« AnteriorContinuar »
Lights up the vassal-summits and the proud peaks all around;
As the ecstasy is full, and the mighty brow is crowned.
Crowned with ruby of resplendence,
'Neath a canopy of purple and of gold outspread,
Of the consecrating sunlight is poured upon his head.
Then a swift and still transition
Falls upon the gorgeous vision,
And the ruby and the fire pass voicelessly away;
And lovelier than the loveliest dream that melts before the day.
It is passing, it is passing!
While the softening glow is glassing
In the crystal of the heavens all the fairest of its rose.
Gleam the snowy heights around us in holiest repose.
O pure and perfect whiteness!
Upon those still majestic brows shed solemnly abroad!
In appreciating Miss Havergal's verse it is not to be forgotten that her life was even purer than her song, and that her existence was not merely a literary existence, but that it was infinitely diffusive and spent itself in many channels. With regard to her lyrics she expressed the dearest wish of her heart when she sang,
Oh! be my verse a hidden stream which silently may flow
And her life was like her poetry; it was a stream that made glad many waste places and carried the element of refreshment wherever it flowed. Not here and now can we speak of the Young Women's Christian Associations she formed, of the Temperance Societies she organised, or of the abiding success which seemed to wait on her every Christian effort to raise to higher levels the tone of life round about her. Suffice it to say, that hers was a soul filled to the brim with the spirit of philanthropy and self-sacrifice. It touches one to think how the first money she received for literary work-a cheque of ten guineas from Strahan--she spent wholly on benevolent objects.
But it is still more touching to remember that one of the last acts of her life was to send her jewellery box-filled with those things a woman likes least to part with-to the Church Missionary Society, to be disposed of in the interests of the association. Her good deeds may not be spoken of like her songs, they may not carry her name with them, but in their own way they will not the less surely survive and bear forward her pure influence.
It is satisfactory to know that the dark clouds which hung heavily in the sky of her early days eventually passed completely away. With maturer years she gained the sweeter mind and the humbler and more implicit trust in the providence of God. In the prelude to Under His Shadow '—a work not published till after her decease -we find this expressive stanza :
So now, I pray Thee, keep my hand in Thine,
Rest in Thy love, and trust, and know that I am heard.
In 1878 Miss Havergal took up her abode with a married sister at The Mumbles in Wales. Here she laid out definite plans for her future, and performed an amount of literary and benevolent work truly astonishing. Every morning she was in her study by seven, and not a day went in which she did not find time to read some part of her Hebrew Bible or Greek Testament. Such devotedness, however, was not to be long continued. On May 21 of the year following her settlement in Wales, whilst attending a temperance gathering, she received a chill, and on June 3, 1879, her gentle life came to a peaceful close. When she died she was thus only forty-two years of age. Her friends buried her in Astley churchyard, near the old rectory where she was born and the green meadows where as a child she had gathered buttercups and meadowsweet.
Miss Havergal's lyrics are such recent productions, and they have leapt into such a sudden popularity, that it is impossible as yet to speculate on what position they may come ultimately to occupy. No doubt, in many respects, they fall short of the hymns of Addison, and Cowper, and Keble, but still they have their distinctive merits. As a singer Miss Havergal has a note all her own, and her thorough mastery of all the subtleties of metre, united to the intensity and singular purity of her religious feeling, may warrant the conjecture that if many of her minor pieces fall into oblivion, the early popularity of her best productions may yet survive and hold their place in our sacred lyric literature.
No. 610 (No. CXXX. N. s.)
THE PEACE-AT-ANY-PRICE PARTY.
(BY A MEMBER OF THE PEACE SOCIETY.)
HERE is probably no catch-phrase in the political vocabulary respecting which so much has been said and so little thought, as that of Peace-at-any-price. The origin of the expression is an obscure and debatable point. One theory is, that it was evolved out of the inner consciousness of the late Lord Palmerston, as his reductio ad absurdum of that mind-your-own-business policy of the Manchester School which his soul so utterly abhorred. But, whatever its ancestry, the phrase has now taken its place as an accepted element in the political jargon of the day. It turns up everywhere, and multitudes believe that it represents a real fact, and that it fairly expresses the creed of a certain party in the English commonwealth.
A short time ago Lord Beaconsfield alarmed the House of Lords by declaring that the deleterious doctrine of the Peace-at-any-price party was haunting the people of this country in every form!' 'It has done more mischief,' he went on to say, than any I can recall that has been afloat in this century. It has occasioned more wars than the most ruthless conquerors. It has disturbed and destroyed the political equilibrium of the world. It has dimmed for a moment the majesty of England; and I call upon your lordships to brand these opinions with the reprobation of the Peers of England!'
If any German or Russian statesmen happened to read this violent invective, and were simple enough to credit it, they must have felt something of that mysterious comfort that is said to arise from a fellowship in trouble. Here, they must have said, is evidence on the highest authority, that even England, with all her boasted political advancement and her policy of Free Trade, is harassed equally with us by a ruthless but intangible spectre, and one apparently as terrible and unmanageable as German Communism and Russian Nihilism!
It is true that heated and grotesquely exaggerated language, such as we have quoted from the late Premier, is not often applied to so calm and pacific a subject as that of the effort to discourage and discountenance war. But in milder and more measured language, the denunciation and renunciation of this Peace-at-any-price policy are constantly to be met with. Orators during the recent general election, addressing excited multitudes on behalf of the maintenance of the national honour, and the ascendency of England in the councils of Europe, have made themselves merry over so convenient a catch-phrase; while even those who declaimed against the evils of a spirited foreign policy,' and declared their undying allegiance to the old watch-cry-' Peace, Retrenchment and Reform,' have been
careful to guard their own characters by announcing in solemn and precise terms that they had no sympathy with the doctrine of Peaceat-any-price.
The Duke of Argyll, when addressing a great Liberal demonstration at Leeds last November, thought it needful pointedly to deny all connection with this supposed policy. He said: 'It may be asked me, "Are you in favour of Peace-at-any-price?" And I answer at once, No! I see no streaks of that blessed dawn, when nations shall be able to hang the trumpet in the hall, and study war no more. More recently, Mr. Gladstone, in his speech at Edinburgh, March 17, declared that the Peace party had fallen into great and serious error by springing prematurely to the conclusion that wars may be considered as having closed their melancholy and miserable history.' Even ministers of religion, both in sermons and in more general utterances on public platforms, have thought it necessary in a number of instances to announce, that though they loved peace and desired peace and prayed for peace, they were not for Peace-atany-price, and were by no means to be considered as members of the Peace-at-any-price party!
Yet, strange to say, after all these brave words and spirited declarations, when we come to look calmly into the matter, this terrible and treacherous enemy, which has disturbed the equilibrium of the world,' is found to be a mere spectre with neither flesh nor bones norsubstance. The military people, and the muscular Christians,' and those who seem to think that the true and manly way to show courage and to maintain honour is by shedding blood, have been
Shaping a simple finger-post
and have been scared accordingly. The truth is, there is no party in the country, no organisation to be found anywhere, that advocates a policy of Peace-at-any-price! Lord Beaconsfield, Mr. Gladstone, the Duke of Argyll, and a host of other notabilities, have been fighting an imaginary foe; and the reverend gentlemen who have protested so much might have trusted to their well-known bellicose reputation, and have spared themselves all this vehement assertion.
But, it will be said, if it be true that there is no party urging a Peace-at-any-price policy, no party that 'considers war to have closed its melancholy and miserable history,' or that sees streaks of the Duke of Argyll's blessed dawn,' what is there that has led to so wide-spread a delusion on the subject? What is the real character of the unpretending finger-post which scared or designing eyes have distorted. into a hobgoblin, unmanly and contemptible, but nevertheless occasioning more wars than the most ruthless conqueror'?
In the first place, there is a small Christian church, quiet but active, and not without influence, whose name has been identified for more than two centuries with what may be called the Peace question. Secondly, there is the Peace Society-a body consisting of per
sons from various denominations and parties, who are united in the desire to promote peace on earth and good will to men.'
And, thirdly, there is that far larger and more influential class of men, who, though not specially organised, are sometimes called, in general terms, the Peace party. It may be well to say a few words as to the attitude of each of these bodies towards a policy of Peaceat-any-price.
The little church which calls itself the Society of Friends has from its rise in the seventeenth century placed on its unwritten creed an article of faith, which it has deduced-not from a few isolated texts, but from the plain teaching of Christ's Sermon on the Mount, and of the New Testament generally-that war is in its very nature opposed to the spirit of Christianity.
However deeply men may feel the tremendous difficulties that lie in the way of working out the sacred principles of the New Testament into social and national life, there can be no question that the scope and tenour of those principles point unmistakeably to the duty of forgiveness, and forbearance, and self-sacrifice. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;' Thou shalt do as thou wouldst be done by;'Thou shalt overcome evil, not by evil, but by good,' are the great characteristic precepts of the religion of Christ. It is equally plain that the design and tendency of the New Testament teaching is to break down the barriers of hostility and jealousy that have so long existed between nations, and to extend its benign and fraternal influences to communities as well as to individuals. Is it strange that under the pressure of such grand and unqualified injunc tions there should still be one little church left in Christendom which proclaims its faith in these principles, and which testifies by its acts as well as by its declarations that it holds them to be eternally binding upon those who accept Christ as their Master? Surely the wonder is that there is only one Church which is thus protesting, and that the multitude of Christians, with the New Testament in their hands, leave this great barbarism of the war system to grow and develop itself, while they stand helplessly by in almost mute despair.
But the Society of Friends, like perhaps some other churches, is not an institution for the promulgation of schemes of policy or expediency, but for the upholding of great principles. Whilst steadfastly maintaining through two centuries what it felt to be the unequivocal teaching of Christ, that for His followers war is forbidden, that human life is sacred, and that resistance to evil must be waged by righteous means; and often pressing these views upon other Christians as the true spirit of the Gospel-this little Church has never resorted to the platform of mere expediency in preaching these crucial questions. It has fully recognised that such a penetrating principle is what some might call a counsel of perfection,' out of the reach of all but really religious men, since it appeals to Christian allegiance and faith, and is only part of the outcome of a truly Christian life. It has therefore never urged its solemnly accepted