Изображения страниц

tion, whetted and excited by sceptical inquiry, ever reached to the great Reason of all reasons; the great Cause of all causes; the great Fact that underlies all facts; and yet ever, as we seek for it, we are advancing in knowledge. We do not reach it, but we are ever reaching and passing on beyond that which lies between us and it. So you see the action of doubt in the human mind is just like that of the mainspring in a watch. The mainspring of a watch, as you know, is firmly attached at one end, and it is ever seeking to uncoil itself but yet never completely doing so, and the result of this is that the hands of the watch move uniformly. If you cut the attachment the hands will give one wild whirl, and then be still and useless. It is just the same with faith and doubt in the human mind. Doubt is attached to the primary belief that there is a Cause for all things, but it is ever seeking to escape from that belief; it is ever trying to detach itself, but never succeeding; and the result is, there is a constant and a measured progress of the human mind.

But we have next to consider how much further the intellect, which thus has been ruling and testing our beliefs, may go. So far we have seen the intellect, the sceptical understanding in man--that in us which asks "Why?" and "What?"-acting as supreme judge and ruler, and all evidence as yet has been submitted to it alone. Now the real question is this:-Must it indeed be the sole rule and judge of all beliefs? Are there any beliefs that cannot be submitted to it alone? Are there any domains of knowledge and of certainty which cannot be reached by the sceptical intellect, and into which some other part of man's nature must enter, to decide as to his belief? Let us go back to that early childhood of which I have been speaking, in which the child, who at first believes everything, learns his first lesson of doubt. A child, as I have said, not only believes in appearances, but he believes in testimony. He believes in human nature. His intuitive belief is in the truthfulness of humanity. Every word that is said to a child at first he believes; but he very soon learns his second great lesson of doubt and distrust; learns that every one who speaks to him is not true; learns that it is not wise for him to believe everything that is said to him. Is that as happy a discovery as that other discovery of which we spoke? Does it lead to like happy results? Does it make the discoverer feel better, wiser, happier? Would you say to the child, "Go on, my child, in this


progress of doubt and distrust. Believe no one until he has proved to you that you must believe him. Doubt every one, distrust every one, refuse to accept any word of any human being until you have demonstration for it?" Would the man who grew up in that distrustful spirit be a happy man? Would he be a wise man? Is it wisdom always to distrust human nature? and yet, if it is not, I ask you what demonstration you can have of the truthfulness of every person whom you trust? You are always trusting. Can you prove logically that you are right in any of those trusts? The wife of your bosom may be false to you for all you can tell. The little children whose eyes look up to yours with such loving trust, and whose laughter sounds in your ears like the music of summer brooks, you cannot prove that they are not hating you in their hearts. The friend whom you trust in business,-you cannot prove logically that he is not a traitor and a rogue. Such things have been; we know they have. Men have been deceived by their wives, hated by their children, betrayed by their friends, and robbed by their men of business. It is quite possible that this may be so in your case. Are you therefore to distrust every one? Would it be wise of you to do so? Why! you know that if a man were to act upon this principle, and were to say, "I do not trust my wife, my children, my friends; I do not trust any one until they prove to me, demonstrate to me, leave me in no doubt of their honesty, their love, or their truthfulness," you would not call him a wise man, you would call him a madman. You would put that man in a lunatic asylum. And why? Because, you would say, that he gave the surest evidence of madness; that one part of his nature had acquired a diseased intensity, which had mastered all the rest. You would say that that man had gone mad with distrust and suspicion,-had gone sceptically mad,— and you would treat him accordingly. And yet I defy any one here to show logically that the man might not be right. I defy any one to give that man such a logical and scientific demonstration as would prove to him beyond all possibility of doubt that his friends, or his wife, or his children, were not in a conspiracy to deceive and to wrong him. You see, then, that there is an absolute necessity for trust in the ordinary affairs of common life.

But I pass on to another and still more important point. I have said, and I hope you see, that life must be conducted upon the principle of faith or trust; but let us ask now,

whether the rule of life, morality, can exist | Which are in the right?—I am not asking you without faith?-whether we can get a demon- which you feel to be right; but I am asking strative or scientific basis for morality itself? you which you can prove logically or to deI ask this question, because those who are monstration to be right? Or if you cannot loudest in their prophecies of the destruction decide the question by majority or minority, of religion are always loudest in their boasts of the gain to morality that would follow. They tell you, "When we have swept away every vestige of religion, then, and then only, will morality be really strong, free from the corrupting influence of religious superstition." Let us consider this. Let us ask-How will morality bear the assaults of scepticism? What is morality? Morality is that code or rule of action which you follow in questions of right or wrong. It is something different from the moral sense or the power of feeling right or wrong: it is the power of knowing what is right or wrong. Practically it is the established code or rule of right and wrong in the society in which you happen to be living. This is morality for most men. Or if not this, it is the code (or rule) of right and wrong which each man forms or adopts for himself. Let us try how this code will resist the action of the sceptical principle which, you remember, demands demonstration for everything before it believes, asks to see before it assents. I ask the man who says he has a system of morality, "What is it? Is it your own code, or is it the code of what you call the common sense or common morality of mankind?" I will take the last first, for that is what most people do say. Very few persons are bold enough to say, "Everything that I think about morals must necessarily be right." On the whole morality means what mankind generally think is moral. But I ask you first: "Have you ever got the universal sense of humanity upon any one question of right or wrong? Do you know that all mankind agree with you? Do you know that even the greater part of mankind agree with you? Have you ever submitted this particular question to the great majority of mankind? Have you got their answer? If you have, can you prove to me logically, that the majority on any question of morals must always be right, and the minority always wrong? If men differ, and they do differ, on a great many moral questions, which is right?—the majority or the minority? Or, again, whose morality is it that you will have? That of your own day or that of the past generation? These differ very much on many points. As you know, our ancestors approved of duelling and the slave-trade. We disapprove of both.

and I suppose very few persons would think of deciding a question of morality, as they would settle the election of a member of parliament, by majority or minority,-how are you to decide it? "By asking what the opinion of the wise and good in all ages has been." How are you to know the wise and good? Before you can know the wise and good, you must know what wisdom and goodness are, and if you know what wisdom and goodness are, what need have you to look to the wise and good to tell you? "I question the wise and good, because I want wise and good opinions." But who are the wise and good? "Why, the men who give me wise and good opinions." Is that logical? Will that stand the test of sceptical inquiry? Is that what men call demonstration about morals? This appeal to the universal verdict of humanity is simply illogical and preposterous, for the reason that you yourself are a part of that universal humanity, and that, if you differ from its verdict, it is not the verdict of universal humanity, and if you agree with it, and take it because it agrees with your own, you might as well have taken your own in the first instance. As you cannot get out of this logical difficulty, then it comes to this-that each man is to decide entirely for himself and apart from all others what is right or wrong. Is it so? What is it then in us which decides what is right and wrong? Our conscience. It is an authority, then! And what about freethought and authority? Why should man's free-thought, his sceptical intellect, submit itself to the decision of that in him which we call the conscience? Why, he knows that his conscience has been mistaken more than once ---that at one time he thought that right which he now thinks wrong. Why must he submit himself, then, to these contradictory decisions of his conscience? Because we are told it is a part of his nature. But it is also part of his nature to have passion and appetite. Give me a logical proof, a demonstration that will hold water, something I can see as clearly as that two and two make four—that one part of my nature is to yield to another part? Why am I to mutilate one part of my nature at the bidding of another? And who and what am I? Have I any logical demonstration as to what I am? I have a scientific demonstration.

if you like, and what is that? Why, that I am carbon, and lime, and phosphorus, and certain other chemicals put together after a particular fashion. No dissector has ever dissected out a soul-no man of science has ever demonstrated a spirit or a conscience. Then, I ask, why am I to obey the bidding of one convolution of my brain more than that of another? Or if my interests come into collision with the interests of another man-that is to say, another mass of carbon, lime, and phosphorus-what is there in the existence of that collection of chemicals (and, mind you, science tells you no more than that) which gives it the right to give a law to that other collection of chemicals which I call myself? What is the duty that I owe to that mass of chemicals? I owe nothing to it. You cannot demonstrate it-you cannot make it as clear as that two and two make four-that I am to do to another man what I would he should do unto me. "Duty!" "Right!" These are words of the spirit, of the soul. Science never yet revealed the soul, and therefore the man who will believe nothing but what he sees and what can be demonstrated to him, will deny at last the existence of duty, in obedience to his sceptical intellect, just as he begins by denying the existence of God for the same


Now, I ask you, how do you get out of this difficulty? I know that many do, and I thank God for it. I am very far indeed from saying that every man who denies Christianity must necessarily be an immoral man. We thankfully acknowledge that, as men may be worse than their principles, so they may be far better than their principles; and we do most firmly believe and thankfully acknowledge that men who are not Christians extricate themselves from this logical difficulty. But how do they do it? They do it just in the same way in which men extricate themselves from difficulty and doubt and scepticism in the affairs of life.

They extricate themselves by calling up another instinct of their nature to fight the in│stinct of doubt: they call up the instinct of faith. How does a man in practical life fight the sceptical instinct which bids him doubt his fellows? He appeals to the instinct of faith. He says--"I will believe,-I will silence this busy devil in my heart that is ever bidding me doubt of what is holiest and best; I will to believe in human nature; I will to silence these sceptical questions of the mere understanding; I will to believe in a higher and nobler humanity."

And so it is in the matter of morality. How is it that any one can extricate himself from the logical and scientific difficulties that I have been speaking of? He does so in one way, and one only. He does it by an act of faith. He rises up to a belief in a nature and a person— in his own personality and in his own higher and better nature. He wills to believe that he is something more than a compound of material elements. He wills and chooses to believe that conscience in him is something supreme and divine. He wills and chooses to believe that the man in him is something above the animal. And by an exercise of faith, of faith in himself, of faith in his own higher and better self-and by this alone, he silences the eternal "Why?" of the sceptical intellectthe serpent in him "more subtle than any beast of the field," which, if it had its way, would make of every man nothing but a beast; the sceptical understanding, which, taking its retaining fee from the passions and the appetites, ever seeks to reason away the supremacy of the conscience-to justify the revolt of man's appetites against his own higher and spiritual nature. This is the only way of escape from the difficulties which the sceptical intellect raises against morals, against society, against law, against all that makes life endurable or lovable, quite as much as it does against religion itself.


[Dr. Russell is the founder of a new and most useful department in journalism. He was, to all intents and purposes, the first "special correspondent," since his letters from the Crimea first gave the English world regular and graphic accounts of the doings at the seat of war. The "special correspondent" has

now become a necessity of every newspaper; and that branch of journalistic work has attracted to it picked men in point of ability, courage, and dash, but Dr. Russell may still claim a foremost place in his power of graphic, picturesque, and, at the same time, unpretentious description of war and war's alarms.

William Howard Russell was born on March | tremendous explosions, which shook the very 28, 1821, at Lilyvale, county Dublin. He ground like so many earthquakes, failed to entered Trinity College in 1838, and his first disturb many of our wearied soldiers. idea was to devote himself to an academical career. Events, however, decided otherwise. In 1841 he had been employed temporarily to do some work for the Times, and the editor, struck by the humour and the descriptive power of the young writer's pen, offered him in 1842 a permanent engagement. Russell was first employed as a parliamentary reporter; but the exciting days of Repeal supplied his editor with the opportunity of giving him more congenial work, and he was employed as a travelling correspondent to attend the meetings held by O'Connell and others. In 1846-47 he was again in Ireland, acting as a special commissioner to inquire into the state of the country; and he was a graphic and forcible describer of the famine and plague that then scourged the people.

As the rush from camp became very great, and every one sought to visit the Malakoff and the Redan, which were filled with dead and dying men, a line of English cavalry was posted across the front from our extreme left to the French right. They were stationed in all the ravines and roads to the town and trenches with orders to keep back all persons except the generals and staff, and officers and men on duty, and to stop all our men returning with plunder from the town, and to take it from them. As they did not stop the French, or Turks, or Sardinians, this order gave rise to a good deal of grumbling, particularly when a man, after lugging a heavy chair several miles, or a table, or some such article, was deprived of it by our sentries. The French complained that our dragoons let English soldiers pass with Russian muskets, and would not permit the French to carry off these trophies; but there was not any foundation for the complaint. There was assuredly no jealousy on one side or the other. It so happened that as the remnants of the French regiments engaged on the left against the Malakoff and Little Redan marched to their tents in the morning, our second division was drawn up on the parade-ground in front of their camp, and the French had to pass their lines. The instant the leading regiment of Zouaves came up to the spot where our first regiment was placed, the men, with one spontaneous burst, rent the air with an English cheer. The French officers drew their swords, their men dressed up and marched past as if at a review, while regiment after regiment of the second division caught up the cry, and at last our men presented arms to their brave comrades of France, the officers on both sides saluted with their swords, and this continued till the last man had marched by.

Mingled with the plunderers from the front were many wounded men. The ambulances never ceased,-now moving heavily and slowly with their burdens, again rattling at a trot to the front for a fresh cargo,—and the ground between the trenches and the camp was studded with cacolets or mule litters. Already the funeral parties had commenced their labours. The Russians all this time were swarming on the north side, and evinced the liveliest interest in the progress of the explosions and conflagrations. They took up ground in their old camps, and spread all over

The outbreak of the Crimean war brought him into still further prominence. The accounts he gave of the mismanagement that reigned supreme in the first disastrous months of the expedition attracted the attention both of the public and parliament; and his splendid pictures of the great events of the war were waited for with anxiety and read with intense interest. Honours were heaped upon him when he returned, his own university conferring the degree of LL.D. Whenever, after this, there came any interesting movement on the Continent or at home the employment of Dr. Russell was a matter of course. He went through the Indian mutiny; was sent to America to detail the stirring scenes in the civil war, being compelled, however, to return home on account of his free-spoken criticism; he described Bismarck's great wars in Austria and in France; was with the expedition that first tried to lay the Atlantic cable; and accompanied the Prince of Wales on his visit to India. He was called to the bar in 1850; and in 1869 unsuccessfully contested Chelsea in the Conservative interest. He is the proprietor and editor of the Army and Navy Gazette.]



The surprise throughout the camp on the Sunday morning was beyond description when the news spread that Sebastopol was on fire, and that the enemy were retreating. The


French trench, was a line of gabions on the ground running up to this bridge. That was a flying sap, which the French made the instant they got out of the trench into the Malakoff, so that they were enabled to pour a continuous stream of men into the works with comparative safety from the flank fire of the enemy. In the same way they at once dug a trench across the work inside, to see if there were any galvanic wires to fire mines. Mount the parapet and descend-of what amazing thickness are these embrasures!

the face of the hills behind the northern forts. | right hand, as one issued from the head of the Their steamers cast anchor, or were moored close to the shore among the creeks, on the north side, near Fort Catherine. By degrees the generals, French and English, and the staff officers edged down upon the town, but Fort Paul had not yet gone up, and Fort Nicholas was burning, and our engineers declared the place would be unsafe for fortyeight hours. Moving down, however, on the right flank of our cavalry pickets, a small party of us managed to turn them cleverly, and to get out among the French works between the Mamelon and Malakoff. The ground was here literally paved with shot and shell, and the surface was deeply honeycombed by the explosion of the bombs at every square yard. The road was crowded by Frenchmen returning with paltry plunder from Sebastopol, and with files of Russian prisoners, many of them wounded, and all dejected, with the exception of a fine little boy in a Cossack's cap and a tiny uniform greatcoat, who seemed rather pleased with his kind captors. There was also one stout Russian soldier, who had evidently been indulging in the popularly credited sources of Dutch courage, and who danced all the way into the camp with a Zouave.

There were ghastly sights on the way, too -Russians who had died, or were dying as they lay, brought so far towards the hospitals from the fatal Malakoff. Passing through a maze of trenches, of gabionades, and of zigzags and parallels, by which the French had worked their sure and deadly way close to the heart of the Russian defence, and treading gently among the heaps of dead, where the ground bore full tokens of the bloody fray, we came at last to the head of the French sap. It was barely ten yards from that to the base of the huge sloping mound of earth which rose full twenty feet in height above the level, and showed in every direction the grinning muzzles of its guns. The tricolor waved placidly from its highest point, and the French were busy constructing a semaphore on the top. There was a ditch at one's feet some twenty or twenty-two feet deep, and ten feet broad. That was the place where the French crossed there was their bridge of planks, and here they swarmed in upon the unsuspecting defenders of the Malakoff. They had not ten yards to go. We had two hundred, and the men were then out of breath. Were not planks better than scaling-ladders? This explains how easily the French crossed. On the

Inside the sight was too terrible to dwell upon. The French were carrying away their own and the Russian wounded, and four distinct piles of dead were formed to clear the way. The ground was marked by pools of blood, and the smell was noisome; swarms of flies settled on dead and dying; broken muskets, torn clothes, caps, shakos, swords, bayonets, bags of bread, canteens, and haversacks, were lying in indescribable confusion all over the place, mingled with heaps of shot, of grape, bits of shell, cartridges, case and canister, loose powder, official papers, and cooking tins. The traverses were so high and deep that it was almost impossible to get a view of the whole of the Malakoff from any one spot, and there was a high mound of earth in the middle of the work, either intended as a kind of shell-proof, or the remains of the old White Tower. The guns, which to the number of sixty were found in the work, were all ships' guns, and mounted on ships' carriages, and worked in the same way as ships' guns. There were a few old-fashioned, oddlyshaped mortars. On looking around the work one might see that the strength of the Russian was his weakness-he fell into his own bombproofs. In the parapet of the work might be observed several entrances-very narrow outside, but descending and enlarging downwards, and opening into rooms some four or five feet high, and eight or ten square. These were only lighted from the outside by day, and must have been pitch dark at night, unless the men were allowed lanterns. Here the garrison retired when exposed to a heavy bombardment. The odour of these narrow chambers was villainous, and the air reeked with blood and abominations unutterable. There were several of these places, and they might bid defiance to the heaviest mortars in the world: over the roof was a layer of ships' masts, cut into junks, and deposited carefully; then there was over them a solid layer of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »