Изображения страниц

eighty-four or eighty-five thousand copies | done little. They can lay their hands on few have now (1880) been issued in England, besides translations into French, Dutch, German, and Wels!, and it has proved one of the most interesting and useful works which have appeared for many years, written in a singularly lively and happy manner. The Tongue of Fire, or the True Power of Christianity-a volume on the Christian life-was issued in 1856, and of this book upwards of twenty editions have been sold in England, besides translations into French, Italian, Welsh, Kafir, and other languages. In 1860 he published Italy in Transition, a work which, says the Athenæum, derives its chief value from having appeared at the proper time. The Pope, the King, and the People, a history of the Vatican Council, appeared in 1878. Mr. Arthur is also the author of a number of pamphlets on miscellaneous subjects. Since 1848 he has held the office of secretary to the Methodist Missionary Society, and was also for some years president of the Methodist College at Belfast.]

books that are not likely to estrange them from their avocations just in proportion as they charm them. The young men of any other profession, beside the dry study of principles, may at the same time relax their minds and rouse up all their professional aspirations by the lives of some who have trodden the very path on which they are starting, and found it the way to eminence. Not so the young merchant, of whatever grade. For the lives of the great he must go out of his own line and perhaps learn to despise it, when he might have learned its value and had all his views ennobled. Thus many business men dread books, just as literary men dread business. The two things have been at enmity. The literatus has looked down on the man of figures and facts, with counting-house taste and cash-box imagination. The merchant has looked down on the man of lofty ideas and light pockets, redundant in sentiment but lacking in common sense. You can hardly ever find a business man who has any just notion of the mercantile value of genius, or a literary man who has any appreciation of business. How seldom does a millionaire take any pains to encourage letters; or a scholar care to analyze the life of a merchant, whatever mental power he may have displayed, whatever impulse he may have given to the improvement

of international or internal relations, whatever influence he may have exerted on the history of a kingdom. Consequently, little light has been shed into the recesses of commerce from

higher spheres. Men of business have been left to form their own codes of morals, with a millionth part of the criticism, from the erudite, on the moral correctness of this prin

ciple and of that mode of transaction, that has been spent on the letter h, the Greek article, or the digamma. The politics of commerce are now, per force, a favourite study; but the business upon character, the relation which morality of purchase and sale, the effect of art, science, and literature bear to commerce, indebted to those whose calling it is to inare points on which business men are little struct. Had it been otherwise, the mercantile class might have been great gainers, in enlarged views, in refined pleasure, in appreciation of the efforts and the utility of the higher orders of mind, and also in clear views of the moral principles of trade.



"Who would ever think of writing the life of the moiling pelf-worm, who works and wriggles through the dust, thinking of nothing but making his way?" True, who would? But who would think of writing the life of

the common-place soldier, who wheels to right or left, loads, presents, fires, and fixes bayonet? or of the scribbler who palms a book upon the world? or of the spouter who perpetrates dull speeches? The ignoble is ignoble in any sphere; the great is great in any. Commerce, like other spheres, has had its marvellous men; and, to the moralist, no class he could handle would afford such innumerable points on which important light might be shed upon life's actual ways, wherein the plodding and the practical are ever tempted to sell truth and integrity for gold. But from them the literati seem to have turned away. The TERRA INCOGNITA of the learned is ordinary life. The Chronicles of the Stock Exchange, the History of Banking, the Bankers' Magazine, and some prints devoted to economical questions, all show that literature has at length set out to explore that region of reputed desert.

For business men, as a class, literature has

By permission of the author.

But more attention to practical life, on the part of literary men, would be as rich in benefit to themselves as to men in business.

In handling that subject, they would grow | proved his fare, improved his furniture, wiser, and would impart more wisdom. They improved his children, improved his servants, would have an endless variety of theme. They improved his circle of friends, but has never would discover that fictitious characters were improved his mind. There it is, the same no more necessary to furnish interest, pleasure, mind precisely in fine broadcloth and "velvet amusement, surprise, and sadness, than ficti- hat," that it was in fustian and paper cap; tious landscapes are necessary to furnish moun- the same mind with a carriage and pair, that tain, forest, water, and sky. They would con- it was with heavy clogs; the same mind with stantly find moral problems, which might silver services and champagne and venison, engage the most subtle dialectitians, and yet that it was with pewter and cheese and ale; would interest the stock-jobber and the shop- the same mind with daughters that can play Handel and read Racine, that it would have been with daughters who never touched a key or opened a grammar; the same mind with circles of educated friends, who value his sense and worth despite the remnants of the outlandish, as it was with friends whose talk was in dialect of other days and all on themes intimate to the village.

Now, that kind of spectacle is beyond doubt most particularly uncomely. You never see it without feeling your temper a little tried. In the name of common sense and common propriety, why did not the man, when he saw that Providence was lifting him up in society, take a little pains to fit himself for his new position, as he did to fit everything about him for it? He would not furnish his fine house with the same articles which sufficed for his original dwelling. The house must needs have seemly furniture; and it should also have a seemily master. Threelegged stools and plain deal tables would look quaint beside damasks and mirrors and chandeliers; but do not queer rough accents and vulgar phrases look quite as odd there? Do then, if rising in life, take a little pains; not to make yourself an accomplished man in letters or in etiquette, that is out of the question now, and it is not the thing for you to run after even if hope of overtaking it remained; but, take a little pains to rub off all offensive roughnesses which have been left by early neglect, and which abridge your influence and usefulness in your new sphere. But, remember, young lady at the grand piano, you are not to blush for the ill-ordered grammar of papa. He is of a great deal more consideration in the world than you will ever be. You will never rise above the level to which his brave arm carries you, and had it not been for his talent and worth you would not have been at that piano, but mayhap at a spinning-jenny. Honour him as he deserves, and all sensible men will honour you. See that you use well the valuable fruits which his labours have obtained for you.


I have now to tell you of a genuine son of English commerce: not of one who, like Gresham, was by birth a prince of the blood in the empire of trade; but of one who, beginning in the ranks, fought his way up to eminence: not of one who took his stand among the archers of speculation, and, drawing his bow at their brilliant target, chanced to strike the gold; but of one who rose by sheer dint of working, systematizing, and extending his own legitimate business: not of one who accumulated by the simple power of retentiongetting, griping, holding, and never giving; but of one who was as apt to scatter as to increase: not of one in whom early influence and education had combined the polish of aristocratic circles with the pursuits of commercial life; but of one who was, to the last, the keen, bustling, downright man of business: not of one who was so absorbed in trade that he never had a spare thought or a spare moment for recreation, friendship, the interests of others, the culture of his mind, or the care of his soul; but of one who, while passionately earnest in business, had always a heart for a friend, a hand for the poor, an hour for good works, a relish for a book, and a lively solicitude for the things that never pass away: not of one who amassed and left behind him a fortune, making a wonder in itself; but of one who did not care to die rich: not of one who moved in the high walks of cosmopolitan philanthropy; but of one whose work was wrought near his own door, among the colliers and the lane-side cots of a poor and unpolished neighbourhood.




There are two things which, to look upon, are very uncomely. The one, a man who has risen in the world, and as he rose has improved his attire, improved his abode, im

But uncomely as is the spectacle of a man "But," cries Polysmatter, "a man ought to whose mind is behind his circumstances, there improve his mind." To be sure he ought; is another spectacle quite as uncomely and far but do you call that kind of work improving more provoking. A young man whom Provi- the mind-turning it away from the task God dence has plainly designed to serve his gener- has set before it, giving it a disrelish for plain ation by following some useful business, has and serviceable duty, habituating it to sips taken it into his head to be a man of parts and and scents and whiffs and glimpses and passing a hero-hunter. He has some notion of the tones of every sort of glossy, pretty, jingling new books and of the great men who are just smatter, and thus unfitting it for all sober now agoing. He is deep in Warren, thinks thought and real knowledge, all deep search well of Macaulay, patronizes Carlyle, has an after truth, all earnest application to duty. opinion on Chateaubriand and Alexander Improve your mind, indeed! You are leading Dumas, knows that Tennyson is poet-laureate, it, poor mind, a most ruinous course; you are and kneels down to Dickens. He is versed spoiling its taste, spoiling its digestion, relaxin the parliamentary orators, balances Disraeli ing its muscles, enfeebling its joints and and Derby most nicely, is at home on the sinews, and making it fit neither for books merits of the great preachers, and, above all nor business-a sheer wreck of dissipation. things, his talk smells of science. He often You are just doing with your mind what a hears Professor Polysmatter, Professor Pan- man would do with his body, if, under pretext prattle, and Professor Poluphloisbos, who of improving it, he set to and learned the lecture on æsthetics, megalosauri, metem- names of all the most celebrated pastry-cooks, psychosis, and several other things with brave made acquaintance with all the tastiest dishes, names; he, therefore, talks of elements, strata, all the richest wines, all the best spicery, and developments, oxygen, carbonic acid, and the fed himself with scraps of dainty confectionery vital principle. He is very "intellectual," and, and scents of perfumery. He might be a in business, very good for nothing. He great connoisseur, might have a deal to say, makes a great figure in discussion, but a poor and might enjoy the thing for a while; but figure in work. He sneers at his neighbour, his poor body would soon be unfit for any who has not "two ideas;" but his neighbour | purpose for which God ever sent a man into has a quiet consciousness that with his one the world. This is quite the case with the idea he manages to get on better than Poly-mind of a man who, having little time to read, smatter with his profusion of ideas. He sets up for a savant, and runs about tasting wonders how his neighbour has so little taste; literary confectionery, instead of taking some his neighbour wonders how he has so little substantial food, eating it, digesting it, abHe is surprised that his neighbour sorbing it into his own frame, and deriving does not buy more books and hear more pro- from it both vivacity and force. fessors; his neighbour wonders how he can be constantly running after everything but his business. He thinks his neighbour not at all fit to converse with men of education; his neighbour sees that men of education never laugh at him, while they always laugh at Polysmatter.


Now, this Polysmatter is ridiculous even beside the good man who is untutored amid glittering affluence. You may regret that the latter has not been awake to the duty of selfimprovement; but you cannot despise him. He has not missed his way. He is no abortion. He has done his work. He has elevated a family. He has set an example of energy. He has filled up in the movement of society the full place of a workman. As he stands there in his homeliness, even though you were as fastidious as Beau Nash, you prefer him ten thousand times to an imposture of a man, who, being called to labour at an honest trade, betakes himself to dandyfying his intellect.

Many who pretend to be improving their mind are not only dissipating it, but debasing it. Improving it! what do they introduce to it by way of improving it, forsooth? Fiction, nonsense, trifle, trash, intrigue, the vices in court dress. If their mind is to be improved by that, it must be bad indeed. No, no; it is idle to say that the things which many read are read from any view to improvement. Such things are read from sheer badness of heart, from the love of evil excitement, from the impulse of the great tempter. For one man who reads novels from anything like a literary aim, there are a thousand who read them just because they stimulate low passions.

Yes, you ought to improve your mind; but then, take care you do not set up for a man of parts. From that day your mind is in a lost case-as lost as a garden plot in which you attempted to grow cereals, vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and forest trees all in one

crop. If you want to improve your mind, do | however little, in your memory.
what Samuel Budgett did. Feel that you
know little; be content that others should
see that; ask questions which show your
ignorar ce; set about reading something solid,
-something which will enable you better to
understand man, the earth, the sky, the Bible.
Learn your own tongue. Learn your own
world. Know not only its continents, but its
nooks; not only its nations, but its tribes;
not only its great systems, but its sects.
Learn history, ancient, modern, ecclesiastical,
-any branch of it; for all tell of man and of
Providence. Learn poetry; fix some of it,


[Highly distinguished and most useful as has been the career of Sir William Thomson, it can receive but brief notice in a work on literature. His domain has been science; and his numerous works deal with subjects which are "caviare to the general."

A few good pieces made thoroughly your own, will insensibly refine your taste, elevate your conceptions, and improve your mode of expression. Learn, in fact, anything that is real, solid, useful; but learn it. Do not taste and smell; eat. Do not perfume your raiment with the scent of knowledge; what you know, know it, and be the better. Be content to know little. Be content to add to your knowledge slowly. Be content to be unnoticed when Polysmatter is passing for a prodigy, and to hold your peace when Poluphloisbos is rolling forth cataracts of erudition.

Sir William Thomson was born in Belfast in 1824, but at an early age removed to Glasgow, his father having been appointed to the professorship of mathematics in the university of that city. Brought up amid scientific surroundings, Thomson was ready for a collegiate career at an age when most boys are most deeply interested in the mysteries of marble-playing; for he was but thirteen when he entered Glasgow University. He afterwards went to St. Peter's College, Cambridge, and graduated there in 1845. In the following year he became professor of natural philosophy in Glasgow University-a position he still holds.

It would not be within our scope to enumerate his contributions to science; it will suffice to say that in more than one department he has made discoveries or inventions which amount to a scientific revolution. His most remarkable achievements have been in connection with submarine telegraphy. It is to him, more perhaps than to any other scientist of our time, that we owe the system of cables that now join together all the countries of the world. In 1866 he obtained a just recognition of his services, when, on the completion of the Atlantic cable in that year, he received the honour of knighthood. He is the inventor of a number of instruments besides, which by their extraordinary delicacy and accuracy


have enabled observations to be made with regard to atmospheric electricity which were impossible before. His discoveries as to the nature of heat also display a power of scien│tific investigation and generalization, which place him among the highest scientific intellects of our time.

Sir William Thomson has of course received all the honours which can be conferred by universities or scientific associations. He is an LL.D. of the three universities of Dublin, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, and a D.C.L. of Oxford-is also a fellow of the London and Edinburgh Royal Societies; and in 1871 was president of the British Association at its meeting at Edinburgh. It is from his address on this occasion that our quotation is taken.]


(FROM ADDRESS TO THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION.) The essence of science, as is well illustrated by astronomy and cosmical physics, consists in inferring antecedent conditions, and anticipating future evolutions, from phenomena which have actually come under observation. In biology the difficulties of successfully acting up to this ideal are prodigious. The earnest naturalists of the present day are, however, not appalled or paralyzed by them, and are struggling boldly and laboriously to pass out of the mere "natural history stage" of their study, and bring zoology within the range of natural philosophy. A very ancient speculation, still

clung to by many naturalists (so much so that I have a choice of modern terms to quote in expressing it), supposes that, under meteorological conditions very different from the present, dead matter may have run together or crystallized or fermented into " germs of life," or "organic cells," or "protoplasm." But science brings a vast mass of inductive evidence against this hypothesis of spontaneous generation, as you have heard from my predecessor in the presidential chair. Careful enough scrutiny has, in every case up to the present day, discovered life as antecedent to life. Dead matter cannot become living without coming under the influence of matter prcviously alive. This seems to me as sure a teaching of science as the law of gravitation. I utterly repudiate, as opposed to all philosophical uniformitarianism, the assumption of "different meteorological conditions"-that is to say, somewhat different vicissitudes of temperature, pressure, moisture, gaseous atmosphere to produce or to permit that to take place by force or motion of dead matter alone, which is a direct contravention of what seems to us biological law. I am prepared for the answer, "Our code of biological law is an expression of our ignorance as well as of our knowledge." And I say yes: search for spontaneous generation out of inorganic materials; let any one not satisfied with the purely negative testimony, of which we have now so much against it, throw himself into the inquiry. Such investigations as those of Pasteur, Pouchet, and Bastian are among the most interesting and momentous in the whole range of natural history, and their results, whether positive or negative, must richly reward the most careful and laborious experimenting. I confess to being deeply impressed by the evidence put before us by Professor Huxley, and I am ready to adopt, as an article of scientific faith, true through all space and through all time, that life proceeds from life, and from nothing but life.

or did vegetation, growing up from seed sown, spread and multiply over the whole earth? Science is bound, by the everlasting law of honour, to face fearlessly every problem which can fairly be presented to it. If a probable solution, consistent with the ordinary course of nature, can be found, we must not invoke an abnormal act of Creative Power. When a lava stream flows down the sides of Vesuvius or Etna it quickly cools and becomes solid; and after a few weeks or years it teems with vegetable and animal life, which for it originated by the transport of seed and ova and by the migration of individual living creatures. When a volcanic island springs up from the sea, and after a few years is found clothed with vegetation, we do not hesitate to assume that seed has been wafted to it through the air, or floated to it on rafts. Is it not possible, and if possible, is it not probable, that the beginning of vegetable life on the earth is to be similarly explained? Every year thousands, probably millions, of fragments of solid matter fall upon the earth—whence came these fragments? What is the previous history of any one of them? Was it created in the beginning of time an amorphous mass? This idea is so unacceptable that, tacitly or explicitly, all men discard it. It is often assumed that ail, and it is certain that some, meteoric stones are fragments which had been broken off from greater masses and launched free into space. It is as sure that collisions must occur between great masses moving through space as it is that ships, steered without intelligence directed to prevent collision, could not cross and recross the Atlantic for thousands of years with immunity from collisions. When two great masses come into collision in space it is certain that a large part of each is melted; but it seems also quite certain that in many cases a large quantity of débris must be shot forth in all directions, much of which may have experienced no greater violence than individual pieces of rock experience in a land-slip or in blasting by gunpowder. hould the time when this earth comes into collision with another body, comparable in dimensions to itself, be when it is still clothed as at present with vegetation, many great and small fragments carrying seed and living plants and animals would undoubtedly be scattered through space. Hence, and because we all confidently believe that there are at present, and have been from time immemorial, many worlds of life besides our own, we must regard it as probable in the highest degree that there are countless seed-bearing

How, then, did life originate on the earth? Tracing the physical history of the earth backwards, on strict dynamical principles, we are brought to a red-hot melted globe on which no life could exist. Hence when the earth was first fit for life there was no living thing on it. There were rocks solid and disintegrated, water, air all round, warmed and illuminated by a brilliant sun, ready to become a garden. Did grass and trees and flowers spring into existence, in all the fulness of ripe beauty, by a fiat of Creative Power?

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »