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and finally to become “ brethren ” to the whole Gentile world. The other influence has been the widening and quickening of intercourse, in modern times, between men of different countries, races, classes, and creeds. Increasing acquaintance has been erasing, one by one, the artificial bounds that cribbed their sympathies and their discernment of right. Thus justice, benevolence, charity, tolerance, honesty, magnanimity, have come to mean vastly more than they did in former times, not by anything newly found in the essence of them, but simply by the expanding of their application. It is that which has uprooted slavery, - even, at last, the enslavement of blackskinned by white-skinned races. It is that which slowly makes the instructed feel responsible for the ignorant, the fortunate for the unfortunate, the strong for the weak. It is that which is taking vindictiveness out of law, and ferocity out of war, and which will, in time, — not soon, but after some centuries, perhaps,-put tribunals in place of armies and substitute arbitration for war.
Neither of those influences, neither Christian teaching of human fellowship nor widened intercourse in the world, came speedily into effective operation. The voice of Christ was almost silenced for centuries by the din of theological disputes. His precepts were forgotten in the angry war of dogmas. Then, with the fall of the Roman Empire, there came a cloud of darkness over the world, in which men groped apart, and became strangers, and neighborhood and fellowship were lost, as much as they had been in the ancient days. Out of that long period of the Middle Ages there has come to us little that I discover of practical moralizing from the purest and most meditative minds; and the little that we do find is singularly limited in scope. Moral sentiment was absorbed in religious sentiment, and lost its distinctiveness. The Church had
become keeper of consciences; the standards of right were hidden in its confessionals; there was little thought of examining them. Even when the mediaval darkness begins to break, and there are monitory voices heard once more, from lips as pure and as noble as have ever spoken for righteousness, the monition is almost strictly a religious one; the appeal for right-doing is made to motives of piety, rather than to the obligation of Right, considered absolutely, in itself. We find it so in the deathbed admonitions that good St. Louis of France addressed to his son, as reported by the Sire de Joinville. We find it in the precepts ascribed to Thomas à Kempis, and in Wyclif's “ Short Rule of Life.” An exception to it is furnished by the great Jewish Rabbi of the Middle Ages, Moses Maimonides, whose injunctions to his son Abraham, contained in his last will, form a noble moral code. They make plain the needful showing, that rightness does not lie on the surface of conduct, but has a root that runs deep down into the heart of man and into the everlasting verity of things. They are full, too, of a profound practical wisdom. “ Accustom yourself," he says, “to good morals; for the nature of man dependeth upon habit, and habit taketh root in nature.” 66 There is no nobility like that of morality, and there is no inheritance like faithfulness." "Let not bill, witnesses, or possession, be stronger in your sight than a promise made by word of mouth, whether in public or in private. Refrain from and disdain all deep reserves, cunning subterfuges, tricky pretexts, sharp practices, and flaws and evasions."
After the Renaissance and the Reformation there came a great revival of attentiveness to the counselling of the young, in definite particulars of conduct and behavior, for their practical guidance through life. The literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is suddenly rich
in letters, and other forms of discourse, addressed to sons, or to youthful friends, or to the world at large, by thoughtful and notable men of the day, giving advice, point by point, on the courses to take in life, the aims to pursue, the principles to be governed by. The composition of sententious precepts and rules was also much in vogue, and much interest was evidently taken in them. To a great extent, the moralizing of that period was of the prudential kind, looking to success and smoothness in life, rather than to high spiritual motives and a fine self-culture. Even Shakespeare, when he framed the advice of Polonius to Laertes, exemplified the fashionable worldlywisdom of his age, in prudential maxims. It is only at the end that he puts a higher meaning into the old man's words, and makes him say:
“ This above all, - To thine own self be true;
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Of the moralists of that extraordinary age there are none who show a shrewder worldly-wisdom than Montaigne; but his was the wisdom of a profounder consideration of life, from the egoistic standpoint, than most of those who wrote of it had given. In that essay of Book III., in which he tells of his love of life, and how thoughtfully he cultivates it and makes the most of it, he says: 66 Others are sensible of the sweetness of contentment and of prosperity; I feel it, too, as well as they, but not as it slides and passes by; a man ought to study, taste, and ruminate upon it, to render worthy thanks to Him that grants it to us. I consult myself about a contentment; I do not skim, but sound it; and bend my reason, now grown perverse and ill-humored, to entertain it." In that we have contentment sublimated, and the enjoyment of life erected into both a science and an art. Elsewhere
in the same essay he says : “ The great and glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live to purpose; all other things, to reign, to lay up treasure, to build, are at the most but mere appendixes and little props.” Further: “Grandeur of soul consists, not so much in mounting and in proceeding forward, as in knowing how to govern and circumscribe itself. It takes everything for great that is enough ; and shows its height better in loving moderate than eminent things. There is nothing so handsome and lawful as well and duly to play the man ; nor science so hard as well to know how to live in this life.” And again: “Of the experience I have of myself, I find enough to make me wise, if I were but a good scholar. ... The life of Cæsar himself has no greater examples for us than our own.”
Lord Bacon is believed to have written, for the Earl of Essex, a letter of rare wisdom which was addressed, in the name of the latter, to the young Earl of Rutland. 6 Behavior,” his lordship is told, “ is but a garment, and it is easy to make a comely garment for a body that is itself well proportioned.” Hence, the essential matter is the shaping and cultivation of one's mind. The excellences of the mind are the same as those found in the physical body, namely, — health, strength, and beauty. By health of mind we are kept from things evil and base.
Strength of mind is that active power which maketh us to perform good things and great things.” Beauty of mind is shown in sweetness and gracefulness of behavior. As for the attaining of such an admirable condition of mind, the young man is pithily told that one “may mend his faults with as little labor as cover them.” It would not be easy to put more food for moral thinking into a dozen words.
Among the moralists of the next generation after Ba
con, the favorite, apparently, was Francis Quarles, whose “ Enchiridion," or manual of precepts, enjoyed an extraordinary popularity in its day. Many of its maxims are trite, and they carry a little too plainly the marks of an artful and conscious workmanship; but in some of them, on the other hand, so fine an expression is given to an old idea that it carries a new effect. I quote a few examples : --
“ Hath any wronged thee? be bravely revenged : slight it, and the work 's begun; forgive it, and 't is finished. He is below himself that is not above an injury.”
“ In the commission of evil, fear no man so much as thy own self. Another is but one witness against thee; thou art a thousand : another thou mayest avoid ; thyself thou canst not.”
“ Demean thyself more warily in thy study, than in the street. ... The multitude looks but upon thy actions ; thy conscience looks into them."
“If thou seest anything in thyself which may make thee proud, look a little further, and thou shalt find enough to humble thee."
“ If thou wouldst have a good servant, let thy servant find a wise master.”
One of the contemporaries of Quarles was Sir Thomas Browne, who wrote a “ Letter to a Friend” on subjects of conduct, and afterwards expanded it into a treatise on “ Christian Morals.” Like everything that came from that most delightful old physician, it is full of meat for meditation. “ Be substantially great in thyself,” he writes, “and more than thou appearest unto others, and let the world be deceived in thee as they are in the lights of heaven.”
“ When thou lookest upon the imperfections of others, allow one eye for what is laudable in them, and the bal