Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors]

have saved that missionaries might be sent elsewhere, and who have
labored that cathedrals should be erected, will now feel that it is an
equally consecrated duty to build Industrial colleges for women. Mrs.
Charlotte Smith tells us that in France there are 150.

Those who desire the advancement of women must see to it that
the way is clear for all who seek self-support; but let us cheerfully
discriminate between the labor question politically and ethically. It
is a social and economic problem which demands for its solution all
the potencies of education and brotherhood and the heroic patience
of the charity which is justice. How to help the poor the church
has asked since the Christian Era, and this is the inquiry of those
who call their creed the religion of humanity. In far off ages the
princely Buddha made the great renunciation. For centuries the rich
have given according to their light, and the English factory acts were
due to a peer of the realm, Lord Ashley. There is no excuse for
dividing society into labor and anti-labor factions. Labor has no law-
ful grievance which the best elements of our people will not unite to
alleviate. Great fortunes and great talents are always exceptional, but
no avenue to a competence is closed to any man in the l'nited States
except by his limitations of character and ability. It is superfluous
ow to make a declaration of the rights of man. Our ancestors did
that in 1776, and it has been ratified on our battle fields from
Lexington to Gettysburg. Lincoln reaffirmed it in the emanci-
pation proclamation, and it is crystalized into the organic
law of our land. There is no necessity of reminding us of
the injunctions of the decalogue, “Thou shalt not steal." We
are not living under the black flag piracy and our starry banner
promises and gives us the liberty of law and justice. It is an
unpardonable sin against society to inflame the poor and illiterate
with the sophistry that labor gives all value, and that the rich are
growing richer by robbing the poor, who are growing poorer,
and that drunkenness is the result of a poverty for which
property is responsible.

These are

lies thrown in the face of civilization, and the present crisis is not the result of governmental or capitalistic tyranny. It is forced by secret organizations and the political aspirations of agitators. Plutocrat and Proletariat are ever on the lips of those who are organizing the discontented to march to the polls with hate for capital in their hearts. Their success would precipitate a revolution which could only be suppressed by the sword of imperialism, and the government for the people, and by the

[ocr errors]

people, would be impossible for generations. Leckey says that even late in the reign of Louis XVI, France could have been saved her riot of anarchy, if she had had a leader sagacious enough to restore order out of her sentimental theories, her wretched finances and her oppressive taxation ; and historians are now emphasizing taxation as a potent cause of the disaster. We are suffering to-day from an over-production of self-elected reformers. We need only the conservatism of common sense and the modest triumphs of a statesmanship which will protect us from the invasion of the pauper and the anarchist, guard us from treachery at the ballot box and enforce our constitutional guarantees to property and persons. The only ism that recommends itself to Americans is patriotism, and it should be the adornment of the women of an Association whose president gave our soldiers their Battle Hymn of the Republic.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

THOUGHT, HOPE AND CONSOLATION

FROM BROWNING.

BY MRS. MARY E. BAGG.

HE poetry of Robert Browning is not popular, Browning

Societies are laughed at, and by the poet himself; but steadily his work grows in the estimation of the thoughtful, and more and more clearly he is recognized as the peer of the few who entertain, instruct, stimulate and console. His poems are not for idle moments,—they demand the student's hour, for his message must often be spelled out.

In an attempt to present somewhat of Browning's thought, hope and consolation, I shall quote liberally from his works, and shall also avail myself of the appreciative and authoritative interpretations of Prof. Corson and the London Browning Society.

Browning is the poet of the rational, ethical and spiritual. He is never common-place or sentimental, never superstitious. He is not directly scientist, philanthropist, or reformer. He is a keen observer of “Life, with all it yields of joy or woe, and hope or fear.”

Every type of individual gives occasion for the exercise of his wonderful insight and analytic portraiture. He is curious about man's machinery; he is a "mental mechanic," "taking to pieces and putting together.” He is philosopher, psychologist, metaphysician, mystic and seer. He is a searcher after substance obscured by shadows, a discoverer of divine ideas underlying material expression, an acute estimator of physical and intellectual frictions as affecting spiritual growth. Soul development he holds to be the Supreme thing of worth, and its study the supreme thing of interest, the intellect and its subtle exercises being secondary in importance.

Religion is all-in-all with Browning, but not any particular religion." His attitude towards the various helpful forms of philosophy and religion, is intensely sympathetic, and he is in accord with much of their deepest thought about God, man, life here, and life

66

T

hereafter. Jews, Mohammedans, Pagans, Agnostics, Positivists and Christians may mistake his intellectual and ästhetic sympathy with their special forms of thought, for an actual agreement or a personal belief. He has been claimed as pre-eminently the Christian poet. " In the last words of Paracelsus, he gives a most perfect expression of the transcendental creed; and the whole work is, as the interpreter thinks, a confession of Browning's faith philosophical, which is Hegelian.”

Those best acquainted with the poet and his works, are of the opinion, that in the speech of his noblest characters, it is safe to presume that he utters himself.

His deep concern is to present a “Theory of Life," and to offer a gospel which reconciles to life insoluble problems.

It may be conjectured, that in David's song before Saul, Browning speaks his greatest thought about God.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

“I have gone the whole round of Creation!
I report, as a man may of God's work,-all's love, yet all's law!
Now I lay down the judgeship he lent me. Each faculty tasked
To perceive Him, has gained an abyss, where a dew-drop was asked.
Have I knowledge ? Confounded it shrivels at wisdom laid bare;
Have I forethought? How perblind, how blank, to the infinite care!
Do I task any faculty highest, to image success ?
I but open my eyes, -and perfection, no more and no less
In the kind I imagine, full-fronts me: and God is seen God
In the star, in the stone, in the flesh, in the soul and the clod.”

“God over us, under, round us, every side!
God glows above; with scarce an intervention,
Presses close and palpitatingly His soul o'er ours !
We feel Him, nor by painful reason know.

"The soul also sees the thing perceived outside itself; a force actual ere its own beginnings; operative through its course; unaffected by its end;-that this thing likewise needs must be; calls this—God.”

Our poet, "only a learner, just a discerner, would teach no one;" he is too reverent to define or to picture Deity; nor would he rudely shatter the gods many, whom men have made in their own image,believing that the true God deigns to dwell in every reverent thought and creation of his children.

A Deity projected from the mind of man must ever be of the fashion of the mind that projects; hence, conceptions of God vary, from the ideal of the savage to the loftiest and most spiritual creation of the religious philosopher. Caliban had

[ocr errors]

his God, so had Socrates and Swedenborg, and Whitfield, and so has
Tyndall, and Heber Newton. And the conception of the individual
is modified and changed with the passage of years. .

"Man apprehends Him newly at each stage,
Whereat earth's ladder drops, its service done;
Then a new one, straight to the self-same mark
He shapes him, and battled, gets up to begin again,
So the chase takes up one's life."

77

1

Browning sees God as one all-powerful, “to fill full the heart that His power expands”; as one all-pitiful, "who will not be wroth, who gave the will to labor and withheld the strength ”; as one who is perfect Providence alike to man and mote; as one whose " love fills infinitude wholly, nor leaves up nor down one spot for the creature to stand in.” And for joyous testimony to these beliefs our poet looks into the heart of man, where as in a mirror is reflected that Infinite love, power and wisdom which glorify creation.

Browning's view of the nature of man is based upon a wide study of individual man and of the race, in their successive stages of development from animal, through the rational, moral and spiritual. He “holds man to have gathered up, and to exhibit in himself all the hints and previsions of faculties strewn about through the inferior natures,-all leading up higher-all shaping out dimly the superior race." * Progress is the law of life, man is not man as yet,” but in the completed man, begins anew a tendency to God. Man is a reflection of God; “The truth in God's breast, lies trace for trace upon ours impressed; though He is so bright and we so dim, we are made in His image to witness Him." “ Nearer we hold, of God who gives than of His tribes that take; to that which doth provide and not partake, effect and not receive.” “ The spiritual man is the real man, and certain to be called so, when things shall have their names.”

Our poet teaches that the human soul is a complexly organized, individualized, divine force, destined to gravitate toward the Infinite, -"A God, though in the germ.” “He loves to speak of the hidden soul, the unconscious personality, as back of, and distinguished from the active powers, the conscious intellect.” “This spirit consciousness, this sense of sense,” this power to view itself, is the crown and consummation of man's existence. It is "this absolute soul-knowledge which severs great minds from small,” which differences one mind from another. For “at bottom men are alike, souls are no way diverse

[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuați »