Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

not opposed, the one working by the dry light of the intellect, the other in the warm glow of the emotions; the one ever seeking to interpret and express the beauty of the universe, the other ever searching for its truth. One vast personality in the course of history, and one only, seems to have embraced them both. [“ Hear! Hear!”] That transcendent genius died three days ago plus three hundred and sixty-nine years—Leonardo da Vinci.

Emerson describes an artist who could never paint a rock until he had first understood its geological structure; and the late Lord Houghton told me that an illustrious living poet once destroyed some exquisite verses on a flower because on examination he found that his botany was wrong. This is not saying that all the geology in the world, or all the botany in the world, could create an artist.

In illustration of the subtle influences which here come into play, a late member of this Academy once said to me

-“ Let Raphael take a crayon in his hand and sweep a curve; let an engineer take tracing paper and all other appliances necessary to accurate reproduction, and let him copy that curve—his line will not be the line of Raphael.” In these matters, through lack of knowledge, I must speak, more or less, as a fool, leaving it to you, as wise men, to judge what I say. Rules and principles are profitable and necessary for the guidance of the growing artist and for the artist full-grown; but rules and principles, I take it, just as little as geology and botany, can create the artist. Guidance and rule imply something to be guided and ruled. And that indefinable something which baffles all analysis, and which when wisely guided and ruled emerges in supreme excellence, is individual genius, which, to use familiar language, is “the gift of God.” (Cheers.]

In like manner all the precepts of Bacon, linked together and applied in one great integration, would fail to produce a complete man of science. In this respect Art and Science are identical—that to reach their highest outcome and achievement they must pass beyond knowledge and culture, which are understood by all, to inspiration and creative power, which pass the understanding even of him who possesses them in the highest degree. (Cheers.]

GEORGE ROE VAN DE WATER

DUTCH TRAITS

(Speech of Rev. Dr. George R. Van de Water at the eighth annual dinner of the Holland Society of New York, January 15, 1893. The President, Judge Augustus Van Wyck, said: “The next toast is: " Holland-a lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, and a sanctuary for the rights of mankind.' This toast will be responded to by one of the greatest stars in New York's constellation of the Embassadors of Him on High-Rev. Dr. George R. Van de Water, rector of St. Andrew's Church, Harlem.”]

[ocr errors]

MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE HOLLAND SOCIETY:-One loves to observe a fitness in things. There is manifest fitness in one coming to New York from Harlem to speak to the members of the Holland Society and their friends. There is also manifest fitness in taking the words of this country's earliest benefactor, the Marquis de Lafayette, and, removing them from their original association with this fair and favored land, applying them to that little but lovely, lowly yet lofty, country of the Netherlands. Geologists tell us that, minor considerations waived, the character of a stream can be discerned as well anywhere along its course as at its source. Whether this be true or not, anything that can be said of the fundamental principles of liberty, upon which our national fabric has been built, can be said with even increased emphasis of the free States of the Netherlands.

From the Dutch our free America has secured the inspiration of her chartered liberties. Of the Dutch, then, we can appropriately say, as Lafayette once said of free America,

They are a lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, and a sanctuary for the rights of mankind."

We are here to-night to glorify the Dutch. Fortunately for us, to do this we have not by the addition of so much as a jot or a tittle to magnify history. The facts are sufficient to justify our boast and fortify our pride. We need to detract nothing from other nationalities that have contributed much to the formation of our modern national conglomerate, although it is easily seen that the superior qualities of other nations have had a large infusion of Dutch virtue. All that we claim is that no nation under the heavens can make such an exhibit of marvellous success against adverse circumstances as does Holland. From the days when Julius Cæsar mentions their bravery under the name of Batavians, to the notable time when, voluntarily assuming the title of reproach, they became “the beggars of the sea, and for nearly a century fought for their chartered rights against the most powerful and unscrupulous of foes, the Dutch have shown the most splendid of human virtues in most conspicuous light. In doing this they have made a noble name for themselves, and furnished the worthiest of examples for all the nations of the earth. This is not the time nor the place to deal with mere facts of history. Yet I take it that even this jolly assembly will take pleasure in the mention of the deeds that have now become eternally historic. Who that knows anything of the son of Charles V, who in 1555 made promises to Holland that he never meant to keep, and for years after sought in every way to break; who that has ever read of this fanatical, heartless, cruel, and despotic Philip II of Spain, or of that wonderful, pure, magnanimous, noblest Dutchman of all, William of Orange, or of that fickle and false Margaret of Parma, the wicked sister in Holland, who lived to execute the will of a wicked brother in Spain, or of those monsters at the head of Spanish armies, Alva, Requesens, and Don Juan; who that has been fired by the sieges of Leyden and Haarlem, by the assassinations concocted in the Council of Blood, by the patient, faithful, undying patriotism of the Netherlanders in protesting for the truth of God and the rights of man, will need any response to the toast“ a lesson to oppressors "? A little land, fighting for the right, succeeded in overcoming the power of the mightiest nation of Europe

“Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

When once we consider the earnestness for civil and religious liberty, the record of no nation can stand comparison with that of Holland. Some of the English Puritans fled across the Atlantic from persecutions very slight compared with those inflicted upon Dutchmen by Philip, here to found a New England. Those who did not flee remained in old England, fought a few battles, and tried to establish a commonwealth, which in less than fifteen years ended disastrously, because the founders were unfit for government. But these Puritans of Holland, to their everlasting praise be it remembered, battled for their homes, lives, and liberty for eighty years. For four-fifths of a century they faced not only the best and bravest soldiers of Europe, but they faced, along with their wives, their children, and their old folk, the flame, the gibbet, the flood, the siege, the pestilence, the famine," and all men know, or dream, or fear of agony," all for one thing—to teach the oppressor that his cause must fail. It is difficult, sitting around a comfortable board at a public dinner, to make men realize what their forefathers suffered that the heritage of priceless liberty should be their children's pride. But read Motley, or the recent and remarkably well-written volumes of Douglas Campbell, and you will see that every atrocity that Spanish hatred, religious intolerance, and mediæval bigotry could invent, every horror that ever followed in the train of war, swept over and desolated Holland. And yet, to teach a lesson to oppressors, they endured, they fought, they suffered, they conquered; and when they conquered, the whole world was taught the lesson—worth all the Dutchmen's agony to teach it—that the children of a heavenly Father are born free and equal, and that it is neither the province of nation or church to coerce them into any religious belief or doctrine whatso

ever.

The principle of Protestantism was won in the eightyyear war of the Netherlanders. During all this time the Dutch were notably giving a lesson to oppressors. But then and afterward they furnished a brilliant and commendable example to the oppressed. Though they fought the wrong, they never opposed the truth. They were fierce, but never fanatical. They loved liberty, but they never encouraged license; they believed in freedom and the maintenance of chartered rights, but they never denied their lawful allegiance to their governor, nor refused scriptural submission to the powers ordained of God. The public documents throughout the eighty years of war invariably recognized Philip as lawful king. Even the University of Leyden, founded as a thanksgiving offering for their successful resistance to the Spanish siege, observed the usual legal fiction, and acknowledged the King as ruler of the realm. And, although the Dutch had abundant reason to be vindictive, once the opportunity offered, the desire for persecution vanished. William the Silent, as early as 1556, in a public speech before the regent and her council, says, “ Force can make no impression on one's conscience." "It is the nature of heresy,” he goes on to say (would we had the spirit of William in our churches to-day)—" it is the nature of heresy, if.it rests it rusts: he that rubs it whets it." His was an age when religious toleration, except as a political necessity, was unknown. Holland first practised it, then taught it to the world. No less in her example to the oppressed than in her warning to oppressors, is Holland conspicuous, is Holland great. During the reign of William of Orange, first a Romanist, then a Calvinist, never a bigot, always gentle, at last a Christian, in Holland and in Zeeland, where for years he was almost military dictator, these principles of tolerance were put to severest test. Fortunately for the world, they were sufficiently strong to stand the strain. The people about him had been the sad victims of a horrible persecution which had furrowed their soil with graves, and filled their land with widows and orphans. We know what is human nature. But Dutch nature is a little more generous than ordinary human nature. A Dutchman's heart is big, a Dutchman travels on a broad-gauge track; a Dutchman can forgive and forget an injury; a Dutchman has no fears and few frowns; a Dutchman is never icebergy, nor sullen, nor revengeful. He may make mistakes from impulse, he never wounds with intention; he will never put his foot twice in the same trap, nor will he take any pleasure in seeing his enemy entrapped. All of a Dutchman's faults come from an over-indulgence of a Dutchman's virtues. He is not cold, nor calculating, nor cruel. Generally happy himself, he desires others to be happy also. If he cannot get

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »