« ZurückWeiter »
HIS volume contains some of the occasional relaxa
tions of a professional life, and a few papers
written before that life was fully entered upon. They extend over many years and wide intervals, and, perhaps, there may be found in the earlier writings some expressions which the writer might now, if treating the same subject, make a little less forcible, but which, having been written, it is only proper to leave as they came forth, and he is unaware that he would make even now any radical change in the matter expressed.
The name of St. Mary's Hall Lectures is given to the book because many of the papers were delivered as lectures in the school-room of St. Mary's Hall, Burlington, New Jersey, to an audience consisting mainly of teachers and pupils of that time-honored institution, of which the writer has been for many years a trustee. He hopes that he is doing no wrong to a school whose interests are dear to him by connecting its name witño this work: (if work it may be called), although not all, even of the papers read before the school, were originally written for it. “La Vendée" and the “Contrast of the Ancient and Modern Drama" were originally written for St. Mary's; "Norse Mythology" was begun many years ago, and, having been thrown aside, was taken up again and finished for the Hall. "The Chevalier Bayard" and "The Use of a Jury” were written for the Northeastern Workingmen's Club, of Philadelphia, a workingmen's club under church auspices. The former was delivered before that institution in 1873; the latter in 1874. The Chevalier was repeated on several occasions and in several places, including St. Mary's school-room in 1893. “The Ground Work of English Literature” was first read
in 1871 before the Spring Garden Institute, of Philadelphia, and then slept until it was introduced at St. Mary's in 1892. "Venice" was originally written for the Church of the Good Shepherd, Kensington, Philadelphia, but was materially altered and practically rewritten in 1898 for St. Mary's Hall.
The two essays on Maßsinger were written about 1870, but did not appear in print until 1881, when they were published in the Penn Monthly. The essay on De Quincey was written in 1870, and appeared in that year in the now defunct National Quarterly Review, with some editorial emendations, of which the writer did not approve. It now appears with some parts restored.
The address upon Jefferson was delivered before the Jefferson Literary Association, of Chester, Pennsylvania, on the occasion of one of its celebrations. The last paper in the book, a lecture on Sir Edward Coke, was read to the class of the Philadelphia Law School of Femple College, the writer having been asked by an excellent friend, a member of the faculty of the school, to give one of a series of addresses and lectures to the studenis
It is with some hesitation that these papers are submitted to the public. They represent to the writer a great deal of pleasure, and he cannot hope that the readers can have a tithe of the enjoyment from their perusal that he has had, from time to time, in working them up, and he is aware that his action in publishing may appear to some presumptuous. His hesitation, in fact, was so great that but for the opinion of his wife that they should be published, these papers might have lain. much longer in their retirement before the writer would have ventured to bring them to the test of cold type; but the Rubicon is passed, and this book is sent forth in the hope that it may give some pleasure, and perhaps be of some benefit, to those who may deign to read it.
PHILADELPHIA, September ist, 1898.
(A lecture delivered at St. Mary's Hall, April 13th, 1894.)
In a garden at Lucerne there is a monument of peculiar interest. It is simple and dignified. Within a cave lies a massive lion couchant with his head resting upon his front paws. It is artistically, although somewhat roughly, executed, and is a deservedly famous piece of sculpture; but the peculiar interest which is attached to this monument is not derived from its artistic merit, but from that which it commemorates. It is not a monument to a triumphant hero; it does not celebrate some grand achievement; it is a memorial of men who did their duty according to their light, and who failed to accomplish that for which they laid down their lives, of the gallant Swiss guards, who died on the steps of the Tuileries on the roth of August, 1792.
There is something always extremely touching in the sight of gallant struggle, brave endeavor, steadfast resolution, when unsuccessful; in the contemplation of the hero nerving himself and fighting against overwhelming odds, against Fate. Even if the cause upheld by the hero be one with which our more enlightened understanding will not permit us to sympathize, or will require us to condemn, the hero, the self-sacrificing, unsuccessful man is still a hero; he still draws out from us admiration, nay, sometimes even love; and how much more is this the case when the cause which we now, in the light of subsequent knowledge, condemn, has cast about it a glamour of romance and, what seems at first sight, a sanctity derived from its antiquity, and from the fact that, bad as it may have become, it represents what was once good and beneficent.
It is to an illustration of what I have just said that I desire to invite your attention to-night, to an episode, for it was little more, of the same great drama of which the 10th of August was a part, to the gallant, unsuccessful struggle of a brave, pious and simple people in support of a falling cause, to the attempt of peasants and country gentlemen to stay the course of the mightiest of all movements of modern times, the French Revolution, to the war of La Vendée.
We shall find much in the Vendean struggle to call forth heartfelt and honest admiration, and we may yield to feelings of sympathy with the piety and loyalty of the l'endeans without, at all, compromising our convictions that the French Revolution, cursed as it was in some of its leaders, terrible as it was in some of its measures, stained as it was by the crimes of individuals, who used it to advance their own selfish ends, and by the frenzied excesses of mobs, maddened by an unaccustomed freedom, in spite of guillotine, noyades, confiscations, assignats, the worship of reason, has done more for the progress of liberty and enlightenment upon the continent than any movement since the Reformation, and that the system which it swept away had become a yoke, a burden, pressing to earth those who lived under it, and a noxious poison infecting those whose power it was supposed to uphold. But, while we have these convictions and abate of them not a jot or a tittle, the story of La Vendée tells us that all was not bad which opposed the march of progress, that we may find lessons of heroism of the highest kind in the men, aye, and in the women, who in a little corner of France, fondly persuaded that they were upholding the cause of God and of religion, fought for the cause of royalty and feudalism, even after the severed head of the King had been shown to the people as the head of a traitor.
The river Loire separates Poitou on the south from Brittany and Anjou on the north. In the north of
Poitou, about the mouth and on the southern bank of the Loire, is a tract about one hundred and fifty miles square. This region it is that we mean when we speak of La Vendée. The western and lower part, lying on the Bay of Biscay, was known as the Marais. The more inland eastern part was composed of a series of detached eminences, none of them very high. Small streams ran through the hollows of these hills, and here and there appeared a precipitous cliff. This was the country known as Le Bocage. It was laid out chiefly in pasturage, with an occasional patch of yellow corn, and was divided into small farms, or holdings, each surrounded by tall, wild hedges and rows of pollard trees. There were few large forests, and yet the effect of the whole tract upon the eye was that of an impenetrable wild land, fitted rather for beasts and hunters than for the use of more civilized man. Civilization had done little to render this region accessible. It was traversed by two great roads, only, which ran nearly parallel at a distance of more than seventy miles apart. Between them, what communication there was, was by means of tangled, rough, devious paths, which often served as channels for the streams, swollen into torrents by the rains and snows of the winter, and are described by Sir Francis Jeffrey as "winding so capriciously among the innumerable hillocks and beneath the meeting hedge rows, that the natives themselves were always in danger of losing their way when they went a league or two from their own habitations." There were but few towns in this region. The only ones necessary to charge your minds with now are St. Florent in the north, not far from the bank of the Loire; Beaupreau, almost directly south of it; Chollet, still further to the south and a little to the east; Bressuire, to the southeast of Chollet, and Saumur, to the east and on the bank of the Loire. Notwithstanding the paucity of towns, the region was thickly populated. As the lands were given up principally to