Imagens da página

Lies usually come from cowardice, because men are afraid of standing by their flag, because they shrink from opposition, or because they are conscious of something wrong which they cannot defend, and so conceal. Secret faults, secret purposes, habits of conduct of which we are ashamed, lead to falsehood, and falsehood is cowardice. And thus the sinner is almost necessarily a coward. He shrinks from the light; he hides himself in darkness. Therefore if we wish to be manly, we must not do anything of which we are ashamed. He who lives by firm principles of truth and right, who deceives no one, injures no one, who therefore has nothing to hide, he alone is manly. The bad man may be audacious, but he has no true courage. His manliness is only a pretence, an empty shell, a bold demeanor, with no real firmness behind it.

True manliness is humane. It says, “We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” Its work is to protect those who cannot defend themselves; to stand between the tyrant and the slave, the oppressor and his victim. It is identical in all times with the spirit of chivalry which led the good knights to wander in search of robbers, giants, and tyrannical lords, those who oppressed the poor and robbed helpless women and orphans of their rights. There are no tyrant barons now, but the spirit of tyranny and cruelty is still to be found. The good knight to-day is he who provides help for the blind, the deaf and dumb, the insane ; who defends animals from being cruelly treated, rescues little children from bad usage, and seeks to give working men and women their rights. He protects all these sufferers from that false manliness which is brutal and tyrannical to the weak, abusing its power over women and children and domestic animals. The true knights to-day are those who organize and carry on the societies to prevent cruelty, or to enforce the laws against those who for a little gain make men drunkards. The giants and dragons to-day are those cruelties and brutalities which use their power to ill-treat those who are at their mercy.

True manliness is tender and loving ; false manliness, cold and hard, cynical and contemptuous. The bravest and most heroic souls are usually the most loving Garibaldi, Kossuth, Mazzini, the heroes of our times; Luther, who never feared the face of man; Gustavus Adolphus and William of Orange, are examples of this union of courage and tenderness. Bold as lions in the defence of the right, such men in their homes and their private life have a womanly gentleness. False manliness is unfeeling, with no kindly sympathies, rude and rough and overbearing. True manliness is temperate; it is moderate, it exercises self-control, it is capable of self-denial and renunciation. False manliness is self-willed and self-indulgent.

The danger which besets those who have strong wills is to be self-willed. If they confound this

self-will with manly force and persistency, with self-dependence and self-reliance, they are apt to become overbearing, self-indulgent, and intemperate. Then they lose the power of self-control, and this results not in strength, but weakness. He who cannot rule his own spirit, govern his desires, restrain his appetites, is no longer master, but slave. He is the slave of circumstances, of temptation. He cannot do the thing he would.

Shakspeare, with his inimitable knowledge of human nature, has given us the process by which this pure will, not subject to law, passes finally into mere appetite. He makes Ulysses tell how order, rule, and place make the harmony of the world; how the very heavens observe degree and priority,“ proportion and office in the line of order.” He says that if this respect for order, degree, and law should cease in society, mere force would become supreme:

Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike the father dead :
Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,
Between whose endless jar justice resides,
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, a universal wolf,
Must make perforce a universal prey,
And, last, eat up himself.”

The English, a noble nation, have been gifted with an immense strength of will. By this the

[ocr errors]

people of that little island have been able to grow into a first-class power, and conquer vast regions of the world. Fortunately this nation has also a sense of justice, and thus its sway of foreign lands and subject races has been commonly beneficent. But the danger of the English is to worship power in itself, and then they relapse into Paganism. We see this tendency to a Pagan worship of mere will in many ways. We find it cropping out in English history. Let a subject race rebel, and the English become, like the Romans, relentless, merciless. They do not inquire into the oppression which has caused the rebellion, but the nation goes into a sort of blind rage for putting down the people who have dared to resist the authority of England. So it was in our American Revolution, so in India, in Jamaica, in Abyssinia, in South Africa. The English have had wise and just statesmen, who, like Chatham, Gladstone, John Bright, have erected justice above power; and these men are the real salvation of England. We also see this tendency to admire mere will in English literature, - in the novels where the hero is a man of prodigious force, which he exerts in a reckless way; in books like Ruskin's, in which his own private opinion stands in the place of reason and argument. Especially we see it in the downward course of Carlyle's mind. Carlyle, in his early writings, set forth a religion of justice, and proclaimed the divinity of truth. He made goodness seem the only reality.


Then his influence was a blessed one. But he went on insensibly to substitute sincerity in the place of truth, as his ideal. He asserted that to be sincere was to be right. Next, this worship of sincerity became a worship of self-reliance, and that, again, became a worship of will, and at last he gave us as his ideal Frederick the Great, man with no sense of justice, who was a striking example of a self-will which defied man and God. This downward course of Carlyle's thought was marked by a like deterioration of his character. He became moody, overbearing, and tyrannical; wretched himself, he made those about him wretched.

The course of Emerson's mind was in the opposite direction. He began by laying too much stress, perhaps, on pure self-reliance. But he passed up steadily into the region where justice, law, love, purity, and truth are the Olympian powers. He passed from the “Initial” to the “ Celestial” love; to that which has

“ heartily designed The benefit of broad mankind."

True manliness differs also from the false in its attitude to woman. Its knightly feeling makes it wish to defend her rights, to maintain her claims, to be her protector and advocate. False manliness wishes to show its superiority by treating women as inferiors. It flatters them, but it does not

« AnteriorContinuar »