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that the mighty throng that stood there about a century ago, with gaze rivetted on the man of God, are now all in eternity, and in the presence of the Almighty; and that the thoughtless thousands that crowded into the Crystal Palace formed only a new term in the series-that they too must soon pass away to give place to others. Truly this world is but an inn, where we spend a night, and then pass on along the road to eternity, to give place to other travellers.
How strange is it that the wild romance of one age should be the sober reality of the next. We find in Strada's Prolusiones Academico, published in 1617, the electric telegraph at work. But it was then only a poetic fancy-now it is a great reality. Steam has also fulfilled the curious prediction of Roger Bacon, and the Crystal Palace is itself the realization of "Chaucer's Dream." This poem exhibits a creation of fancy marvellously like the structure in Hyde Park. The visionary fabric of Chaucer was a structure where wall and gate were "all of glass." It was erected on an island between a river and a well. governed by a fair lady, who wedded a royal knight. picted by the poet was kept up three months,
"From early rising of the sun
Until the day was spent and done.”
This island was The festivity de
The great fact in Hyde Park at the present day far surpasses in grandeur the glowing picture of the poet five centuries ago. We of the old school take a characteristic delight in painting the good old times as favourably contrasted with the present degenerate age. But there is no shutting our eyes to the fact that the world is fast growing in power, if not in goodness. And, for my own part, notwithstanding the prejudice of years, I must confess to a strong sympathy with the world's progress, and the ardent aspiration of buoyant youth, as depicted by our excellent poet-laureate Mr. Tennyson.
"Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range,
The internal arrangement of the goods in the Exhibition derived some interest from the circumstance that it was determined by the parallel of latitude to which each nation belonged. The transept represented the equator, and as you moved along the eastern nave from the crystal fountain, you were supposed to cross the various parallels of latitude till you reached the arctic regions. You started from the lands of the sun, and by the time you reached the other end, you were in the regions of perpetual snow. This arrangement could not be rigidly carried out, but it served as a principle of adjustment between the various nations. Although the geographical distribution was by no means the most convenient for obtaining a connected view of the achievements of the human intellect, still it was best adapted for a comparative estimate of those influences which have chiefly affected the destinies of the human race. As the eye glanced over the productions of the various nations, arranged in their proper order, you had an epitome of the world's history before you, and you
could more readily apply the key which was to unlock the secrets of civilisation, and evolve those laws by which the progress of the human race is determined. Every nation had its own distinctive character, and the products which it exhibited threw no unambiguous light on its position in the scale of the world's families.
It was to me an interesting object of inquiry to discover some general principle of explication that would furnish a solution of the position which each nation occupied in the scale of civilisation. The character of the articles stamped the grade of civilisation and of power with sufficient distinctness, and the question was, What influential element assigned that particular grade more than another? It was a natural impulse, to look for the solution in the geographical influences affecting the particular nation; and no doubt such influences exercise an appreciable power in moulding a nation's character. It is plain, for example, that a temperate climate is more favourable for a nation's advance in civilisation than the extremes of heat and cold. Again, an extensive sea-board, promoting free intercourse with the world at large, has exercised, in the history of the world, a most powerful influence in national development. Even the geological features of a country may, in some measure, account for the national character. It has been attempted to show, and I believe the idea is not altogether fanciful, that the spirit of independence and liberty so characteristic of Scotland, may be in a great measure due to those great lines of natural fortification by which the country is defended. The ranges of hills in Scotland run across the whole breadth of the island, one behind the other, so that one line after another served as a wall of defence against the invading foe. Neither is it a fanciful position that the stream of civilisation has followed very much the line marking the greatest abundance of the cereal crops. No one will dispute that these, and similar physical influences, have operated largely in moulding the character of the nations of the earth. But he must have studied the development of the human race very superficially, who remains contented with any external influence as the true exponent of development. The grand potential elements in man have been always spiritual ones. And if we inquire for the grand developing element in history of the civilisation of the human race, we may rest assured that it must be a spiritual one. It was to me a source of great gratification to find in the Exhibition a testimony so distinct to the great fact that this developing influence is Christianity. In whatever nation the seeds of Christianity were sown, you saw the fruits of it in the products exhibited; and just in proportion to the power of Christianity was the distinctness of the proof of advanced civilisation. Even Popery did not altogether obscure the element of progress, but it was in Protestant countries that the power of Christianity was most strikingly exhibited.
While we hold that Christianity is the grand element of progress, we may quite consistently allow a due weight to the modifying influence of external circumstances. But it would be a great error to put these circumstances on a level with the great spiritual principle which they are calculated only to modify. The germination of the seed in the soil affords a suitable illustration of this point. Before it can germinate, it requires
the appropriate conditions of heat, light, and moisture, but the true developing principle consists in an immaterial something which we call life. This life cannot develop the plant unless it has suitable conditions, and the character of the ultimate development will depend greatly on these conditions; but it would be an error to place the mere conditions in the same category with the vital principle itself. In like manner, it would be a serious mistake to elevate mere secondary physical conditions to a level with the spiritual elements that determine the development of
This distinction is prominently brought before us at the present day, when we have two distinct classes of philanthropists labouring for the promotion of man's well-being. The one class put forth all their strength on the physical side of man's nature, or at least exalt it to an undue position. I do not allude merely to those of the stamp of Combe who deify natural laws, and scout all appeal to the higher elements of man's nature. I mean also many Christian men, who, while they admit the spiritual element, assign far too important a position to mere physical conditions and physical reform. The other class to which I refer, maintain that Christianity is the one great developing principle of man's nature, and the grand element in the world's civilisation. This latter position may however be held, while all due weight is given to the labours of the physical reformer, as supplying the external conditions under which the germ of the gospel may be most successfully developed. But it is all-important to keep clearly in view what is the prime and what the subordinate element. While we would most heartily wish all success to the zealous Mr. Hope in his crusade against whisky, we would consider it a most fatal error to assign to it a rank equal to that of the Endowment Scheme so ably worked by Dr. Robertson. It would be a most disastrous solecism in sociology to refer to the same category of influence, the shutting of the whisky shops, with the opening of the Church, and the play of its requisite machinery; and this is no mere speculative distinction. The history of physical reform clearly shews us that there is great practical danger. The temperance movement, in many parts of England and America, has assumed the position of a new gospel, and thus has become one of the sects of the natural-law religion of Combe. We heartily bid God speed to any crusade against whisky, and cesspools, and bad ventilation, but we would insist on their due subordination to the grand spiritual element of man's regeneration.
I again repeat, that there was no aspect of the Exhibition so cheering as that which so strongly testified to the gospel as the grand element in the world's civilisation. I looked upon it as the noblest trophy of Christianity the world has ever seen. The first Jewish temple, or that of Solomon, was honoured by the symbol of Christ in the holy of holies-the ark with the cherubim overshadowing the mercy-seat. The second temple, though inferior in many points, yet was more highly honoured, for it was honoured not merely by the symbol, but by the reality, not merely by the type but the antitype, for Christ appeared in person in this second temple. The temple in Hyde Park possessed, in one point of view, a higher honour still, for it exhibited not the symbol or the bodily presence of Christ, but
evidences of the power of Christ. For this inarvellous spectacle was one of the most distinct fruits of Christianity. I do not mean that the world congregated in this vast building with the products of art and industry merely to do honour to the Gospel. This was so far from being the case, that it was with the greatest difficulty the Bible in various tongues could be exhibited by the Bible Society. The very book which furnished a key to the whole spectacle was hardly admitted, and when admitted, it had the darkest corner in the building assigned to it. But notwithstanding this, the Exhibition furnished the most unmistakeable testimony to the power of Christianity. It gave an epitome of the world's civilization, and it demonstrated that the Gospel was the true exponent of the progress of civilization.
In estimating the advance of each nation in civilization by the articles exhibited, I was by no means guided by the pitch of excellence attained in the fine arts. I considered this a most fallacious standard, as the fine arts frequently flourish most where the moral constitution is thoroughly rotten at the core, and where all the higher elements of progress have become extinct. The history of the most celebrated nations of antiquity tells us, that the most luxurious refinement immediately preceded their utter extinction, just as a diseased tree will make a last effort to exhibit a full blow, and an abundant crop, before it dies. I was guided in my decision rather by articles indicating the stern, simple, virtues which always accompany a progressive state of society. According to this standard, some departments were most suggestive of progress, which utterly failed to fascinate the eye by articles of taste and ornament. For example, the American department gave universal disappointment; but there could be no mistake, from the exposition, that it indicated a state of rapid progression.
I do not, by any means, sympathise with those who look upon the Exhibition as a new era in this country's civilization, from the taste for the fine arts naturally excited in the masses who visited it, and who for the first time gazed on the most wondrous achievements of high art. The highest taste is compatible with a very low order of civilization. The most distinguished centres of taste on the Continent, are notable for their backwardness in the race of nations. Taking self-government as one of the safest tests of civilization, we shall find that taste and civilization are far from being proportioned the one to the other. The savage is a man of taste. He devotes infinite attention to the patterns of tatooing on his skin, and he arranges with infinite care his feathers and his scalps. I apprehend that no great good can result from teaching our rude, honest, God-fearing peasantry, to look on nude figures without blushing, and to use, with glib tongue, the language of a sentimental dilettanteism. It is our best policy to be true to the genius of our nation, instead of fostering tastes and habits, copied from foreign nations, totally alien to these stern virtues, which have wrought out our national greatness. I fear the new generation will smile at these old fashioned notions, and assign the lone island of St. Kilda as the only fit habitation for me.
As I have already mentioned, I devoted my chief attention to the machinery, and the various mechanical inventions. In this my closing paper,
I can only indulge in a few general remarks on two or three of the classes which arrested my attention. I could not but remark the strange prominence assigned to instruments of war, in this temple erected to promote the amity of nations. It was truly painful to think that the ingenuity of man was so racked to invent the most powerful weapons for the destruction of his fellow man. It is to be hoped, however, that these formidable inventions may be yet blessed of God for the extinction of war, And there is some plausibility in the position, that battles are likely to be less bloody, in proportion to the formidable nature of the weapons employed. For example, Acre, or the Ptolemais mentioned in the Acts, was surrendered to Admiral Stopford after a bombardment of a few hours, Notwithstanding the terrific character of the attack, the loss of life was much less than in any of the numerous sieges during the Crusades, or in that of Buonaparte. It is not the terrific and decisive cannonade, but the protracted personal conflict that causes most bloodshed.
It is a matter of some curiosity, that the greatest improver of firearms, in recent times, was a minister of the Gospel of peace. I mean Mr. Forsyth, who was minister of Belhelvie in Aberdeenshire a quarter of the country from which so many of our bellicose clergy come. Το him we owe the modern percussion lock, which is now almost universally adopted by European nations. Some of the inventions in the Crystal Palace exhibited contrivances for supplying the detonating powder by the action of drawing the trigger, thus dispensing with the dis tinct action of putting a cap on the nipple every time the weapon is discharged. Mr. Forsyth's original invention, however, comprehended a contrivance for accomplishing the same object. There was a magazine of powder attached to the lock, which gave the requisite supply every time the weapon was cocked.
Now that the martial spirit of our country is once more aroused by the dark cloud looming in the horizon, a new interest is communicated to recent improvements in fire-arms. This interest is increased by the circumstance, that the British soldier is, compared with that of most other European nations, very defective in his appointments. The Exhi bition furnished examples of most of the recent improvements. One of the most conspicuous objects in the Eastern Nave, was a large and beautiful piece of ordnance from Sweden. The chief object of interest was its mode of loading by the breech. It is, of course, one grand object to fire as rapidly as possible; one gun being as destructive as two, if discharged with twice the rapidity of the latter. Now it is found that a great saving of time is effected by loading at the breech instead of at the muzzle. The great difficulty lies in making a moveable breech perfectly secure, There must be an aperture behind, through which the charge must be pushed in, and the difficulty lies in shutting this aperture rapidly and safely. It is obvious that the whole force of the charge must be exerted upon the body that stops up the hole. I had some difficulty in understanding the arrangement, but a young guardsman had the kindness to draw a plan of all the parts, and to explain with great clearness the mode of working the gun. Looking from behind, you see that the breech is shut by a lid as large as the bore, and working upon a hinge.