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The fountain of his comfort shall never be diminished, and the stream shall never be dried. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul, a well of water springing up to everlasting life.”

In plain truth, what people commonly remember of Edwards is merely one extreme to which he reasoned out his consistent system. Like the older theology of Calvin and of Augustine, it all rests on the essential wickedness of the human will, concerning which Edwards's great treatise is still held a strong bit of philosophising. He asserts something like an utter fatalism, a universality of cause affecting even our volition, quite beyond human control. This fatal perversion of human will he believes to spring from that ancestral curse which forbids any child of Adam to exert the will in true harmony with the will of God. Reconciliation he holds possible only when superhuman power comes, with unmerited grace, to God's elect.

Once accept Edwards's premises, and you will be at pains to avoid his conclusions. Yet it is hardly too much to say that long ago American posterity has generally rejected both, more absolutely indeed than it may come to reject them in the future. One can see why. In his American world, so relieved from the pressure of external fact that people generally behaved much better than is usual in earthly history, Edwards, whose personal life was exceptionally removed from anything practical, reasoned out with unflinching logic, to extreme conclusions, a kind of philosophy which is justified in experience only by such things as occur in densely populated, corrupt societies. Augustine wrote amid the corruption of decadent Rome, whose ruined amphitheatres still testify to the brutal excess of pleasure which could subsist amid what seemed civilisation, and whose fashionable vices had run in men and women alike to more than Neronic excess. Calvin reiterated this theology in a Europe where the most potent family was the Medici, the Florentine race whose blood combined with that of degenerate Stuarts to complete the degra

dation of royalty in Charles II., and James, and the Pretenders. And, a century and more later, this Jonathan Edwards tried logically to extend Calvinism in a world where there were few more dreadful exhibitions of human depravity than occasional cheating, the reading of eighteenth-century novels, - which Edwards is said to have held dangerously obscene, and such artless merry-making and moonlight Airtation as have always gladdened youth in the Yankee country. Whoever knew American life in the middle of the eighteenth century and honestly asked himself whether its manifestations were such as the theology of Edwards would explain, could hardly avoid a deeper and deeper conviction that even though he was traditionally accustomed to accept the premises, which so clearly involved Edwards's conclusions, somehow these conclusions were not so.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, in short, religious thought in America had divorced itself from life almost as completely as from politics. The slow result was certain. In 1857, nearly a hundred years after the death of Edwards, the most familiar and unanswerable comment on his system appeared. Often misunderstood, generally thought no more than a piece of comic extravagance, Dr. Holmes's “ OneHoss Shay” is really among the most pitiless satires in our language. Born and bred a Calvinist, Holmes, who lived in the full tide of Unitarian hopefulness, recoiled from the appalling doctrines which had darkened his youth. He could find no flaw in their reasoning, but he would not accept their conclusions. In a spirit as earnest, then, as his words seem rollicking, he wrote of Edwards thus:

“ Little of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large ;
Take it. You 're welcome. No extra charge.)

“FIRST OF NOVEMBER, – the Earthquake-day, –
There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavour of mild decay,
But nothing local as one may say.
There could n't be, - for the Deacon's art
Had made it so like in every part
That there was n't a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whipple-tree neither less nor more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!


“ First of November, 'Fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive,
Now, small boys, get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
*Huddup!' said the parson. Off went they
The parson was working his Sunday's text,
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the — Moses was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill.
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill, -
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half past nine by the meet'n'-house clock,
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground !
You see, of course, if you 're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once,
All at once, and nothing first, -
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

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“End of the wonderful one-hoss shay. Logic is logic. That's all I say."



The contemporary of Edwards who best shows what American human nature had become, is Benjamin Franklin. Unlike the persons at whom we have glanced, this man, who before he died became more eminent than all the rest together, sprang from socially inconspicuous origin. The son of a tallow chandler, he was born in Boston, on January 6, 1706. As a mere boy, he was apprenticed to his brother, a printer, with whom he did not get along very well. At seventeen he ran away, and finally turned up in Philadelphia, where he attracted the interest of some influential people. A year later he went to England, carrying from these friends letters which he supposed might be useful in the mother country. The letters proved worthless ; in 1726, after a life in England for which vagabond is hardly too strong a word, he returned to Philadelphia. There he remained for some thirty years. He began by shrewdly advancing himself as printer, publisher, and shopkeeper; later, when his extraordinary ability had drawn about him people of more and more solid character, he became a local public man and proved himself also an admirable selftaught man of science. About the time of Washington's birth, he started that “Poor Richard's Almanac” whose aphorisms have had such lasting vogue. It is Poor Richard who told us, among other things, that “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise;” that “God helps them that help themselves;” and that “Honesty is the best policy.” After fifteen years Franklin's affairs had so prospered that he could retire from shopkeeping and give himself over to scientific work. He made numerous inventions : the

In 1775

lightning-rod, for example; the stove still called by his name; and double spectacles, with one lens in the upper half for observing distant objects, and another in the lower half for reading. In 1755 he was made Postmaster-General of the American colonies; and the United States post-office is said still to be conducted in many respects on the system he then established. So he lived until 1757, the year before Jonathan Edwards died.

In 1757 he was sent to England as the Agent of Pennsylvania. There he remained, with slight intervals, for eighteen years, becoming agent of other colonies too. he returned home, where in 1776 he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Before the end of that year he was despatched as minister to France, where he remained until 1785. Then he came home and was elected President of Pennsylvania. In 1787 he was among the signers of the Constitution of the United States. On the 17th of April, 1790, he died at Philadelphia, a city to which his influence had given not only the best municipal system of eighteenthcentury America, but also, among other institutions which have survived, the American Philosophical Society and the University of Pennsylvania.

The Franklin of world tradition, the great Franklin, is the statesman and diplomatist who from 1757 until 1785 proved himself both in England and in France to possess such commanding power. But the Franklin with whom we are concerned is rather the shrewd native American whose first fifty years were spent in preparation for his world-wide career. He was born, we have seen, a Yankee of the lower class, not technically a gentleman. How significant this fact was in the middle of the eighteenth century may be seen by a glance at any Quinquennial Catalogue of Harvard College. In this, from the beginning until 1772, the names of the graduates are arranged not in alphabetical order, but in that of social precedence. The sons of royal governors and of king's

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