« AnteriorContinuar »
they must know God in Christ. If they and eye told those who heard him that it knew God, then with them, as with him was to him the most potent, the most inself, they would have the key which would evitable, the most terrible, and yet the unlock all knowledge, ecclesiastical, escha- most hopeful, of all facts. tological, (religious, as it is commonly call- As for temptations to vanity, and love ed,) historic, political, social. Nay, even, of power-he may have had to fight with so he hoped, that knowledge of God would them in the heyday of youth, and genius, prove at last to be the key to the right and perhaps ambition. But the stories understanding of that physical science of of his childhood are stories of the same which he, unfortunately for the world, generosity, courtesy unselfishness, which knew but too little, but which he ac- graced his later years. At least, if he had cepted with a loyal trust in God, and in been tempted, he had conquered. In fact as the voice of God, which won him more than five-and-twenty years, I have respect and love from men of science to known no being so utterly unselfish, so whom his theology was a foreign world. utterly humble, so utterly careless of powIf he could make men know God, and er or influence, for the mere enjoymenttherefore if he could make men know and a terrible enjoyment it is—of using that God was teaching them; that no them. Staunch to his own opinion only man could see a thing unless God first when it seemed to involve some moral showed it to him,—then all would go principle, he was almost too ready to yield well, and they might follow the Logos, it, in all practical matters, to any one whom with old Socrates, whithersoever he led. he supposed to possess more practical Therefore he tried not so much to alter knowledge than he. To distrust himself, men's convictions, as, like Socrates, to to accuse himself
, to confess his proneness make them respect their own convictions, to hard judgments, while, to the eye of to be true to their own deepest instincts, those who knew him and the facts, he was true to the very words which they used exercising a splendid charity and magnaso carelessly, ignorant alike of their mean- nimity; to hold himself up as a warning ing and their wealth. He wished all of “wasted time,” while he was, but too men, all churches, all nations, to be true literally, working himself to death,—this to the light which they had already, to was the childlike temper which made some whatsoever was godlike, and therefore lower spirits now and then glad to escape God-given, in their own thoughts; and from their consciousness of his superiority so to rise from their partial apprehensions, by patronizing and pitying him ; causing their scattered gleams of light, toward that in him—for he was, as all such great men full knowledge and light which was con- are like to be, instinct with genial humor tained—so he said, even with his dying -a certain quiet good-natured amuselips--in the orthodox Catholic faith. This ment, but nothing more. was the ideal of the man and his work; But it was that very humility, that very and it left him neither courage nor time self-distrust, combined so strangely with to found a school or promulgate a system. manful strength and sternness, which drew God had his own system: a system vast- to him humble souls, self-distrustful souls, er than Augustine's, vaster than Dante's, who, like him, were full of the “ Divine vaster than all the thoughts of all think- discontent," who lived-as perhaps all ers, orthodox and heterodox, put together; men should live-angry with themselves, for God was His own system, and by ashamed of themselves, and more and Him all things consisted, and in Him they more angry and ashamed as their own lived and moved and had their being; and ideal grew, and with it their consciousness He was here, living and working, and we of defection from that ideal. To him, as were living and working in Him, and had, to David in the wilderness, gathered those instead of building systems of our own, tó who were spiritually discontented and spifind out His eternal laws for men, for na- ritually in debt; and he was a captain tions, for churches; for only in obedience over them, because, like David, he talked to them is Life. Yes, a man who held to them, not of his own genius or his own this could found no system. “Other doctrines, but of the Living God, who had foundation,” he used to say, “can no helped their forefathers, and would help man lay, save that which is laid, even them likewise. How great his influence Jesus Christ." And as he said it, his voice was; what an amount of teaching, consolation, reproof, instruction in righteous- hereafter, kwhen (as in the case of most ness, that man found time to pour into great geniuses) a hundred indirect influheart after heart, with a fit word for man ences, subtle, various, often seemingly conand for woman; how wide his sympathies, tradictory, will be found to have had their how deep his understanding of the human origin in Frederick Maurice. heart; how many sorrows he has lighten- And thus I end what little I have dared; how many wandering feet set right, ed to say. There is much behind, even will never be known till the day when the more worth saying, which must not be secrets of all hearts are disclosed. His said. Perhaps some far wiser men than forthcoming biography, if, as is hoped, it I will think that I have said too much contains a selection from his vast corre- already, and be inclined to answer me as spondence, will tell something of all this: Elisha of old answered the over-meddling but how little! The most valuable of his sons of the prophets : letters will be those which were meant for “ Knowest thou that the Lord will no eye but the recipient's, and which no take away thy master from thy head to. recipient would give to the world-hardly day? to an ideal Church; and what he has done “Yea, I know it: hold ye your peace.” will have to be estimated by wise men
Fortnightly Review. ROUSSEAU'S INFLUENCE ON EUROPEAN THOUGHT.* l SHORTLY after the middle of the seven- the hideous luxury and the sodden despair teenth century, (1666,) the great dramatic of cities; and it is not twelve months since genius of the age brought upon the French we saw it armed with the sword and the theatre a rude, strange, and incomprehen- brand, energetically transcribing into letsible figure, which puzzled and offended ters of blood and flame Rousseau's famous contemporaries, which puzzles if it does paradoxes, that science and art do not not offend posterity, and of which the mas- purify manners, and that inequality among ter himself always said that he hardly knew men is not authorized by the natural law. what he had meant by his creation. It was It was Rousseau who first called from the the sound in the midst of men and women depths and launched upon the old Euro. playing a little artificial game of life, with pean society that mysterious something compliments, ribands, sonnets, of a hoarse which we know not whether to call a reliand strident voice recalling them to truth, gion, or a philosophy, or a sentiment, or a manliness, self-sufficience, strength. The dream ; which assumes all forms from the Misanthrope of Molière was only a poetic vaguest and wildest humanitarian aspiraapparition. About a hundred years later, tion, up to the last brand-new system from the poetic conception took flesh, and the Paris, which accurately maps out the fucry of Rousseau shook the world. This ture of the race, with each intellectual provision, too, both puzzled and offended con- vince and most diminutive moral towntemporaries : Rousseau's person was pro- ship finally planted and decisively marked; scribed, and his books were burnt in the which men hate or love under the fragmenmarket-place; the Jesuit archbishop and tary and partial designations of Democrathe Jansenist Parliament of Paris, the Pro- cy, Socialism, Cosmopolitanism, and the testant Council of Geneva, and the patri- rest ; but of whose presence, whether we arch of unbelief at Ferney, all joined for a hate it or love it, whether we hope all moment of unique accord in a chorus of things from it or fear all things, every one angry reprobation (1763.) Yet this was in Europe, from the Pope in the Vatican an apparition which another hundred years to the red soldier of despair in his garret have not been able to lay. The literature at Belleville, is conscious, as a brooding of imagination and the literature of social and fermenting spirit of conviction that philosophy are equally haunted by it; it the old terms of right and duty and the old still stands significantly beckoning between forms of humanity and justice are destined
to be fitted with new definitions and to re* A discourse delivered before the Royal Insti- ceive many unexpected applications. tution, on Friday evening, April 12, 1872.
Of the personality of Rousseau-which
is one of the most extraordinary and inter- thinkers of Greece, by engendering that esting if it is not by any means one of the conviction of the artificiality of a social most fascinating, in history-it is not ne system and the omnipotence of the lawgivcessary that I should now speak. It is er, which is among the most shallow, dehard to do so without putting on the mask plorable, and ruinous of all the false ideas of the prig. His biography is the record of that infest modern Europe. a tenacious revolt against conventions, a Again, it has been always thought a revolt often praiseworthy and noble, often sign of Rousseau's marvelous prescience of otherwise. He committed a multitude of the coming revolution that he should have offences against propriety, he committed insisted upon the sons of the rich and nomany against common morality, and he ble being taught some craft or trade by repeated one cruel and shocking crime means of which they might support themagainst humanity. But we need not here selves in case they should ever be driven exercise ourselves in these matters. They into exile. But this most manly and lauddid not much affect his influence. Men able prescription suggests no marvelous are wont to put aside and to let drop prescience of revolution-though Rousfrom their memories the foibles, the vices, seau did foresee change-when we rememthe crimes even, of those whom they sup- ber that banishment was a traditional pracpose to have brought them new light from tice in Geneva, as it always has been in the high heavens. Those whom the mor- very small republics. When the civil troualist justly condemns are constantly re- bles of Geneva came to a height in 1734, prieved by a world which willingly forgets many of the oligarchs voluntarily emigratthe multiplicity of circumstances surround- ed, just as the French nobles did half a cen ing conduct and character, and fixes with tury later. It is the same with that other perfect admiration upon the extraordinary most unmanly and far from laudable predisplay of any one singular human quality scription which gave such scandal to his -energy, tenacity, fortitude, devotion. As free-thinking contemporaries, namely, that has been many a time said, to Rousseau all atheists should be banished from a wellmuch has been forgiven, because he loved governed country. This was a usage of much.
Rousseau's native city, made wider and In proceeding from the personality of more liberal, but still unmistakably a GenRousseau to his work, and examining the evese survival. Again, that notion of ideas with which he so rapidly inundated the sovereignty of peoples which RousFrance, we need not expect to come upon seau's eloquence transformed so swiftly inmany that are peculiarly original, or intel- to so gigantic a force, though as yet only lectually of his own conception. There is in a weak and speculative form, can still scarcely a single definite idea among those be shown to have been quite as familiar in which made him so great a power, which Geneva as it was in England, Scotland, and may not be found among some of the Eu- Holland. Finally, the historian of opinion ropean writers within the range of whose is able to trace in the theology of Geneva influence he was brought. French writers during the first half of the eighteenth cento this day systematically attribute to the tury a strong movement towards that subhardihood and originality of his genius stitution of natural religion and pure deism much of what was really due to the cir- which Rousseau expounded with such atcumstances of Geneva, where he was born, tractive eloquence in the Savoyard Vicar's and to which in spite of many difficulties memorable Profession of Faith. This he always preserved a strong and lively at- general connection, which needs more tachment. He was born in a time of ample treatment than has hitherto been great public discontent, and in the midst thought of, between the spirit of Rousseau's of perpetual discussion of the first princi- work and the spirit of his birthplace ought ples both of politics and theology; his never to be overlooked. History might youth was passed in the thick of prepara- remind us of it. The most strenuous and tion for a revolution. The sight of the powerful disciple of Rousseau's teaching austere government which Calvin establish- ever gained was Robespierre; and Robeed and the paternal stringency with which spierre was emphatically a sort of Calvin it was exercised and accepted, exerted the who overshot the mark. same influence upon Rousseau which the Besides his obligation to Geneva, Rousspectacle of Sparta exerted over the social seau abounds in ideas which may be de
finitely traced one by one to the writers lenced the old religion, should have silencwhose works he is known to have read. ed Voltairism, and sent the Girondins who He is steeped in Montaigne; Plutarch, were its professors and representatives to Hobbes, Charron, gave him much; but the guillotine, and not only made themabove all in every page that he wrote, both selves masters of their country, but should upon education and government, we see have charged France with a fiery current how much is directly assimilated from that of social and patriotic and religious enerEnglish philosopher, who was at once the gy, and kindled a great flame of heroic strength and the weakness, the evil genius purpose, for which we have to seek a parand the good genius, of French specula- allel in the noble enthusiasm of the first tion in the eighteenth century,—our sage, crusades or the stormful fanaticism of the firm, and sober Locke. Books have first followers of Mahomet. Once more, been written to prove that Rousseau was then, the harvest was ripe; once more, no a plagiarist. If the name belongs to man scientifically or intellectually in the one who borrows the thoughts or deco- first rank of creative originality ever leads rations of other writers merely for a pass- masses of men. He can only be original ing literary purpose of his own, it was in form, and in the manner of the presennever more entirely misapplied.' Rous- tation of ideas of which the various conseau was by temperament eminently pas- ditions of the time have made men exsive and receptive. It was his supreme pectant. The theory of the great leader conception of pleasure to lie profoundly as a miraculously illuminated pillar of fire still in the heat of the sun, listening to the which flames into light we know not how; hum of the summer air or to the light or as a colossal monolith silently reared whisper on the waters of the lake, and pas- in the darkness of night by unseen hands, sively inhaling the sweet fragrance of flow- and towering like a portent in the level ers and grass and the earth. He read the wilderness of humanity—is one of the books that pleased him in the same men- thoughts which fade away at the same tal attitude and mood. Their ideas were time and by the same process as that conabsorbed, assimilated, and became a part ception of history which makes it a long of himself, and in the process they were series of inscrutable conjuring tricks. mixed and transformed into a new and Every one is tolerably familiar with the strange force. He was original much as issue of the great battle in France between Voltaire was; he contributed a new tem- the old and the new up to the time when per and a new sentiment. He combined Rousseau effected his memorable diverold ideas in a fresh pattern; he filled them sion. The combatants were the Church with color, and warmed them with the on one side and the Philosophers, Voltair.glow of ardent passion; with magical skill eans, or Encyclopædists on the other. he wove around them a vesture of ten- Each party had its inner factions and subder sentiment, of sympathetic association, divisions, but as against one another the and fervid, inextinguishable hope, which two great armies closed their ranks and brought men rapturous into an unrecog- fought without concession, compromise, or nized presence.
quarter. The aim of the Church is a very No doubt the times were ripe, and the old story. Bad churchmen were animatminds of men were already. turned in the ed by the same selfish and sinister motives direction in which Rousseau led them with which actuate bad men of all kinds in all such over-mastering vehemence. Had it times; love of wealth, power, ease, and not been so, it would have been impossi- that lazy darkness of the understanding ble that within a short period of thirty in which the ignoble take comfort. Good years after the first publication of his two churchmen, on the contrary, believed most important works, and almost within themselves to be defending the sacred a dozen years of his death, the men who cause of divinely transmitted truth and a avowed themselves for his disciples, who divinely willed social order against the kept his books ever open on their tables scatterers of spiritual pestilence and eterlike some sacred fire perpetually burning, nal death. The aims of the Philosophers who never spoke without quotation of the are less easily described, but they may be master's sentences and justification of their best understood when we remember that actions from his principles that these Ja- these extraordinary men were consumed cobins should without resistance have si- by the thirst of intellectual curiosity; that the acquisition of knowledge was to them gious dogma was a stumbling-block to what the attainment of holiness was to him, and the mere acquisition of intellecthe canonized persons of the rival church; tual treasure foolishness. There was no and each new piece of knowledge thus pleasure to him, but only desolation and acquired was eagerly transformed by them waste, in all the triumphs of controversy. into an instrument for the humiliation and He cared little to prove falsity in opinions extinction of what they styled prejudices, which he did not hold; he cared extremethat is of the ideas and uses which for so ly that the opinions which he did hold many centuries had been the far-shining should be a solid and undisturbed part of beacon of western Europe. Their prime himself : not an element of fever, agitamotive was not so much sympathy as cu- tion, aggression, but the integral substance riosity: their field of action was not with- and all-pervading essence of a collected in their own thoughts, feelings and aspira- character and an even life. His central tions, but without, in the esteem of friends difference from the critical school did not and the prostration of foes; their spirit, lie in his demanding a system; on the in a word, was not apostolic but gladiato- contrary, it was exactly because they imrial. The Philosophers had unquestiona- posed a system from without that he found bly many fine qualities; they had a sin- both the great branches of Christian mocere passion for knowledge; they had a notheism with which he was brought into passion for truth, though it was too often contact so deeply repugnant to him. disturbed by the factious emotions of the sought unity of character in the developpartisan ; they had a passion for intellec- ment of the spontaneous qualities of hutual freedom, though it was too often man nature; he leaned with all his weight blotted by intolerant disrespect for antag- upon what he counted the innate sensibilionistic opinion; finally, they had the cou- ty, truthfulness, benevolence, singleness of rage of bold thinking and straightforward the heart of man; he insisted that these speech, though they too often lacked that were the forces with which the lover of more singular courage of frank suspense mankind should seek to deal, that only by and patient doubtfulness. The mark of warming, stimulating, and fostering these, the school was their enthusiastic belief in and not by a teasing and incessant alterexternal progress, in the gradual perfect- nation of argument and objection, of reping of the material conditions of life by lication and rejoinder and rebutter, can we augmented knowledge and enlarged free effect in the world the only reform which dom. Their ideal was rationalistic, criti- good men can care for or bad men be cal, argumentative, confiding the future of made better by. society rather to increased strength of in- It is obvious from this how it was that telligence than to a happier expansion of Rousseau's writings enlarged the attack the affections; to brighter light from rea- which the Philosophers had limited to son, rather than to a spread of new warmth theology and the Church, so as to comand moral energy from the feelings. The prehend in its criticism the whole social leaders of this great party, Voltaire, D'Al- order. As soon as ever the point of view embert, and above all Diderot—whose in- was shifted, as Rousseau shifted it, from dividuality demands a separate apprecia- knowledge to character, from the acquisi. tion—had many sage reserves and just tion of truth to the possession of moral reticences, but some of their subalterns harmony, then it was no longer a question carried the movement importunately for- of a special set of dogmas or a special ward, until they had landed the most pol- kind of spiritual authority, but of the whole ished and intellectual part of French so- range of those external circumstances and ciety in a creed of some three articles, of relations by which character and the inner which the first was the denial of a God, harmony are affected and regulated. To the second the assertion of the origin of one whose ideal of conduct is not triumphthe difference between right and wrong in ant disputation, but a simple life in accord convention, and the third, the reduction with surrounding circumstance, clearly the of all motives to deliberate self-interest. main object is not the truth of proposi
Rousseau appeared in the very thick of tions, but the fitness of institutions. It is the conflict of these two great bodies of easy to see what a vast and deep-reaching partisans. He speedily found that he could revolution this extension of the field of side as little with one as the other. Reli- battle made both in the thought of the