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I felt how tender and sacred to our fathers were the haunts and homes of the mother-country, and how impossible it should be to separate lands so joined in common baptism. At that moment some smaller waves, more ambitious than the rest, as if they would carry the ocean at their backs, leaped up to overwhelm and sweep away the cliffs of England, but fell back in their own foam and spray, leaving nothing but the slime and weeds of the sea. So let it be, so shall it be, with the restless, fuming agitators, who, thinking to have the people at their backs, would dash either nation against the other. Let them sink back into their own spume, while we listen to the deep, everlasting harmony that rolls between. That ocean fills the awful chasm that else had divided us, and is now the highway of peace and good-will. In the fore-part of the century now closed, that ocean twice carried the fleets of England to desolate our coasts with war: but the last half of the century gave birth to the steamship, quickening the exchange of commerce and travel; and to the Atlantic cable, making the depths of the sea vital with thought and intelligence. May these be the augury of the new century! O England, mother of saints, mother of martyrs, mother of heroes, mother of scholars, poets, statesmen! England, mother of freedom and faith, of colonies and of nations ! — God keep thee ever in thy bright and glorious way! and keep us nobly by thy side, till this brave speech of ours, fast overmastering the languages of the world, shall teach the nations that the English tongue knows only words of truth and freedom, of right and love! Then come again the day we celebrate.
The friendly spirit in which this speech was reproduced in the leading journals of London, of the Provinces, and of Scotland, was a pleasant token of the extent to which old prejudices have given place to an enlightened liberality. But it was curious to notice how, in some quarters, the reviving of the American Declaration seemed to revive the antipathies of a century ago. As an example of this, I give the following editorial from “ The Sussex Daily News" of July 6: –
“With braying of trumpets, and booming of guns, the centenary of American independence has been kept. There have been great spectacles in Philadelphia, much dining and speechifying in London. A Dr. Thompson was particularly grandiloquent on this side of the Atlantic, and enlarged upon the Declaration of Independence with great unction. He said, - The American Declaration did not level any of these institutions, — the State, the Church, the School, - but it exalted man, through these and over these, to the point where he could use them all as his instruments for his service and culture. There was no radicalism in the Declaration, no communism, no atheism, but a wondrous humanism, glorified by the divine, — "all men are created equal."! No communism or atheism, certainly, but a good deal of inaccuracy. How any one who knows any thing of human life can say that all men are created equal passes our comprehension. The one great fact which strikes the most superficial observer, and which overwhelms the most thoughtful, is the enormous inequalities to be found among men born in the same land even, not to say those born in different lands. They are unequal in physical strength, in mental gifts, in the possession of wealth, in the number of friends, in all their surroundings. Even if we take the same class, the differences are enormous. They begin before birth : they continue till the last hour of life. The child of profligate, drunken parents, has not a thousandth part of the chances of a child whose parents are virtuous and sober. If we take different classes, the inequalities are still greater. It makes all the difference to a man in London whether he is born in one postal district or in another. The child who is registered in ‘W.' or -S.W.' has ten times the chances of one registered in ‘E.' or · N.E. A person of very ordinary capacity may rise to very high office in the state, as we may see at the present time, if only he happen to belong to the ruling families. On the other hand, one could almost weep to think of the number of men, with genius sufficient to have shaken the senate or to have founded our empire, who have died and made no sign, simply because they were born the sons of tradesmen or laboring-men. Mute, inglorious Miltons' and 'village Hampdens’ have passed from poetry into a proverb; so certain is it that great minds have passed away without making themselves known, simply for lack of opportunity. The waste of mental power is as great as the waste of seeds that are scattered by the winds over the earth, and perish on waste, stony places, or are trampled under foot on the dusty highway. If it be said that real genius will always find an opportunity, and make its way, we reply, that perhaps the most transcendent minds will; but, even then, much harder is the task where the surroundings are unfavorable. But there is no need to dwell upon such extreme cases. We must all know plenty of them in every-day life. We must all have seen, over and over again, men beginning the career of life on fairly equal terms, so far as abilities go: yet, because the external circumstances were propitious in the one case, and unfavorable in the other, the one has attained prosperity; the other has had to lament that all the voyage of his life is bound in shallows and in miseries. If it be said that the statement that all men are created equal' means simply
that they are born with equal rights, how will that console the child of sin and crime when he sees the child of luxury and virtue? The second has the right to place himself among the rulers of the land : what rights has the first, save to the work house and the jail? It is time that such blatant nonsense came to an end. All men are not created equal, either in mind, body, or estate. We may be perplexed and overwhelmed by the greatness of the inequalities, and we may try to shut our eyes to them ; but they exist none the less because we choose to go blindfold.”
Knowing the candor and courtesy of the English press, I sent a brief reply to this criticism, which was kindly published, without comment, in “ The Sussex Daily News” of July 29. I reprint that letter here, because its leading query remains unanswered; and the fact that no English statesman or philosopher would dare deny that government should impartially secure the equal birthright of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," shows how the doctrine of the Declaration has permeated English society.
TO THE EDITOR OF “THE Sussex Daily News.”
Sir, — In your issue of July 6, you did me the honor to make my speech at the American Centennial dinner in London the text for some just and excellent remarks, showing that “all men are not created equal, either in mind, body, or estate.” What you say is not only true in itself, but serves to illustrate the wisdom of the Declaration of Independence, and to fortify its position. I speak of the Declaration purely as a contribution to political ethics, and without reference to forms of government or the constitution of society.
The Declaration avoids the “blatant nonsense” that men are equal intellectually, socially, or politically; but it declares that “all men are created equal” in the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Speaking to those who were familiar with the document, I did not think it necessary to enlarge upon the “ self-evident truths” by which the Declaration defines and limits its affirmation of equality. I am persuaded, that, for the truth of history, you will lay before your readers this statement of the real doctrine of the Declaration ; and I beg you to inform me whether there is to-day in England a statesman or a philosopher who would deny that all men are created with an equal right to live, with an equal right to the free use of their powers in making the most of themselves and their existence, and an equal right to all the happiness they can lawfully pursue and attain.1 To-day these are commonplaces concerning man and government, that England accepts no less than the United States. But, as I said in London, that which marks the Declaration of Independence is, that then, for the first time in the political thought of the world, was formulated human personality as, by the will of God, the chief factor and concern of civil government.” This notion of equality is simply a question of fact in political science, I am, sir, with high respect, yours truly,
1 For the full import of this doctrine, and the exact meaning of equal. ity in the Declaration, the reader is referred to the second Lecture.
THE LINCOLN TOWER.
[Attached to Christ Church, in the Westminster-bridge Road, Lainbeth, London, is a fine stone tower, which was erected to commemorate Pres. Lincoln and the abolition of slavery in the United States. The cost of this tower was seven thousand pounds, of which one-half was raised in America by the Rev. Newman Hall, pastor of the church, during his visits in 1867 and 1873. On the morning of July 4, 1876, Christ Church, which is a perpetuation of Surrey Chapel, was dedicated with appropriate religious services; and, at the close of these, the Lincoln Tower, which from base to sumniit was decorated with the flags of England and the United States, was inaugurated by Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Bart. After this ceremony, cheers were given for the Centenary of American Independence, and in memory of Washington and Wilberforce, for each of whom a chamber in the tower is named. Adjoining the church, and forming with it an admirable architectural group, is Hawkstone Hall, a well-appointed building, to be used for those auxiliary social, benevolent, and reformatory meetings and works for which Surrey Chapel was famed. The services of dedication and inauguration were followed by a collation in Hawkstone Hall. At the inauguration of the Lincoln Tower, the following speech was macle in the name of American citizens interested in this international memorial.]
THE tower outside the building, no less than this inner
1 sanctuary, is consecrated to the glory of God; for, though it bears upon its front an honored human name, its spire points upward to “the Name that is above every name,” 6 of whom the whole family in heaven and earth, of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, is named. The name you have inscribed upon the tower is worthy of this association; for ABRAHAM LINCOLN shall stand in history as a synonyme of the Christian virtues, — truth, fidelity, honor, magnanimity, meekness, gentleness, patience, self-sacrifice, love to man, and faith in God; the man who bore the heaviest burdens and trials of his country and his fellows, who endured years of obloquy and hatred such as few have been called to suffer, but lived “ with firmness in the right as God gave him to see the right," and died “ with malice toward none, with charity for all.”