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rate, if these ideals are not our own. It is always easy to see that others are in the wrong.
First of all, as to the money ideal. Though money may be very productive of good, the love of it is the root of all evil. As Dickens has very well said, and illustrated in the character of Ralph Nickleby, “Gold conjures up a mist about a man, more destructive of all his senses and dulling to his feelings than the fumes of charcoal.” And, even if it be not loved for its own sake, it is so easy, so common, to exaggerate its power. It is but little after all, comparatively speaking, that money can accomplish. It may buy for us dozens of houses, but it cannot make one of them a home. It may purchase for us hundreds of acquaintances, but it cannot give us a single friend. So that to spend one's days in struggling only or chiefly for money is, surely, to mistake the husk of life for the kernel.
With regard to the second case, even if it could be proved,—which it cannot,—that pleasure was the only thing worth living for, still a reckless indulgence in it would be the supremest madness. Such indulgence necessarily outwits itself. It is inevitably followed by a weary sense of satiety and disgust that no amount of enjoyment can ever afterwards dispel. Estimated from their own point of view, the lives of such men are failures. These men of pleasure are pre-eminently men of pain
“Who, by their own desire accomplished, bring
Their own grey hairs in sorrow to the grave.”
orthy only an told us just as our fri
It is scarcely necessary to say anything about the third case. To go through life taking everything just as it comes, avoiding as far as possible all thought, all effort, all excitement, all enthusiasm, all individuality,—this, as our friend the ambitious man told us just now, is an ideal worthy only of a vegetable.
And with regard to ambition itself, what shall we say ? It is a good thing in its way,-a very good thing. It has been called the last infirmity of noble minds. But it is not always an infirmity; it is oftener an inspiration. Without it human excellence would be much rarer than it is. Fame, however, as all who have enjoyed it testify, is never a sufficient recompense for the trouble expended in acquiring it. It is a useful motive, but a very poor reward.
" Ambition's temple never yet
Let in a well-contented guest;
MARS the sweet accents rest is won.'”
There is another ideal of life which is very commonly adopted just now, and that is the ideal of culture;—culture not in the sense of allround, complete development, but in the contracted sense of merely intellectual and ästhetic education. In the last eloquent chapter of his * Studies in the Renaissance,' Pater says: “Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or sea is choicer than the rest; some mood or passion of intellectual excitement is irresistibly attractive for us, and for that moment only. A counted number of pulses is given to us of a variegated life. We are all condemned to die. We have an interval, and then our place knows us no more. Our one chance is in getting into this interval as many pulsations as possible. Some spend it in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest in art and song.” But art and song, good though they be, do not satisfy the whole of our nature. We are something more than sensuous and ästhetic beings, and that something more is the crown and completion of our personality. The man with half his body paralysed is but half alive, and we are in a similar predicament if we destroy or ignore our spiritual nature. Nay, in a worse; for we are neglecting that part of our being which is of paramount importance. Sir! you may obtain all that can be got for money, you may secure all the pleasures of sense and of intellect, you may surround yourself with the most refined productions of art, you may extract all possible sweetness from friendship and from love, you may be the idol of society and the admiration of the world,—but if there is nothing more in your existence, it is incomplete and imperfect,—unworthy of being called life.
Mark me! I do not underrate the world's ordinary pleasures and pursuits. I only say that they are not everything. I do not say that all your thoughts and attention should be exclusively devoted to your character; that would be an impossibility. There are few worse men in the world than the lying hypocrites who profess to care for nothing but what they call their souls. You have a complex nature, and you must live a complex life. But I do say that the spiritual element of your being is the highest, and that the acquisition of a noble character should be your chief concern; for character can never perish. All else that you possess can be yours, at the best, for but a few years longer. “The things which are seen are temporal:”
" Love, fame, ambition, avarice, 'tis the same;
For all are meteors with a different name,
And death the sable smoke, where vanishes the flame.” Nay, this earth of ours, which seems the very emblem of permanence, is doomed to come to an end. That wonderful power of renewing her youth, which Nature now possesses, she will not retain for ever. The sweet beauty that is coming back again to her face in this genial springtide will some day depart never to return. Science teaches us most certainly that our earth cannot always remain what and where it is. There will come a time when—
“Like the baseless fabric of a vision,
We cannot reconcile ourselves to the thought of this universal dissolution. There are within us immortal longings. In the presence of this yearning for eternal life, which possibly on this Easter day, by the power of association, is more than usually strong,—in the presence of this yearning for immortality, how paltry seems our little span of three score years and ten. We feel constrained mournfully to exclaim, “What