صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

in every Rugby boy's life of that day, the first sermon from the Doctor.

More worthy pens than mine have described that scene. The oak pulpit standing out by itself above the School seats. The tall gallant form, the kindling eye, the voice, now soft as the low notes of a flute, now clear and stirring as the call of the light infantry bugle, of him who stood there Sunday after Sunday, witnessing and pleading for his Lord, the King of righteousness and love and glory, with whose spirit he was filled, and in whose power he spoke. The long lines of young faces, rising tier above tier down the whole length of the chapel, from the little boy's who had just left his mother to the young man's who was going out next week into the great world rejoicing in his strength. It was a great and solemn sight, and never more so than at this time of year, when the only lights in the chapel were in the pulpit and at the seats of the præpostors of the week, and the soft twilight stole over the rest of the chapel, deepening into darkness in the high gallery behind the organ.

But what was it after all which seized and held these three hundred boys, dragging them out of themselves, willing or unwilling, for twenty minutes, on Sunday afternoon? True, there always were boys scattered up and down the School, who in heart and head were worthy to hear and able to carry away the deepest and wisest words there spoken. But these were a minority always, generally a very small one, often so small a one as to be countable on the fingers of your hand. What was it that moved and held us, the rest of the three hundred reckless, childish boys, who feared the Doctor with all our hearts, and very little besides in heaven or earth: who thought more of our seats in the School than of the Church of Christ, and put the traditions of Rugby and the public opinion of boys in our daily life above the laws of God? We couldn't enter into half that we heard; we hadn't the knowledge of our own hearts or the knowledge of one another; and little enough of the faith, hope, and love needed to that end. But we listened, as all boys in their better moods will listen (ay, and men, too, for the matter of that), to a man whom we felt to be, with all his heart and soul and strength, striving against whatever was mean and unmanly and unrighteous in our little world. It was not the cold clear voice of one giving advice and warning from serene heights to those who were struggling and sinning below, but the warm living voice of one who was fighting for us and by our sides, and calling on us to help him and ourselves and one another. And so, wearily and little by little, but surely and steadily on the whole, was brought home to the young boy, for the first time, the meaning of his life: that it was no fool's or sluggard's paradise into which he had wandered by chance, but a battle-field ordained from of old, where there are no spectators, but the youngest must take his side, and the stakes are life and death. And he who roused this consciousness in them showed them at the same time, by every word he spoke in the pulpit, and by his whole daily life, how the battle was to be fought; and stood there before them their fellow-soldier and the

captain of their band. The true sort of captain, too, for a boys' army, one who had no misgivings and gave no uncertain word of command, and, let who would yield or make a truce, would fight the fight out (so every boy felt) to the last gasp and the last drop of blood. Other sides of his character might take hold of and influence boys here and there, but it was this thoroughness and undaunted courage which more than anything else won his way to the hearts of the great mass of those on whom he left his mark, and made them believe first in him, and then in his Master.

THE RIGHT STANDARD. From “Shadows of the Stage," second series. Copyright, 1893, by Macmillan & Company (Reprinted with permission.) By WILLIAM WINTER.

CR a

RITICISM is neither hostility nor scorn.

The motive that impels a thoughtful observer to condemn much that is accepted by the multitude is not the wish merely to injure or to contemptuously deride or dismiss the popular mediocrity, but the desire that the age shall excel in all kinds of worth, and that the people shall both be the best and have the best. The poet Pope asserted the comfortable doctrine that "whatever is is right." Mr. Chalcote, the brewer, in Robertson's comedy of "Ours," announced the freer though less agreeable conclusion, that “whatever is is wrong." There are writers who celebrate the glories of the present age, and who continually minister to vanity by informing the people that they are but little lower than the angels.

Such writers are not the source of strength and help. The world does not prosper through being flattered. Too much is heard about the rights of man; too little about his duties. The moralists who frankly tell a people the truth, when that people, as often happens, is doing wrong and going wrong, are better friends of mankind than the flatterers of the popular mood and conduct.

Man is a brotherhood. In Roman days it was a saying with the aristocrats of mind and of rank, “The common people like to be deceived; deceived let them be." That saying was the essence of selfishness-a selfishness that the better part of the intellectual world has outgrown. There cannot be one law for persons of superior mental endowment and another law for the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

rest. Knowledge avails nothing unless it be communicated. Blessings are but half blessings if you keep them to yourself. Those who have clear vision and stalwart strength of mind should guide the rest of the world. The advancement of all human beings concerns every individual. The safety and comfort of the top of the pyramid depend on the security of the base. The enlightened philosopher knows that it is both selfinterest and benevolence to keep the multitude in the right path—to civilise, to refine, to lead upward the masses of mankind, so that their eyes may be opened to beauty, their minds to truth, and their hearts to gentleness and aspiration. The guidance of the people is the duty of the thinker, and if he performs that duty he will sometimes speak in terms of censure, and he will make the censure positive enough to be felt and to be productive of good results.

Observation, with extended view, perceives that people in general are more deeply interested in what they call amusements than in serious occupations. You must study popular amusements, therefore, if you wish to understand the mental condition and tendency of the people. Those matters engross much attention, and it is through the discussion and guidance of their amusements that the people are most easily and directly reached and affected. Two methods of that discussion and guidance, both long in vogue, are sharply contrasted in contemporary practice—that of universal laudation, and that of objection and remonstrance. The former largely predominates, and it has wrought evil by making bad matters worse. Within recent years—although noble and beautiful works have been shown, and important steps have been taken-an

« السابقةمتابعة »