« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
contented already, from the lowest to the highest ? And ought a man, in such a piecemeal, foolish, greedy, sinful world as this is, and always has been, to be any. thing but discontented ? If he thinks that things are going all right, must he not have a most beggarly conception of what going right means? And if things are not going right, can it be anything but good for him to see that they are not going right? Can truth and fact harm any human being? I shall not believe so, as long as I have a Bible wherein to believe. For my part, I should like to make every man, woman, and child whom I meet discontented with themselves, even as I am discontented with myself. I should like to awaken in them, about their physical, their intellectual, their moral condition, that divine discontent which is the parent, first of upward aspiration and then of selfcontrol, thought, effort to fulfil that aspiration even in part. For to be discontented with the divine discontent, and to be ashamed with the noble shame, is the very germ and first upgrowth of all virtue. Men begin at first, as boys begin when they grumble at their school and their schoolmasters, to lay the blame on others; to be discontented with their circumstances, the things which stand around them; and to cry, “Oh that I had this !” “Oh that I had that!” But that way no deliverance lies. That discontent only ends in revolt and rebellion, social or political; and that, again, still in the same worship of circumstances-but this time desperate—which ends, let it disguise itself under what fine names it will, in what the old Greeks called a tyranny; in which—as in the Spanish republics of America, and in France more than once-all have become the voluntary slaves of one man, because each man fancies that the one man can improve his circumstances for him.
But the wise man will learn, like Epictetus the heroic slave, the slave of Epaphroditus, Nero's minion -and in what baser and uglier circumstances could human being find himself ?-to find out the secret of being truly free; namely, to be discontented with no man and no thing save himself. To say not—“Oh that I had this and that !” but “Oh that I were this and that!” Then, by God's help—and that heroic slave, heathen though he was, believed and trusted in God's help—"I will make myself that which God has shown
I Ten thousand a-year, or ten million a-year, as Epictetus saw full well, cannot mend that vulgar discontent with circumstances, which he had felt-and who with more right?--and conquered, and despised. For that is the discontent of children, wanting always more holidays and more sweets.
But I wish my readers to have, and to cherish, the discontent of men and women,
Therefore I would make men and women discon. tented, with the divine and wholesome discontent, at their own physical frame, and at that of their children. I would accustom their eyes to those precious heirlooms of the human race, the statues of the old Greeks; to their tender grandeur, their chaste healthfulness, their unconscious, because perfect, might: and sayThere; these are tokens to you, and to all generations yet unborn, of what man could be once; of what he can be again if he will obey those laws of nature which are the voice of God. I would make them discontented with the ugliness and closeness of their dwellings; I would make them discontented with the fashion of their garments, and still more just now the women, of all ranks, with the fashion of theirs; and with everything around them which they have the power of improving, if it be at all ungraceful, superfluous, tawdry, ridiculous, unwholesome. I would make them discontented with what they call their education, and say to them-You call the three Royal R's education? They are not education : no more is the knowledge which would enable you to take the highest prizes given by the Society of Arts, or any other body. They are not education : they are only instruction ; a necessary groundwork, in an age like this, for making practical use of your education: but not the education itself.
And if they asked me, What then education meant ? I should point them, first, I think, to noble old Lilly's noble old 'Euphues,' of three hundred years ago, and ask them to consider what it says about education, and especially this passage concerning that mere knowledge which is nowadays strangely miscalled education. “ There are two principal and peculiar gifts in the nature of man, knowledge and reason. The one" -that is reason—"commandeth, and the other"—that is knowledge—“ obeyeth. These things neither the whirling wheel of fortune can change, nor the deceitful cavillings of worldlings separate, neither sickness abate, nor age abolish.” And next I should point them to those pages in Mr. Gladstone's 'Juventus Mundi,' where he describes the ideal training of a Greek youth in Homer's days; and say,—There : that is an education fit for a really civilised man, even though he never saw a book in his life; the full, proportionate, harmonious educing—that is, bringing out and developing --of all the faculties of his body, mind, and heart, till he becomes at once a reverent yet a self-assured, graceful and yet a valiant, an able and yet an eloquent personage.
And if any should say to me-"But what has this to do with science ? Homer's Greeks knew no science;' I should rejoin—But they had, pre-eminently above all ancient races which we know, the scientific instinct; the teachableness and modesty; the clear eye and
quick ear; the hearty reverence for fact and nature, and for the human body, and mind, and spirit; for human nature, in a word, in its completeness, as the highest fact upon this earth. Therefore they became in after years, not only the great colonisers and the great civilisers of the old world—the most practical people, I hold, which the world ever saw; but the parents of all sound physics as well as of all sound metaphysics. Their very religion, in spite of its imperfections, helped forward their education, not in spite of, but by means of, that anthropomorphism which we sometimes too hastily decry. As Mr. Gladstone says in a passage which I must quote at length“As regarded all other functions of our nature, outside the domain of the life to Godward-all those functions which are summed up in what St. Paul calls the flesh and the mind, the psychic and bodily life, the tendency of the system was to exalt the human element, by proposing a model of beauty, strength, and wisdom, in all their combinations, so elevated that the effort to attain them required a continual upward strain. It made divinity attainable; and thus it effectually directed the thought and aim of man
• Along the line of limitless desires.'
Such a scheme of religion, though failing grossly in the government of the passions, and in upholding the