« VorigeDoorgaan »
the middle of black ruined Stoneheaps, of foolish unarchitectural Bishops, red tape Officials, idle Nell Gwyn Defenders of the Faith; and see whether he will ever raise a Paul's Cathedral out of all that, yea or no! Rough, rude, contradictory are all things and persons, from the mutinous masons and Irish hodmen, up to the idle Nell Gwyn Defenders, to blustering red tape Officials, foolish unarchitectural Bishops. All these things and persons are there, not for Christopher's sake and his cathedrals; they are there for their own sake mainly! Christopher will have to conquer and constrain all these, if he be able. All these are against him. Equitable Nature herself, who carries her mathematics and architectonics not on the face of her, but deep in the hidden heart of her-Nature herself is but partially for him; will be wholly against him, if he constrain her not ! His very money, where is it to come from? The pious munificence of England lies far scattered, distant, unable to speak, and say, “I am here ;"--must be spoken to before it can speak. Pious munificence, and all help, is so silent, invisible like the gods; impediment, contradictions manifold are so loud and near! O brave Sir Christopher, trust thou in those, notwithstanding, and front all these ; understand all these; by valiant påtience, noble effort, insight, by man's strength, vanquish and compel all these, and, on the whole, strike down victoriously the last topstone of that Paul's edifice ; thy monument for certain centuries, 'the stamp “ Great Man" impressed very legibly in Portland stone there !
Yes, all manner of work, and pious response from Men or Nature, is always what we call silent; cannot speak or come to light till it be seen, till it be spoken to. Every noble work is at first “impossible." In very truth, for every noble work the possibilities will lie diffused through Immensity, inarticulate, undiscoverable except to faith. Like Gideon thou shalt spread out thy fleece at the door of thy tent; see whether, under the wide arch of Heaven, there be any bounteous moisture, or
Thy heart and life-purpose shall be as a miraculous Gideon's fleece, spread out in silent appeal to Heaven; and from the kind Immensities, what from the poor unkind Localities and town and country Parishes there never could, blessed dew-moisture to suffice thee shall have fallen!
Work is of a religious nature: work is of a brave nature; which it is the aim of all religion to be. All work of man is as the swimmer's :" a waste ocean threatens to devour him; if he front it not bravely, it will
keep its word. By incessant wise defiance of it, lusty rebuke and buffet of it, behold how it loyally supports him, bears him as its conqueror along “ It is so,” says Goethe, “ with all things that man undertakes in this world.”
Brave Sea-captain, Norse Sea-king-Columbus, my hero, royalest Sea-king of all! it is no friendly environment this of thine, in the waste deep waters; around thee mutinous discouraged souls, behind thee disgrace and ruin, before thee the unpenetrated veil of night. Brother, these wild water-mountains, bounding from their deep bases (ten miles deep, I am told), are not entirely there on thy behalf ! Meseems they have other work than floating thee forward :—and the huge Winds, that sweep from Ursa Major to the Tropics and Equators, dancing their giant waltz through the kingdoms of Chaos and Immensity, they care little about filling rightly or filling wrongly the small shoulder-of-mutton sails in this cockle skiff of thine! Thou art not among articulate speaking friends, my brother; thou art among immeasurable dumb monsters, tumbling, howling wide as the world here. Secret, far off, invisible to all hearts but thine, there lies a help in them: see how thou wilt get at that. Patiently thou wilt wait till the mad South-wester spend itself, saving thyself by dexterous science of defence the while; valiantly, with swift decision, wilt thou strike in, when the favouring East, the Possible, springs up. Mutiny of men thou wilt sternly repress; weakness, despondency, thou wilt cheerily encourage: thou wilt swallow down complaint, unreason, weariness, weakness of others and thyself;—how much wilt thou swallow down! There shall be a depth of Silence in thee, deeper than this Sea, which is but ten miles deep; a Silence unsoundable; known to God only. Thou shalt be a great Man. Yes, my World-Soldier, thou of the world Marine-Servicethou wilt have to be greater than this tumultuous, unmeasured World here round thee is : thou, in thy strong soul, as with wrestler's arms, shalt embrace it, harness it down ; and make it bear thee on—to new Americas, or whither God wills!
Religion, I said ; for, properly speaking, all true Work is Religion: and whatsoever Religion is not Work may go and dwell among the Brahmins, Antinomians, Spinning Dervishes, or where it will; with me it shall have no harbour. Admirable was that of the old Monks, " Laborare est Orare, Work is Worship."
Older than all preached Gospels was this unpreached, inarticulate, but ineradicable, for-ever-enduring Gospel : Work, and therein have well-being. Man, Son of Earth and of Heaven, lies there not, in the innermost heart of thee, a Spirit of active Method, a Force for Work ; —and burns like a painfully smouldering fire, giving thee no rest till thou unfold it, till thou write it down in beneficent Facts around thee! What is immethodic, waste, thou shalt make methodic, regulated, arable; obedient and productive to thee. Wheresoever thou findest Disorder, there is thy eternal enemy; attack him swiftly, subdue him; make Order of him, the subject not of Chaos, but of Intelligence, Divinity and Thee! The thistle that grows in thy path, dig it out that a blade of useful grass, a drop of nourishing milk, may grow
there instead. The waste cotton-shrub, gather its waste white down, spin it, weave it; that, in place of idle litter, there may be folded webs, and the naked skin of man be covered.
But above all, where thou findest Ignorance, Stupidity, Brute-mindedness—attack it I say; smite it wisely, unweariedly, and rest not while thou livest and it lives; but smite, smite in the name of God! The Highest God, as I understand it, does audibly so command thee: still audibly, if thou have ears to hear. He, even He, with his unspoken voice, are fuller than any Sinai thunders, or syllabled speech of Whirlwinds; for the SILENCE of deep Eternities, of Worlds from beyond the morning-stars, does it not speak to thee? The unborn Ages; the old Graves, with their long-mouldering dust, the very tears that wetted it, now all dry—do not these speak to thee what ear hath not heard? The deep Death-kingdoms, the stars in their never resting courses, all Space and all Time, proclaim it to thee in continual silent admonition. Thou too, if ever man should, shalt work while it is called To-day. For the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.
All true Work is sacred ; in all true Work, were it but true handlabour, there is something of divineness. Labour, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven. Sweat of the brow; and up from that to sweat of the brain, sweat of the heart; which includes all Kepler calculations, Newton meditations, all Sciences, all spoken Epies, all acted Heroisms, Martyrdoms-up to that “Agony of bloody sweat," which all men have called divine! O brother, if this is not “worship,” then I say, the more pity for worship; for this is the noblest thing yet discovered under God's sky. Who art thou that complainest of thy life of toil? Complain not. Look up, my wearied brother; see thy fellow Workmen there, in God's Eternity; surviving there, they alone surviving : sacred Band of the Immortals, celestial Body-guard of the Empire of Mankind. Even in the weak Human Memory they survive so long, as saints, as heroes, as gods; they alone surviving ; peopling, they alone, the immeasured solitudes of Time! To thee Heaven, though severe, is not unkind; Heaven is kind—as a noble Mother; as that Spartan Mother, saying while she gave her son his shield, “With it, my son, or upon it!” Thou too shalt return home, in honour to thy far-distant Home, in honour; doubt it not—if in the battle thou keep thy shield! Thou, in the Eternities and deepest Death-kingdoms, art not an alien; thou every where art a denizen! Complain not; the very Spartans did not complain.
74.-MAY GAMES. We select a few passages from the elder poets that have reference to the great rural festival of May-day. The festival is bequeathed, as in mockery, to the chimney-sweeps. First comes Spenser, in his antique · Shepherd's Calendar :'
Palinode. Is not thilke the mery moneth of May,
Piers. For younkers, Palinode, such follies fitte,
Pal. Sicker this morowe, no lenger agoe,
my heart after the pype to daunce :
The Lady of the May is described by Browne, in his 'Britannia's Pastorals :?
As I have seen the lady of the May
His pains to fill their rural merriment. With such songs as these was the Lady and her band of happy revellers saluted :
With fragrant flowers we strew the way,