time to substitute other crops and industries to take its place. I think it is to be regretted that such an opportunity of testing the sincerity and power of the Chinese Government to effect the proposed end was lost. They were apparently ready to accept some arrangement of this nature ; but the Convention was not ratified by H.M.'s Government, and the whole matter slept and drifted for another ten years. But, finally, it is impossible that the British Government in India, or the Chinese in China, or both united, could put an end' to the consumption of opium, or its importation into the latter country; and if it were possible for the Indian Government to do so in India, under existing conditions it would be a folly, conferring benefit on neither race, and inflicting incalculable injury on the 250,000,000 of our Indian subjects by a loss of revenue, sufficient to shake the stability of the Government, and seriously affect its power of efficient administration. As to the question of transferring the production and manufacture into private hands, various alternatives have been suggested, and often considered; but the objections to all these are very serious if not insuperable. Sir G. Campbell may not be quite correct in saying that the Government monopoly is just the Gothenburg system-which some of our great towns would like to try with a view to restricting and controlling the production and sale of intoxicants for the benefit of the people, if the vested interests of the existing publicans did not bar the way; because, while the Government monopoly does tend to restrict the area of growth, it is not the object, but the increase of revenue.

I must conclude, although I could have wished to make this article more complete, and that space would have allowed me to go fully into the moral aspect of the question, which is deeply interesting. But I may at some future time be enabled to take up this part of the subject. All I can say now is to repeat in substance my evidence before the Special Committee of 1871, which will be found, in extenso, at page 283 of the printed evidence, to the effect that I distrusted the power of any restraining laws and decrees, and believed they must fail, because a craving for something of a stimulating, intoxicating, or narcotic character was universal ; and that there had been no country yet discovered, and no age of the world in which stimulants and narcotics of some kind or form had not been in use. They amount to more than fifty in number. They are in every possible form, and yet no race, savage or civilised, has ever failed to discover them, though sometimes by very recondite processes, by distillation and fermentation, but always with the same object and result. I also stated, as I do now, that, after a long residence among the Chinese, and with the evidence before me of whole nations and races like the Chinese, preserving great vigour and exceptional power of labour under the most trying conditions of climate, food and soil, I cannot adopt the conclusion that opium exercises no salutary

[ocr errors]

influence, and is simply noxious and destructive. I believe this is only true of those who take it to excess; that these are not the many, but the few, forming only a small percentage on the whole; and that as a cause of crime it is infinitely less dangerous than intoxicating liquors largely consumed in our own land. If any restrictive or prohibitory system could avail in preventing the frightful evils brought on by the abuse of spirituous and other liquors at home, I think it should have a fair trial here, before we attempt by forcible means to derange the whole administrative economy and habits of life of the populations of two great Asiatic Empires, respectively containing some 400,000,000 and 250,000,000 of the most industrious and easily governed people in the world. If we cannot succeed at home, we shall certainly not have better fortune in China.

I should be glad, in common with many others, if it were possible without aggravating the evil, and bringing new and worse agencies of mischief into play—that the Indian Government should be relieved of all participation in the growing, manufacturing and selling of the drug, which is not the proper function of a Government. By licences, passes, and export duties some distinguished Indian officials have held that a gradual process of transfer might be effected and this desirable end attained. It was on the supposition that such a power was in their hands that I urged some arrangement based upon successive limitation might be entered into with China with great advantage.

How far the allegations or convictions of the missionaries are well founded, or otherwise, as to the obstruction and prejudice created by the opium trade, and our active participation in it, I will not attempt to decide. I am bound to say, however, that, if time and space permitted, it would not be difficult to show that many other, if not more obvious and influential, causes are in operation, to account for the small degree of success which has attended their efforts to Christianise the Chinese population. And I will add that I do not believe, after a long residence in China, that the active and latent hostility of the literati and gentry,' who are generally the instigators of all outrages on the missions, or the official and ruling classes who are so supine, and the populace that supply the agents of violence, would be other than it is, or suffer any diminution, if there were no opium question to exercise its influence in heightening this prejudice or creating ill will against the foreign missionary.




During the twelve months since this College was last opened, many distinguished names in our English world of thought and literature have passed away. I do not know when so many great writers have died in such quick succession. There was first of all George Eliot, then Thomas Carlyle, then, after a brief interval, Lord Beaconsfield, and lastly Dean Stanley. It would be a difficult, but an interesting and curious, study to compare these several writers; and especially to estimate their respective relation to the spiritual movement of their times. For it is remarkable that they were all more or less, after their sort, spiritual teachers. They were, as one of them, , whose claims may be most questioned to the character we have assigned them, said, on a memorable occasion, on the side of the angels' in the great modern battle of mind versus matter, of Humanity versus the Cosmos. They were all, indeed, more or less theologiansthat is to say, writers who appreciated the great thoughts which Christianity had discharged into the world and which the Church has preserved through eighteen centuries. The personal relation which they themselves occupied to these thoughts is quite another question. Even if it be true that two of them only dealt with such thoughts to reject them ultimately, and to throw themselves into lines which cannot fairly be considered Christian-which many suppose to be quite opposed to any possible Christian theology-it is none the less true that they also started in their intellectual career from a Christian basis, while they were more or less proficient students of the history and thought of the Church ; and, further, that they never parted from those profound roots in the spiritual life of mankind which Christianity addresses, and of which, on the human side, it is the most perfect growth and development that the world has yet seen.

It may seem strange to some to mention in this connection the name of Mr. D’Israeli, latterly known as Lord Beaconsfield. But no one can be familiar with the writings of this remarkable man who

| This paper was delivered as an address at the opening of St. Mary's College, in the University of St. Andrews, November 16.

[ocr errors]

gave to politics a genius which all acknowledged in literature, without recognising the vein of religious thoughtfulness pervading them, and the evident idea he himself had that he had a mission to instruct our age in certain great spiritual truths which seemed to him too much forgotten. Whether his own estimate of these truths was either right or important is a subject beyond our present province.

Nor can I now speak, even for a moment, of Thomas Carlyle's position as a spiritual teacher. That he was such a teacher from first to last--that he carried with him through all his astonishing career a profound and even burdened sympathy with the spiritual perplexities and sorrows of his generation, and believed he was the voice of one crying to it in the wilderness to be saved—no one can doubt. Least of all are Scottish students, to whom many of his works have been a noble inspiration, likely to doubt this. It would not be difficult, indeed, to show that, with whatever substance of Christian truth Carlyle may have parted, he never parted with deep convictions implanted in his heart by a Christian father and mother in that Annandale home which he has so vividly pictured to us; nor even with certain intellectual reminiscences of his early training for the Scottish Church. The time has not come yet, especially in the view of recent unhappy disclosures, for judging this great man comprehensively as one of the teachers of his

age. Of George Eliot I would fain have spoken at large, having renewed my acquaintance with nearly all her writings during months of enforced leisure; not only with an increased admiration of her genius, if this were possible, but with intense interest in following out the flashes of her penetrating ethical insight, and her grand, if complicated and somewhat confused, aspirations. There is an elevation, even in moments of depressing suffering, in dwelling near the fountain of so much genius, ever ranging in its higher reaches on the confines of the higher world. Of no writer can it be more truly said that her aims were spiritual, whatever may have been her creed, or however she may have sometimes failed in realising her aims. The background of her intellectual thought may have been Positivist, and the mysteries of human life and character have unhappily overborne at times even such insight as hers into the sources of human action. But there is no Christian student but must be grateful for the touching and varied pictures which she has given in her earlier and better writings of the power and beauty of faith in the Unseen ; of Self-sacrifice; of Divine healing through suffering. I do not know, in modern literature, where any such combination of pictures is to be found in which the waste of human passion and the darkness of human suffering are more vividly confronted by a Divine Remedy, whatever she herself may have finally thought of that Remedy. The portraits of the Rev. Mr. Tryan, in Janet's Repentance; of Janet herself; of the girl-preacher Dinah, in Adam Bede; of Silas Marner; of the Rev. Mr. Lyon, in Felix Holt; and, above all, the great study of Savonarola, in Romola-all show with what a singular force this gifted woman had grasped the great truths of Evangelical theology, and

felt with her own heart the depths to which they are capable of moving humanity, and the impulses for good which lie within them. And never is her art so marvellous—never does it reach such an exquisite finish-as when she is dealing with embodiments of the spiritual life. Just as she ceased to touch this sacred ground, it may be said that her art lost its wings, and fell prone into those abysses of cynicism which disfigure her later writings.

In one respect the writings of George Eliot deserve special mention in this place. She is not only a great artist as Bunyan was, of the spiritual or Evangelical life of humanity; but she shows, over and over again, especially in that greatest work of her genius, taking it all in all-Romola-how deeply she had studied theology, and made herself conversant with its leading thoughts. Wherever we may find in modern literature contemptuous reference to theological science-and we have not far to seek to find traces of such a tone—we never find anything of the kind in the writings of George Eliot. And it is undoubtedly one of the notes of her genuine greatness of mind that she recognised so clearly as she did the significance of this sphere of speculation. Depend upon it, whatever may be the temporary reputation of certain names in our day who profess to ignore theology, or only speak of it with ignorant scorn, that such names will not prove really great in the history of human thought. Both they and their half-systems will disappear with the decadence of the materialistic era, which has called them forth and given them a transitory significance. The old philosophic adage remains as true now as ever— In nature there is nothing great but man; in man there is nothing great but mind'-and the higher poetry, art, science, and speculation which spring out of the recognition of the spiritual dignity of mind.

But I must turn to the immediate subject of our address. Of the great writers who have passed away during the past twelve months, there is none more interesting, and in some respects more significant, although others may have been more powerful, than Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. And yet perhaps no influential intellect of our time less touched that scientific sphere which has so enlarged its area as to seem to some to have become the only sphere of knowledge. It may be also admitted—no one would have more readily admitted it than himself—that Stanley had an imperfect sympathy with mere philosophical thinking in any form. He once said to me long ago, in speaking of the philosophical writings of Professor Ferrier, in which I was then greatly interested, and which still, after the lapse of a quarter of a century, have to many minds a rare value, that he could take no interest in speculations of the kind. The constitution of his

« VorigeDoorgaan »