Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

The immediately noticeable characteristic of these aristocrats—the first peculiarity which would lift them from the proletariate and constitute them lords, would be this: their unpurchasableness. 21 Their talents would not be for sale. The method of modern society is that of bargain; the struggle for existence takes the form of a contest in prices. Under the older form, men were forced to give their services; they were enslaved by arms. To-day they are bought. The workingman, the artist, the priest, sell their work to the lords, operating their machinery, beautifying their palaces and comforting their consciences, for hire. This fraternity of high-born souls will be one of men who have no price. They will paint no pictures, give wings to no music, utter never a sentence of gratifying eloquence, for the sake of advancement, applause, or any other consideration with which the princes have hitherto compelled service. In perfect good humour, they will decline to submit to compulsion. They will give their services, here is the splendid pride of the aristocrat --they will give them freely, at their own motion and of their own will, disdaining any pay but the joy of the exercise and the satisfaction of independence; they will pour themselves out in service, spending every gift in continuous ministry to their brothers, toiling, suffering, sacrificing, but scorning to stipulate for those rewards which the vulgar look upon as the ends of life.

I confess to some confidence that, however those who delight to call themselves practical may have regarded many things I have said in the course of these addresses, it cannot but be generally felt that the form the programme of Christian obedience takes to-day has something to say for itself as a sane and practical proposition. what is there in the standard I propose which prevents any man's or woman's embracing it in perfect serenity? There is no hysteria about it. I cannot, I find, in talking about it maintain a rapturous strain of discourse. I hope it is a rather fine, a rather noble standard, but it is perfectly within any one's power to make it his. Indeed, the unwritten codes of the professions already enjoin it. The common feeling emphatically

Tell me,

demands that a clergyman should serve for considerations other than his salary. The theory of the legal profession is that the attorney and the counsel are officers of justice, assisting the judge and the jury in the administration of the law; it is only of late that a lawyer's fee could be collected by pro

Reputable physicians will not consort with one who patents a therapeutic secret. I want to know why this ennobling conception should be thought good for men in certain few only of all possible careers. I call for faithfulness to it where it is held, and for its extension to all callings and walks of life.

cess.

It would be a grateful task to sketch the social revolution which would come in with this idea as, from class to class, from man to man, spreads the determination to render service for its own sake and not for that of reward. The fever of “getting on" would be assuaged, the madness in which now business is driven would be cured, the plague of ambition which prevents happy marriages would be allayed, and, men dwelling in quietness and contentment, unnatural manners, false estimates and mistaken distinctions would disappear. I cannot ask you to follow me into a consideration of hopes which I allow myself to indulge, but I am moved to speak definitely to-day of two particulars in which the conception might be expected to become at once effective.

First, the obscure posts of life will no longer go unmanned; men of ability will devote themselves to the problems of the villages and the country, and our rural districts, which are now obviously paganizing, will be redeemed.

Second, men of education and refinement will demonstrate, by taking it up, the dignity of manual labour, and the hand-crafts will be revived.

Mr. Maurice has somewhere called upon us to contemplate the effects of Christianity as they are apparent in the differences between the state of the Christian and the nonChristian lands, and then he has proposed the question: If you were ignorant of the facts, and were told that all this is due to the life of one man some centuries ago,

what sort of a figure would rise in your imagination ? Doubtless we should picture an imposing personage, philosopher, statesman or warrior, moving among the great of the earth, habituating its chief cities, occupied with large concerns and imperial deeds. We should see him taking up one great interest after another, moving out from the city of his birth (doubtless the world's capital) to other centres of men, extending his grasp further and further, until his influence and as well his bodily presence, were known in every part of the domain over which he sought power.

Such are not the facts. He was born in a sheep-village. For thirty years He lived in complete obscurity in the house of a carpenter in the poorest and most insignificant town of a despised backwoods province, a town whose name rendered into English would be perhaps “Bushtown," and of which it was said as a proverb, Can any good thing come out of it? Then for three years He walked about in the country around His home, preaching to the peasants. A few times He went down to the chief city of the

« PoprzedniaDalej »