Puslapio vaizdai



fused with it, I should turn to his doctrine of gard to the present world, is man moving upprayer. There are many places in his poems ward or downward; is good stronger than where prayer is not explained, but simply jus- evil, or evil stronger than good; is life worth tified, as the highest activity of the human soul living, or is it a cheat and a failure? Secondly, and a real bond between God and man. In in regard to the future, is there any hope of these very lines on "The Higher Pantheism,” personal continuance beyond death? To both from which I have just quoted, there is a verse of these inquiries Tennyson gives an answer which can be interpreted only as the descrip- which is in harmony with the teachings of the tion of a personal intercourse between the Bible. divine and the human:

He finds the same difficulties in the continual Speak to Him thou for He hears, and Spirit with conflict between good and evil which are exSpirit can meet –

pressed in Job and Ecclesiastes. Indeed, so Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands high an authority as Professor E. H. Plumptre and feet.

has said that “the most suggestive of all com

mentaries” on the latter book are Tennyson's Of Enoch Arden, in the dreadful loneliness

poems “ The Vision of Sin," “ The Palace of of that rich island where he was cast away, it Art,” and “The Two Voices.” In the last of is said that

these he draws out in the form of a dialogue the Had not his poor heart

strife between hope and despair in the breast Spoken with That, which being everywhere of a man who has grown weary of life and yet Lets none, who speaks with Him, seem all alone, is not ready to embrace death. For, after all, Surely the man had died of solitude.

the sum of the reasons which the first voice When he comes back, after the weary years of urges in favor of suicide is that nothing is absence, to find his wife wedded to another worth very much, no man is of any real value and his home no longer his, it is by prayer that to the world, il n'y a pas d'homme necessaire, he obtains strength to keep his generous re- no effort produces any lasting result, all things solve to be silent and to bear the burden of are moving round and round in a tedious circle, his secret to the lonely end.

vanity of vanities,- if you are tired why not Edith, in the drama of “Harold,” when her depart from the play? The tempted manlast hope breaks and the shadow of gloom tempted to yield to the devil's own philosophy begins to darken over her, cries:

of pessimism uses all arguments to combat

the enemy, but in vain, or at least with only No help but prayer, A breath that fleets beyond this iron world,

half-success, until at last the night is worn And touches Him that made it.

away; he flings open his window and looks out

upon the Sabbath morn.
King Arthur, bidding farewell to the last of
his faithful knights, says to him:

The sweet church bells began to peal.
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer On to God's house the people prest:
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

Passing the place where each must rest,

Each entered like a welcome guest.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,

One walked between his wife and child,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

With measured footfall firm and mild,
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way

And now and then he gravely smiled.
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

The prudent partner of his blood But lest any one should say that these

Leaned on him, faithful, gentle, good, pas

Wearing the rose of womanhood. sages are merely dramatic, and that they do not express the personal faith of the poet, And in their double love secure, turn to the solemn invocation in which he has

The little maiden walked demure, struck the keynote of his greatest and most Pacing with downward eyelids pure. personal poem :

These three made unity so sweet
Strong Son of God, immortal Love.

My frozen heart began to beat,
It is the poet's own prayer. No man could

Remembering its ancient heat. have written it save one who believed that

I blest them, and they wandered on : God is Love, and that Love is incarnate in the

I spoke, but answer came there none: person of Jesus Christ.

The dull and bitter voice was gone. Next to the question of the reality of God comes the problem of human life and destiny. And then comes another voice whispering And this has a twofold aspect. First, in re- of a secret hope, and bidding the soul “ Rejoice! rejoice!” If we hear in the first part of has been made a watch-word by those who the poem the echo of the saddest book of the defend the doctrine of a second probation, Old Testament, do we not hear also in the and a sign to be spoken against by those who last part the tones of Him who said : " Let reject it. Into this controversy I have no denot your heart be troubled: ... in my sire to enter. Nor is it necessary; for, whatFather's house are many mansions: if it were ever the poet's expectation may be, there is not so, I would have told you”?

not a line in all his works that contradicts or There are many places in the poems of Ten- questions the teachings of Christ, nor even a nyson where he speaks with bitterness of the line that runs beyond the limit of human falsehood and evil that are in the world, the thought into the mysteries of the unknown corruptions of society, the downward tenden- and the unknowable. The wages of sin is cies in human nature. He is in no sense a death; the wages of virtue is to go on and rose-water optimist. But he is in the truest not to die. This is the truth which he teaches sense a meliorist. He doubts not that

on higher authority than his own. “The rest," Through the ages one increasing purpose runs,

as Hamlet says, “ is silence.” But what is the And the thoughts of men are widened with the pro- universal end of all these conflicts, these strugcess of the suns.

gles, these probations ? What the final result

of this strife between sin and virtue? What the He believes that good

consummation of oppugnancies and interworkWill be the final goal of ill.

ings ? The poet looks onward through the mists He rests his faith upon the uplifting power of and sees only God Christianity :

That God, which ever lives and loves, But I count the gray barbarian lower than the Chris- One God, one law, one element, tian child.

And one far-off divine event,

To which the whole creation moves. He hears the bells at midnight tolling the death of the old year, and he calls them to And if any one shall ask what this far-off divine Ring in the valiant man and free,

event will be, we may answer in the words of The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

St. Paul :
Ring out the darkness of the land,

“For he must reign, till he hath put all his
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
enemies under his feet. The last enemy

that In regard to the life beyond the grave, he shall be abolished is death. For, He put all asserts with new force and beauty the old faith things in subjection under his feet

. But when in a personal immortality. The dim concep- evident that he is excepted who did subject all

he saith, All things are put in subjection, it is tion of an unconscious survival through the things unto him. And when all things have influence of our thoughts and deeds,

which been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also of George Eliot has expressed in her poem of himself be subjected to him that did subject all “ The Choir Invisible,” Tennyson finds

things unto him, that God may be all in all." Is faith as vague as all unsweet : Eternal form shall still divide

And now, as we bring to a close this brief The eternal soul from all beside ;

study of a subject which I trust has proved And I shall know him when we meet.

larger than it promised at first to those who The Christian doctrine of a personal recogni- had never looked into it, what are our contion of friends in the other world has never clusions ? Or, if this word seem too exact and been more distinctly uttered than in these formal, what are our impressions in regard to words. It is not, indeed, supported by any the relations between Tennyson and the Bible ? metaphysical arguments; nor are we It seems to me that we cannot help seeing cerned thus to justify it. Our only purpose that the poet owes a large debt to the Christian now is to show —and after these verses who Scriptures, not only for their formative influcan doubt it?— that the poet has kept the faith ence upon his mind and for the purely literary which he learned in his father's house and at materialin the way of illustrations and allusions his mother's side.

which they have given him, but also, and more On many other points I fain would touch, particularly, for the creation of a moral atmosbut must forbear. There is one more, how- phere, a medium of thought and feeling, in ever, on which the orthodoxy of the poet has which he can speak freely and with assurance been questioned, and by some critics positively of sympathy to a very wide circle of readers. He denied. It is said that he has accepted the does not need to be always explaining and deteachings of Universalism. A phrase from “In fining. There is much that is taken for granted, Memoriam,"

much that goes without saying. What a world The larger hope,

of unspoken convictions lies behind such poems VOL. XXXVIII.- 68.


as “ Dora,” and “Enoch Arden.” Their beauty exercise an influence which is perhaps the more is not in themselves alone, but in the air that powerful because it is unconscious. The Bible breathes around them, in the light that falls is in continual danger of being desiccated by an upon them from the faith of centuries. Chris- exhaustive-and exhausting -scientific treattianity is something more than a system of doc- ment. When it comes to be regarded chiefly trines; it is a life, a tone, a spirit, a great as a compendium of exact statements of metacurrent of memories, beliefs, and hopes How- physical doctrine, the day of its life will be ing through millions of hearts. And he who over, and it will be ready for a place in the launches his words upon this current finds that museum of antiquities. It must be a power in they are carried with a strength beyond his literature if it is to be a force in society. For own, and freighted oftentimes with a meaning literature, as a wise critic has defined it, is just which he himself has not fully understood as “the best that has been thought and said in it flashed through him.

the world.” And if this is true, literature is But, on the other hand, we cannot help see- certain, not only to direct culture, but also to ing that the Bible gains a wider influence and mold conduct. a new power over men as it flows through the Is it possible then for wise and earnest men poet's mind

upon the world. Its narratives and to look with indifference upon the course of its teachings clothe themselves in modern forms what is often called, with a slighting accent, of speech and find entrance into many places mere belles lettres ? We might as well be carewhich otherwise were closed against them. I less about the air we breathe or the water we do not mean by this that poetry is better than drink. Malaria is no less fatal than pestilence. the Bible, but only that poetry lends wings The chief peril which threatens the permanence to Christian truth. People who would not of Christian faith and morals is none other than read a sermon will read a poem. And though the malaria of modern letters — an atmosphere its moral and religious teachings may be in- of dull, heavy, faithless materialism. Into this direct, though they may proceed by silent as- narcotic air the poetry of Tennyson blows like sumption rather than by formal assertion, they a pure wind from a loftier and serener height.

Henry van Dyke.



N the morning after my first visit brought us to our destination, and we were

to the political convicts of admitted to the house by Miss Armfeldt herthe free command I called self. In the searching light of a clear, cold, again at the little cabin of the winter morning, the little cabin, with its whiteArmfeldts, taking Mr. Frost washed log walls, plank floor, and curtainless with me. Major Potulof (Po'- windows, looked even more bare and cheerless

too-loft) was expected back than it had seemed to me when I first saw it. from Ust Kara (Oost Kah-rah') that night, Its poverty-stricken appearance, moreover, was and I knew his return would put a stop to emphasized, rather than relieved, by the presmy operations. It was important, therefore, ence, in the middle of the room, of a large, that I should make the best possible use of the rudely fashioned easel, upon which stood an twelve or fourteen hours of freedom that still unframed oil painting. There seemed to me remained to me. I did not expect to be able something strangely incongruous in this assoto conceal from the authorities, for any great ciation of art with penal servitude, this blendlength of time, my intercourse with the polit- ing of luxury with extreme destitution, and as ical convicts. I was well aware that it must, I returned Miss Armfeldt's greeting I could sooner or later, be discovered, and all that I not help looking inquiringly at the picture and hoped to do was to get as much information then at her, as if to ask, “How did you ever as possible before the inevitable interference happen to bring an oil painting to the mines should come. There was some risk, of course, of Kara ?” She understood my unspoken in visiting the houses of the free command query, and, turning the easel half around so openly by daylight; but we could not afford that I could see the picture, said : "I have to waste any time in inaction, and I had prom- been trying to make a portrait of my mother. ised Miss Armfeldt that I would return early She thinks that she must go back to Russia that forenoon is not prevented by some unfore- this year on account of her other children. seen complication or embarrassment.

Of course I shall never see her again,—she is A brisk walk of fifteen or twenty minutes too old and feeble to make another journey to Eastern Siberia, -and I want something to I came here to see for myself. I could not recall her face to me when she has gone out bear to think of Nathalie living alone in the of my life. I know that it is a bad portrait, midst of such horrors.” and I am almost ashamed to show it to you; "When did these things happen?" I inbut I wish to ask your help. I have only a quired. few colors, I cannot get any more, and perhaps “In 1882 and 1883," she replied. “In May, Mr. Frost may be able to suggest some way of 1882, eight prisoners made their escape, and using my scanty materials to better advantage.” after that the life of all the political convicts

I looked at the wretched, almost ghastly, was made so hard that they finally declared a portrait in silence, but with a heart full of hunger strike and starved themselves thirteen the deepest sympathy and pity. It bore a days." recognizable resemblance to the original, and While Mrs. Armfeldt and I were talking showed some signs of artistic talent and train- Victor Castiurin (Kass-tyoo'rin), Madame Koing; but the canvas was of the coarsest and lenkina (Ko-len'kin-ah), and two or three most unsuitable quality; the colors were raw other political convicts entered the room, Miss and crude; and it was apparent, at a glance, Armfeldt brought out the samovar and gave that the artist had vainly struggled with in- us all tea, and the conversation became superable difficulties growing out of a scanty general. I should be glad, if I had the requiand defective equipment. With the few tubes site space, to give the readers of THE CENTURY of raw color at her command she had found the same vivid and detailed account of life in it impossible to imitate the delicate tints of the Kara prisons that was given me at Miss living flesh, and the result of her loving labor Armfeldt's house that day; but six or eight was a portrait that Mr. Frost evidently re- hours' conversation cannot be put into a single garded with despair, and that seemed to me magazine article, and I must content myself, to be little more than a ghastly caricature. It for the present, with a brief narrative of my was pitiful to see how hard the daughter had personal experience, and a short outline sketch tried, with wholly inadequate means of execu- of the life of political convicts at the mines of tion, to make for herself a likeness of the Kara between the years 1880 and 1885. mother whom she was so soon to lose, and it I made my last call at the house of the Armwas even more pitiful to think that before the feldts on the afternoon of November 7, just close of another year the daughter would be left twenty-four hours after I first entered it. I alone at the mines with this coarse, staring, was well aware that the return of Major Potulof deathlike portrait as her only consolation. I that night would put a stop to my visits, and looked at the picture for a moment in silence, that, in all probability, I should never see these unable to think of any comment that would unfortunate people again; while they, knowing not seem cold or unsympathetic. Its defects that this was their last opportunity to talk with were glaring, but I could not bring myself to one who was going back to the civilized world criticize a work of love executed under such and would meet their relatives and friends, circumstances and in the face of such disheart- clung to me with an eagerness that was almost ening difficulties. Leaving Mr. Frost to ex- pathetic. I promised the Armfeldts that I amine Miss Armfeldt's scanty stock of brushes would call upon Count Leo Tolstoi and deand colors, I turned to Mrs. Armfeldt and scribe to him their life and circumstances, asked her how she had summoned up resolu- left my address with them so that they might tion enough, at her age, to undertake such a communicate with me should they ever have tremendous journey as that from St. Peters- an opportunity to write, and took letters from burg to the mines of Kara.

them to their relatives in European Russia. It "I could not help coming,” she said sim- may perhaps seem to the reader that in carrying ply. “God knows what they were doing to letters to and from political convicts in Siberia people here. Nathalie was beaten by soldiers I ran an unnecessary and unjustifiable risk, inwith the butt-ends of guns. Others were starving asmuch as the act was a penal offense, and if themselves to death. I could get only vague discovered would probably have led to our and alarming reports in St. Petersburg, and so arrest, to the confiscation of all our papers,

1 I kept this promise, and told Count Tolstoi all suffer from violence. I was told in Moscow that when that he seemed to care to hear with regard to the Madame Uspenskaya (Oo-spen'ska-ya), wife of one Armfeldts' situation. He manifested, however, a disin. of the political convicts at Kara, went to Count Tol. clination to listen to accounts of suffering among the stoi to solicit a contribution of money to be used in political convicts in Eastern Siberia; would not read ameliorating, as far as possible, the condition of politinanuscripts that I brought expressly to show him; icals at the mines, she met with a decided refusal.” The and said distinctly that while he felt sorry for many Count was not willing, apparently, to show even a of the politicals, he could not help them, and was benevolent and charitable sympathy with men and not at all in sympathy with their methods. They had women whose actions he wholly disapproved. resorted, he said, to violence, and they must expect to

and, at the very least, to our immediate ex- free command are not in prison; they are pulsion from the Empire under guard. I fully walking about the settlement in freedom. appreciated the danger, but, nevertheless, I Everybody else can talk to them; why cancould not refuse to take such letters. If you not I ?” were a political convict at the mines, and had “I received a telegram," he said gravely, a wife or a mother in European Russia to "from Governor Barabásh ” (the governor of whom you had not been allowed to write for the territory of the Trans-Baikal in which the years, and if I, an American traveler, should mines of Kara are situated), “saying that you come to you and ask you to put yourself in were not to be allowed to see the political my power and run the risk of recommittal to prison, and, of course, it was the governor's prison and leg-fetters by telling me all that I intention that you should not see the political wanted to know, and if I should then refuse to convicts." carry a letter to your mother or your wife, you “You did not tell me so," I replied. “If would think that I must be either very cowardly you had told me that you had received such or very hard-hearted. I could not refuse to do a telegram from the governor, it would have it. If they were willing to run the risk of writ- had great weight with me. I cannot remember ing such letters, I was willing to run the risk that you ever intimated to me that I could of carrying them. I always consented, and not visit the members of the free command." sometimes volunteered to take them, although “I did not know that you were thinking of I was perfectly well aware that they would such a thing,” he rejoined. “You said nothcause me many anxious hours.

ing about it. However,” he continued, after a Just before dark I bade the Armfeldts and moment's pause, “it is Captain Nikolin's affair; the other members of the free command good- he has the politicals in charge. All that I have bye, telling them that I should try to see to do is to warn you that you are acting impruthem once more, but that I feared it would dently and running a great risk.” be impossible. Major Potulof did not return I then explained to Major Potulof frankly until midnight, and I did not see him until the why I had said nothing to him about my innext morning. We met for the first time at tentions, and why I had taken advantage of breakfast. He greeted me courteously, but his absence to carry them into effect. If I had formally, omitting the customary handshake, said to him beforehand that I wished or inand I felt at once a change in the social at- tended to see the political convicts, he would mosphere. After bidding me good-morning, have been obliged either to approve or to dishe sat for ten or fifteen minutes looking mood- approve. If he had disapproved, I, as his ily into his tea-cup without speaking a word. guest, should have been in honor bound to I had anticipated this situation and had de- respect his wishes and authority; while, if he cided upon a course of action. I felt sincere had approved, he would have incurred a regard for Major Potulof, he had treated us responsibility for my illegal action that I did very kindly, I understood perfectly that I had not wish to throw upon him. I admitted placed him in an awkward and unpleasant knowledge of the fact that my intercourse with position, and I intended to deal with him the politicals would not have been permitted frankly and honestly. I therefore broke the if it had been foreseen, and told him that my silence by saying that, during his absence, I only reasons for making their acquaintance had made the acquaintance of the political secretly in the way I had were first, to avoid convicts of the free command.

interference, and secondly, to relieve him as far “Yes,” he said, without raising his eyes as possible from any suspicion of complicity. from his tea-cup, “I heard so; and,” he con- “Nobody now," I said, can accuse you of tinued, after a moment's pause, “it is my duty having had anything to do with it. You were to say you


you have acted very not here, and it is perfectly evident that I rashly."

waited for the opportunity that your absence " Why?" I inquired.

gave me.” My explanation seemed to mollify “Because," he replied, “the Government him a little, and his old cordial manner gradlooks with great suspicion upon foreigners who ually returned; but he warned me again that secretly make the acquaintance of the polit- secret intercourse with political convicts, if I ical convicts. It is not allowed, and you will continued it, would almost certainly get me get yourself into serious trouble.”

into trouble. “ But,” I said, “no one has ever told me An hour or two after breakfast I was surthat it was not allowed. I can hardly be sup- prised and a little startled by the sudden reposed, as a foreigner, to know that I have no appearance of Captain Nikolin, the gendarme right to speak to people who are practically commandant of the political prison. He deat liberty, and whom I am liable to meet any sired to see Major Potulof on business, and day in the village street. The members of the they were closeted together for half or three


[ocr errors]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »