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perhaps, worth quoting here for more reasons than one.
“I have just finished Carlyle's 'Life of Sterling. It is an intensely interesting book, and its interest is of the highest or human order. With John Sterling I should have had strong sympathies, for I trace a likeness between so many of his spiritual features and my own. Carlyle says of him in one place: 'It struck me further that Sterling's was not intrinsically, nor ever had been in the highest or chief degree, a devotional mind. Of course all excellence in man and worship as the supreme excellence, was part of the inheritance of this gifted man; but if called to define him, I should say artist, not saint, was the real bent of his being. He had endless admiration, but intrinsically rather a deficiency of reverence in comparison. Fear, with its corollaries, on the religious side he appears to have none, nor ever to have had any." This strikes me as being an exceedingly fine analysis. There is an essential difference between the admiring reverence of the artist and the awed veneration of the saint. That remark too about fear is singularly accurate. A man who has what the phrenologist would call a large organ of veneration, is sure to be overwhelmed with awe and terror when the presence of great spiritual realities is first forced upon him. Hence, we always find in the biographies of men of conspicuous religiousness of nature records of spiritual terrors and agonies, which are apt to seem, to men of different organizations, exaggerated and incomprehensible. Take, for example, the cases of Luther and Bunyan, especially the latter. I am convinced that even were I to adopt Bunyan's severe Calvinism as my creed, his spiritual experiences could never be mine. There is a reverence which naturally arises from the perception of another's superiority in goodness, power, or knowledge, which is possible to every man not under the control of extravagant selfesteem ; but this reverence has nothing of terror in it, and is altogether different from the veneration of the typical religious man. When I realise most distinctly the presence of God, I feel love, gratitude, intense joy and exaltation, sometimes deep abasement; but never anything approaching to fear.” In this letter Pelican, I think, hardly does himself justice, just as Mr. Carlyle very probably hardly does justice to Sterling. It is true that he was without fear on the religious side, but only because awe seemed swallowed up in trust; and he had certainly none of that preference for the contemplation of objects below his own level, which is the constant characteristic of men who are destitute of the reverential instincts.
In this matter of reverence, however, I soon discovered that Pelican had a bad reputation among his acquaintances, and it was easy to see how he had acquired it. He persistently refused to do homage to the pontiffs of Brookfield ; and in the face of that refusal it was hard
10 believe that he did homage anywhere. He had a burning hatred of that pretentious commonplace to which the name of Philistinism has been so happily applied; and for local Goliaths, however many their cubits, he had no respect; for them he had nothing but words of defiant sarcasm and pebbles from the brook. He scarified the pompous magnates of the place to the best of his ability ; and I am 'bound to admit that the exhibition was often amusing. But one or two of Pelican's friends, anxious that he should not become altogether a Pariah, remonstrated strongly against his constant use of his favourite weapons.
He was, how“You accuse me of sarcasm,” wrote ever, incorrigible. he, in answer to one of these friends, “and you are one of those who think that a sarcastic man must necessarily be disagreeable.
Now this is untrue; for pure sarcasm almost always implies reverence,” (Pelican is characteristically paradoxical here), "and the man who has reverence in him is never wholly either disagreeable or unlovable. Your allusion to Goethe's Mephistopheles is based on a misconception; for though the loose popular idea of that character is that of a sarcastic personage, Mephistopheles is just the sort of being who could never have been truly sarcastic. He could scoff and sneer, and scoffs and sneers are supposed by some foolish persons to be
synonymous with sarcasms. They are really entirely different, inasmuch as they are expressions of hatred and contempt which, when pure and
simple, are the attributes of a devil ; while sarcasm is often the natural utterance of a divine disdain felt for hypocritical devoutness and pretentious folly from the lips of one who knows the meaning and loves the beauty of quiet holiness and modest wisdom. I dare not say that I am such a one; but I think you will believe that from the bottom of my heart it is my longing so to be. Of all characters that of a scoffing, sneering Mephistopheles is the most horrible to me; for a scoff is a sneer against the divine, and a sneer is a scoff against the human, uttered by a man who is devoid of reverence for the one and of sympathy with the other.” This may or may not be expressed with perfect accuracy of language, but I think it is, in the main, true; and it was Pelican's sole answer to all the friendly critics who wished to set him right with the outside world.
With that world he had many more sympathies than were at all apparent. The isolation into which the free action of his nature forced him was never welcome, and was at times unspeakably painful. He saw that he was shunned by those whom he was ready, nay eager, to love, if they would only let him ; and sometimes I could see that his wildest bursts were but inarticulate expressions of his horror of loneliness. As years passed on, I think he came to see that the fact that each man must live his own life, to some extent unknown, uncomprehended, misjudged, is not altogether without its redeeming side ; and among his papers I find a sonnet,
with which this chapter shall close, indicating, with sufficient clearness, the condition of feeling which he finally attained :
• Thy tears are vain, dear friend ; thou canst not yet,