rageous is kept out. Poets, playwrights, priests, Princes of the Blood, brilliant wits, acrid quacks, men of learning, men of ignorance, rough men and men of exquisite manners, all are to be heard of in Grimm's letters, rejoicing in or contending for membership in this great club-not, indeed, of good fellowship or of actual achievement, but still a great club.

It would materialily lighten the burden of a dull existence in these islands were we justified in believing that our brand-new Academy which we owe to the courage of the reigning Sovereign, was likely to provide such excellent material for mirth, satire, and irony as has done, and indeed still does, its French exemplar. Who cannot picture before his eyes Renan, in evening dress, paying the customary morning call on the great Hugo to solicit his vote and interest on Renan's behalf for a vacant chair? The scholar and critic assumed a reverential attitude, and listened with an expression of mingled awe and admiration to the eloquent rhapsodies of the poet and novelist, contented to murmur in those incomparable, silky tones of his, at the end of each period: "Vous avez raison, Maître." The election of a French Academician has always been a great occasion for the exhibition of those humors which, if not the salt of life, are at least its pepper and mustard. ་

But a glance at the sombre language of the King's Charter is enough to dispel these bright hopes. Not a quip, and hardly an epigram, lurks within its gloomy folds. Its aim is the promotion of the study of moral and political sciences, including history, philosophy, law, politics and economics, archæology, and philology; and, if report be true, our new Academy owes its existence rather to a laudable desire to enable our savants to

share in certain public bequests open to European nations who possess Academies than to any strong faith in the intrinsic glory of such an institution.

Belles-lettres, those spacious fields of the lesser animosities, are rigorously excluded. Mr. Lecky is the only poet amongst the list of our Academicians; no novelist graces the board. Neither George Meredith nor Thomas Hardy has a fauteuil placed at his disposal. The absence of lawn sleeves is very noticeable, and from a picturesque point of view greatly to be deplored. Lawyers are there, but not a single judge. Bibliography-that great subject in these days-has no representative. The claims of primitive man and early religions are slenderly protected--perhaps an unworthy fear of bloodshed accounts for this. The Hegelians are there, but in no great force. Doctors Salmon and Fairbairn, par nobile fratrum, are not likely to quarrel over theology. An Irishman and a Scotchman can always be trusted to shake hands over the unrepresented body of "the predominant partner." Philology, as usual, carries the day. Fourteen of its professors will rule the roost. This is exactly what should be. The great world has long since given grammar the go-by. "Hoti's business" has been settled once for all in the opinion of the modern gabbler. Foolish world! How little it really knows about anything! These fourteen philologists administer a splendid snub to Mr. Carnegie and his millions, and to that American professor who sits at the tomb of the dead languages confidently awaiting the resurrection in Chicago of one greater than Homer.

Yet, forasmuch as Bacon has remarked "a few ostentatious feathers must be allowed;" and having regard to the fact that philologists, philosophers, archæologists, and historians, to


say nothing of theologians, whether of Irish or Scotch extraction, are not always good after-dinner speakers, the kind of man who is apt to be reported verbatim in the daily Press; and inasmuch as it is desirable that the public proceedings of a British Academy should attract at least as much notice as a Church Congress or the annual outing of the Incorporated Law Society, Lord Rosebery, Mr. Balfour and Mr. Morley have been added to the list of our famous specialists, and may be relied upon to secure the presence of the reporter.

Had belles-lettres been included the fun would have been fast and furious. Technology, philosophy, exact scholarship, original research lie outside the range of a well-read public. We are, then, not bookworms. Students we do not claim to be, save of life; but de gustibus we are all connoisseurs. In matters of taste we are our own masters. Have we not, through the happy medium of editors, always on the lookout, particularly during the autumn, for copy they need not pay for, our literary plebiscites? Can we not in the columns of the "Daily Telegraph," the "Academy," and the "British Weekly" vote in our thouands for the living authors who have most mightily affected us, and, indeed, made us what we are? Could we but have a monarch of really popular literary tastes, and the courage of his opinions, what an Academy would be within our reach! Instead of a few ostentatious feathers barely illuminating the gray plumage of the philologist, the archæologist and the philosopher, the whole assembly would be brighter and more gorgeous than the cockatoos and green parroquets who on fine, warm Sundays swing on their perches in the Regent's Park. And how these public favorites would hate each other!-though whether they would hate each other more than do

rival specialists we shall never know, for such an Academy as I have faintly adumbrated we shall never have.

The public has not yet been told how in future our Academicians are to be elected. To be already talking of vacancies is a little lacking in good feeling, but philosophers need no reminding that their immortality is but nominal. Vacancies, alas! must occur. Will the melancholy survivors themselves fill up the empty chair, and may we expect that the newcomer will pronounce an eulogium on his predecessor? I hope this latter custom will be observed-for it lends itself to ironical situations, and will cultivate a branch of humor in which we are very deficient. It will be boggled at first, but in a century or two we shall have caught the trick.

As to the elections, one thing is certain. If a philologist dies, and the sedentary habits of this class of Academician is likely to promote such a catastrophe, the thirteen still left will vote as one man for a philological successor, however much they may hate him. The archælogists will adopt the same tactics. The lawyers in the Academy, who are all historicallyminded gentlemen, may be relied upon to do their best to keep out the lawyer who has gained his experience by what Lord Coke called Aurea Praxis! The historians will also insist upon their numbers being kept up. The philosophers can hardly be trusted to vote solid for anything. To replace a theologian will always be a ticklish business. Prudence will here prevail. Professor Cheyne, I predict, will never be an Academician.

Will canvassing be allowed? I cannot fancy a political economist reciting his qualifications to Mr. Robinson Ellis in Trinity College, Oxford, or an aspiring Hegelian puffing his cloud of smoke into the visage of Sir Leslie Stephen in Hyde Park Gate. But the

practice should not be forbidden lightly and without consideration. The discipline would do good to all concerned.

In what precise ways the new Academy will determine to promote their special studies it would be impertinent even to surmise. It is not likely to encourage more prize essays or to crown books or pamphlets; yet its well-considered opinion, publicly expressed as to the merits of any book or learned contribution, would cerThe Speaker.

Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.-St. Mark v. 19.



It has been your wish, before returning to your homes, to enjoy the privilege of worshipping God in the Abbey Church of Westminster. In the name of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster I offer you a respectful welcome within these hallowed walls. This church is not like other sanctuaries. It is, as we said of it but the other day, "the Holy of Holies of the British race." Around it, as around no other English church or cathedral, have gathered during long ages the pride, the reverence, the affection, the devotion of England and the English-speaking world. There is no heart in the wide dominions of the King but thrills with a subtle indescribable emotion at the thought of Westminster Abbey.

This is an occasion of unique interest. Never before, I suppose, since the Abbey was, has such a congregation as this assembled for Divine worship in this place amidst the trappings and

tainly do good and reward merit and exertion. As to demerits, it is sure to be silent. "Condemned by the Academy" would be too good an advertisement.

1 Preached by the Canon in Residence, the Right Rev. Bishop Welldon, to the Colonial troops at the special service held in the

We live in "self-conscious" times, when nobody is great without knowing it. If we cannot be as splendid, we can at least be better organized than our forebears. Everybody wishes well to the New Academy. May it prove as useful a body, and have as proud a history, as the Royal Society! Augustine Birrell.

adornments of a Coronation. You are going home. Your present service to the Empire is accomplished. His Majesty the King has taken leave of you with grateful words. In a few days you will quit the shores of your ancestors. It will be well for you, and well for us, that your latest memory, as these shores slowly fade from your view, should be of the Abbey.

You are going home. I do not forget that it is your happy fortune to possess two homes. The Old Country is one home. Your own countries are another. I hope and believe that, while you have been in England, you have felt at home here. Whatever faults or failings are innate in the English people, they are generous, enthusiastic, and warmhearted; they are inspired to-day with an admiring appreciation of the loyalty which the Colonial troops in a critical hour have displayed to the Empire.

But you are going home to your own homes, far from each other and all alike far from Great Britain. You will go as representatives and missionaries of the Abbey. - EDITOR, "The Nineteenth Century and After."

high ideals which have been deeply and permanently impressed by recent events upon the hearts of all subjects of the King. I could almost envy you the opportunity of recounting the lessons of your varied experience. May I not utter the prayer that all you shall say of the things which you have heard and seen may be tinged with a deep consciousness of Divine Providence? May I not use of you, though with distant reverence, the words which the Saviour of the world spoke long ago at His parting from one upon whom He had conferred the blessing of His mercy: "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee"?

For you will have much to tell your friends when you go home. You will tell them of the Old Country and its interests and associations, its inspiring memories, its roots struck far down in the past, its hopes and aspirations for the future, its amplifying opportunities, above all its strong response to the strong devotion of its Colonies. You will tell them that it is their country as well as yours. It cannot but be that you will carry away with you after such a visit a quickened sentiment of Imperial responsibility. You have felt the thrill, the glow of Empire. You have realized the solemn national meaning of the Apostolic words "We are members one of another."

But as you look upon the Empire, spreading from land to land and from sea to sea, one question there is which must be borne in upon your minds; it is this-Will the Empire last? Will it go the way of other Empires, ancient and modern, which have risen and flourished, and then have decayed and died? Or does it hold within its womb the seed of permanency? I put the question, and I answer it in two sentences.

The Empire depends for its conservation upon the principles for which it

stands as a guarantee before the eyes of civilized humanity-upon justice and liberty and progress, upon the rights of every individual, upon the sense of public duty, upon true and pure relig. ion. It depends, too, upon the character of its citizens. There can be no great empire of small-minded men and women; there can be no noble empire of an ignoble people. But if character be, as it is, the strength of empire, then are we all divinely called to play a part in an imperial drama. We cannot all be rich or clever or distinguished; we cannot all achieve high triumphs; but there is no one of us-not the humblest or the poorest-who may not lay the offering of his personal self-restraint and self-devotion upon the altar of his country's honor. In this sense are we all the guardians of empire. Only, believe me, character is a thing not easily won; nor can it be easily preserved. It demands all the moral and spiritual resources which God in his mercy Vouchsafes to humankind. But it is the one indispensable quality of an imperial people; and I speak from the very depth of my soul when I say to you, in this holy place, you will never maintain empire without character, you will never maintain character without religion, you will never maintain religion without Christ.

You are going home-you will bear with you the solemn memories of war and peace. You will tell your friends when you get home what warfare is. You have seen it-some of you at least

in its grandeur and its terror. It is no child's play, the making or the keeping of empire. Far away on the South African veldt are graves that hold, and will ever hold, a place in your heart of hearts, and will tell you, as you shall tell them who may come after you, what the cost of empire is. You have seen war, and you have seen peace. To-day when the gallant generals of the Boer army are welcomed with a

generous admiration to England, you and I cannot forget the blessing of peace. It will, I hope, be in your power to tell your friends at home that peace, when it was attained at last, was received in England in a spirit worthy of an imperial people, with calmness, with dignity, with moderation, with a sensitive respect for the enemy whom we had conquered, with profound submission and devotion to Almighty God.

The Mother Country and her Colonies have been knit together by the bonds of war and of peace. They have consecrated their union by their joint participation in the crowning of the King. Never before in English history has a Coronation been so striking, so solemnizing as this. Never before has such an assemblage of men been convened from so many distant regions of the earth, over which one ensign floats, as for this august ceremonial. Never were known such abrupt impressive vicissitudes of hope, anticipation, anxiety, dismay, relief, and thanksgiving. It was natural perhaps that in this Abbey, of all places, the height of the dramatic contrast should be reached. Who that was present can forget the emotions of that hour? The last rehearsal of the music of the Coronation Service was in progress. The conductor stood yonder, above the organ-screen, his bâton in his hand, the orchestra around him, the numerous choir in the galleries on either hand. Suddenly came a messenger from Buckingham Palace with the news that the Coronation must be postponed. In a moment the scene was changed; we turned from praise to prayer; and they who just before had lifted the swelling anthem to Heaven, kneeling as they were, made supplication to God for the stricken life of the King.

Brethren, our prayers-the prayers of the nation and of the Empire-have been heard. God has given us the life of the King. But who can doubt that

an experience such as this has created a relation more personal and intimate than before between the King and the people who have prayed for his life?

Our hearts were subdued and sanctified: we thought less of man and more of God upon Coronation Day. It may be that that is the truer spirit of the Coronation. For the Coronation is not only the crowning of the King; it is also the hallowing of the Empire. It is the profession that we will exercise our national and Imperial responsibilities as in the presence of the Almighty Judge. It is the declaration that, wherever our Empire extends, we will not be ashamed of the high mission of the Gospel of Christ. For can any words be more solemn or sublime, or more expressive of our national destiny, than those in which the Archbishop addressed the King at the delivery of the orb: "When you see this orb set under the cross, remember that the whole world is subject to the power and empire of Christ our Redeemer"?

One last thought remains-one more theme of which I know you will tell your friends when you go home. It is the Abbey Church of Westminster. For this church belongs not to England only, but to the Empire; nor to the Empire only, but to the whole Anglo-Saxon


You cannot worship here without recalling some of the august memories enshrined in Westminster Abbey. Which shall I choose of them all ere my sermon closes? Behind the high altar lie the bones of Edward the Confessor, the founder of the Abbey. What reflections his name suggests of the passing away of an old civilization and an old religion, and of the merging of two hostile nationalities in one imperial people! There, or nearly there, stood the Conqueror William-trembling, if the story be true, for his crown and perhaps for his life; yet daring not to leave the Abbey, although the flames

« VorigeDoorgaan »