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It is a settled law, in the economy of human affairs, that only decided men can be successful rulers. This fact has been, in all ages, exemplified by the dominant spirits of our race. Mr. Williams was not suited greatly to influence the deliberations, and still less to sway the counsels, of civilized and cultivated men. For this work he was too humble, too modest, and too amiable. There was very little of the agonistic in him. too much loved to be sufficiently an object of reverence and of fear. His extreme softness gave him at times an air of weakness. Social influence and severe self-discipline had done nothing towards rectifying this defect ; he was, indeed, scarcely conscious of its existence. Previous to his departure for Polynesia, he had received but little moral or mental culture, and his situation there precluded the possibility of much intense application to such pursuits as tend to discipline the will and the understanding. He was too busily employed about still more important matters. The intellectual stature of those around him, too, was such as had a perpetual tendency to depress rather than to elevate him ; and it is wonderful that, under such a combination of adverse circumstances, he not only kept his ground, but even made considerable advancement in general knowledge and mental improvement. The evil consequence, however, on his arrival in England, was apparent in all his public efforts. On nearly all subjects, except that of Missions, his views were narrow and superficial. His reading had not been excursive, and his reflections on general subjects had not extended much beyond his reading. Images cannot be multiplied in the absence of objects. The relations and qualities of objects cannot be understood, where the objects themselves are hid from vision. Comparison implies knowledge of the individual as well as of the species ; and comparison must be limited to what is known. In proportion to the extent of Mr. Wil
liams's acquirements, however, his powers of comparison and of contrast, of deduction and description, were considerable. His faculty of analysis was greatly infe. rior to his faculty of combination. In the former he was very deficient, and still more deficient in the power of generalization. This was very obvious in his sermons and speeches. His great excellence consisted in detail—a quality in which he was seldom equalled. Generalization is a leading attribute of the true philosopher ; detail, of the popular orator. An illustration of these points is supplied in Dr. Philip and Mr. Williams. Dr. Philip is, in my view, by far the most philosophic Missionary at this moment in the field. Mr. Williams, in his time, was the most interesting narrator of facts. The province of the one is, reason; that of the other, observation. This is full of interest to the multitude ; that engages the reflecting minority. The Liberator of the Hottentots, like the immortal Burke,
“ Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining,
And thought of convincing while they thought of dining ;" frequently talks an assembly of shallow men into marked and ill-mannered impatience, while discoursing with a depth of thought, a compass of view, and a force of argument that would suffice to interest, enlighten, and convince an assembly of philosophers or a congress of statesmen. The Great Light of Polynesia, on the contrary, with his simple facts, touching tales, and tragic scenes, could keep the same people, and people of all sorts, for hours together, and for days in succession, rivetted and charmed as if by enchantment. I have heard no man who, in my humble opinion, even approaches Dr. Philip for sublime and glorious conceptions of the philosophy of missions; and Mr. Williams as far outstripped all his contemporaries in narrating the details of their history.
In the soul of Mr. Williams there was not a single
element of true poetry ;-but, notwithstanding his want of imagination, he occasionally painted the scenery and society of the South Seas with great, though literal, effect. The performance was clearly that of an artist, though somewhat of the Flemish school. The observant critic seemed to hear him say, " fetch me the pencils and the colours ;" then, by rule, the process went on, and, although there was nothing poetic in the thought or in the language, there was a touching, often a glowing, always an accurate and impressive, description of places, persons, and actions. Without having the poet's eye, which Mr. Moffat so eminently possesses, he was often not inferior to that remarkable man in the felicity of his portraits.
Mr. Moffat sees every thing through the medium of the imagination; and genius stands by ready to robe his perceptions in the most beautiful attire. The sovereignty of his spirit is inmediately confessed by his hearers ; and, in spite of a very defective manner, and a most barbarous elocution, made up of the worst Scottish dialect, disguised in divers African intonations, he reigns supreme in every audience, whether metropolitan or provincial.
The spoken style of Mr. Williams, like his person and mind, was simple, but strong, -rough, but manly. He was wholly destitute of the arts of eloquence ; the selection of words and the construction of phrases, the preparation of paragraphs and the polish of periods, made no part of his study. His written style is more correct, and, at times, somewhat ornate ; but for these giaces it was indebted to other pens more practised than his own. The truth is, that the noble-minded man, in all his exhibitions, whether of spoken or of written language, was wholly indifferent to self. His own existence, for the most part, seemed to be forgotten. He was utterly regardless what men thought or said of himself, if they would but hear his statement of the work of God among the heathen ; he asked no
more. Never was there, in a pulpit or upon a platform, a more entire absence of every symptom of vanity, a more complete neglect of the arts of popularity. Intent only upon his Master's honour, and utterly heedless of personal considerations, he became wholly engrossed with his subject. A great critic has truly said, “the Rhetoric of Fox was his Logic ;” and it may with equal truth be affirmed, that the eloquence of Williams was his facts! With these, both in England and in Scotland, he wrought his wonders. He told such tales as no man ever told before. He spoke as a messenger from a fairy land-a land which exhibited a combination of all that is beauteous in nature with all that is barbarous in man. To utterance and manner he owed as little as to diction ; his delivery was heavy, and his voice monotonous ; his air tame, and his action stiff and awkward. Never was public speaker more thoroughly divested of every thing meretricious, or more devoid even of legitimate ornament. Every passage and every sentence bore the deep and indelible impress of pure truth and unsophisticated nature. The leading feature of every effort was- -business! There was no straining in his thoughts, no extravagance in his representations, no ranting in his . delivery. Enthusiasm, in its vulgar acceptation, had no place in the breast of Mr. Williams. Common sense was his great and distinguishing quality; and the conviction which irresistibly darted into the mind of every hearer, was,—This is an honest man!
The simplicity of Mr. Williams lay at the foundation of his noble character. His greatness was altogether moral ; in point of intellectual powers, as we have seen, he was a very ordinary man, respectable, but nothing more. It is probable that many who have not had sufficient means of judging, or who have not turned their attention to the point, may think I have under-estimated our friend. They will consider the
elements here set forth as insufficient to form the basis of so much excellence ; they will be at a loss to reconcile a fame so vast with powers so unpretending ; at a loss to understand how a name representing so little brilliancy should have acquired so much glory. Now herein lies the mystery.
Here is the real source of that glory. This is the very thing that I am anxious, with the greatest possible prominence, to exhibit to the minds of men, especially to those of the rising ministry. It is not only granted, but even contended, that the mental powers of Mr. Williams were of a common order ; and on this ground I chiefly rest his claims to high praise and universal admiration. The practical value of his history arises from the fact, that his was a race in which all may run, and in which all who run will infallibly gain a prize. The folly and stupidity of mankind have, in all ages, been apparent, from the absurd and fatal preference which they have given to intellectual as compared with moral greatness. Now, where there is, and where there can be, no competition, there ought to be no comparison, in order to praise or to censure. Ought corporeal magnitude to be a ground of reproach or commendation ? Is a man to be held responsible for the hue of his skin or the height of his stature, and to be stamped with renown or covered with infamy according as he approximates the giant or the dwarf, the European or the African ?
Such a course, however, would be just as rational as that which, in all ages, has been almost unanimously adopted, even by civilized men. The possession, not the use, of talents, has too generally been the ground of their applause and admiration. Preposterous folly and infatuation! Why should inen be rewarded with praise, or visited with contempt, for that which is an accident of birth—a thing beyond the control of its object-a thing with which the will and the intention can have no concern ? No matter at what point