Images de page

criticism. For example, or for warning, many will think I might have made a better selection. I have aimed at variety of scene and character, for one thing. Some, like Xavier and Las Casas, I have chosen purposely, because their fame, popularly speaking, is far behind their merits. Others, like Napoleon and Gustavus Adolphus, represent great Epochs in Modern History; and the object of sketches like mine is, partly to instruct those who can read but little, but, yet more, to fix in the minds of youthful students some great central points, from which they will go on to knowledge that is fuller and deeper. My Missionary Heroes I have tried to select impartially from different sections of the Church of Christ, because the exhibition of the same exalted virtues by men partially divided, yet thoroughly one in the great matters of faith and practice, when engaged in a common work, contains a moral lesson of no mean value.

Bad men are sure to fill a large space in the world's History, because power is so often won by crime; and men, " of whom the world was not worthy'', have had scanty thanks, we know, from their own generation. But God “seeth not as man seeth,” and for all countries, and all times, there is but one infallible rule of right. If they, who are the hope of the coming age, shall be helped, by what I have written, to remember this, in forming their judgments on past events and illustrious men, I shall covet no more of fame, and shall think my labours well rewarded.

J. H. G. Tunbridge Wells,

Oct. 27th, 1857.

Sigh not the old heroic ages back;

The Heroes were but brave and earnest men; Do thou but hero-like pursue thy track;

Striving, not sighing, brings them back again.
The Hero's path is straight to do and say

God's words and work, in spite of toil and sbame;
Labours enough will meet thee on thy way,–
Do thou forsake it not to seek for them.”

Author of Tales and Sketches of Christian Life.

[blocks in formation]

We all know what is the popular notion of a hero. It is a man who defies danger, who loves the excitement of the battle field, whose genius attracts men to his standard, and shapes them to his purpose, till they will do and dare anything at his bidding,-one who chains victory to his car, as flatterers tell him, and sweeps away every opposing barrier, and has conquered provinces for his well-earned spoil. In fact, the grand cheat of history, as it is commonly written, is to exalt unduly men who have risen to greatness by wholesale massacre and plunder, and who have proved themselves, when they had their fill of the poor treasure for which they bartered faith and conscience, not wiser or better than the crowd, but only more skilled in wielding weapons of destruction, more self-possessed in the face of danger, more ready in that calculating faculty which enables the skilful tactician to move his

battalions like pieces on a chess-board. There is such a tremendous display of power in a victory fairly won, after two conflicting armies have tried their strength to the uttermost, that men seem to be enamoured of their own might. Spectators look on with eager interest, and are more ready to shout with the victor than to weep for the dead and dying; while the messenger, who conveys the tidings to posterity, almost naturally, falls into a strain which implies that there was something admirable and praiseworthy in the achievement, quite apart from any just cause, or any advantageous result.

And then, too, the world's greatest prizes have been won by successful warriors. Victories have purchased thrones; and it is no hard thing for the men who sit upon them to purchase flatterers. Chroniclers, writing for their own age or the next, are no severe moralists to reprove what has been done wrongfully ; more often they are like bards hired to sing the praises of those who have fought and won.

Their eulogies live when their masters are dead, awarding praise and censure according to rules which are perfectly bewildering to an honest mind. One generation grows up after another, and repeats the old tale in the old words, though written often in a style which amounts to a denial of the first principles of morality.

It is quite time the world was disabused of this cheat. We want correctives of many kinds; and History and Biography, if written as Christian

« PrécédentContinuer »