The Story of the Innumerable Company, and Other Sketches
by David Starr Jordan
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At the foot of the hill in a broad curve flows the River Au Sable, small and clear and cold, and full of trout. It is not far above that the stream takes its rise in the dark Indian Pass, the only place in these mountains where the ice of winter lasts all summer long. The same ice on the one side sends forth the Au Sable, and on the other feeds the fountain head of the infant Hudson River.

In the little dooryard in front of the farmhouse is the historic spot where John Brown's body still lies moldering. There is not even a grave of his own. His bones lie with those of his father, and the short record of his life and death is crowded on the foot of his father's tombstone. Near by, in the little yard, lies a huge, wandering boulder, torn off years ago by the glaciers from the granite hills that hem in Indian Pass. The boulder is ten feet or more in diameter, large enough to make the farmhouse behind it seem small in comparison. On its upper surface, in letters two feet long, which can be read plainly for a mile away, is cut the simple name—


This is John Brown's grave, and the place, the boulder; and the inscription are alike fitting to the man he was.

Dust to dust; ashes to ashes; granite to granite; the last of the Puritans!

[1] Address before the California State Normal School, at San Jose, 1892.


"In London I saw two pictures. One was of a woman. You would not mistake it for any of the Greek goddesses. It had a splendor and majesty such as Phidias might have given to a woman Jupiter. But not terrible. The culmination of the awful beauty was in an expression of matchless compassion. If there had been other figures, they must have been suffering humanity at her feet.

"The other was also of a woman. Whose face it is hard to say. Not the Furies, not Lady Macbeth, not Catherine de Medici, not Phillip the Second, not Nero, not any face you have ever seen, but a gathering up from all the faces you have seen—the greatness, the splendor, the savagery, the greed, the pride, the hate, the mercilessness, into one colossal, terrifyingly Satanic woman-face. The first was clothed in a simple, soft, white robe; the other in a befitting tragic splendor, mostly blood-red. I looked from one to the other. What immeasurable distance between them! What single point have they in common? But as I look back and forth I seem to see a certain formal similarity. It grows upon me. I am incredulous. I am appalled. Then one touches me and whispers: 'They are the same. It is the Church.' In London I saw this—in the air."—WILLIAM LOWE BRYAN.

Four centuries ago began the great struggle for freedom of thought which has made our modern civilization possible. I wish here to give something of the story of a man who in his day was not the least in this conflict—a man who dared to think and act for himself when thought and act were costly—Ulrich von Hutten.

Near Frankfort-on-the-Main, on a sharp pinnacle of rock above the little railway station of Vollmerz, may still be found the scanty ruins of an old castle which played a brave part in German history before it was destroyed in the Thirty Years War.

In this castle of Steckelberg, in the year 1488, was born Ulrich von Hutten. He was the last of a long line of Huttens of Steckelberg, strong men who knew not fear, who had fought for the Emperor in all lands whither the imperial eagle had flown, and who, when the empire was at peace, had fought right merrily with their neighbors on all sides. Robber-knights they were, no doubt, some or all of them; but in those days all was fair in love and in war. And this line of warriors centered in Ulrich von Hutten, and with him it ended. "The wild kindred has gone out with this its greatest."

Ulrich was the eldest son, and bore his father's name. But he was not the son his father had dreamed of. Slender of figure, short of stature, and weak of limb, Ulrich seemed unworthy of his burly ancestry. The horse, the sword, and the lute were not for him. He tried hard to master them and to succeed in all things worthy of a knight. But he was strong only with his books. At last to his books his father consigned him, and, sorely disappointed, he sent Ulrich to the monastery of Fulda to be made a priest.

A wise man, Eitelwolf von Stein, became his friend, and pointed out to him a life braver than that of a priest, more noble than that of a knight, the life of a scholar. To Hutten's father Eitelwolf wrote: "Would you bury a genius like that in the cloister? He must be a man of letters." But the father had decided once for all. Ulrich must never return to Steckelberg unless he came back as a priest. And the son took his fate in his own hands, and fled from Fulda, to make his way as a scholar in a world in which scholarship received scanty recognition.

At the same time another young man whose history was to be interwoven with his own, Martin Luther, fled from the wickedness and deceit of this same world to the solitude of the monastery of Erfurth. By very different paths they came at last to work in the same cause, and their modes of action were not less different.

To the University of Cologne Hutten went, and with the students of that day he was trained in the mysteries of scholasticism, and in the Latin of the schoolmen and the priests. Wonderful problems they pondered over, and they used to write long arguments in Latin for or against propositions which came nowhere within the domain of fact. That scholarship stood related to reality, and that it must find its end and justification in action was no part of the philosophy of those times.

But Hutten and his friends cared little for scholastic puzzles and they gave themselves to the study of the beauties of Latin poetry and to the newly opened mine of the literature of Greece. They delighted in Virgil and Lucian, and still more in Homer and Aeschylus.

The Turks had conquered Constantinople, and the fall of the Greek Empire had driven many learned Greeks to the West of Europe. There some of the scholars received them with open arms, and eagerly learned from them to read Homer and Aristotle in the original tongue, and the New Testament also. Those who followed these studies came to be known as Humanists. But most of the universities and the monasteries in Germany looked upon this revival of Greek culture as pernicious and antichristian. Poetry they despised. The Latin Vulgate met their religious needs, and Greek was only another name for Paganism. The party name of Obscurantists ("Dunkelmaenner") was given to these, and this name has remained with them on the records of history.

In the letters of one of Hutten's comrades we find this confession of faith, which is interesting as expressing the feelings of young men of that time: "There is but one God, but he has many forms, and many names—Jupiter, Sol, Apollo, Moses, Christ, Luna, Ceres, Proserpine, Tellus, Mary. But be careful how you say that. One must disclose these things in secret, like Eleusinian mysteries. In matters of religion, you must use the cover of fables and riddles. You, with Jupiter's grace (that is, the grace of the best and greatest god), can despise the lesser gods in silence. When I say Jupiter, I mean Christ and the true God. The coat and the beard and the bones of Christ I worship not. I worship the living God, who wears no coat nor beard, and left no bones upon the earth."

Hutten wished to know the world, not from books only, but to see all cities and lands; to measure himself with other men; to rise above those less worthy. The danger of such a course seemed to him only the greater attraction. Content to him was laziness; love of home but a dog's delight in a warm fire. "I live," he said, "in no place rather than another; my home is everywhere."

So he tramped through Germany to the northward, and had but a sorry time. In his own mind he was a scholar, a poet, a knight of the noblest blood of Germany; to others he was a little sickly and forlorn vagrant. Never strong of body, he was stricken by a miserable disease which filled his life with a succession of attacks of fever. He was ship-wrecked on the Baltic Sea, sick and forlorn in Pomerania, and at last he was received in charity in the house of Henning Loetz, professor of law at Greifeswald.

This action has given Loetz's name immortality, for it is associated with the first of those fiery poems of Hutten which, in their way, are unique in literature. For Hutten was restless and proud, and was not to be content with bread and butter and a new suit of clothes. This independence was displeasing to the professor, who finally, in utter disgust, turned Hutten out of doors in midwinter. When the boy had tramped a while in storm and slush, two servants of Loetz overtook him on the road and robbed him of his money and clothing. In a wretched plight he reached a little inn in Rostock, in Mecklenberg. Here the professors in the university received him kindly, and made provision for his needs. Then he let loose the fury of his youthful anger on Loetz. As ever, his poetic genius rose with his wrath, and the more angry he became the greater was he as a poet.

Two volumes he published, ringing the changes of his contempt and hatred of Loetz, at the same time praising the virtues of those who had found in him a kindred spirit. A "knight of the order of poets," he styles himself, and to all Humanists, to the "fellow-feeling among free spirits" ("Gemeingeist unter freien Geistern") he appeals for sympathy in his struggle with Loetz.

He had, indeed, not found a foeman worthy of his steel, but he had shown what a finely tempered blade he bore. Foemen enough he found in later times, and his steel had need of all its sharpness and temper. And it never failed him to the last.

Meanwhile he wandered to Vienna, giving lectures there on the art of poetry. But poetry was abhorred by the schoolmen everywhere, and the students of the university were forbidden to attend his lectures. He then went to Italy. When he reached Pavia, he found the city in the midst of a siege, surrounded by a hostile French army. He fell ill of a fever, and giving himself up for dead, he composed the famous epitaph for himself, of which I give a rough translation:

Here, also be it said, a life of ill-fortune is ended; By evil pursued on the water; beset by wrong upon land. Here lie Hutten's bones; he, who had done nothing wrongful, Was wickedly robbed of his life by the sword in a Frenchman's hand. By Fate, decided that he should see unlucky days only; Decided that even these days could never be many or long; Hemmed in by danger and death, he forsook not serving the muses, And as well as he could, he rendered this service in song.

The Frenchman's sword did not rob him of his life. The Frenchman's hand took only his money, which was not much, and again sent him adrift. He now set his pen to writing epigrams on the Emperor, wherein Maximilian was compared to the eagle which should devour the frogs in the swamps of Venice. Meanwhile he enlisted as a common soldier in Maximilian's army.

In Italy, the abuses of the Papacy attracted his attention. Officials of the Church were then engaged in extending the demand for indulgences. The sale of pardons "straight from Rome, all hot," was becoming a scandal in Christendom. All this roused the wrath of Hutten, who attacked the Pope himself in his songs:

"Heaven now stands for a price to be peddled and sold, But what new folly is this, as though the fiat of Heaven Needed an earthly witness, an earthly warrant and seal!"

More prosperous times followed, and we find Hutten honored as a poet, living in the court of the Archbishop of Mainz. At this time a cousin, Hans Hutten, a young man of great courage and promise, was a knight in the service of Ulrich, Duke of Wurtemberg. He was a favorite of the Duke, and he and his young wife were the life of the Wuertemburg court. And Duke Ulrich once came to Hans and threw himself at his feet, begging that this wife, whom he loved, should be given over wholly to him. Hans Hutten answered the Duke like a man, and the Duke arose with murder in his heart. Afterward, when they were hunting in a wood, he stabbed Hans Hutten in the back with his sword.

All this came to the ear of Ulrich Hutten in Mainz. Love for his cousin, love for his name and family, love for freedom and truth, all urged him to avenge the murdered Hans. The wrongs the boy had suffered from the coarse-hearted Professor Loetz became as nothing beside this great crime against the Huttens and against manhood.

In all the history of invective, I know of nothing so fierce as Hutten's appeal against Duke Ulrich In five different pamphlets his crime was described to the German people, and all good men, from the Emperor down, were called on to help him in his struggle against the Duke of Wuertemberg.

"I envy you your fame, you murderer," he wrote. "A year will be named for you, and there shall be a day set off for you. Future generations shall read, for those who are born this year, that they were born in the year stained by the ineffaceable shame of Germany. You will come into the calendar, scoundrel. You will enrich history. Your deed is immortal, and you will be remembered in all future time. You have had your ambition, and you shall never be forgotten."

This struggle lasted long. Finally, after many appeals, the German nobles rose in arms and besieged Stuttgart, and Duke Ulrich was driven from the land he had disgraced.

Again Hutten visited Italy, this time by a partial reconciliation with his father, who would overlook his failure to become a priest if he would study law at Rome. At about this time Luther visited Rome. He came, at first, in a spirit of reverence; but, at last, he wrote: "Wenn es gibt eine Hoelle, Roma ist darauf gebant." ("If there is a hell, Rome is built on it.")

The impression on Hutten was scarcely less vivid. Little by little he began to see in the Pope of Rome a criminal greater that Professor Loetz, greater than Duke Ulrich, one who could devour not one cousin only, but the whole German people and nation. "For three hundred years," said he, "the Pope and the schoolmen have been covering the teachings of Christ with a mass of superstitious ceremonies and wicked books." These feelings were poured out in an appeal to the German rulers to shake off the yoke, and no longer send their money to "Simon of Rome."

Hutten's friends tried to quiet him. He was a man not of free thought only, but of free speech, and knew no concealment. Milder men in those times, as later Melancthon and Erasmus, were full of admiration of Hutten, and valued his skill and force. But they were afraid of him, and fearful always that the best of causes should be wrecked in his hands.

At this time, at the age of twenty-five, Hutten is described as a small, thin man, of homely features, with blonde hair and black beard. His pale face wore a severe, almost wild, expression. His speech was sharp, often terrible. Yet with those whom he loved and respected his voice had a frank and winning charm. He had but few friends, but they were fast ones. His personal character, so far as records go, was singularly pure, and not often in his writings does he strike a coarse or unclean note.

In these days, the two most learned men in Germany were Erasmus and Reuchlin. They were leaders of the Humanists, skilled in Greek, and even in the Hebrew tongue, and were called by Hutten "the two eyes of Germany." A Jew named Pfefferkorn, who had become converted to Christianity, was filled with an unholy zeal against his fellow-Jews who had not been converted. Among other things, he asked an edict from the Emperor that all Jewish books in Germany should be destroyed. Reuchlin was a Hebrew scholar. He had written a Hebrew grammar, and was learned in the Old Testament, as well as in the Talmud, and other deposits of the ancient lore of the rabbis. The Emperor referred Pfefferkorn's request to Reuchlin for his opinion. Reuchlin decided that there was no valid reason for the destruction of any of the ancient Jewish writings, and only of such modern ones as might be decided by competent scholars to be hostile to Christianity.

This enraged Pfefferkorn and his Obscurantist associates. Pamphlets were written denouncing Reuchlin, and these were duly answered. A general war of words between the Humanists and Obscurantists began, which, in time, came before the Pope and the Emperor. Reuchlin was regarded in those days as a man of unusual calmness and dignity. Next to Erasmus, he was the most learned scholar in Europe. He would never condescend in his controversies to the coarse terms used by his adversaries. We may learn something of the temper of the times by observing that, in a single pamphlet, as quoted by Strauss, the epithets that the dignified Reuchlin applies to Pfefferkorn are: "A poisonous beast," "a scarecrow," "a horror," "a mad dog," "a horse," "a mule," "a hog," "a fox," "a raging wolf," "a Syrian lion," "a Cerberus," "a fury of hell." In this matter Reuchlin was finally triumphant. This triumph was loudly celebrated by his friend Hutten in another poem, in which the Obscurantists were mercilessly attacked.

We have seen with Hutten's growth a gradual increase in the importance of those to whom he declared himself an enemy. He began as a boy with the obscure Professor Loetz. He ended with the Pope of Rome.

At this time Reuchlin published a volume called "Epistolae Clarorum Virorum" ("letters of illustrious men"). It was made up of letters written by the various learned men of Europe to Reuchlin, in sympathy with him in his struggle. The title of this work gave the keynote to a series of letters called "Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum" ("letters of obscure men")—that is, of Obscurantists.

These letters, written by different persons, but largely by Hutten, are the most remarkable of all satires of that time.

They are a series of imaginary epistles, supposed to be addressed by various Obscurantists to a poet named Ortuinus. They are written with consummate skill, in the degenerate Latin used by the priests in those days, and they are made to exhibit all the secret meanness, ignorance, and perversity of their supposed writers.

The first of these epistles of the "obscure men" were eagerly read: by their supposed associates, the Obscurantists. Here were men who felt as they felt, and who were not afraid to speak. The mendicant friars in England had a day of rejoicing, and a Dominican friar in Flanders bought all the copies of the letters he could find to present to his bishop.

But in time even the dullest began to feel the severity of the satire. The last of these letters formed the most telling blows ever dealt at the schoolmen by the men of learning. In one of the earlier letters we find this question, which may serve as a type of many others:

A man ate an egg in which a chicken was just beginning to form, ignorant of that fact, and forgetting that it was Friday. A friend consoles him by saying that a chicken in that stage counts for no more than worms in cheese or in cherries, and these can be eaten even in fasting-time. But the writer is not satisfied. Worms, he had been told by a physician, who was also a great naturalist, are reckoned as fishes, which one can eat on fast-days. But with all this, he fears that a young chicken may be really forbidden food, and he asks the help of the poet Ortuinus to a righteous decision.

Another person writes to Ortuinus: "There is a new book much talked of here, and, as you are a poet, you can do us a good service by telling us of it. A notary told me that this book is the wellspring of poetry, and that its author, one Homer, is the father of all poets. And he said there is another Homer in Greek. I said, 'What is the use of the Greek? the Latin is much better.' And I asked, 'What is contained in the book?' And he said it treats of certain people who are called Greeks, who carried on a war with some others called Trojans. And these Trojans had a great city, and those Greeks besieged it and stayed there ten years. And the Trojans came out and fought them till the whole plain was covered with blood and quite red. And they heard the noise in heaven, and one of them threw a stone which twelve men could not lift, and a horse began to talk and utter prophecies. But I can't believe that, because it seems impossible, and the book seems to me not to be authentic. I pray you give me your opinion."

Another relates the story of his visit to Reuchlin:

"When I came into his house, Reuchlin said, 'Welcome, bachelor; seat yourself.' And he had a pair of spectacles ('unum Brillum') on his nose, and a book before him curiously written, and I saw at once that it was neither in German nor Bohemian, nor yet in Latin. And I said to him, 'Respected Doctor, what do they call that book?' He answered, 'It is called the Greek Plutarch, and it treats of philosophy.' And I said, 'Read some of it, for it must contain wonderful things.' Then I saw a little book, newly printed, lying on the floor, and I said to him, 'Respected Doctor, what lies there?' He answered, 'It is a controversial book, which a friend in Cologne sent me lately. It is written against me. The theologians in Cologne have printed it, and they say that Johann Pfefferkorn wrote it.' And I said, 'What will you do about it? Will you not vindicate yourself?' And he answered, 'Certainly not. I have been vindicated long ago, and can spend no time on these follies. My eyes are too weak for me to waste their strength on matters which are not useful.'"

We next find Hutten high in the favor of the Emperor Maximilian, by whose order he was crowned poet-laureate of Germany. The wreath of laurel was woven by the fair hands of Constance Peutinger, who was called the handsomest girl in Germany, and with great ceremony she put this wreath on his head in the presence of the Emperor at Mainz.

Now, for the first time, Hutten seems to have thought seriously of marriage. He writes to a friend, Friedrich Fischer: "I am overcome with a longing for rest, that I may give myself to art. For this, I need a wife who shall take care of me. You know my ways. I cannot be alone, not even by night. In vain they talk to me of the pleasures of celibacy. To me it is loneliness and monotony. I was not born for that. I must have a being who can lead me from sorrows—yes, even from my graver studies; one with whom I can joke and play, and carry on light and happy conversations, that the sharpness of sorrow may be blunted and the heat of anger made mild. Give me a wife, dear Friedrich, and you know what kind of one I want. She must be young, pretty, well educated, serene, tender, patient. Money enough give her, but not too much. For riches I do not seek; and as for blood and birth, she is already noble to whom Hutten gives his hand."

A young woman—Cunigunde Glauburg—was found, and she seemed to meet all requirements. But the mother of the bride was not pleased with the arrangement. Hutten was a "dangerous man," she said, "a revolutionist." "I hope," said Hutten, "that when she comes to know me, and finds in me nothing restless, nothing mutinous, my studies full of humor and wit, that she will look more kindly on me." To a brother of Cunigunde he writes: "Hutten has not conquered many cities, like some of these iron-eaters, but through many lands has wandered with the fame of his name. He has not slain his thousands, like those, but may be none the less loved for that. He does not stalk about on yard-long shin-bones, nor does his gigantic figure frighten travelers; but in strength of spirit he yields to none. He does not glow with the splendor of beauty, but he dares flatter himself that his soul is worthy of love. He does not talk big nor swell himself with boasting, but simply, openly, honestly acts and speaks."

But all his wooing came to naught; another man wedded the fair Cunigunde, and the coming storm of Romish wrath left Hutten no opportunity to turn his attention elsewhere.

The old Pope was now dead, and one of the famous family of Medici, in Florence, had succeeded him as Leo the Tenth. Leo was kindly disposed toward the Humanist studies, and Hutten, as poet of the Humanists, addressed to him directly a remarkable appeal, which made the turning-point in his life, for it placed him openly among those who resisted the Pope.

Recounting to the new Pope Leo all the usurpations which in his judgment had been made, one by one, by his predecessors—all the robberies, impositions, and abuses of the Papacy, from the time of Constantine down—he appeals to Leo, as a wise man and a scholar, to restore stolen power and property, to correct all abuses, to abandon all temporal power, and become once more the simple Bishop of Rome. "For there can never be peace between the robber and the robbed till the stolen goods are returned."

Now, for the first time, the work of Luther came to Hutten's attention. The disturbances at Wittenberg were in the beginning treated by all as a mere squabble of the monks. To Leo the Tenth this discussion had no further interest than this: "Brother Martin," being a scholar, was most probably right. To Hutten, who cared nothing for doctrinal points, it had no significance; the more monkish strifes the better—"the sooner would the enemies eat each other up."

But now Hutten came to recognize in Luther the apostle of freedom of thought, and in that struggle of the Reformation he found a nobler cause than that of the Humanists—in Luther a greater than Reuchlin. And Hutten never did things by halves. He entered into the warfare heart and soul. In 1520 he published his "Roman Trinity," his gage of battle against Rome.

He now, like Luther, began to draw his inspiration, as well as his language, not from the classics, but from the New Testament. A new motto he took for himself, one which was henceforth ever on his lips, and which appears again and again in his later writings: "Jacta est alea" ("the die is cast"); or, in the stronger German, in which he more often gave it, "Ich hab's gewagt" ("I have dared it").

"Auf dasz ichs nit anheb umsunst Wolauf, wir haben Gottes Gunst; Wer wollt in solchem bleiben dheim? Ich hab's gewagt! das ist mein Reim!"

"Der niemand groessern Schaden bringt, Dann mir als noch die Sach gelingt Dahin mich Gott und Wahrheit bringt, Ich hab's gewagt."

"So breche ich hindurch, durch breche ich, oder ich falle, Kaempfend, nach dem ich einmal geworfen das Loos!"

(So break I through the ranks else I die fighting— Fighting, since once and forever the die I have cast!)

In this motto we have the keynote to his fiery and earnest nature. Convinced that a cause was right, he knew no bounds of caution or policy; he feared no prison or death. "I have dared it!"

"To all free men of Germany," he speaks. "Their tyranny will not last forever; unless all signs deceive me, their power is soon to fail—for already is the axe laid at the root of the tree, and that tree which bears not good fruit will be rooted out, and the vineyard of the Lord will be purified. That you shall not only hope, but soon see with your eyes. Meanwhile, be of good cheer, you men of Germany. Not weak, not untried, are your leaders in the struggle for freedom. Be not afraid, neither weaken in the midst of the battle, for broken at last is the strength of the enemy, for the cause is righteous, and the rage of tyranny is already at its height. Courage, and farewell! Long live freedom! I have dared it!" ("Lebe die Freiheit; ich hab's gewagt.")

Warnings and threats innumerable came to Hutten, from enemies who feared and hated, from friends who were fearful and trembling; but he never flinched: He had "dared it." The bull of excommunication which came from the Pope frightened him no more than it did Luther. But at last he was compelled to retire from the cities, and he took up his abode in the Castle of Ebernburg, with Franz von Sickingen.

Franz von Sickingen was one of the great nobles of Germany, and he ruled over a region in the bend of the Rhine between Worms and Bingen. His was one of the bravest characters of that time. A knight of the highest order, he became a disciple of Hutten and Luther, and on his help was the greatest reliance placed by the friends of the growing reform. His strong Castle of Ebernburg, on the hills above Bingen, was the refuge of all who were persecuted by the authorities. The "Inn of Righteousness" ("Herberge von Gerechtigkeit"), the Ebernburg was called by Hutten.

The Humanists who had stood with Hutten in the struggle between Reuchlin and Pfefferkorn saw with growing concern the gradual transfer of the field of battle from questions of literature to questions of religion. Reuchlin, growing old and weak, wrote a letter, disavowing any sympathy with the new uprisings against the time-honored authority of the Church. This letter came into Hutten's hands, and, with all his reverence for his old friend and master, he could not keep silence.

"Eternal Gods!" he writes. "What do I see? Have you sunk so deep in weakness and fear, O Reuchlin! that you cannot endure blame even for those who have fought for you in time of danger? Through such shameful subservience do you hope to reconcile those to whom, if you were a man, you would never give a friendly greeting, so badly have they treated you? Yet reconcile them; and if there is no other way, go to Rome and kiss the feet of Leo, and then write against us. Yet you shall see that, against your will, and against the will of all the godless courtesans, we shall shake off the shameful yoke, and free ourselves from slavery. I am ashamed that I have written so much for you—have done so much for you,—since when it comes to action you have made such a miserable exit from the ranks. From me shall you know henceforth that whether you fight in Luther's cause or throw yourself at the feet of the Bishop of Rome, I shall never trust you more." The poor old man, thus harassed on all sides, found no longer any rest or comfort in his studies. Worn-out in body, and broken in spirit, he soon died.

The great source of Luther's hold on Germany lay in his direct appeal to the common people. For this he translated the Bible into German—even now the noblest version of the Bible in existence. For in translating a work of inspiration the intuition of a man like Luther, as Bayard Taylor has said, counts for more than the combined scholarship of a hundred men learned in the Greek and Hebrew. "The clear insight of one prophet is better than the average judgment of forty-seven scribes." The German language was then struggling into existence, and scholars considered it beneath their notice. It was fixed for all time by Luther's Bible. Luther often spent a week on a single verse to find and fix the idiomatic German. "It is easy to plow when the field is cleared," he said. "We must not ask the letters of the Latin alphabet how to speak German, but the mother in the kitchen and the plowman in the field, that they may know that the Bible is speaking German, and speaking to them. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. No German peasant would understand that. We must make it plain to him. 'Wess das Herz voll ist, dess geht der Mund ueber.' ('Whose heart is full, his mouth runs over.')"

The same influence acted on Hutten. All his previous writings were in Latin, and were directed to scholars only. Henceforth he wrote the language of the Fatherland, and his appeals to the people were in language which the people could and did read. No Reformation ever came while only the learned and the noble were in the secret of it.

"Latein, ich vor geschrieben hab Das war ein jeden nicht bekannt; Jetzt schrei ich an das Vaterland, Teutsch Nation in ihrer Sprach Zu bringen diesen Dingen Rach."

("For Latin wrote I hitherto, Which common people did not know. Now cry I to the Fatherland, The German people, in their tongue, Redress to bring for all these wrongs.")

A song for the people he now wrote, the "New Song of Ulrich von Hutten," a song which stands with Luther's "Em feste Burg" in the history of the Reformation:

"Ich hab's gewagt mit Sinnen, Und trag des noch kein Reu, Mag ich nit dran gewinnen, Noch muss man spueren Treu.

"Darmit ich mein Mit eim allein, Wenn Man es wolt erkennen Dem Land zu gut Wiewol man thut Ein Pfaffenfeind mich nennen."

Part of this may be freely translated—

"With open eyes I have dared it; And cherish no regret, And though I fail to conquer, The Truth is with me yet."

Hutten's dream in these days was of a league of nobles, cities, and people, aided by the Emperor if possible, against the Emperor if necessary, which should by force of arms forever free Germany from the rule of the Pope. Luther had little faith in the power of force. "What Hutten wishes," he wrote to a friend, "you see. But I do not wish to strive for the Gospel with murder and violence. Through the power of the Word is the world subdued; through the Word the Church shall be preserved and freed. Even Antichrist shall be destroyed by the power of the Word."

Now came the Great Diet at Worms, whither Luther was called before the Emperor to answer for his heretical teachings, and before which he stood firm and undaunted, a noble figure which has been a turning-point in history. "Here I stand. I can do nothing else. God help me."

Hutten, on his sick-bed at Ebernburg, not far away, was full of wrath at the trial of Luther. "Away!" he shouted, "away from the clear fountains, ye filthy swine! Out of the sanctuary, ye accursed peddlers! Touch no longer the altar with your desecrating hands. What have ye to do with the alms of our fathers, which were given for the poor and the Church, and you spend for splendor, pomp, and foolery, while the children suffer for bread? See you not that the wind of Freedom[2] is blowing? On two men not much depends. Know that there are many Luthers, many Huttens here. Should either of us be destroyed, still greater is the danger that awaits you; for then, with those battling for freedom, the avengers of innocence will make common cause."

I have wished, in writing this little sketch, that I could have a novelist's privilege of bringing out my hero happily at the end. I have hitherto had the struggles of a man living before his time to relate; the voice of one crying in the wilderness. If this were a romance, I might tell how, with Hutten's entreaties and Luther's exhortations, and under the wise management of Franz von Sickingen, the people banded together against foreign foes and foreign domination, and German unity, German freedom, and religious liberty were forever established in the Fatherland. But, alas! the history does not run in that way; at least not till a hundred years of war had bathed the land in blood.

For Hutten henceforth I have only misery and failure to relate. The union of knights and cities resulted in a ruinous campaign of Franz von Sickingen against Treves. Sickingen's army was driven back by the Elector. His strong Castle of Landstuehl was besieged by the Catholic princes, and cannon was used in this siege for the first time in history. The walls of Landstuehl, twenty-five feet thick, were battered down, and Sickingen himself was killed by the falling of a beam. The war was over, and nothing worthy had been accomplished.

When Luther heard of the death of Sickingen, he wrote to a friend: "Yesterday I heard and read of Franz von Sickingen's true and sad history. God is a righteous but marvelous Judge. Sickingen's fall seems to me a verdict of the Lord, that strengthens me in the belief that the force of arms is to be kept far from matters of the Gospel."

Hutten was driven from the Ebernburg. He was offered a high place in the service of the King of France; but, as a true German, he refused it, and fled, penniless and sick, to Basle, in Switzerland.

Here the great Humanist, Erasmus, reigned supreme. Erasmus disavowed all sympathy with his former friend and fellow-student. He called Hutten a dangerous and turbulent man, and warned the Swiss against him. Erasmus had noticed, with horror, in those who had studied Greek, that the influence of Lutheranism was fatal to learning; that zeal for philology decreased as zeal for religion increased. Already Erasmus, like Reuchlin, was ranged on the side of the Pope. So, in letters and pamphlets, Erasmus attacked Hutten; and the poet was not slow in giving as good as he received. And this war between the Humanist and the Reformer gave great joy to the Obscurantists, who feared and hated them both.

"Humanism," says Strauss, "was broad-minded but faint-hearted, and in none is this better seen than in Erasmus. Luther was a narrower man, but his unvarying purpose, never looking to left nor right, was his strength. Humanism is the broad mirror-like Rhine at Bingen. It must grow narrower and wilder before it can break through the mountains to the sea."

Repulsed by Erasmus at Basle, Hutten fled to Muelhausen. Attacked by assassins there, he left at midnight for Zuerich, where he put himself under the protection of Ulrich Zwingli. In Zwingli, the purest, loftiest, and clearest of insight of all of the leaders of the Reformation, Hutten found a congenial spirit. His health was now utterly broken. To the famous Baths of Pfaffers he went, in hope of release from pain. But the modern bath-houses of Ragatz were not built in those days, and the daily descent by a rope from above into the dark and dismal chasm was too much for his feeble strength. Then Zwingli sent him to a kindly friend, the Pastor Hans Schnegg, who lived on the little Island of Ufnau, in the Lake of Zuerich. And here at Ufnau, worn out by his long, double conflict with the Pope and with disease, Ulrich von Hutten died in 1523, at the age of thirty-five. "He left behind him," wrote Zwingli, "nothing of worth. Books he had none; no money, and no property of any sort, except a pen."

What was the value of this short and troubled life? Three hundred years ago it was easy to answer with Erasmus and the rest—Nothing. Hutten had denounced the Pope, and the Pope had crushed him. He had stirred up noble men to battle for freedom, and they, too, had been destroyed. Franz von Sickingen was dead. The league of the cities and princes had faded away forever. Luther was hidden in the Wartburg, no one knew where, and scarcely a trace of the Reformation was left in Germany. Whatever Hutten had touched he had ruined. He had "dared it," and the force he had defied had crushed him in return.

But, looking back over these centuries, the life of Hutten rises into higher prominence. His writings were seed in good ground. At his death the Reformation seemed hopeless. Six years later, at the second Diet of Spires, half Germany signed the protest which made us Protestants. "It was Luther alone who said no at the Diet of Worms. It was princes and people, cities and churches, who said no at the Diet of Spires."

Hutten's dream of a United German people freed from the yoke of Rome was for three hundred years unrealized. For the Reformation sundered the German people and ruined the German Empire, and not till our day has German unity come to pass. But, as later reformers said, "It is better that Germany should be half German, than that it should be all Roman."

For the true meaning of this conflict does not lie in any question of church against church or creed against creed, nor that worship in cathedrals with altars and incense and rich ceremony should give way to the simpler forms of the Lutheran litany. The issue was that of the growth of man. The "right of private interpretation" is the recognition of personal individuality.

The death of Hutten was, after all, not untimely. He had done his work. His was the "voice of one crying in the wilderness." The head of John the Baptist lay on the charger before Jesus had fulfilled his mission. Arnold Winkelried, at Sempach, filled his body with Austrian spears before the Austrian phalanx was broken. John Brown fell at Harper's Ferry before a blow was struck against slavery. Ulrich von Hutten had set every man, woman, and child in Germany to thinking of his relations to the Lord and to the Pope. His mission was completed; and longer life for him, as Strauss has suggested, might have led to discord among the Reformers themselves.

For this lover of freedom was intolerant of intolerance. For fine points of doctrine he had only contempt. When the Lutherans began to treat as enemies all Reformers who did not with them subscribe to the Confession of Augsburg, Hutten's fiery pen would have repudiated this confession. For he fought for freedom of the spirit, not for the Lutheran confession.

Had he remained in Switzerland, he would have been still less in harmony with the prevailing conditions. Not long after, Zwingli was slain in the wretched battle of Kappel, and, after him, the Swiss Reformation passed under the control of John Calvin. There can be no doubt that the stern pietist of Geneva would have burned Ulrich von Hutten with as calm a conscience as he did Michael Servetus.

The idea of a united and uniform Church, whether Catholic, Lutheran, or Calvinist, had little attraction for Hutten. He was one of the first to realize that religion is individual, not collective. It is concerned with life, not with creeds or ceremonies. In the high sense, no man can follow or share the religion of another. His religion, whatever it may be, is his own. It is built up from his own thoughts and prayers and actions. It is the expression of his own ideals. Only forms can be transferred unchanged from man to man, from generation to generation; never realities. For whatever is real to a man becomes part of him and partakes of his growth, and is modified by his personality.

Hutten was buried where he died, on the little island of Ufnau, in the Lake of Zuerich, at the foot of the mighty Alps. And some of his old associates put over his grave a commemorative stone. Afterwards, the monks of the abbey of Einsiedein, in Schwytz came to the island and removed the stone, and obliterated all traces of the grave.

It was well that they did so; for now the whole green island of Ufnau is his alone, and it is his worthy sepulcher.

[1] For many of the details of the life of Hutten, and for most of the quotations from Hutten's writings given in this paper, the writer is indebted to the excellent memoir by David Friedrich Strauss, entitled "Ulrich von Hutten." (Fourth Edition: Bonn, 1878.) No attempt has been made to give here an account of Hutten's writings, only a few of the more noteworthy being mentioned.

[2] "Sehet ihr nicht dasz die Luft der Freiheit weht?"


In pleading for nature-study as a means of moral culture, I do not wish to make an overstatement, nor to claim for such study any occult or exclusive power. It is not for us to say, so much nature in the schools, so much virtue in the scholars. The character of the teacher is a factor which must always be counted in. But the best teacher is the one that comes nearest to nature, the one who is most effective in developing individual wisdom.

To seek knowledge is better than to have knowledge. Precepts of virtue are useless unless they are built into life. At birth, or before, "the gate of gifts is closed." It is the art of life, out of variant and contradictory materials passed down to us from our ancestors, to build up a coherent and effective individual character.

The essence of character-building lies in action. The chief value of nature-study in character-building is that, like life itself, it deals with realities. The experience of living is of itself a form of nature-study. One must in life make his own observations, frame his own inductions, and apply them in action as he goes along. The habit of finding out the best thing to do next, and then doing it, is the basis of character. A strong character is built up by doing, not by imitation, nor by feeling, nor by suggestion. Nature-study, if it be genuine, is essentially doing. This is the basis of its effectiveness as a moral agent. To deal with truth is necessary, if we are to know truth when we see it in action. To know truth precedes all sound morality. There is a great impulse to virtue in knowing something well. To know it well, is to come into direct contact with its facts or laws, to feel that its qualities and forces are inevitable. To do this is the essence of nature-study in all its forms.

The claim has been made that history treats of the actions of men, and that it therefore gives the student the basis of right conduct. But neither of these propositions is true. History treats of the records of the acts of men and nations. But it does not involve the action of the student himself. The men and women who act in history are not the boys and girls we are training. Their lives are developed through their own efforts, not by contemplation of the efforts of others. They work out their problem of action more surely by dissecting frogs or hatching butterflies than by what we tell them of Lycurgus or Joan of Arc. Their reason for virtuous action must lie in their own knowledge of what is right, not in the fact that Lincoln, or Washington, or William Tell, or some other half-mythical personage would have done so and so under like conditions.

The rocks and shells, the frogs and lilies always tell the absolute truth. Association with these, under right direction, will build up a habit of truthfulness, which the lying story of the cherry-tree is powerless to effect. If history is to be made an agency for moral training, it must become a nature-study. It must be the study of original documents. When it is pursued in this way it has the value of other nature-studies. But it is carried on under great limitations. Its manuscripts are scarce, while every leaf on the tree is an original document in botany. When a thousand are used, or used up, the archives of nature are just as full as ever.

From the intimate affinity with the problems of life, the problems of nature-study derive a large part of their value. Because life deals with realities, the visible agents of the overmastering fates, it is well that our children should study the real, rather than the conventional. Let them come in contact with the inevitable, instead of the "made-up," with laws and forces which can be traced in objects and forms actually before them, rather than with those which seem arbitrary or which remain inscrutable. To use concrete illustrations, there is a greater moral value in the study of magnets than in the distinction between shall and will, in the study of birds or rocks than in that of diacritical marks or postage-stamps, in the development of a frog than in the longer or the shorter catechism, in the study of things than in the study of abstractions. There is doubtless a law underlying abstractions and conventionalities, a law of catechisms, or postage-stamps, or grammatical solecisms, but it does not appear to the student. Its consideration does not strengthen his impression of inevitable truth. There is the greatest moral value, as well as intellectual value, in the independence that comes from knowing, and knowing that one knows and why he knows. This gives spinal column to character, which is not found in the flabby goodness of imitation or the hysteric virtue of suggestion. Knowing what is right, and why it is right, before doing it is the basis of greatness of character.

The nervous system of the animal or the man is essentially a device to make action effective and to keep it safe. The animal is a machine in action. Toward the end of motion all other mental processes tend. All functions of the brain, all forms of nerve impulse are modifications of the simple reflex action, the automatic transfer of sensations derived from external objects into movements of the body.

The sensory nerves furnish the animal or man all knowledge of the external world. The brain, sitting in absolute darkness, judges these sensations, and sends out corresponding impulses to action. The sensory nerves are the brain's sole teachers; the motor nerves, and through them the muscles, are the brain's only servants. The untrained brain learns its lessons poorly, and its commands are vacillating and ineffective. In like manner, the brain which has been misued [Transcriber's note: misused?], shows its defects in ill-chosen actions—the actions against which Nature protests through her scourge of misery. In this fact, that nerve alteration means ineffective action, lying brain, and lying nerves, rests the great argument for temperance, the great argument against all forms of nerve tampering, from the coffee habit to the cataleptic "revival of religion."

The senses are intensely practical in their relation to life. The processes of natural selection make and keep them so. Only those phases of reality which our ancestors could render into action are shown to us by our senses. If we can do nothing in any case, we know nothing about it. The senses tell us essential truth about rocks and trees, food and shelter, friends and enemies. They answer no problems in chemistry. They tell us nothing about atom or molecule. They give us no ultimate facts. Whatever is so small that we cannot handle it is too small to be seen. Whatever is too distant to be reached is not truthfully reported. The "X-rays" of light we cannot see, because our ancestors could not deal with them. The sun and stars, the clouds and the sky are not at all what they appear to be. The truthfulness of the senses fails as the square of the distance increases. Were it not so, we should be smothered by truth; we should be overwhelmed by the multiplicity of our own sensations, and truthful response in action would become impossible. Hyperaesthesia of any or all of the senses is a source of confusion, not of strength. It is essentially a phase of disease, and it shows itself in ineffectiveness, not in increased power.

Besides the actual sensations, the so-called realities, the brain retains also the sensations which have been, and which are not wholly lost. Memory-pictures crowd the mind, mingling with pictures which are brought in afresh by the senses. The force of suggestion causes the mental states or conditions of one person to repeat themselves in another. Abnormal conditions of the brain itself furnish another series of feelings with which the brain must deal. Moreover, the brain is charged with impulses to action passed on from generation to generation, surviving because they are useful. With all these arises the necessity for choice as a function of the mind. The mind must neglect or suppress all sensations which it cannot weave into action. The dog sees nothing that does not belong to its little world. The man in search of mushrooms "tramples down oak-trees in his walks." To select the sensations that concern us is the basis of the power of attention. The suppression of undesired actions is a function of the will. To find data for choice among the possible motor responses is a function of the intellect. Intellectual persistency is the essence of individual character.

As the conditions of life become more complex, it becomes necessary for action to be more carefully selected. Wisdom is the parent of virtue. Knowing what should be done logically precedes doing it. Good impulses and good intentions do not make action right or safe. In the long run, action is tested not by its motives, but by its results.

The child, when he comes into the world, has everything to learn. His nervous system is charged with tendencies to reaction and impulses to motion, which have their origin in survivals from ancestral experience. Exact knowledge, by which his own actions can be made exact, must come through his own experience. The experience of others must be expressed in terms of his own before it becomes wisdom. Wisdom, as I have elsewhere said, is knowing what it is best to do next. Virtue is doing it. Doing right becomes habit, if it is pursued long enough. It becomes a "second nature," or, we may say, a higher heredity. The formation of a higher heredity of wisdom and virtue, of knowing right and doing right, is the basis of character-building.

The moral character is based on knowing the best, choosing the best, and doing the best. It cannot be built up on imitation. By imitation, suggestion, and conventionality the masses are formed and controlled. To build up a man is a nobler process, demanding materials and methods of a higher order. The growth of man is the assertion of individuality. Only robust men can make history. Others may adorn it, disfigure it, or vulgarize it.

The first relation of the child to external things is expressed in this: What can I do with it? What is its relation to me? The sensation goes over into thought, the thought into action. Thus the impression of the object is built into the little universe of his mind. The object and the action it implies are closely associated. As more objects are apprehended, more complex relations arise, but the primal condition remains—What can I do with it? Sensation, thought, action—this is the natural sequence of each completed mental process. As volition passes over into action, so does science into art, knowledge into power, wisdom into virtue.

By the study of realities wisdom is built up. In the relations of objects he can touch and move, the child comes to find the limitations of his powers, the laws that govern phenomena, and to which his actions must be in obedience. So long as he deals with realities, these laws stand in their proper relation. "So simple, so natural, so true," says Agassiz. "This is the charm of dealing with Nature herself. She brings us back to absolute truth so often as we wander."

So long as a child is lead from one reality to another, never lost in words or in abstractions, so long this natural relation remains. What can I do with it? is the beginning of wisdom. What is it to me? is the basis of personal virtue.

While a child remains about the home of his boyhood, he knows which way is north and which is east. He does not need to orientate himself, because in his short trips he never loses his sense of space direction. But let him take a rapid journey in the cars or in the night, and he may find himself in strange relations. The sun no longer rises in the east, the sense of reality in directions is gone, and it is a painful effort for him to join the new impressions to the old. The process of orientation is a difficult one, and if facing the sunrise in the morning were a deed of necessity in his religion, this deed would not be accurately performed.

This homely illustration applies to the child. He is taken from his little world of realities, a world in which the sun rises in the east, the dogs bark, the grasshopper leaps, the water falls, and the relation of cause and effect appear plain and natural. In these simple relations moral laws become evident. "The burnt child dreads the fire," and this dread shows itself in action. The child learns what to do next, and to some extent does it. By practice in personal responsibility in little things, he can be led to wisdom in large ones. For the power to do great things in the moral world comes from doing the right in small things. It is not often that a man who knows that there is a right does the wrong. Men who do wrong are either ignorant that there is a right, or else they have failed in their orientation and look upon right as wrong. It is the clinching of good purposes with good actions that makes the man. This is the higher heredity that is not the gift of father or mother, but is the man's own work on himself.

The impression of realities is the basis of sound morals as well as of sound judgment. By adding near things to near, the child grows in knowledge. "Knowledge set in order" is science. Nature-study is the beginning of science. It is the science of the child. To the child training in methods of acquiring knowledge is more valuable than knowledge itself. In general, throughout life sound methods are more valuable than sound information. Self-direction is more important than innocence. The fool may be innocent. Only the sane and wise can be virtuous.

It is the function of science to find out the real nature of the universe. Its purpose is to eliminate the personal equation and the human equation in statements of truth. By methods of precision of thought and instruments of precision in observation, it seeks to make our knowledge of the small, the distant, the invisible, the mysterious as accurate as our knowledge of the common things men have handled for ages. It seeks to make our knowledge of common things exact and precise, that exactness and precision may be translated into action. The ultimate end of science, as well as its initial impulse, is the regulation of human conduct. To make right action possible and prevalent is the function of science. The "world as it is" is the province of science. In proportion as our actions conform to the conditions of the world as it is, do we find the world beautiful, glorious, divine. The truth of the "world as it is" must be the ultimate inspiration of art, poetry, and religion. The world as men have agreed to say it is, is quite another matter. The less our children hear of this, the less they will have to unlearn in their future development.

When a child is taken from nature to the schools, he is usually brought into an atmosphere of conventionality. Here he is not to do, but to imitate; not to see, nor to handle, nor to create, but to remember. He is, moreover, to remember not his own realities, but the written or spoken ideas of others. He is dragged through a wilderness of grammar, with thickets of diacritical marks, into the desert of metaphysics. He is taught to do right, not because right action is in the nature of things, the nature of himself and the things about him, but because he will be punished somehow if he does not.

He is given a medley of words without ideas. He is taught declensions and conjugations without number in his own and other tongues. He learns things easily by rote; so his teachers fill him with rote-learning. Hence, grammar and language have become stereotyped as teaching without a thought as to whether undigested words may be intellectual poison. And as the good heart depends on the good brain, undigested ideas become moral poison as well. No one can tell how much of the bad morals and worse manners of the conventional college boy of the past has been due to intellectual dyspepsia from undigested words.

In such manner the child is bound to lose his orientation as to the forces which surround him. If he does not recover it, he will spend his life in a world of unused fancies and realities. Nonsense will seem half truth, and his appreciation of truth will be vitiated by lack of clearness of definition—by its close relation to nonsense.

That this is no slight defect can be shown in every community. There is no intellectual craze so absurd as not to have a following among educated men and women. There is no scheme for the renovation of the social order so silly that educated men will not invest their money in it. There is no medical fraud so shameless that educated men will not give it their certificate. There is no nonsense so unscientific that men called educated will not accept it as science.

It should be a function of the schools to build up common sense. Folly should be crowded out of the schools. We have furnished costly lunatic asylums for its accommodation. That our schools are in a degree responsible for current follies, there can be no doubt. We have many teachers who have never seen a truth in their lives. There are many who have never felt the impact of an idea. There are many who have lost their own orientation in their youth, and who have never since been able to point out the sunrise to others. It is no extravagance of language to say that diacritical marks lead to the cocaine habit; nor that the ethics of metaphysics points the way to the Higher Foolishness. There are many links in the chain of decadence, but its finger-posts all point downward.

"Three roots bear up Dominion—Knowledge, Will, the third, Obedience." This statement, which Lowell applies to nations, belongs to the individual man as well. It is written in the structure of his brain—knowledge, volition, action,—and all three elements must be sound, if action is to be safe or effective.

But obedience must be active, not passive. The obedience of the lower animals is automatic, and therefore in its limits measurably perfect. Lack of obedience means the extinction of the race. Only the obedient survive, and hence comes about obedience to "sealed orders," obedience by reflex action, in which the will takes little part.

In the early stages of human development, the instincts of obedience were dominant. Great among these is the instinct of conventionality, by which each man follows the path others have found safe. The Church and the State, organizations of the strong, have assumed the direction of the weak. It has often resulted that the wiser this direction, the greater the weakness it was called on to control. The "sealed orders" of human institutions took the place of the automatism of instinct. Against "sealed orders" the individual man has been in constant protest. The "warfare of science" was part of this long struggle. The Reformation, the revival of learning, the growth of democracy, are all phases of this great conflict.

The function of democracy is not good government. If that were all, it would not deserve the efforts spent on it. Better government than any king or congress or democracy has yet given could be had in simpler and cheaper ways. The automatic scheme of competitive examinations would give us better rulers at half the present cost. Even an ordinary intelligence office, or "statesman's employment bureau," would serve us better than conventions and elections. But a people which could be ruled in that way, content to be governed well by forces outside itself, would not be worth the saving. But this is not the point at issue. Government too good, as well as too bad, may have a baneful influence on men. Its character is a secondary matter. The purpose of self-government is to intensify individual responsibility; to promote abortive attempts at wisdom, through which true wisdom may come at last. Democracy is nature-study on a grand scale. The republic is a huge laboratory of civics, a laboratory in which strange experiments are performed; but by which, as in other laboratories, wisdom may arise from experience, and having arisen, may work itself out into virtue.

"The oldest and best-endowed university in the world," Dr. Parkhurst tells us, "is Life itself. Problems tumble easily apart in the field that refuse to give up their secret in the study, or even in the closet. Reality is what educates us, and reality never comes so close to us, with all its powers of discipline, as when we encounter it in action. In books we find Truth in black and white; but in the rush of events we see Truth at work. It is only when Truth is busy and we are ourselves mixed up in its activities that we learn to know of how much we are capable, or even the power by which these capabilities can be made over into effect."

Mr. Wilbur F. Jackman has well said: "Children always start with imitation, and very few people ever get beyond it. The true moral act, however, is one performed in accordance with a known law that is just as natural as the law which determines which way a stone shall fall. The individual becomes moral in the highest sense when he chooses to obey this law by acting in accordance with it." Conventionality is not morality, and may co-exist with vice as well as with virtue. Obedience has little permanence unless it be intelligent obedience.

It is, of course, true that wrong information may lead sometimes to right action, as falsehood may secure obedience to a natural law which would otherwise have been violated. But in the long run men and nations pay dearly for every illusion they cherish. For every sick man healed at Denver or Lourdes, ten well men may be made sick. Faith cure and patent medicines feed on the same victim. For every Schlatter who is worshiped as a saint, some equally harmless lunatic will be stoned as a witch. This scientific age is beset by the non-science which its altruism has made safe. The development of the common sense of the people has given security to a vast horde of follies, which would be destroyed in the unchecked competition of life. It is the soundness of our age which has made what we call its decadence possible. It is the undercurrent of science which has given security to human life, a security which obtains for fools as well as for sages.

For protection against all these follies which so soon fall into vices, or decay into insanity, we must look to the schools. A sound recognition of cause and effect in human affairs is our best safeguard. The old common sense of the "un-high-schooled man," aided by instruments of precision, and directed by logic, must be carried over into the schools. Clear thinking and clean acting, we believe, are results of the study of nature. When men have made themselves wise, in the wisdom which may be completed in action, they have never failed to make themselves good. When men have become wise with the lore of others, the learning which ends in self, and does not spend itself in action, they have been neither virtuous nor happy. "Much learning is a weariness of the flesh." Thought without action ends in intense fatigue of soul, the disgust with all the "sorry scheme of things entire," which is the mark of the unwholesome and insane philosophy of Pessimism. This philosophy finds its condemnation in the fact that it has never yet been translated into pure and helpful life.

With our children, the study of words and abstractions alone may, in its degree, produce the same results. Nature-studies have long been valued as a "means of grace," because they arouse the enthusiasm, the love of work which belongs to open-eyed youth. The child blase with moral precepts and irregular conjugations turns with delight to the unrolling of ferns and the song of birds. There is a moral training in clearness and tangibility. An occult impulse to vice is hidden in all vagueness and in all teachings meant to be heard but not to be understood. Nature is never obscure, never occult, never esoteric. She must be questioned in earnest, else she will not reply. But to every serious question she returns a serious answer. "Simple, natural, and true" should make the impression of simplicity and truth. Truth and virtue are but opposite sides of the same shield. As leaves pass over into flowers, and flowers into fruit, so are wisdom, virtue, and happiness inseparably related.

[1] Read before the National Educational Association at Buffalo, New York, 1896.


Each man that lives is, in part, a slave, because he is a living being. This belongs to the definition of life itself. Each creature must bend its back to the lash of its environment. We imagine life without conditions—life free from the pressure of insensate things outside us or within. But such life is the dream of the philosopher. We have never known it. The records of the life we know are full of concessions to such pressure.

The vegetative part of life, that part which finds its expression in physical growth, and sustenance, and death, must always be slavery. The old primal hunger of the protoplasm rules over it all. Each of the myriad cells of which man is made must be fed and cared for. The perennial hunger of these cells he must stifle. This hunger began when life began. It will cease only when life ceases. It will last till the water of the sea is drained, the great lights are put out, and the useless earth is hung up empty in the archives of the universe.

This old hunger the individual man must each day meet and satisfy. He must do this for himself; else, in the long run, it will not be done. If others help feed him, he must feed others in return. This return is not charity nor sacrifice; it is simply exchange of work. It is the division of labor in servitude. Directly or indirectly, each must pay his debt of life. There are a few, as the world goes, who in luxury or pauperism have this debt paid for them by others. But there are not many of these fugitive slaves. The number will never be great; for the lineage of idleness is never long nor strong.

When this debt is paid, the slave becomes the man. Nature counts as men only those who are free. Freedom springs from within. No outside power can give it. Board and lodging on the earth once paid, a man's resources are his own. These he can give or hold. By the fullness of these is he measured. All acquisitions of man, Emerson tells us, "are victories of the good brain and brave heart; the world belongs to the energetic, belongs to the wise. It is in vain to make a paradise but for good men."

In the ancient lore of the Jews, so Rabbi Voorsanger tells us, it is written, "Serve the Lord, not as slaves hoping for reward, but as gods who will take no reward." The meaning of the old saying is this: Only the gods can serve.

Those who have nothing have nothing to give. He who serves as a slave serves himself only. That he hopes for a reward shows that to himself his service is really given. To serve the Lord, according to another old saying, is to help one's fellow-men. The Eternal asks not of mortals that they assist Him with His earth. The tough old world has been His for centuries of centuries before it came to be ours, and we can neither make it nor mar it. We were not consulted when its foundations were laid in the deep. The waves and the storms, the sunshine and the song of birds need not our aid. They will take care of themselves. Life is the only material that is plastic in our hand. Only man can be helped by man.

When they hung John Brown in Virginia, many said, you remember, that in resisting the Government he had thrown away his life, and would gain nothing for it. He could not, as Thoreau said at the time, get a vote of thanks or a pair of boots for his life. He could not get four-and-sixpence a day for being hung, take the year around. But he was not asking for a vote of thanks. It was not for the four-and-sixpence a day that he stood between brute force and its victims. It was to show men the nature of slavery. It was to help his fellow-citizens to read the story of their institutions in the light of history. "You can get more," Thoreau went on to say, "in your market [at Concord] for a quart of milk than you can for a quart of blood; but yours is not the market heroes carry their blood to." The blood of heroes is not sold by the quart. The great, strong, noble, and pure of this world, those who have made our race worthy to be called men, have not been paid by the day or by the quart; not by riches, nor fame, nor power, nor anything that man can give. Out of the fullness of their lives have they served the Lord. Out of the wealth of their resources have they helped their fellow-men.

The great man cannot be a self-seeker. The greatness of a Napoleon or an Alexander is the greatness of gluttony. It is slavery on a grand scale. What men have done for their own glory or aggrandizement has left no permanent impress. "I have carried out nothing," says the warrior, Sigurd Slembe. "I have not sown the least grain nor laid one stone upon another to witness that I have lived." Napoleon could have said as much, if, like Sigurd, he had stood "upon his own grave and heard the great bell ring." The tragedy of the Isle of St. Helena lay not in the failure of effort, but in the futility of the aim to which effort was directed. There was no tragedy of the Isle of Patmos.

What such men have torn down remains torn down. All this would soon have fallen of itself; for that which has life in it cannot be destroyed by force. But what such men have built has fallen when their hands have ceased to hold it up. The names history cherishes are those of men of another type. Only "a man too simply great to scheme for his proper self" is great enough to become a pillar of the ages.

It is part of the duty of higher education to build up ideals of noble freedom. It is not for help in the vegetative work of life that you go to college. You are just as good a slave without it. You can earn your board and lodging without the formality of culture. The training of the college will make your power for action greater, no doubt; but it will also magnify your needs. The debt of life a scholar has to pay is greater than that paid by the clown. And the higher sacrifice the scholar may be called upon to make grows with the increased fullness of his life. Greater needs go with greater power, and both mean greater opportunity for sacrifice.

In the days you have been with us you should have formed some ideals. You should have bound these ideals together with the chain of "well-spent yesterdays," the higher heredity which comes not from your ancestors, but which each man must build up for himself. You should have done something in the direction of the life of higher sacrifice, the life that from the fullness of its resources can have something to give.

Such sacrifice is not waste, but service; not spending, but accomplishing. Many men, and more women, spend their lives for others when others would have been better served if they had saved themselves. Mere giving is not service. "Charity that is irrational and impulsive giving, is a waste, whether of money or of life." "Charity creates half the misery she relieves; she cannot relieve half the misery she creates."

The men you meet as you leave these halls will not understand your ideals. They will not know that your life is not bound up in the present, but has something to ask or to give for the future. Till they understand you they will not yield you their sympathies. They may jeer at you because the whip they respond to leaves no mark upon you. They will try to buy you, because the Devil has always bid high for the lives of young men with ideals. A man in his market stands always above par. Slaves are his stock in trade. If a man of power can be had for base purposes, he can be sure of an immediate reward. You can sell your blood for its weight in milk, or for its weight in gold—whatever you choose,—if you are willing to put it up for sale. You can sell your will for the kingdoms of the earth; and you will see, or seem to see, many of your associates making just such bargains. But in this be not deceived. No young man worthy of anything else ever sold himself to the Devil. These are dummy sales. The Devil puts his own up at auction in hope of catching others. If you fall into his hands, you had not far to fall. You were already ripe for his clutches.

When a man steps forth from the college, he is tested once for all. It takes but a year or two to prove his mettle. In the college high ideals prevail, and the intellectual life is taken as a matter of course. In the world outside it appears otherwise, though the conditions of success are in fact just the same. It is not true, though it seems so, that the common life is a game of "grasping and griping, with a whine for mercy at the end of it." It is your own fault if you find it so. It is not true that the whole of man is occupied, with the effort "to live just asking but to live, to live just begging but to be." The world of thought and the world of action are one in nature. In both truth and love are strength, and folly and selfishness are weakness. There is no confusion of right and wrong in the mind of the Fates. It is only in our poor bewildered slave intellects that evil passes for power. All about us in the press of life are real men, "whose fame is not bought nor sold at the stroke of a politician's pen." Such are the men in whose guidance the currents of history flow.

The lesson of values in life it should be yours to teach, because it should be yours to know and to act. Men are better than they seem, and the hidden virtues of life appear when men have learned how to translate them into action. Men grasp and hoard material things because in their poverty of soul they know of nothing else to do. It is lack of training and lack of imagination, rather than total depravity, which gives our social life its sordid aspect. When a plant has learned the secret of flowers and fruit, it no longer goes on adding meaningless leaf on leaf. And as "flowers are only colored leaves, fruits only ripe ones," so are the virtues only perfected and ripened forms of those impulses which show themselves as vices.

It is your relation to the overflow of power that determines the manner of man you are. Slave or god, it is for you to choose. Slave or god, it is for you to will. It is for such choice that will is developed. Say what we may about the limitations of the life of man, they are largely self-limitations. Hemmed in is human life by the force of the Fates; but the will of man is one of the Fates, and can take its place by the side of the rest of them. The man who can will is a factor in the universe. Only the man who can will can serve the Lord at all, and by the same token, hoping for no reward.

Likewise is love a factor in the universe. Power is not strength of body or mind alone. One who is poor in all else, may be rich in sympathy and responsiveness. "They also serve who only stand and wait."

In a recent number of The Dial, Mr. W. P. Reeves tells us the tale, half-humorous, half-allegorical, of the decadence of a scholar. According to this story, one Thomson was a college graduate, full of high notions of the significance of life and the duties and privileges of the scholar. With these ideals he went to Germany, that he might strengthen them and use them for the benefit of his fellow-men. He spent some years in Germany, filling his mind with all that German philosophy could give. Then he came home, to turn his philosophy into action. To do this, he sought a college professorship.

This he found it was not easy to secure. Nobody cared for him or his message. The authority of "wise and sober Germany" was not recognized in the institutions of America, and he found that college professorships were no longer "plums to be picked" by whomsoever should ask for them. The reverence the German professor commands is unknown in America. In Germany, the authority of wise men is supreme. Their words, when they speak, are heard with reverence and attention. In America, wisdom is not wisdom till the common man has examined it and pronounced it to be such. The conclusions of the scholar are revised by the daily newspaper. The readers of these papers care little for messages from Utopia.

No college opened its doors to Thomson, and he saw with dismay that the life before him was one of discomfort and insignificance, his ideals having no exchangeable value in luxuries or comforts. Meanwhile, Thomson's early associates seemed to get on somehow. The world wanted their cheap achievements, though it did not care for him.

Among these associates was one Wilcox, who became a politician, and, though small in abilities and poor in virtues, his influence among men seemed to be unbounded. The young woman who had felt an interest in Thomson's development, and to whom he had read his rejected verses and his uncalled-for philosophy, had joined herself to the Philistines, and yielded to their influence. She had become Wilcox's wife. His friends regarded Thomson's failure as a joke. He must not take himself too seriously, they said. A man should be in touch with his times. "Even Philistia," one said, "has its aesthetic ritual and pageantry." A wise man will not despise this ritual, because Philistinism, after all, is the life of the world.

But Thomson held out. "I pledged my word in Germany," he said, "to teach nothing that I did not believe to be true. I must live up to this pledge." And so he sought for positions, and he failed to find them. Finally, he had a message from a friend that a professorship in a certain institution was vacant. This message said, "Cultivate Wilcox." So, in despair, Thomson began to cultivate Wilcox. He began to feel that Wilcox was a type of the world, a bad world, for which he was not responsible. The world's servant he must be, if he received its wages. When he secured the coveted appointment, through the political pull of Wilcox and the mild kindness of Mrs. Wilcox, he was ready to teach whatever was wanted of him, whether it was truth in Germany or not. He found that he could change his notions of truth. The Wilcox idea was that everything in America is all right just as it is. To this he found it easy to respond. His salary helped him to do so. And at last, the record says, he became "laudator temporis acti," one who praises the times that are past. As such, he took but little part in the times that are to be.

So runs the allegory. How shall it be with you? There are many Thomsons among our scholars. There may be some such among you. When you pass from the world of thought you will find yourself in the world of action. The conditions are not changed, but they seem to be changed. How shall you respond to the seeming difference? Shall you give up the truth of high thinking for the appearance of speedy success? If you do this, it will not be because you are worldly-wise, but because you do not know the world. In your ignorance of men you may sell yourself cheaply.

One must know life before he can know truth. He who will be a leader of men must first have the power to lead himself. The world is selfish and unsympathetic. But it is also sagacious. It rejects as worthless him who suffers decadence when he comes in contact with its vulgar cleverness. The natural man can look the world in the face. The true man will teach truth wherever he is,—not because he has pledged himself in Germany not to teach anything else, but because in teaching truth he is teaching himself. His life thus becomes genuine, and, sooner or later, the world will respond to genuineness in action. The world knows the value of genuineness, and it yields to that force wherever it is felt. "The world is all gates," says Emerson, "all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck."

Thus, in the decadence of Thomson, it was not the times or the world or America that was at fault; it was Thomson himself. He had in him no life of his own. His character, like his microscope, "was made in Germany," and bore not his mark, but the stamp of the German factory. Truth was not made in Germany; and to know or to teach truth there must be a life behind it. The decadence of Thomson was the appearance of the real Thomson from under the axioms and formulae his teachers had given him.

Men do not fail because they are human. They are not human enough. Failure comes from lack of life. Only the man who has formed opinions of his own can have the courage of his convictions. Learning alone does not make a man strong. Strength in life will show itself in helpfulness, will show itself in sympathy, in sacrifice. "Great men," says Emerson, "feel that they are so by renouncing their selfishness and falling back on what is humane. They beat with the pulse and breathe with the lungs of nations."

It is not enough to know truth; one must know men. It is not enough to know men; one must be a man. Only he who can live truth can know it. Only he who can live truth can teach it. "He could talk men over," says Carlyle of Mirabeau, "he could talk men over because he could act men over. At bottom that was it."

And at bottom this is the source of all power and service. Not what a man knows, or what he can say; but what is he? what can he can do? Not what he can do for his board and lodging, as the slave who is "hired for life"; but what can he do out of the fullness of his resources, the fullness of his helpfulness, the fullness of himself? The work the world will not let die was never paid for—not in fame, not in money, not in power.

The decadence of literature, of which much is said to-day, is not due to the decadence of man. It is not the effect of the nerve strain of over-wrought generations born too late in the dusk of the ages. Its nature is this—that uncritical and untrained men have come into a heritage they have not earned. They will pay money to have their feeble fancy tickled. The decadence of literature is the struggle of mountebanks to catch the public eye. There is money in the literature of decay, and those who work for money have "verily their reward." But these performances are not the work of men. They have no relation to literature, or art, or human life. These are not in decadence because imitations are sold on street-corners or tossed into our laps on railway trains. As well say that gold is in its decadence because brass can be burnished to look like it; or that the sun is in his dotage because we have filled our gardens with Chinese lanterns.

"No ray is dimmed, no atom worn, My oldest force is good as new And the fresh rose on yonder thorn Gives back the bending heavens in dew."

Literature has never been paid for. It has never asked the gold nor the plaudits of the multitude. Job, and Hamlet, and Faust, and Lear, were never written to fill the pages of a Sunday newspaper. John Milton and John Bunyan were not publishers' hacks; nor were John Hampden, John Bright, or Samuel Adams under pay as walking-delegates of reform.

No man was hired to find out that the world was round, or that the valleys are worn down by water, or that the stars are suns. No man was paid to burn at the stake or die on the cross that other men might be free to live. The sane, strong, brave, heroic souls of all ages were the men who, in the natural order of things, have lived above all considerations of pay or glory. They have served not as slaves hoping for reward, but as gods who would take no reward. Men could not reward Shakespeare, or Darwin, or Newton, or Helmholtz for their services any more than we could pay the Lord for the use of His sunshine. From the same inexhaustible divine reservoir it all comes—the service of the great man and the sunshine of God.

"Twice have I molded an image, And thrice outstretched my hand; Made one of day and one of night, And one of the salt sea strand One in a Judean manger, And one by Avon's stream; One over against the mouths of Nile, And one in the Academe."

And in such image are men made every day, not only in Bethlehem or in Stratford, not alone on the banks of the Nile or the Arno; but on the Columbia, or the Sacramento, or the San Francisquito, it may be, as well. All over the earth, in this image, are the sane, and the sound, and the true. And when and where their lives are spent arises generations of others like them, men in the true order. Not alone men in the "image of God," but "gods in the likeness of men."

It is to the training of the genuine man that the universities of the world are devoted. They call for the higher sacrifice, the sacrifice of those who have powers not needed in the common struggle of life, and who have, therefore, something over and beyond this struggle to give to their fellows. Large or small, whatever the gift may be, the world needs it all, and to every good gift the world will respond a thousand-fold. Strength begets strength, and wisdom leads to wisdom. "There is always room for the man of force, and he makes room for many." It is the strong, wise, and good of the past who have made our lives possible. It is the great human men, the "men in the natural order," that have made it possible for "the plain, common men," that make up civilization, to live, rather than merely to vegetate.

We hear those among us sometimes who complain of the shortness of life, the smallness of truth, the limited stage on which man is forced to act. But the men who thus complain are not men who have filled this little stage with their action. The man who has learned to serve the Lord never complains that his Master does not give him enough to do. The man who helps his fellow-men does not stand about with idle hands to find men worthy of his assistance. He who leads a worthy life never vexes himself with the question as to whether life is worth living.

We know that all our powers are products of the needs and duties of our ancestors. Wisdom too great to be translated into action is an absurdity. For wisdom is only knowing what it is best to do next. Virtue is only doing it. Virtue and happiness have never been far apart from each other. To know and to do is the essence of the highest service. Those the world has a right to honor are those who found enough in the world to do. The fields are always white to their harvest.

Alexander the Great had conquered his neighbors in Greece and Asia Minor, the only world he knew. Then he sighed for more worlds to conquer. But other worlds he knew nothing of lay all about him. The secrets of the rocks he had never suspected. Steam, electricity, the growth of trees, the fall of snow,—all these were mysteries to him. The only conquest he knew, the subjection of men's bodies, went but a little way. All the men who in his lifetime knew the name of Alexander the Great could find encampment on the Palo Alto farm. The great world of men in his day was beyond his knowledge. His world was a very small one, and of this he had seen but a little corner.

For the need of more worlds to conquer is no badge of strength. It is the stamp of ignorance. It is the cry only of him who knows that the great earth about him still stands unconquered. No Lincoln ever sighed for more nations to save; no Luther for more churches to purify; no Darwin that nature had not more hidden secrets which he might follow to their depths; no Agassiz that the thoughts of God were all exhausted before he was born.

And now, a final word to you as scholars: Higher education means the higher sacrifice. That you are taught to know is simply that you may do. Knowing the truth signifies that you should do right. Knowing and doing have value only as translated into justice and love. There is no man so strong as not to need your help. There is no man so weak that you cannot make him stronger. There is none so sick that you cannot bring him to the "gate called Beautiful." There is no evil in the world that you cannot help turn to goodness. "We could lift up this land," said Bjoernson of Norway, "we could lift up this land, if we lifted as one."

Therefore lift, and lift as one. You are strong enough and wise enough. You shall seek strength and wisdom, that others through you may be wiser and stronger. You shall seek your place to work as your basis for helpfulness. Others will make the place as good as you deserve. If your lives are sacrificed in helping men, it is to the market of the ages you carry your blood, not to the milk-market of Concord town. The honest man will not "pledge himself in Germany to teach nothing which is not true." Being true himself, he can teach nothing false. The more men of the true order there are in the world, the greater is the world's need of men.

As you are men, so will your places in life be secure. Every profession is calling you. Every walk of life is waiting for your effort. There will always be room for you, and each of you will make room for many.

[1] Address to the Graduating Class, Leland Stanford Jr. University, May 21, 1896.


In sad, sweet cadence Persian Omar sings The life of man that lasts but for a day; A phantom caravan that hastes away, On to the chaos of insensate things.

"The Eternal Saki from that bowl hath poured Millions of bubbles like us and shall pour," Thy life or mine, a half-unspoken word, A fleck of foam tossed on an unknown shore.

"When thou and I behind the veil are past, Oh, but the long, long while the world shall last? Which of our coming and departure heeds, As the seven seas shall heed a pebble cast."

"Then, my beloved, fill the cup that clears To-day of past regrets and future fears." This is the only wisdom man can know, "I come like water, and like wind I go."

But tell me, Omar, hast thou said the whole? If such the bubbles that fill Saki's bowl, How great is Saki, whose least whisper calls Forth from the swirling mists a human soul!

Omar, one word of thine is but a breath, A single cadence in thy perfect song; And as its measures softly flow along, A million cadences pass on to death.

Shall this one word withdraw itself in scorn, Because 't is not thy first, nor last, nor all— Because 't is not the sole breath thou hast drawn, Nor yet the sweetest from thy lips let fall?

I do rejoice that when "of Me and Thee" Men talk no longer, yet not less, but more, The Eternal Saki still that bowl shall fill, And ever stronger, purer bubbles pour.

One little note in the Eternal Song, The Perfect Singer hath made place for me; And not one atom in earth's wondrous throng But shall be needful to Infinity.


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