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tion. It had been his practice for many years, after his return from the House of Commons at night, to spend three quarters of an hour in quiet enjoyment of a cigar (a laugh) and an English poet.
Nor did he read in a vague or desultory manner : he chose his poet every session, and worked at his books until they were exhausted, or the session was over. Perhaps one reason why Mr. Bright had been, as many people had thought, calmer and more moderate during the last two years, might be that instead of drawing inspiration from the strong volcanic fires of Byron, he had been reading Cowper's Task or Wordsworth's Excursions.” (Laughter and applause). Two examples are selected out of dozens. In a speech at Dublin on the wrongs of Ireland he says : “ The surface of society is not incessantly disturbed without a cause. I recollect in the poem of the greatest of Italian poets he tells us that as he saw in vision the Stygian lake, and stood upon its banks, he observed the constant commotion upon the surface of the pool, and his good instructor and guide explained to him the cause of it:
• This, too, for certain know, that underneath
As thine tells thee whereso'er it turn.' And I say, in Ireland for generations back, that the misery and the wrongs of the people have made their sign, and have found a voice in constant insurrection and disorder.”
In another fine peroration he works in skillfully a scriptural and classical sentiment. “If," says the orator, “nations reject and deride that moral law, there is a penalty which will inevitably follow. It may not come at once, it may not come in our lifetime; but, rely upon it, the great Italian is not a poet only, but a prophet, when he says:
The sword of heaven is not in haste to smite,
Nor yet doth linger.'” We have quoted one peroration, here are the few last sentences of two others. At Glasgow in 1858 he thus wound up his noble speech : “ The class which has hitherto ruled in this country bas failed miserably. It revels in wealth and power, whilst at its feet, a terrible peril for its future, lies the multitude which it has neglected. If a class has failed, let us try the nation. That is our faith, that is our purpose, that is our cry. Let us try the nation. This it is which has called us together, these countless multitudes, to demand a change; and as I think of it, and of these gatherings, sublime in their vastness and in their resolution, I think I see, as it were, above the hill-tops of time, the glimmerings of the dawn of a better and nobler day for the country and for the people that I love so well.” The next quotation is like a trumpet call to battle. It is the conclusion of his speech at Rochdale, January, 1858: “ You should have a full and fair representation in the House of Commons. (Cheers.) It is a just demand. (Cheers.) I ask you, I ask you all, my countrymen, to speak for it in no faltering, with no uncertain voice. Speak and you shall be listened to. Ask in tones that cannot be misunderstood, and that which you ask will certainly be granted. If you come of a great ancestry, as your historians say you do, do not disgrace it now; and if you are, as you boast yourselves, the heirs of freedom, rise, I beseech you, and take possession of the heritage that is yours.” (The hon. gentleman resumed his seat amid loud and long continued cheering.)
We close these volumes with sentiments of wonder and gratitude. Wonder at the mental power and exertion expressed therein; wonder at the arduous struggles of twenty or thirty years which they take us over ; wonder and joy at the complete victory won. The speaker's life has been a continued campaign. His convictions have been too austere for compromise or expediency, and if he has not carried the nation as a whole along with him, he has, at any rate, stimulated it to higher endeavours. He has displayed as great a heroism as the daring soldier rushing on the cannon of the foe, or against walls of granite. He has thus given a decisive test of a fine character. Of these struggles he thus speaks in one of his Free Trade Hall speeches, in 1865: “It requires courage and fortitude to go against the stream; but if a man's convictions are in that direction, what is the course he ought to choose ? I have endeavoured to take that course. I know, and you know, that there are steeps of Alma in morals as well as on the field of battle and of blood. (Loud cheers.) We must borrow our metaphors from the events which
If I am a political soldier I strive to maintain the rank, and to confront unblanched all the batteries that ridicule and malice may point against me. (Applause.) I wish to pass on uninfluenced by the baits that seduce and the temptations that feed ambition. That which is just and true, so far as I can discover it, I purpose to make the lode-star of my political career.” (Loud cheers.)
With a fixity and consistency almost sublime he has kept his face towards that star. In one of his Edinburgh speeches, Nov. 1868, be refers to his first discovery of that “lode-star.”
“ Now, more than thirty years ago, when I was very young indeed, in my beginning to think about public affairs, in reading the prose works of John Milton, I found a passage which fixed itself in my mind, and which time has never been able to remove. He says, “Yet true eloquence I find to be none but the serious and hearty love of truth.' And I have endeavoured, so far as I had opportunity, in speaking in public to abide by that opinion.' This earnestness and vivacity is the warp and woof of all his
speeches; you have no display of intellectual fireworks, no mere joking, no intellectual investigation in a scientific or technical sense, no dry argumentation, his logic is not the formal logic of the schools, but the solvent and penetrating power of his speeches. When Mr. Bright speaks, you have a serious, earnest man talking in tones and manner most moderate, yet with beautiful clearness and over-mastering force, about some subject he has carefully thought out, and which he believes to be for the public weal.
In this noble man and in the work of his life we greatly rejoice, and we have full confidence in him. His eye, we know, never turned from the great object of his life; to remove or alleviate the woes and sorrows of the excluded, the poor, the helpless, and the down-trodden. We thank him for these encouraging and beautiful words, with which we lay down our pen. 66 Since I have taken a part in public affairs the question of the vast weight of the poverty and ignorance that exists at the very bottom of the social scale, has been a burden on my mind and it is so now; and I have always hoped that the policy I have advocated, and what has gradually been accepted (loud cheers), would tend greatly to relieve the pauperism and the suffering we see. have an ancient monarchy, with the dazzling glitter of the sovereign, and you may have an ancient nobility, in grand mansions and great estates, and you may have an ecclesiastical hierarchy, covering with worldly pomp that religion whose virtue is humility (loud cheers), but notwithstanding all this, the whole fabric is rotten, and doomed ultimately to fall. This great and solemn question of the condition of a considerable portion of the labouring classes of this country cannot be covered up; it must be met. It is a long way from Belgrave-square to Bethnal-green. We cannot measure the distance from the palatial mansions of the rich to the dismal hovels of the poor, from the profuse and costly luxuries of the wealthy; to the squalid and hopeless misery of some millions who are below them, but I ask you, as I ask myself a thousand times, is it not
; possible that this mass of poverty and suffering should be touched and should be reached ? What is there that man cannot do if he tries? (Cheers.) The other day he descended to the mysterious depths of the ocean, and with an iron hand he sought, and he found, and he grasped, and he brought up to the surface the lost cable, and with it he made two worlds into one. (Loud cheers.) I ask, are his conquests confined to the realms of science? Is it not possible that another hand, not of iron, but of Christian justice and kindness, may be let down to moral depths even deeper than the cable fathoms to bring up from thence misery's sons and daughters, and the multitude who are ready to perish? (Loud cheers.) This is the great problem before us. It is not one for statesmen only, it is not for preachers of the gospel only; it is for every man in the
nation to try to solve. (Cheers.) The nation is now in power, and if wisdom abide with power, the generation to follow may behold the glorious day of which we in our time, with our best endeavour, can only hope to see the earliest dawn.” (The hon. gentleman resumed his seat amidst enthusiastic cheering.)
ART. VII.-ANTI-CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY OF THE
and uncommon phenomenon, namely, the appearance above the surface of the ocean of an island where land had not previously been seen. Immediately on the discovery of the occurrence, the exact latitude and longitude of the new land having been ascertained, its precise position and accurate extent are marked on the chart of the ocean, and mariners are thus enabled to avoid what otherwise would have been a source of danger. In the province of Natural Theology there is an analogous process. From time to time there is an upheaval to the surface of some antiquated form of error which had long been buried in oblivion; of this the theological observer must take account, and correct his chart accordingly.
We have often felt the need of a sketch of the chief objections of this century to a divine revelation in the orthodox sense, and to the genuineness of Christianity as a divine system, along with the best answers to these objections by approved advocates of the orthodox faith ; and, furthermore, a classification of infidel objections and replies thereto, so that on the appearance of any particular attack on Christian doctrine or morality, we might be able on examination to refer it to its own particular class, just as a practitioner in medicine first, from careful observation, refers the particular disease under treatment to its class of known human ailments; and this similar process in theology seems to be primarily essential before we can be prepared to enter upon that process of reasoning (in those subjects which come fairly within the province of reason) which is the most powerful antidote of the error in question.
In the history of speculative thought, and more especially with respect to natural theology, the period of upwards of the first half of the present century offers a field of research more than ordinarily wide and tangled, and necessarily includes within it many great changes of opinion; although the essential points of difference between theistic belief and unbelief must ever remain substantially the same, the grounds of attack, or manifestations of unbelief, are ever shifting and assuming altered aspects. We will commence with an examination of the more prominent anti-Christian views of one who may be, without exaggeration, termed the representative secular philosopher, not only of the present hour, but also of the present century; who, in short, is at the top of the present school of merely secular philosophers, namely, John Stuart Mill.
Turning to his work on “Liberty," * the second chapter of which is a treatise on “ The liberty of thought and discussion,” we are confronted at once with some sentiments and arguments the most antagonistic to Christianity which this age has ever produced ; and though, generally speaking, his reasonings cannot be directly and decisively branded as full blown atheism,
yet they must be admitted to be the budding promise of an atheistic fruitage; for too many superficial minds will pluck these germs, and, with the help of passion and prejudice, nurture them out into the fungus growth of atheism. No one, it is true, can yet charge the author with building any part of the superstructure of infidelity, but, without doubt, he is labouring with the might of a giant at the underground foundation of the infidel edifice; if not engaged in open and avowed conflict with Christianity, he is a son of Vulcan engaged on behalf of the enemies of the christian system, in forging weapons of offence against her.
In the chapter of his work above-named, an apparently formidable barrier meets us at the outset; we give it in his own words : “When we consider either the history of opinion, or the ordinary conduct of human life, to what is it to be ascribed that the one and the other are no worse than they are? Not certainly to the inherent force of the human understanding ; for, on any matter not self-evident, there are ninety-nine persons totally incapable of judging of it, for one who is capable; and the capacity of the hundredth person is only comparative.” Alas, poor mortals ! unless the reader and the writer happen to be one of these hundred men, we are undone; and even then, our superiority of advantage is only comparative! However, in spite of the philosopher, we will dare to examine, and even pass judgment on his own presumptions. We have read of one who was dumb, but on seeing
Essay on Liberty, by John Stuart Mill. People's edition. London : Longmans, Green, and Co., 1865.