Imágenes de páginas


VI. ITS LESSONS. 1. We learn the advantage of possessing religious principles. Under the influence of religious principles Job was enabled to stand against all the allurements of greatness. His piety and zeal were most eminent. He watched over his offspring with a tender concern for their spiritual interests, and offered up continual intercession for them. Shall any suppose that an elevated station will excuse their neglect of religious duties? Rather let it be concluded that they are under stronger obligations than others, by their example and influence to recommend and enforce the profession and the practice of true godliness. The piety of Job did not consist in words only, or in mere external forms of devotion. Its purity and excellence were manifested by his vigorous exertions to render himself as extensively useful as possible.

2. We learn that human nature is still the same. 66 The rich have many friends, but the poor is despised of his neighbours," and his own brethren go far from him. So long as Job is in trouble and poverty, we hear nothing of his brothers and sisters, except in his own brief lamentation that his relations had forsaken him; but no sooner does the summer of prosperity return, than, behold! his brothers and sisters and those who had been of his acquaintance before, appear on the stage. Alas, how many there are who resemble the cuckoo, the marten, and the swallow, who come when the spring appears, but fee away at the approach of winter. 3. We are taught in very forcible

not to place our affections on earthly things, nor to expect our happiness in worldly advantages, inasmuch as they may suddenly be removed or embittered to us. A more striking instance of this cannot be produced than the history of Job, whom we have seen in one day plunged from the summit of human greatness, down to the lowest abyss of distress and misery.

4. We learn that the upright will be ultimately honoured by God. God may send afflictions upon them, and they may seem to be objects of his displeasure; but the period will arrive when he will show them marks of his favour. This may not always indeed be in the present life, but there will be a period when all these clouds will be dissipated, and when the good, the pious, the sincere friends of God, shall enjoy the returning tokens of his friendship. If his approbation of them is declared in no intelligible way in this life, it will be at the day of judgment in a more sublime manner even than it was announced to Job; if the whole of this life should be dark with storms, yet there is a heaven where, through eternity, there will be pure and unclouded day.

5. We should learn to overcome the unkindness of our friends by praying for them (ch. xiii. 8-10). This is the true way of meeting harsh reproaches and unkind reflections on our characters.

Whatever may be the severity with which we are treated by



[ocr errors]

others; whatever charges they may bring against us of hypocrisy or wickedness; however ingenious their arguments may be to prove this, or however cutting their sarcasms and retorts, we should never refuse to pray for them. It is one of the privileges of good men thus to pray for their calumniators and slanderers; and one of our highest honours, and it may be the source of our highest joy, is that of being made the instruments of calling down the divine blessing on those who have injured us.

6. We learn from this book, with what meekness and submission we should bear our trials; and that the best men are not free from affliction.




Speeches upon Questions of Public Policy. By JOHN BRIGHT, M.P. Edited by JAMES E. ROGERS. 2 Vols. London : Macmillan & Co. 1868.

N the political struggles of recent years three statesmen have

come to the front, and are the most conspicuous men of the day; their names are familiar to the whole country, and their political deeds and public character are canvassed in every corner of the United Kingdom. That they have important parts to perform in the immediate future of our political history cannot be doubted. We of course refer to the illustrious commoners, Disraeli, Gladstone, and Bright.

The first of the trio, by transcendent ability and infinite cleverness has raised himself from obscurity to be the head and master of the great aristocratic party, having the Conservative nobility at his feet. His career was commenced as a novelist. In his early writings he propounded new theories of philosophical politics, social economies, and highly-coloured radicalism. The style is dashing and brilliant. He shows great skill and mastery of plot and situation, and is most apt in all the quick turns of dialogues ; and

* [No apology is needed for the insertion of this article in our pages. Had it been simply a political disquisition, there might have been grounds for demur, notwithstanding its unquestionable ability. But it touches so skilfully upon many points of general human interest, it describes with such graphic beauty the character, not only of John Bright, but of several other contemporary statesmen, and, moreover, it is marked throughout by such sound sense and manly piety, that we are much mistaken our readers do not regard it with the same favour as ourselves.-EDITOR.]

; is exhaustless in sparkling epigram. His pen is dipped in many hued colours of romance. He had the resources of a necromancer, but he panted to distinguish himself in parliament. His public life was commenced as a radical and a satellite of Daniel O'Connell; afterwards he was found in the rank of Sir Robert Peel's following ; but when that distinguished statesman abandoned Protection at the call of the country, and for the good of the people, this young follower exceeded all precedent of abuse in denouncing the veteran statesman. In his scurrilous invectives such terms as traitor" and “perfidious” were frequently used, and Peel was likened to the Turkish admiral, who steered his fleet straight into the enemy's port. But how has this “imp of fame” (his own phrase) now landed his own army or party, bag and baggage, right in the camp of the radicals, into the head quarters of Mr. Bright, whose Ultima Thule was “household suffrage."* This is Mr. Disraeli's “management.” Never before in the British parliament has there been so consummate a 6 tactician." His powers of “ manæuvre" and “manipulation" have never been approached. His real business capacity is said to be very slight, but his histrionic and purely partisan faculties are something prodigious. No other man in the empire could have “educated” the tories into passing a democratic reform bill, and compelled them to cheer lustily when it became law.

However such “management” might be commended as military strategy, we confess to feelings of shame and sorrow as we view this new and infamous system introduced into English politics. We are glad it is a novelty to have these sleight-of-hand tricks introduced into the senate of the country, and shall view with fear and alarm its re-appearance. This “mystery-man” or, to use his own phrase, this “ Asian Mystery,” has performed a part that is, we trust, for ever played out. Let us have no more “ educating parties,” no more management,” but let there be conscience and honesty in parties and in public men. We know well how this ex-prime minister can “explain” his course by sounding platitudes, or retort upon his opponents by polished irony or withering sarcasm. But the melancholy truth remains, that a man of great endowments, and no doubt of high personal honour, has, to use the words of one of the first journals of the day, and a tory journal withal, “ demoralised his own party, and debauched the public conscience."

* In his addresses upon the extension of the franchise, Mr. Bright's contention has been for the “restoration of the representation,” and “ returning to the ancient lines of the constitution,” &c.

Mr. Gladstone has climbed to the highest altitude of an English statesman's ambition—the premiership of the British Empire, and the foremost politician of the realm. He began life a tory, tinged with tractarianism. Newman and his ardent disciples had infected the mind of this talented young scholar with their doctrines and spirit. Early in his public life he published a book enouncing a kind of spiritual Erastianism. This work excited notice and was reviewed in the Edinburgh Review by the brilliant and powerful pen of Macaulay, in 1839. At the opening of the article these words occur :

66 The author of this volume is a young man of unblemished character, and of rising parliamentary talents, the rising hope of those unbending tories," &c. * * * “We believe

66 we do him no more than justice when we say that his abilities and demeanour have obtained for him the respect and good will of all parties."* Young Gladstone had attached himself to Sir R. Peel, attracted by that eminent man's eloquence, experience, cautious temper, and breadth of view, and was his faithful adherent till his deeply lamented death. Since that he has been drawn to the popular cause, and has for some time embraced it con amore. Of his learning, his powers of oratory and debate, his skill as financier, and his unflagging industry, we will not now speak. But his fine chivalrous sense of honour, his high integrity in the conduct of public business, his direct earnestness, throwing up place and position rather than taint his honour; these in connection with his genius as an orator and administrator, have roused the enthusiasm of the nation, and called forth loud and general plaudits upon his appointment as first minister of the crown.

We come now to the third figure of our group: the sturdy Quaker, John Bright. For many years his name has been a household word amongst

The present writer recollects that when he was in his youth, Bright and Cobden visited the great city where he resided during their immortal anti-Corn Law crusade. Richard Cobden's lucid and fertile intellect, equally logical and determined, grappled with the financial and economic aspects of the subject, and though his manner was cold and hard, his evident mastery of the whole question, his transparent honesty, his ease and graciousness, commanded the densely-packed houses. But when Bright came, a very Jupiter in manner and style, he tore to shreds the flimsy arguments of the protectionists, denounced this worst of all tyrannies, the keeping out of foreign grain to supply the needy millions, and called upon them to arise in their might, and knock in such a way at the doors of the parliament that their demand should be granted. The fire and passion, the sweep and swing of his sentences, shook the assembled thousands, and the city rang with the power of his name. Cobden and Bright were nobly mated, and, though unlike each other in physical and mental qualities, they were admirable counterparts of each other. They were thoroughly one in political faith and sympathy, and were inexorably resolute in their purpose to have the hateful bread tax removed from the statute-book. We know the inadequacy and danger of describing character or events by general terms, yet we venture to say that Cobden's forte was conviction by bare reasoning; Bright's was securing acceptance by impressive persuasion. Not that Cobden could not persuade, nor Bright reason, but these are not the leading characteristics of their oratory. There was something irresistible and vehement about Bright's representations and appeals. There was no vociferating, no gesticulations, and no wildness of speech. His voice was one of great compass, and he always held it in perfect command. But it was not a rich voice, nor capable of the long resounding reaches of the most famous orators ; it clearly cannot bear the strain of prolonged and rolling periods; hence he has had to form a school of oratory suited to himself. His gestures were confined to the easy and natural use of the right arm. His was an inner and spiritual vehemence, which is mightier and more infecting than bluster and raving. His deliberation and ease have become more manifest of late years. The reporters delight in his manner and style, and he speaks to them as well as to the crowds who flock to hear him. In this he forms a favorable contrast to his illustrious colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That gentleman's manner is a horror to the reporters, and taxes the powers of the most accomplished stenographer. He speaks in jerks, which follow each other with astounding celerity, he jerks in quotation and reference without preliminary or pause. Bright's hearers, in the days of which we speak, were confronted by a man who had given all his mind to his theme, and was fully penetrated with its importance, and who was indignant at the selfishness and indifference of the governing class to the hunger and pressing need of multitudes of their own countrymen, and who, in spite of all reason, remonstrance, and appeal, clung tenaciously to their odious “ Protection.” Against this class, as a class, in his great crusade, our orator used all his vast resource of argument, metaphor, invective, and sarcasm. One thing which helped to produce the wonderful effect of his speeches, was the conviction that it was not the mere professional advocate who was speaking. It was evident he was no mere spouting demagogue. If he was mistaken, he was profoundly sincere; he was never a self-seeker, or place or popularity bunter. He was ever under the stern conscientious sense of duty, and never the creature of passion. He was fully identified with his advocacy of the cause of his suffering and helpless fellow countrymen. The same features characterized his labours in the


* P. 347, Vol. II. of Macaulay's Essays, edition of 1852.

« AnteriorContinuar »