Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

a

Mr Anstey has done. Allen,' to herself for her barbarity. He though remorselessly drawn in all is content to excuse it by the plea his unloveliness, ungainliness, and which he seems to think sufficient, imperfection, is really a pathetic and which every body accepts, even figure; and though he is mean, tho stern lover who is a little too cowardly, and inclined, at least noble and high-minded for the at first, to tho trickery which is sympathies of his creator, to permissible in the morals of his whom it seems to afford a perverse class, is also heroic in his way, and pleasure to leave him in the lurch capable of a dumb constancy and at the end. devotion, checked by no demerit We wish that our novelists in the person beloved, which is would afford us subjects of a more touching and piteous. At bis agreeable character. Tragedy is worst he secures our compassionate no doubt the highest art, but it regard. He is a new member, at is painful to have in a novel 20 least, of that great army of the body of whom we can approve, misunderstood which is so useful nor any incident upon which the to the novelist. Margot is far legs mind can rest with pleasure. We satisfactory. She has no sense of bave lately had to remark in the either honour or justice, yet al. Master of Ballantrae' this doterways takes, and is made to take, minod adoption of colours too an attitude of superiority. Even unbroken in their sombre tono when humbled by the blaze of dis- for the irregular and changeable covery which suddenly flashes upon humanity of which all poetic arts ber, she is still kept more or less ought to be interpreters. The mistress of the situation; and the 'Pariah' is in no way to be put sudden transformation scene at the a level with that powerful end, in which she turns in consci- story, and its misery is mean, and ous virtuo upon the lover who has deals with lower elements. But dared to doubt her, is as curious & except the commonplace, little, vagary of fancy as we remember plain girl, Millicent Orme, there to have seen. That anybody, is not a gleam of honest light in

& lover, could feel that it from beginning to end. Her Margot was assoilzied by the fact brother is a prig, though he has that it was her sister and not she a strong sense of duty; and even herself that had written the letter the sensible

Millicent accepts which was the cause of all the Margot as acquitted when the tragedy, and that her deliberate cilly little sister makes her selfish and continued sacrifice of Allon to confidence.

And no

else screen Ida was rather a noble act from beginning to end of the book than otherwise, and entitled her shows any real sense of right and to full vindication and apology, is wrong. Perfection may be, and very strange indeed, both in morals generally is dull; but there is and imagination. Mr Anstey is something left between that and not a sufficientiy good casuist to the utter confusion of all moral deal with such mysteries, and he sentiments, given forth as a picwisely refrains from any attempt ture of human life and motive by to show us how Margot accounted such a book as this.

on

even

one

A DETERMINED ARISTOCRAT DENOUNCES THE DOCTRINE OF

VOX POPULI VOX DEI.

No! no! my friend. You are all wrong, all wrong!
The People's voice is not the voice of God.
Though you cry out, reiterate, reaffirm,
Insist it is, with strenuous emphasis,
Waving your hand aloft, or with clenched fist
Striking the desk before you to enforco
The vehement words you say—the People's voico
Is not the voice of God; rather, I fear,
Too oft the Devil's voice, the cry of crowds,
The “Crucify Him!” of the multitude,
And not the “still small voice" of God, that speaks
Low in the heart, so low, so faint, 'tis drowned
In the tumultuous clamour of the mob;
And only when the tempest has passed by
And the wild winds of passion died away,
And silence comes, the humble listener hears,-
Hears, if he listens humbly,—but not else.

The People's voice is not the voice of God,
Nor that of Reason, Justice, Love, Faith, Peace.
No! 'tis the voice of Passion, Crime, Revenge,
Rank Superstition, Ignorance, Bigotry-
A cry of wild, confused, discordant tones,
Mere noise, untrained. untuned to harmony.

Where do all great ideas, all large aims,
All schemes that lift humanity have birth ?
In the majority? Ah, no! my friend;
In the minute minority of one.
Did the majority since the world began
Ever originate one noble thing?
Do Science, Art, Invention, Government,
Owo aught to what you call the people ? No!
Nothing, and worse than nothing! All great thoughts,
All Faiths, all Truths have at the outset found
The world in arms to oppose and bar the way,
To slay the Prophet, pull the Preacher down,
And drown with tumult every singing voice.
Christ perished on tho cross, because, forsooth,
The great majority (who, as you say,
Being the voice of God, are always right),
Cried, “Crucify Him!” And to all the Saints,
The holy men who following preached His Word,

What in its wisdom did the world decreo ?
What but tho exc, tho gibbot, and the stako.
Whom the majority cursed yesterday,
To-day it worships. Science had to bow
Before the Church's dogmas, -oven tho Sun
Was forced to make its circuit round tho Eartlı
Despite of Galilco for a timo;
Because your voico of God, your Puoplo's voico,
Your Church's voice, your dear Majority
That always must be right, would have it so.

Ah! but, you say, however it may bo
In Science, Art, Invention, Croods--at least
In Government, in Statesinanship, admit
The People, the Majority, are right.
Aro they indeed? What havo they ever done
For Statesmanship? unless to change its name,
And not alono its name, its naturo too,
To Politics, ---that hath no higher God,
No better creed than Policy,--that seeks
Not what is Just, Wise, Right, -ah, no! but what,
Wrong though it bc, scenis simply politic :-
And fits the passins, passions of the day.
No more, no less. The Statcsncn are the few
Who know to guido aright tho Ship of State :
Thoy who would trust its stcering to the Crow,
Largo though it be, but trust it to the chance
Of treacherous currents, shifting winds, tides, waves.
Tho great Majority, the ficklo crowd
Wo call tho People, fluctuato hero and there,
Careless of Right and Wrorg: -each secking nought
But his own selfishi, personal interest.
This thing to-day, and then to-morrow that.
What care they that the State should steer its course,
By the strict Chart of Duty, Truth or Right,
Scorning all low demands, all coward claims,
All devious doublings, all dishoncst tricks!
Nothing! and why? Becauso the Stato to them
Is but a Market where to buy and sell,
And Government a shop of offices.

Call your Majority unto the polls-
Whom voto they for? The ablcst and the best?
The man most fitted for the work to do,
Who scorns all low and vulgar tricks to gain
The vacant office :—who is straight, eroct,
Bold in his specch, and honest in his acts,
Beyond all fi inching ?—or that other man
Who, as you say, is most available ?
Meaning by that, ho who will truckle mostg
Pay most, profcss most, make the lowest bends,
Whccdlo and cringe, and flattor Deinos most?

Is nou cho wise, strong men, who scorns such tricks,
Firm in his principles, who will not yield
To the low clamour of tho hour one stop,
Sure to be ostracised ? even stoned, perhaps ?
Sure to be called the proud Aristocrat?
While the loud, noisy, blatant demagogue
Is cheered and borno in triumph to his seat,
Because he has the People's good at heart,
The People's good alono! Oh! nothing else I
And down with Aristidos-called tho Just.

" I'ın for plain, practical rcalitica !"
That is your cry ; "I'm for cho working man!"
Woll, for my part, I'm for cho thinking man,
Tho men who stands behind tho working man
And orders him so that his work is good.
I'm for the Leader-made by God to load,
Not for the mob that luctuatou co and fro
As the vind blows. I'm for the mass and crowd
When under guidancy of the wiso they novo,
I'm for ühe army whon 'tis traincd and drillod,
Not for the army whca it brooks its ranks,
And rushes madly hore, choro, anywhere, —
Not for tho crmy wion it has no hcad.

You'ro for tho real, plain, and pracöical !
Woll, thai is good too—but ot ail in all
You cncer cü tho idcal; but, my friend,
Lionour, Truch, Lovo are all ideal things,
The highest, in my mind,-ior, iar abovə
Tho lov, ncon, croity crecd of politic3
Theü cooku noc whaü is vico, or truo, or just,
Buj viac tho chisty world coils pracüical-
Lionour, thou coorus oll baco advanis.go3 ;
Truth, -cioplo Loncsiy, ücü will not pui
Sand in tho cugar, alum ia iho breed, -
Nay, will noi tako o bribs, por chcai, aor lie
Even to win wa csico or o voco.

So you boliovo in numbers. I do not.
You think the opinion of a thousand fools,
Oi ai tho least, c thoucand igaorant mon,
Worth thcü ci any cns, howovor wise ;
I, that tho ono viv nan ouiweighs them all.
Mczo numbors havo no powor io imposo on me;
In God, man, ching-one only is tho bost,
Tho rooi, at most, arə only cocond best-
Tho lorger bumbor mcans tho lovoz grade.
Moro cico is meaningless in Beauty's roolm:
Tho Dig is not the Oscav: Porioction lica

Where Power, Grace, Beauty dwell, and there alone,
Whether the thing be little or be large.
But what cry out your masses? Hear them brag
This thing or that is big, and therefore great.
This statue is the largest in the world,
This monument the tallest. Well! what tnen?
They both may be the ugliest as well.
If
you

desire a noble work of Art,
Be it a poem, picture, statue, song,
To whom do you intrust it? To the best?
The single one selected from the mass ?
Or to the hundreds of a lower grade?
Or thousands or ten thousands lower still ?
Secure that the Majority is right
And has the highest art, the deftest skill.

Thank God few there be to keep us clean,
To stay the rampant raging of the mob,
To sweep the Augcan stable of the muck
Of filthy politics. But ah! too few !
Even in the great Republic what a change,
Since the old days when the great few had power,
And guided government, and ruled the moh.
Now the great mass of voters rule the State,
Your voice of God, your people's voice,-and how ?
How, but by shameless barter, purchase, sale ?
Ah! where is gone that grand simplicity,
That lofty sense of honour, that austero
Stern sense of duty ?-never to be swayed
By thought of interest from the straight forthright,
That marked the steadfast few who held the helm
In those first days of Freedom? Where is gone
The dignity, the honour, that abjured
All thought of party payments and rewards i
That sought impartially-unmoved by fear,
Unswayed by favour, for no private ends,
But for the public good- to use its power?
From those stern heights if we have fallen now
To lower levels in our public life,
Whose is the fault? What is the cause, my friend ?
'Tis in the People more than those who rule
Who rule, indeed !-our rulers do not rule,
They are but slaves bound to the beck and call
Of your Majority. Good men there are !
Good men and able ! ay, and honest too!
But what avails it? When the tempest blows
The sturdiest trees musi bend- must bend, or break,
And so be swept away. By slow degrees
We have declined, till now the men in power
Are powerless, and the only real power
Is tliat vague, headless, irresponsible,
Dishonest somewhat, that no hand can strike,

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »