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"When the sheep are in the fauld, when the cows come hame,
When a’ the weary world to quiet rest are gane,
Young Jamie loo'd me weel, and sought me for his bride;
Before he had been gane a twelvemonth and a day,
My father cou'dna work my mother coud'na spin ;
My heart it said Na, and I look'd for Jamie back;
My father argued sair—my mother didna speak,
I hadna been his wife, a week but only four,
O sair, sair did we greet, and mickle say of a';
a ghaist, and I carena much to spin ;
HENRY TAYLOR. [The following is extracted from a small volume entitled 'Notes from Life.' The author is popularly known by his dramas of. Philip van Artevelde,' and 'Edwin the Fair,' the former of which, especially, has given Mr. Taylor a distinguished position as a poet. Strong practical sense, earnestness, a happy diction formed upon the best old English models, are the characteristics of this writer's verse as well as prose. In his · Statesman,' another volume, Mr. Taylor has been considered, very unjustly, as taking a worldly view of human actions. His · Notes from Life' sufficiently manifest that he forms a higher estimate of duty and happiness than a course of selfish prudence, however prosperous, can prompt and supply.]
WISDOM is not the same with understanding; talents, capacity, ability, sagacity, sense, or prudence-not the same with any one of these : neither will all these together make it up. It is that exercise of the reason into which the heart enters-a stucture of the understanding rising out of the moral and spiritual nature.
It is for this cause that a high order of wisdom—that is, a highly intellectual wisdom-is still more rare than a high order of genius. When they reach the very highest order they are one; for each includes the other, and intellectual greatness is matched with moral strength. But they hardly ever reach so high, inasmuch as great intellect, according to the ways of Providence, almost always brings along with it great infirmities-or, at least, infirmities which appear great owing to the scale of operation ; and it is certainly exposed to unusual temptations ; for as power and preeminence lie before it, so ambition attends it, which, whilst it determines the will and strengthens the activities, inevitably weakens the moral fabric.
Wisdom is corrupted by ambition, even when the quality of the ambition is intellectual. For ambition, even of this quality, is but a form of self-love, which, seeking gratification in the consciousness of intellectual power, is too much delighted with the exercise to have a single and paramount regard to the end; and it is not according to wisdom that the end-that is, the moral and spiritual consequences-should suffer derogation in favor of the intellectual means. God is love, and God is light; whence it results that love is light; and it is only by following the effluence of that light, that intellectual power issues into wisdom. The intellectual power which loses that light and issues into intellectual pride, is out of the way to wisdom, and will not attain even to intellectual greatness. For though many arts, gifts, and attainments may co-exist in much force with intellectual pride, an open greatness cannot; and of all the correspondencies between the moral and intellectual nature, there is none more direct and immediate than that of humility with capaciousness. If pride of intellect be indulged in, it will mark out to a man conscious of great talents the circle of his own intellectual experiences as the only one in which he can keenly recognize and appreciate the intellectual universe; and there is no order of intellectual men which stands in a more strict limitation than that of a man who cannot conceive what he does not contain. Such men will oftentimes dazzle the world, and exercise, in their day and generation, much influence on the many whose range is no wider than theirs, and whose force is less; but the want of spiritual and imaginative wisdom will stop them there; and the understandings, from which mankind will seek a permanent and authentic guidance, will be those which have been exalted by love and enlarged by humility.
If wisdom be defeated by ambition and self-love, when these are occupied with the mere inward consciousness of intellectual power, still more is it so when they are eager to obtain recognition and admiration from without. Men who are accustomed to write or speak for effect, may write or speak what is wise from time to time because they may be capable of thinking and intellectually adopting what is wise : but they will not be wise men; because the love of God, the love of man, and the love of truth, not having the mastery with them, the growth and structure of their minds must needs be perverted if not stunted. Thence it is that so many men are observed to speak wisely and yet act foolishly; they are not deficient in their understandings, but the wisdom of the heart is wanting to their ends and objects, and to those feelings which have the direction of their acts. And if they do speak wisely, it is not because they are wise ; for the permanent shape and organization of the mind proceeds from what we feel and do, and not from what we speak, write, or think. There is a great volume of truth in the admonition which teaches us that the spirit of obedience is to prepare
way, action to come next, and that knowledge is not precedent to these, but consequent : “Do the will of my Father which is in heaven, and thou shalt know of the doctrine.”
Those who are much conversant with intellectual men will observe, I think, that the particular action of self-love, by which their minds are most frequently warped from wisdom, is that which belongs to a pride and pleasure taken in the exercise of the argumentative faculty ; whence it arises, that that faculty is enabled to assert a predominance over its betters. With such men, the elements of a question which will make effect in argument,those which are, so far as they go, demonstrative,—will be rated above their value; and those which are matter of proportion and degree, not palpable, ponderable, or easily or shortly producible in words, or which are matters of moral estimation and optional opinion, will go for less than they are worth, because they are not available to insure the victory or grace the triumph of a disputant.
In some discussions, a wise man will be silenced by argumentation, only because he knows that the question should be determined by considerations which lie beyond the reach of argumentative exhibition. And, indeed, in all but purely scientific questions, arguments are not to be submitted to by the judgment as first in command ; rather they are to be used as auxiliaries and pioneers ; the judgment should profit by them to the extent of the services they can render, but after their work is done, it should come to its conclusions upon its own free survey. I have seldom known a man with great powers of argumentation abundantly indulged, who could attain to an habitually just judgment. In our courts of law, where advocacy and debate are most in use, ability, sagacity, and intellectual power flourish and abound, whilst wisdom is said to
have been disbarred. In our houses of parliament the case is somewhat otherwise ; the silent members, and those that take but little part in the debate, and indeed the country at large which may be said to listen, exercise some subduing influence over the spirit of argumentation, and the responsibility for results restrains it, so that here its predominance is much less than in the courts of law; yet even in the houses of parliament wisdom has been supposed to have less to say to the proceedings than a certain species of courage.
Ambition and self-love will commonly derange that proportion between the active and passive understanding which is essential to wisdom, and will lead a man to value thoughts and opinions less according to their worth and truth, than according as they are his own or another's. The objection made by Brutus to Cicero in the play, that he “would never follow anything which other men began," points to one corruption operated by self-love upon a great understanding. Some preference a man may reasonably accord to what is the growth of his own mind apart from its absolute value, on the ground of its specific usefulness to himself; for what is native to the soil will thrive better and bear more fruit than what has been transplanted : but, on the other hand, if a man would enlarge the scope and diversify the kinds of his thoughts and contemplations, he should not think too much to apprehend, nor talk too much to listen. He should cherish the thoughts of his own begetting with a living care and a temperate disciplinethey are the family of his mind and his chief reliance-but he should give a hospitable reception to guests and to travellers with stories of far countries, and the family should not be suffered to crowd the doors.
Even without the stimulant of self-love, some minds, owing to a natural redundance of activity and excess of velocity and fertility, cannot be sufficiently passive to be wise. A capability to take a thousand views of a subject is hard to be reconciled with directness and singleness of judgment; and he who can find a great deal to say for any view, will not often go the straight road to the one view that is right. If subtlety be added to exuberance, the judgment is still more endangered—