention of poetical teachings like these is in the influence they have over the feelings. If a star makes me steadier in my labor, less of a victim to vain agitation, in consequence of Goethe's verses; if the stars and the sea together renew more fully their mighty charm upon my heart because those stanzas of Arnold have fixed themselves in my memory, the poets have done their work. But the more positive prosateur has his work to do also, and you, as it seems to me, need this positive help of prose.
You are living a great deal too much like a star, and not enough like a human being. You do not hasten often, but you never rest, except when Nature mercifully prostrates you in irresistible sleep. Like the stars and the sea in Arnold's poem, you do not ask surrounding things to yield you love, amusement, sympathy. The stars and the sea can do without these refreshments of the brain and heart, but you cannot. Rest is necessary to recruit your intellectual forces; sympathy is necessary to prevent your whole nature from stiffening like a rotifer without moisture; love is necessary to make life beautiful for you, as the plumage of certain birds becomes splendid when they pair; and without amusement you will lose the gayety which
the captain may walk impatiently on the quarter-deck, and the miller swear, and the city stink, I will stir no more until it pleases me."
You have learned many things, my friend, but one thing you have not learned-the art of resting. That stone in Glen Croe ought to have impressed its lesson on the mind of many a traveller, long before Earl Russell gave it a newspaper celebrity. Have we not rested there together, you and I, a little in advance of the coach, which the weary horses were still slowly dragging up the tedious hill? And as we sat on the turf, and looked down the misty glen, did we not read the lesson there engraven? How good and human the idea was, the idea of setting up that graven stone in the wilderness; how full of sympathy is that inscription for all the weakness and weariness of humanity! Once, in the ardor of youth, there shone before me a golden star in heaven, and on the deep azure around it "Ohne Hast, ohne Rast," in letters of steady flame; but now I see more frequently a plain little stone set up in the earth, with the inscription, "Rest, and be thankful !”
Is not the stone just a little like a gravestone, my friend? Perhaps it is. But if we take rest when we require it during life, we shall not need the grave's rest quite so soon.
TO AN ARDENT FRIEND WHO TOOK NO REST. The regret for lost time often a needless one-Tillier's doctrine about flânerie - How much is gained in idle hours-Sainte-Beuve's conviction that whatever he did he studied the infinite book of the world and of life-Harness -Free play of the mind necessary-The freedom of a grain of desert-sand-The freedom of the wild bee..
If we asked any intellectual workman what he would do if his life were to be lived over again, I believe the answer, whatever
A distinguished author wrote to another author less distinguished: "You have gone through a good deal of really vigorous study, but have not been in harness yet." By harness he meant discipline settled beforehand like military drill. Now, the advantages of drill are evident and very generally recognized, but the advantages of intellectual flânerie are not so generally recognized. For the work of the intellect to be clear and healthy, a great deal of free play of the mind is absolutely
its form, would amount ultimately to this: | idleness, perhaps by a deeper feeling of the "I would economize my time better." Very principle that all comes to the same, at the likely if the opportunity were granted him conclusion that whatever I do or do not, he would do nothing of the sort; very likely working in the study at continuous labor, he would waste his time in ways more au- scattering myself in articles, spreading mythorized by custom, yet waste it just as ex-self about in society, giving my time away to travagantly as he had done after his own troublesome callers, to poor people, to rendezoriginal fashion; but it always seems to us as vous, in the street, no matter to whom and to if we could use the time better if we had it what, I cease not to do one and the same over again. thing, to read one and the same book, the inIt seems to me in looking back over the last finite book of the world and of life, that no thirty years, that the only time really wasted one ever finishes, in which the wisest read has been that spent in laborious obedience | farthest; I read it then at all the pages which to some external authority. It may be a present themselves, in broken fragments, dangerous doctrine which Claude Tillier ex-backwards, what matters it? I never cease pressed in an immortal sentence, but danger- going on. The greater the medley, the more ous or not, it is full of intellectual truth: Le frequent the interruption, the more I get on temps le mieux employé est celui que l'on with this book in which one is never beyond perd.”* If what we are accustomed to con- the middle; but the profit is to have had it sider lost time could be removed, as to its open before one at all sorts of different effects at least, from the sum of our existence, pages." it is certain that we should suffer from a great intellectual impoverishment. All the best knowledge of mankind, to begin with, is acquired in hours which hard-working people consider lost hours-in hours, that is, of pleasure and recreation. Deduct all that we have learnt about men in times of recreation, in clubs and smoking-rooms, on the huntingfield, on the cricket-ground, on the deck of the yacht, on the box of the drag or the dogcart, would the residue be worth very much? would it not be a mere heap of dry bones necessary. Harness is good for an hour or without any warm flesh to cover them? two at a time, but the finest intellects have Even the education of most of us, such as it never lived in harness. In reading any book is, has been in a great measure acquired out that has much vitality you are sure to meet of school, as it were; I mean outside of the with many allusions and illustrations which acknowledged duties of our more serious ex- the author hit upon, not when he was in haristence. Few Englishmen past forty have ness, but out at grass. Harness trains us to studied English literature either as a college the systematic performance of our work, and exercise or a professional preparation; they increases our practical strength by regulated have read it privately, as an amusement. exercise, but it does not supply everything Few Englishmen past forty have studied that is necessary to the perfect development modern languages, or science, or the fine arts, of the mind. The truth is, that we need both from any obedience to duty, but merely from the discipline of harness and the abundant taste and inclination. And even if we stud- nourishment of the free pasture. Yet may ied these things formally, as young men not our freedom be the profitless, choiceless, often do at the present day, it is not from the freedom of a grain of desert-sand, carried formal study that we should get the perfume hither and thither by the wind, gaining nothof the language or the art, but from idle ing and improving nothing, so that it does hours in foreign lands and galleries. It is su- not signify where it was carried yesterday or perfluous to recommend idleness to the unin- where it may fall to-morrow, but rather the tellectual, but the intellectual too often un- liberty of the wild bee, whose coming and godervalue it. The laborious intellect con- ing are ordered by no master, nor fixed by tracts a habit of strenuousness which is some- any premeditated regulation, yet which misses times a hindrance to its best activity. no opportunity of increase, and comes home "I have arrived," said Sainte-Beuve, "per-laden in the twilight. Who knows where he haps by way of secretly excusing my own has wandered; who can tell over what banks
The best employed time is that which one loses.
and streams the hum of his wings has sounded? Is anything in nature freer than he is; can
anything account better for a rational use of not from lack of interest, but from want of freedom? Would he do his work better if time. You may open some old chamber of tiny harness were ingeniously contrived for the memory that has been dark and disused him? Where then would be the golden honey, for many a year; you may clear the cobwebs and where the waxen cells? away, and let the fresh light in, and make it habitable once again.
TO A FRIEND (HIGHLY CULTIVATED) WHO CON-
Against these gains, of which some to a man of your industry are certain, and may be counted upon, what must be our estimate of the amount of sacrifice or loss? It is clear to both of us that much of what we read in the
ABANDONED THE HABIT OF READING NEWS- newspapers is useless to our culture. A large
Advantages in economy of time-Much of what we read in newspapers is useless to our culture-The too great im
proportion of newspaper-writing is occupied with speculation on what is likely to happen in the course of a few months; therefore, by waiting until the time is past, we know the portance which they attach to novelty--Distortion by party spirit-An instance of false event without having wasted time in speculaGains to serenity by abstinence from newspapers-News- tions which could not effect it. Another rathpapers keep up our daily interest in each other-The er considerable fraction of newspaper matter French peasantry-The newspaper-reading Americans— An instance of total abstinence from newspapers-Au- consists of small events which have interest guste Comte-A suggestion of Emerson's-The work of for the day, owing to their novelty, but which newspaper correspondents-War correspondents-Mr. will not have the slightest permanent imporStanley-M. Erdan, of the Temps. tance. The whole press of a newspaper-reading country, like England or America, may be actively engaged during the space of a week or a fortnight in discussing some incident which everybody will have forgotten in six months; and besides these sensational incidents, there are hundreds of less notorious ones, often fictitious, inserted simply for the temporary amusement of the reader. The greatest evil of newspapers, in their effect on the intellectual life, is the enormous importance which they are obliged to attach to mere novelty. From the intellectual point of view, it is of no consequence whether a thought occurred twenty-two centuries ago to Aristotle or yesterday evening to Mr. Charles Darwin, and it is one of the distinctive marks of the truly intellectual to be able to take a hearty interest in all truth, independently of the date of its discovery. The emphasis given by newspapers to novelty exhibits things in wrong relations, as the lantern shows you what is nearest at the cost of making the general landscape appear darker by the contrast. Besides this exhibition of things in wrong relations, there is a positive distortion & ising from the unscrupulousness of party, a distortion which extends far beyond the limits of the empire.
YOUR abstinence from newspaper reading is not anew experiment in itself, though it is new in reference to your particular case, and I await its effects with interest. I shall be curious to observe the consequences, to an intellect constituted as yours is, of that total cutting off from the public interests of your own century which an abstinence from newspapers implies. It is clear that, whatever the loss may be, you have a definite gain to set against it. The time which you have hitherto given to newspapers, and which may be roughly estimated at about five hundred hours a year, is henceforth a valuable timeincome to be applied to whatever purposes your best wisdom may select. When an intellectual person has contrived by the force of one simple resolution to effect so fine an economy as this, it is natural that he should congratulate himself. Your feelings must be like those of an able finance minister who has found means of closing a great leak in the treasury--if any economy possible in the finances of a State could ever relatively equal that splendid stroke of time-thrift which your force of will has enabled you to effect. In those five hundred hours, which are now your own, you may acquire a science or obtain a more perfect command over one of the languages which you have studied. Some department of your intellectual labors which has hitherto been unsatisfactory to you, because it was too imperfectly cultivated, may henceforth be as orderly and as fruitful as a well-kept garden. You may become thoroughly conversant with the works of more than one great author whom you have neglected,
An essay might be written on the distortion of English affairs in the French press, or of French affairs in the English press, by writers who are as strongly partisan in another country as in their own. "It is such a grand thing," wrote an English Paris correspondent in 1870, " for Adolphus Thiers, son of a poor laborer of Aix, and in early life a simple journalist, to be at the head of the
Government of France." This is a fair speci- |-not political philosophy, but to the everymen of the kind of false presentation which is day work of politicians-that intellectual cultso common in party journalism. The news- ure is thrown into the background, and the paper from which I have quoted it was strong-election of a single member of Parliament is ly opposed to Thiers, being in fact one of the made to seem of greater national importance principal organs of the English Bonapartists. than the birth of. a powerful idea. And yet, It is not true that Thiers was the son of a notwithstanding all these considerations, poor laborer of Aix. His father was a work- which are serious indeed for the intellectual, man of Marseilles, his mother belonging to a I believe that your resolution is unwise, and family in which neither wealth nor culture that you will find it to be untenable. One had been rare, and his mother's relatives had momentous reason more than counterbalances him educated at the Lycée. The art of the all these considerations put together. Newsjournalist in bringing together the two ex- papers are to the whole civilized world what tremes of a career remarkable for its steady the daily house-talk is to the members of a ascent had for its object to produce the idea of household; they keep up our daily interest in incongruity, of sudden and unsuitable eleva- each other, they save us from the evils of isotion. Not only M. Thiers, however, but every lation. To live as a member of the great human being starts from a very small begin-white race of men, the race that has filled ning, since every man begins life as a baby. Europe and America, and colonized or conIt is a great rise for one baby to the Presidency of the French Republic; it was also a great rise for other babies who have attained the premiership of England. The question is, not what Thiers may have been seventy years ago, but what he was immediately before his acceptance of the highest office of the State. He was the most trusted and the most experienced citizen, so that the last step in his career was as natural as the elevation of Reynolds to the presidency of the Acad
quered whatever other territories it has been pleased to occupy, to share from day to day its cares, its thoughts, its aspirations, it is necessary that every man should read his daily newspaper. Why are the French peasants so bewildered and at sea, so out of place in the modern world? It is because they never read a newspaper. And why are the inhabitants of the United States, though scattered over a territory fourteen times the area of France, so much more capable of concerted political action, so much more alive and mod
It is difficult for any one who cares for jus-ern, so much more interested in new discovtice to read party journals without frequent eries of all kinds and capable of selecting and irritation, and it does not signify which side utilizing the best of them? It is because the the newspaper takes. Men are so unfir in newspaper penetrates everywhere; and even controversy that we best preserve the seren- the lonely dweller on the prairie or in the ity of the intellect by studiously avoiding all forest is not intellectually isolated from the literature that has a controversial tone. By great currents of public life which flow your new rule of abstinence from newspapers through the telegraph and the press. you will no doubt gain almost as much in The experiment of doing without newspaserenity as in time. To the ordinary news-pers has been tried by a whole class, the paper reader there is little loss of serenity, because he reads only the newspaper that he agrees with, and however unfair it is, he is pleased by its unfairness. But the highest and best culture makes us disapprove of unfairness on our own side of the question also. We are pained by it; we feel humiliated by it; we lament its persistence and its perverity.
French peasantry, with the consequences that we know, and it has also from time to time been tried by single individuals belonging to more enlightened sections of society. Let us take one instance, and let us note what appear to have been the effects of this abstinence. Auguste Comte abstained from newspapers as a teetotaller abstains from spirituous liquors. Now, Auguste Comte possessed a gift I have said nearly all that has to be said in of nature which, though common in minor favor of your rule of abstinence. I have degrees, is in the degree in which he possessed granted that the newspapers cost us much it rarer than enormous diamonds. That gift tine, which, if employed for great intellect- was the power of dealing with abstract intelal purposes, would carry us very far; that they give disproportionate views of things by the emphasis they give to novelty, and false views by the unfairness which belongs to party. I might have added that newspaper writers give such a preponderance to politics
lectual conceptions, and living amidst them always, as the practical mind lives in and deals with material things. And it happened in Comte's case, as it usually does happen in cases of very peculiar endowment, that the gift was accompanied by the instincts neces
the standard authors?" To this suggestion of Emerson's it may be answered that the loss would be greater than the gain. The writers of Queen Anne's time could educate an Englishman of Queen Anne's time, but they can only partially educate an Englishman of Queen
ledger, it requires to be continually posted up to the latest date. Even the last telegram may have upset some venerable theory that has been received as infallible for ages.
of an eye-witness, and enables us to become ourselves spectators of the mighty drama of the world. Never was this service so well rendered as it is now, by correspondents who achieve heroic feats of bodily and mental prowess, exposing themselves to the greatest dangers, and writing much and well in cir cumstances the most unfavorable to literary How vividly the English war
sary to its perfect development and to its preservation. Comte instinctively avoided the conversation of ordinary people, because he felt it to be injurious to the perfect exercise of his faculty, and for the same reason he would not read newspapers. In imposing upon himself these privations he acted like a very emi-Victoria's time. The mind is like a merchant's nent living etcher, who, having the gift of an extraordinary delicacy of hand, preserves it by abstinence from everything that may effect the steadiness of the nerves. There is a certain difference, however, between the two In times when great historical events are cases which I am anxious to accentuate. The passing before our eyes, the journalist is to etcher runs no risk of any kind by his rule of future historians what the African traveller abstinence. He refrains from several common is to the map-makers. His work is neither indulgences, but he denies himself nothing complete nor orderly, but it is the fresh record that is necessary to health. I may even go farther, and say that the rules which he observes for the sake of perfection in his art, might be observed with advantage by many who are not artists, for the sake of their own tranquillity, without the loss of anything but pleasure. The rules which Comte made for himself involved, on the other hand, a great peril. In detaching himself so completely composition. from the interests and ways of thinking of correspondents brought before us the reality ordinary men, he elaborated, indeed, the conceptions of the positive philosophy, but arrived afterwards at a peculiar kind of intellectual decadence from which it is possible-probable even-that the rough common sense of the newspapers might have preserved him. They would have saved him, I seriously believe, from that mysticism which led to the invention of a religion far surpassing in unreasonableness the least rational of the creeds of tradition. It is scarcely imaginable, except on the supposition of actual insanity, that any regular reader of the Times, the Temps, the Daily News, and the Saturday Review, should believe the human race to be capable of receiving as the religion of its maturity the Comtist Trinity and the Comtist Virgin Mother. A Trinity consisting of the Great Being (or humanity), the Great Fetish (or the earth), and the Great Midst (or space); a hope for the human race (how unphysiological!) that women might ultimately arrive at maternity independently of virile help,-these are conceptions so remote, not only from the habits of modern thought, but (what is more important) from its tendencies, that they could not occur to a mind in regular communication with its contemporaries.
"If you should transfer the amount of your reading day by day from the newspaper to
of the great conflict between Germany and France! What a romantic achievement, worthy to be sung in heroic verse, was the finding of Livingstone by Stanley! Not less interesting have been the admirable series of letters by M. Erdan in the Temps, in which, with the firmness of a master-hand, he has painted from the life, week after week, year. after year, the decline and fall of the temporal power of the Papacy. I cannot think that any page of Roman history is better worth reading than his letters, more interesting, instructive, lively, or authentic. Yet with your contempt for newspapers you would lose all this profitable entertainment, and seek instead. of it the accounts of former epochs not half so interesting as this fall of the temporal power. accounts written in most cases by men in libraries who had not seen the sovereigns they wrote about, nor talked with the people whose condition they attempted to describe. You have a respect for these accounts because they are printed in books, and bound in leather, and entitled "history," whilst you despise the direct observation of a man like Erdan, be cause he is only a journalist, and his letters are published in a newspaper. Is there not some touch of prejudice in this, some mis take, some narrowness of intellectual aris tocracy?