Графични страници
PDF файл

admirers ! He would not have Sir Robert Peel forgotten in an hour when the measures and the men that had effected the triumphs of their cause were passing in review. He adverted in earnest terms—as if the assembly had forgotten them—to the sacrifices and labours of the Premier in advocating, and carrying through all opposition, the measure for which they had struggled during so many years. Having begun by ascribing to an overruling Providence the combination of influences that had brought about the consummation of their hopes, he concluded by ascribing the whole good and glory of the event to the same Divine interposition. He sat down apparently satisfied that he had reduced his eminence to the level of his associates and co-labourers of the League.

John Bright next arose, and was received with enthusiastic applause. Par nobile fratrum, he and Cobden had laboured shoulder to shoulder through all the hard campaign of the great moral revolution. In personal appearance, no two men, with only the disparity of ten years between them, could be more unlike each other. By constitution of mind and temperament of genius, no two could have been more happily associated in such a reform. The eloquence of Bright would seem born to command, that of Cobden to win conviction. If the first was the eloquence of logic set on fire by spontaneous combustion, the latter was the eloquence of earnest truth, whose passage through the mind, like the path of the just, grows brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. I regret that I have not room to notice more at length the last speech of Bright before the League. He dwelt most impressively on the fact, that the greatest enemy with which the British people ever had to contend, had been overcome by the resistless might of moral means.

These were weapons which no physical power of despotism could withstand. With these the people could never fail to be victorious in their struggles for right and true freedom. Sublime sentiment ! magnificent position ! In this principle the down-trodden tribes of men may find both an Archimedean lever and point of rest, by which they may lift from the bosom of humanity the largest world of wrong which the darkness and despotism of ages can accumulate. This principle, as the only power on earth by which the people can work out the condition of freedom, peace, and prosperity, spans the heavens of the race, as the revelation of a new rainbow of promise, that “the nations shall learn war no more” for any political change, and that the revolutions which are to turn and overturn dynasties rooted in the antiquity of a thousand years, shall leave no stain of blood nor trace of hate upon the fair bosom of the earth.

Sparks from the Anvil.


EDWARD MIALL. To every virtue there is an obverse, and contentment is no exception to the rule. There is an intelligent, active, cheerful acquiescence in “whatever is ;" there is also an indolent, dumb, stupid listlessness, which is by some men mistaken for it. The first is the satisfaction of a mind awake; which, glancing at the grand outline of “a stupendous plot,” the intricacies of which it is, as yet, incompetent to unravel, calmly awaits the appointed hour for its solution, in unwavering confidence that the minutest details are wisely arranged. The last is the reluctance of a mind to be aroused from inactivity and torpor, and which, like the Indians of North-western America, prefers the long idleness of savage life, with all its brutality, to the industry of civilization with all its refinement. Happy is he whose will consents to his lot, whilst the life within him is aspiring to an indefinite improvement of it! Such happiness, however, is not to be identified with the non-resistance of a soul which knows no aspiration. Contentment and stolidity are far from being the same thing.

The spirit of enterprise would seem to be born of discontent ; and, in some sense, but that a very qualified one, it is so. Mindboundless, deathless mind—cannot be satisfied with what it can

When we have seen all that belongs to a thing, we cease to prize it. Every desire of the human soul, even sensual desires, may be resolved into a native, instinctive thirst for knowledge. We invariably hanker after an acquaintance, which may be termed exhaustive, with every object with which our senses hold familiar

We are uneasy until we have taken its dimensionsheight, depth, breadth, and length—until we have discovered all its qualities—and when we have done so it ceases further to attract us. It is thrown aside as a sucked orange. Were we able to



comprehend the essence of things, we should probably be the most miserable of creatures. Therefore is the mind of man like the bee, ever on the wing, ranging over a wide sphere, and sucking honey, first from one flower, then from another, seemingly desirous of sipping nectar from all. And out of this insatiable desire to know, arises the spirit of enterprise. It may be a virtue or a vice in individuals, as it is wisely or unwisely directed ; but the absence of it argues the ascendancy of morbid morals.

Enterprise is the salt of society. Wherever it is wanting there is moral putridity. A community settling on its own lees will quickly undergo the acetous fermentation. That restlessness among a people of any land which prompts them to be ever seeking an improvement of their state, like the tides of ocean, preserves society from stagnant corruption. An enterprising nation is never a degenerating nation. Its very activity throws out its vices. It grows better as it grows older. And the converse of this is true. A satisfied people is none other than an ignorant, demoralized, and essentially wretched people-a people whose condition of necessity gets worse and worse, until at length they cease, as a distinct community, to be. The very intelligence which, in individual cases, is necessary to contentment, forbids in the case of nations every feeling of satisfaction ; and he who is most actively consentient to "things as they are,” in as far as they touch his own convenience only, will be most benevolently dissatisfied with “ whatever is," as far as the community of which he is a member is concerned. The possessor of the fee-simple of an estate will feel and act very differently from a trustee for society at large, or for succeeding generations. Enterprise, therefore, is identified with the moral as well as social well-being of all large masses of men, under whatever form of government. Its absence is usually attended by the most degrading corruption.

That the voluntary mode of sustaining Christianity promotes a spirit of enterprise need hardly be insisted upon with anything like elaboration of argument. Whatever may be the philosophy of it, the phenomenon is undoubted. Throw but the religion of land

upon its own resources, and the spirit of active enterprise it evokes for its own support prompts, enters into, and informs all other undertakings. Establish it, and just in proportion as you succeed you damp the ardour without which enterprise must die. Take a map and glance at the several nations of the earth.


Wherever religion is either wholly or in part self-sustained, there may be seen also a people distinguished, in the main, for activity, energy, and a perpetual reaching after improvement. But mark the spots in which Christianity has comfortably reposed upon cushioned chairs and rich endowments; where priests have been many and their living sure ; where churches are most numerous and most splendid, and where the maintenance of divine ordinances is most fully, permanently, and unchangeably provided for; and what is the condition of such lands? Without an exception, we think, they will be characterized by that kind of nonchalance—that carelessness about bettering their own position ; that indolent, stupid, settle-downedness upon “things as they are,” which excludes all present hope of social progress. With them earth gets no nearer heaven, but rather recedes from it. Their tendency is downwards : they drive from bad to worse.

Or, to fetch an illustration from a quarter nearer home, and therefore more accurately known, let us look back upon the history of our own country. When, at first, Christianity laid her soft hand upon this rude and unclad nation, and gently shook it from the troubled dreams of paganism,-paganism which, for ages, like a nightmare, had brooded upon the mind of society, causing the nations to heave and labour in the deep sleep of their ignorance, and start affrighted at their own feverish superstitions, and cry out inarticulately and in vain for some deliverer; and when fierce Britain looked round upon the light of day, and forgot the horrors of the preceding night, how she stretched herself for action, and, as man goeth forth to his labour in the morning," commenced the pursuit of knowledge, not spiritual only, but civil and secular. Here, well-nigh far back as the light of history conducts us, we find the voluntary support of Christianity, and the first sproutings of inquiry, activity, and enterprise, to be coeval. The Saxon irruption could not wholly destroy them. The far north-west, beyond the reach of barbarism, was to Europe a little bright, gushing fountain of civilization and knowledge. Roman Christianity--Christianity tethered by law to the soil, its maintenance made sure by tithes and enforced offerings, did no great deal for the people. Not till holy men were turned out of easy nests by persecution; not till ecclesiastical authorities thrust religion out of doors to get its own living, and find out the secret of its own strength, do we discern anything in England giving promise of its present superiority over nations. Lollardism, Puritanism, Nonconformity,—in a word, that faith in truth which scorns to rely upon the buttresses of compulsory support : this it was which first prompted our country to noble undertakings. Our forefathers may have theoretically disclaimed, as indeed they did, the voluntary principle. But tyranny drove them into association with it. And when compelled to cast about them for the support of God's truth, they learned to cast about them for their own and for society's advancement. In the midst of these troublous times the national spirit of enterprise was born, Christian willinghood nursed it into strength, and the result may be seen in every quarter of the globe ; for in every quarter may be found some traces of our greatness.





EVERYTHING looked promising; and we were only waiting for intelligence that our advance party had deposited its provisions in safety to begin our transit of the bay. Except a few sledgelashings and some trifling accoutrements to finish, all was ready.

We were at work cheerfully, sewing away at the skins of some mocassins by the blaze of our lamps, when, toward midnight, we heard the noise of steps above, and the next minute Sontag, Ohlsen, and Petersen came down into the cabin. Their manner startled me even more than their unexpected appearance on board. They were swollen and haggard, and hardly able to speak.

Their story was a fearful one. They had left their companions in the ice, risking their own lives to bring us the news : Brooks, Baker, Wilson, and Pierre were all lying frozen and disabled. Where? They could not tell : somewhere in among the hummocks to the north and east ; it was drifting heavily round them when they parted. Irish Tom had stayed by to feed and care for the others; but the chances were sorely against them. It was in vain to question them further. They had evidently travelled a great distance, for they were sinking with fatigue and hunger and

« ПредишнаНапред »