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some striking illustrations of this tendency in Mr. Holdreth's novelette. One of the most prominent is the depiction of the way in which the hero partially fills up the void in his heart caused by the loss of his religion, with an intense devotion to his “ Master," Sterne, who does, in fact, take the place of a God to him. He accepts the whole responsibility of Ernest's life, for which Ernest gives, in return, an almost childlike obedience. Thus, such comfort as he does find is gained by reposing on a higher and stronger will than his own. Any such need in Sterne's own character is obviated by the coldly-calm temperament ascribed to him. “Having no passionate love for any other object than his sister, having no cause to serve in whose success his soul was absorbed, and serving the cause of Atheism simply from a quiet, unimpassioned conviction of its truth and necessity, he felt no need of any assistance or protection from without. He was sufficient to himself, and his conscience was sufficient to him."
Yet, with a perceptiveness which singularly contrasts with the author's admiration for his ideal Atheist, he has painted Sterne's inability to train his wayward sister Annie, with a verisimilitude that is only too painfully real. The need of influences beyond humanity to solve such problems of character as hers is so clearly manifested in this little episode of Atheist life, that we must extract enough to show its main features. Sterne is the guardian of his two orphan sisters. A scene of contention with the elder child has just taken place, in which Sterne has tried in vain to bring her to reason.
“ The child understood; that much, at least, was clear. But she would not seem to feel. And Sterne bit his lip, and turned away sadly to take the hand of his favorite, as she danced into the room.
... Annie sat by the window, where she could see them depart, and notice her brother's tenderness towards the tiny creature who, in the midst of her laughter, was even then murmuring a word of pity for
poor Annie,' — more needed than Emily could know. The sullen girl bowed her head on her hands, and gave way to a passionate burst of grief and vexation. How he loves her! and I— no one loves me! Well, I won't care; I hate them;' — but the word was sobbed forth with an intensity of rage which belied it; and it was long ere Annie could resume her usual quiet and sullen behavior. Pity that her brother had not seen those tears, and heard that bitter cry
desolation, “No one loves me. He who knows no Father in heaven és doubly bound to be tender toward the fatherless on earth. Sterne knew and felt this. He had done his duty by his sisters nobly and kindly; and Annie would have had no reason to complain, were it possible for Duty to command love, despite all the faults and unloveliness of its object. Sterne did his duty; and here his task ended. He could not love one so thoroughly unamiable.” — Chap. VI.
“ She returned to her seat, (after doing a kindness to Emily,) not unnoticed by her brother, whose conscientious vigilance seldom missed a single trait of character in either of his wards. Thank you, Annie, he said, in a tone of more gentleness, and even tenderness, than it was his wont to use towards the wayward and vexatious child.
What a pity that the shadow of the fireplace screened the light of the candle from Annie's face, and forbade her brother to notice the glow of momentary pleasure which illumined it! It was but for a moment; then came the thought, “If it had been his favorite, he would have said, Thank you, darling,' and all the sullenness returned to her face and her demeanor, as she resumed her old attitude and her solitary musings. It is a fearful power that the words and tones of one human being exercise over the mind of another; power so inevitable and yet so incalculable that it is hard for him or her who wields it to have the slightest clew to its right use. Indeed, it is perhaps as well that we have in general so little ability to direct our use of this influence; for one who could calculate beforehand the effect his every word and gesture would produce might be a despot of no common kind. Yet it is grievous to think that an accidental variation of phrase or tone, which we could not possibly remember or foresee, should affect so fatally the peace or the character of another. A single word of affection then spoken might have saved years of discomfort, sorrow, and self-reproach ; yet could Sterne have known that it was wanted, or would be felt, it had certainly not been withheld.” — Chap. VIII.
It would be impossible to depict more clearly the inadequacy of the bare sense of Duty to compass all the work which is given us to do. What Sterne needed was to break up the ice round his sister's heart, by penetrating to the human feeling underneath her pride and waywardness. And what could have enabled him to do this so well as a faith in an Infinite Causal Love beyond, within, and around them both ? Failing this, all the most delicate and tender growths of affection are (as our author sees) at the mercy of the slightest physical accident, and continually liable to waste away in aimless wanderings, or to fester in morbid pride. Yet in one of the few cases where the novelist has allowed an Atheist to love happily, we see that even when affection is mutual and satisfying, it can never be relied upon by an Atheist as a permanent and integral part of his being. In the touching chapter entitled “ The Valley of the Shadow," narrating the death of Emily Sterne, we see the point from which the author endeavors to deal with this poignant grief of eternal separation, from the principle supplied by “ the Religion of Duty.”
“ Ernest could not leave his friend in this great sorrow, and his presence was evidently a diversion to Sterne’s melancholy, and a pleasure to the dying child. For dying she certainly was, - fading away from life like a gathered rose-bud, but slowly and quietly, herself half conscious but fearless, sorrowful only for the misery which all her adored brother's self-command could not conceal from her loving eyes. And she would make him sit close beside her, and clasp her little hand in his, while his thoughts were darkened by the shadow of the coming day, when he should never clasp that loving little hand again. Few of us know what is the anguish of the meaning he had uttered in those bitter words, ímy all in life. She — this beautiful and innocent little
was the object of all his care, all his labor, all his hope. When she should be gone from him, what would he have left but a dreary, dark, cheerless path to a goal of utter nothingness? In those hours of torture, few could have seen further than this, even of men less capable of passionate love, filling the inmost recesses of existence; but Sterne was of a few. Men of his mould are not to be found in the every-day walks of life, though one or two such there are on earth, perhaps, if we but knew where to seek them when we want heroes to lead us and martyrs to die for us. Dark and waste and dreary indeed his after-life must be, but it might be trodden boldly and faithfully ; for the darkness was not all. Even amid that long and cruel agony he remembered the work that lay before him ; and knew that he would not do it the less bravely and constantly, because he had no other love on earth, no other hope on earth or in heaven. For him Duty was God and Nature was His prophet; and though the God's mandates were hard, and the prophet prophesied no smooth things, Sterne was not one to lose hold of his faith because of tribulation, nor to fling it aside in madly clasping at a staff which, in the utmost need of those who lean thereon, cannot but prove a broken reed. . .
6. What advantageth it us, if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.'
“ Sterne sat by the side of his sleeping sister, who, lulled to rest for a short time by heavy opiates, was not to be roused by their low-toned conversation. He was bending over her, and his face was hidden. But as his proselyte spoke these bitter words, he looked up; and the first harsh sentence Ernest had ever heard him speak was his reply.
“ • Ernest Clifford, look at your own life, and at mine ; look here, where all I have to love or hope in the Universe is passing away from me; and remember that I, in this utter desolation, have never forgotten that I have no right to die with my work undone. It may be, when
you have known what such wretchedness as this is, that you will learn a better faith than that borrowed Epicureanism of Paul, and bethink you that those who have so much to do before they die tomorrow have need to make the utmost use of to-day.'
“ Ernest was somewhat abashed, yet could not but recognize the justice of the rebuke. If this man did not sink into utter despair, what right had he to murmur?”
Thus, one by one, fade the stars of love and hope from the Atheist's sight, and he is left alone, with nothing but the work which Duty prescribes. “He would not do it the less bravely and constantly, because he had no other love on earth, no other hope on earth or in heaven.” But if it be possible for all love and hope on earth or in heaven to be thus destroyed, what work remains possible, and what objects remain to be worked for? What is then the value of life, — not merely its relative value to this or that sufferer, but its absolute value to man as man? How can such a mutilated and benumbing conception of Duty “exercise complete control over the affections, and wield their whole strength in the struggle”? “ Nature" must be not only “ devoid of moral character," she must be absolutely diabolical, if she condemns her truest children to this terrible crushing of their noblest yearnings. The universal heart of man refuses to believe in such an anomalous dissonance, and, springing to the embrace of the Infinite Goodness, echoes the cry of St. Augustine, — “ Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless till it resteth in thee!”
Here we must close our remarks, although we have but
touched the mere outline of the subject. Our aim has not been to furnish a short and easy guide to the mysteries of this infinite Universe, but simply to indicate a few of the clews to the great underlying Reality, which no worshipper can ever wholly comprehend, but which unfolds itself ever more and more to wise and patient hearts. That Reality must be sought by each soul singly and alone. That such a mind as Mr. Holdreth's cannot seek it in vain, we feel assured. It may be nearly impossible for any one to help such seekers in solving a problem which so largely depends on the individual experience of life. But our task will not have been valueless if we have succeeded in showing that there is, in these recent professions of Atheism, a faith in truth and in virtue which contradicts their import, which commands the sympathy of religious thinkers, and which is in itself a hopeful sign of the times. “When people assume that an Atheist must live without God in the world,” says an able and generous writer,
they assume what is fatal to their own Theism.” And those who recognize in all human goodness the sustaining hand of the Creator, will hold fast to the faith that no genuine truthseeker can ever be forsaken by the tender care of Him of whom it is said that the pure in heart shall see God.
ART. III. - POLITICS OF EARLY ROME.
Römische Geschichte. Von THEODOR MOMSEN. Erster Band,
bis zur Schlacht von Pydna. Zweiter Band, bis auf Sullas Tod. Dritter Band, bis zur Schlacht von Thapsus. Zweite Auflage. Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung. 1856 - 57. 8vo.
pp. 924, 463, 609.
ALTHOUGH a considerable interval has passed since the publication of the second edition of Mommsen's Roman History, still the importance of the work itself, as well as the changes made in this second edition, warrants us in laying before the public a brief. summary of its most characteristic features. The changes in the new edition consist partly in a better paper