ePub 版

necessary the still greater humiliation of Prussia," I - the State that the Great Elector redeemed from Sweden, that Frederic I. raised to the rank of a kingdom, and Frederic the Great to a power on the Continent strong in peace and formidable in war, and which the present reign has advanced to be almost a synonyme of military supremacy, imperial dominion, scientific culture, and the Protestant faith, - this Prussia of two centuries has given the world the most perfect example of that form of political society in which man exists for the State, and the State cares for all his interests' in return for the control of all his powers. Though she has been slow in attaining to constitutional freedom and popular representation in government, and in regaining or restoring the remnants of local government that had survived the Thirty-years' war, yet Prussia has produced a civil service remarkable for intelligence, accuracy, fidelity, and honor; an educational system unexampled in universality, and thoroughness as to the rudiments of knowledge, and in facilities for the higher attainments; a church system of as much fairness as could exist without the separation of Church and State; a judiciary, which, at least since Frederic the Great took in hand the miller Arnold's lawsuit, has been noted for exact and impartial justice; an economical system, which, if it bears hard upon some, bears equally upon all, and affords small chance to rogues; and a military system, which, if war must be, and peace a chronic preparation for war, is the most complete and efficient organization for the defence of the nation. Now, all this has been accomplished by one small State, upon an indifferent soil, which dates its self-consciousness as a political power from the victory of Fehrbellin in 1675. A people, then, is to be estimated, not by the years of its political life, but by what it has done in those years for the improvement of society and the behoof of mankind. sia has seen her thousand years, and in that millennium has been slowly shaping out of chaos and barbarism a civilized State that yet may civilize the barbarian hordes and decaying empires of Middle and Eastern Asia. But, in all these ages, what contribution has Russia made to the true forces of modern civilization, or the science of political

1 Papers and letters of Theodore von Schön, Berlin, Franz Duncker.


society? Shall I speak of Spain in the splendor of her Moorish civilization, in the glory of her Christian art, commerce, colonization? How little of lasting good has she given to mankind! France has survived her more than thousand years, and was for long the foremost race of Christendom. The whole world is her debtor in literature, science, and art. Her revolution gave to Europe the secularization of political society, the prerogative and potency of peoples, and the example of a peasant proprietorship in the soil. But, unhappily, the political fermentations of France are too much like her champagne, — made for foreign export, and not for use at home, and she has hitherto failed to give the world an assuring example of the combination of liberty with order, of private right with public duty, of individual independence with united sovereignty. Now, it is the proud pre-eminence of the United States that they have given the world that example ; and if a nation is to be estimated, not by its years, but by its services to mankind, and if the service is to be estimated by its value to the higher sphere of political science and the nobler sphere of human welfare, may not America, while owning her obligations to the past, feel that she has rendered`a just equivalent in the theory and example of a government administered by the will of the people, without hereditary or military power, by the national and spiritual influence of a constitution without physical force, by reverence for law without appeal to terror? In combining freedom with authority, in making religion absolutely free, in relying upon reason and conscience - "the sober second thought” of the people — for support, in balancing all the powers of government, and making the State but a function and an instrument of man, the United States have made a contribution to the ethics of political society that cannot be measured by length of years. The formulating of these principles dates from July 4, 1776; but the principles themselves, in the stuff and training of the American people, are older than Fehrbellin. “By their fruits ye shall know them."

First and most patent of the fruits of American life is the transformation of a vast, unexplored wilderness into the abode of civilized man. How extensive this conquest

of Nature has been, I have shown in the Fourth Lecture; but let me here summarize, that, on the Atlantic, the United States coast stretches from 25° to 47° north latitude, about 1,500 miles ; on the Gulf of Mexico, from 81° to 97° west longitude, about 1,100 miles; on the Pacific, from 33° to 49° north latitude, 1100 miles; to which is to be added Alaska, on the Arctic Ocean, and that its area in round numbers is 3,000 miles by 1,200, being a total of 3,603,886 square miles. “Its great divisions are (1) The eastern seaboard, and the Appalachian ranges which press so closely upon it: this is the commercial and manufacturing region. (2) The Great Central Valley, pre-eminently the agricultural region. (3) The pastoral, or the region of the plains. (4) The mining region, or the Cordilleras.” 1 This vast and diversified territory American enterprise has wrested from the wildness of Nature, and made available to mankind, and the greater part of it within the present century. To the superficial observer, this, indeed, may indicate nothing more than a material civilization; and Carlyle, of all men, was once betrayed into this superficiality. Twenty years ago he wrote, “ Brag not yet of our American cousins. Their quantity of cotton, dollars, industry, and resources, I believe to be almost unspeakable ; but I can by no means worship the like of these. What great human soul, what great thought, what great noble thing that one could worship or loyally admire, has yet been produced there? None: the American cousins have yet done none of these things. What have they done? They have doubled their population every twenty years. Carlyle then never read a page of that greater than

"2 Had

1 Gen. F. A. Walker.

2 Latter-Day Pamphlets: the Present Time. It is amusing, by the side of this, to read Macaulay's lament over the lack of “great human souls” and “great noble things” in England: “What a nerveless, milk-and-water set the young fellows of the present day are! declares that there is not in the whole House of Commons any stuff, under five and thirty, of which a junior lord of the treasury can be made. It is the same in literature, and, I imagine, at the bar. It is odd that the last twenty-five years, which have witnessed the greatest progress ever made in physical science, the greatest victories ever achieved by man over matter, should have produced hardly a volume that will be remembered in 1900, and should have seen the breed of great advocates and parliamentary orators become extinct among us.” Macaulay made this entry in his diary March 9, 1850. Yet Dickens and Carlyle were then at the height of their fame. But we know that Macaulay had no great opinion of Dickens; and he seems not to have taken the trouble to read Carlyle.


“human soul,” Jonathan Edwards? nor heard the story of the apostolic Eliot ? Had the names of Otis, Hancock, Sam Adams, George Washington, quite faded from the canvas of great souls? Had that “noble thing," — of the delicate and cultured Dr. Kane giving his fortune and his life to the search for Sir John Franklin, in answer to the cry of the wife who refused to be a widow,- had this, and the many like examples of self-sacrifice for science and humanitý, never met the eye of the worshipper of heroes ? Was there no greatness in the thought of Mills to compass the globe with Christian missions, nor heroism in the men and women who set out to do it? Was there nothing that one could " loyally admire" in the little bands of cultivated men who assumed the hardships of frontier life, that they might make the whole land Christian, and who did it? Or was there not enough of fight in such heroism to satisfy the worshipper of power ? Carlyle, indeed, predicted that America's battle was " yet to fight.” “ America, too, will have to strain its energies in quite other fashion than this; to crack its sinews, and all but break its heart, as the rest of us have had to do, in thousand-fold wrestle with the pythons and mud-demons, before it can become a habitation for the gods.” But when that day of agony did come, and the nation strained the thews of war, but would not “ break its heart” so long as it had a dollar or a life to give to the “ great thought,” the “noble thing? of holding a continent for law, order, government, constitutional freedom, then where was Mr. Carlyle? Because of his failure to discern the really potent forces in a civilization of which the axe, plough, and hammer.were but passing signs, he failed to fulfil his own promise to “wish America strength for her battle," and victory through her agony. But, having got on without help or hinderance from these “latter-day” prophecies, America gently covers their nakedness as she brings to the prophet her octogenarian crown, regretting only that he has not suffered her to twine with it those two most bright and lasting laurels, - love of liberty, and faith in man.

Nowhere is there more need of Carlyle's own protest against shams than in dealing with that sham philosophy that would estimate the civilization of a people by its


acres of industry and its millions of workers, and insist that this is simply material. Is there, then, nothing intellectual, nothing moral, nothing scientific, nothing heroic, in all this stir and push in our day, — this rivalry of English, Germans, Americans, for the exploration of Africa, and the introduction of civilization into the heart of that continent? Is the mastery of the wilds of Nature, and the taming of her wilder races, the opening the resources of a continent to the commerce of the world, the improving of rivers, the building of canals, railways, telegraphs, post-roads, — is all this to be rated as but material and mercenary? May there not be thought in it all, may there not even be heart in it all, for the highest good of man? What story of African exploration exhibits more of enduring heroism than was shown by Lewis and Clark, and by Frémont, as they forced their trackless way across the American continent to the Pacific? And where has science won worthier trophies than in the surveying expeditions of that vast interior?

It were most unjust to Germany, a most superficial estimate of her worth in history, to charge her with lack of enterprise or of humanitary zeal, because, shattered as she was by the Thirty-years' war, and surrounded by hostile fires, she concentrated her energies upon her internal development, — the construction of society, — with little thought of a world-mission. She did the work that was given her to do; and by the self-development in literature, science, and art, to which she was so much the more constrained by lack of opportunity for political and commercial expansion, she has fulfilled a mission to mankind, and fitted herself for one yet higher. To America was given the mission of redeeming a waste continent, — this to be accomplished first of all; but what she has done in subduing the elementary forces of Nature has been done at every step for the benefit of mankind. From first to last , hers was the march of a civilized people, of a Christian people, who planted as they went the institutions of constitutional freedom, and carried with them, or 'brought soon after in their train, the Bible, the school, the church, and the home. · All that they conquered for themselves they offered with open heart and hand to the whole world. It was hardly mercenary to provide a home for the

« 上一頁繼續 »