Copyright
David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

The world's best essays, from the earliest period to the present time; (Volume 10) online

. (page 1 of 39)
Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerThe world's best essays, from the earliest period to the present time; (Volume 10) → online text (page 1 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


L






^A



51



'Mm^.



MS£



<i9K



0"w-«l



V^



©a






4^ '



i^



^^SPCT:l




^"^W/? 7i^>^ /^Vv



f^.




MADAME ROLAND.
After a Portrait Engraved by Hopwood, and Published by Eurne, Paris.



ROYAL EDITION



THE



(Uorld's Best €$$ay$



FROM THE

EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE PRESENT TIME



DAVID J. BREIVER

EDITOR

EDWARD A. ALLEN WILLIAM SCHUYLER

ASSOCIATE EDITORS



TEN VOLUMES
VOL. IX.



ST. LOUIS

ir FERD. p. KAISER

1900



Royal Edition



I^IMITBD TO 1000 COMPI^ETE SETS, OF WHICH THIS IS

^ . -to



Copyright 1900

BY

FERD. P. KAISER



All rights reserved





EDITOR



PUBLISHER



THE WERNER COMPANY

PRINTERS AND BINDERS
AKRON, OHIO



!>■ M UiN^VERSITY OF C A LTFORNIA

' ' SANTA BARBARA CCLLEJE LIBRARY

THE ADVISORY COUNCIL

v.^

SIR WALTER BESANT, M. A., F. S. A..

Soho Square, London W., England.

PROFESSOR KUNO FRANCKE, Ph. D.,

Department of German, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

HIRAM CORSON. A. M., LL. D.,

Department of English Literature, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.

WILLIAM DRAPER LEWIS, Ph. D.,
Dean of the Department of Law,

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.

RICHARD GOTTHEIL, Ph. D.,

Professor of Oriental Languages,

Columbia University, in the City of New York.

MRS. LOUISE CHANDLER MOULTON,

Author « Swallow Flights, » « Bed-Time Stories, » etc. Boston, Mass.

WILLIAM VINCENT BYARS,

Manager The Valley Press Bureau, St. Louis.

F. M. CRUNDEN, A. M.,

Librarian St. Louis Public Library; President (1890) American
Library Association.

MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN, A. M., LL. D.,
Professor of English and Literature,

Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C.

ALCEE FORTIER, Lit. D.,

Professor of Romance Languages, Tulane University, New Orleans, La.

SHELDON JACKSON, D. D., LL. D.,

Bureau of Education, Washington, D. C.

A. MARSHALL ELLIOTT, Ph. D., LL. D..
Professor of Romance Languages,

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.
WILLIAM P. TRENT. M. A.,

Professor of English Literature,

Columbia University, in the City of New York.

CHARLES MILLS GAYLEY, Litt. D.,

Department of English, University of California, Berkeley, Cal.

RICHARD JONES. Ph. D.,

Department of English, vice Austin H. Merrill, deceased. Department
or Elocution, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

W. STUART SYMINGTON, Jr.. Ph.D..

Professor of Romance Languages, Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.



TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME IX



LIVED PAGE

Roland, Madame i754-i793 3265

Liberty — Its Meaning and Its Cost
Pensees

On Happiness

Doing Good

Borrowed Ideas

The Gift of Silence

Virtue an Inspiration

Character and Association

Intellect and Progress

Rousseau, Jean Jacques 1712-1778 3275

That Men Are Bom Free
The Social Contract
Nature and Education
Christ and Socrates

RusKiN, John 1819-1900 3285

The Sky
Principles of Art
Work
Sibylline Leaves

Want of Self-Knowledge

The Responsibility of a Rich Man

Art and Decadence

Infinity

The Society of Nature

All Carving and No Meat

Modern Greatness

The Coronation of the Whirlwind

Sacrifices that Make Ashamed

Oppression under the Sun

Mercantile Panics

Immortality of the Bible

Dissectors and Dreamers



VI

LIVED PAGE

RUSKIN, John — Continued

Sibylline Leaves — Continued
The Use of Beauty
Respectability of Art
Opinions

The Necessity of Work
On War
Base Criticism
Education

Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin 1804-1869 3320

A Typical Man of the World

Saintsbury, George Edward Bateman 1845- 3336

On Parton's « Voltaire"

SCHELLING, FRIEDRICH WiLHELM JOSEPH VON 1775-1854 3340

Nature and Art

Schiller, Johann Christoph Friedrich von 1759-1805 3348

Man and the Universe
The Impulse to Play as the Cause of Progress

Schlegel, August Wilhelm von 1767-1845 3358

The Greek Theatre

Schopenhauer. Arthur 1788-1860 3365

Books and Authorship
The Vanity of Existence
Parables

The Apple Tree and the Fir

The Young Oak

The Balloon Mystery

The Varnish of Nature

The Cathedral in Mayence

The Fate of Samson

Enlightened Rationalists

Co-operation among Porcupines

Schreiner, Olive c. 1863- 3379

In a Ruined Chapel
The Gardens of Pleasure
In a Far-Off World
The Artist's Secret

Scott. Sir Walter 1 771-1832 3388

The Character and Habits of Swift
Lord Byron



Vll

LIVED PAGE

Selden, John 1584-1654 3398

Table-Talk

Changing Sides

Contracts

Evil Speaking

The Measure of Things

Wisdom

Wit

Women

Seneca, Lucius Ann^eus r. 4 B. C.-65 A. D. 3403

On Anger

S6vign4 Madame de 1626-1696 3410

A Bit of Parisian Gossip
An Artistic Funeral
To Madame de Grignan

Shaftesbury, The Earl of 1671-1713 3415

Degeneracy and the Passions

Shelley, Percy Bysshe 1792-1822 3419

Benevolence

On Good and Bad Actions

Ancient Literature and Modern Progress

Sidney, Sir Philip i 554-1 586 3426

The Uses of Poetry

The Universe No Chance Medley

Sigourney, Lydia H, 1791-1865 3433

The End of All Perfection

SiSMONDi, Jean Charles Leonard de 1773-1842 3436

Romantic Love and Petrarch's Poetry

Smiles, Samuel 18 12- 3439

Men Who Cannot Be Bought

Smith, Adam 1723- 1790 3449

Judging Others by Ourselves
The Division of Labor



VIU





LIVED


PAGE


Smith, Horace


1779-1849


3455


The Dignity of a True Joke






Ugly Women







Smith, Sydney 1771-1845 3468

Wit and Humor
Edgeworth on Bulls
Table-Talk

On a Habitual Bore

Monk Lewis's Tragedy of « Alfonso »

A Dinner Party

Classical Glory

Official Dress

Pulpit Eloquence

Impertinence of Opinion

Parasites

The Theatre

SoMERViLLE, Mary Fairfax 1780-1872 3479

The Laws of Music

Southey, Robert i 774-1 843 3488

Fame

The Doctor's Wise Sayings

School Learning

Lovers of Literature

Vanity of Human Fame

Retirement

Preaching to the Poor

Voluminous Trifling

Parliamentary Jokes

Book Madness

SOUVESTRE, EmILE 1806-1854 3497

Misanthropy and Repentance

Spencer, Herbert 1820- 3505

Evolution of the Professions
Meddlesome and Coddling Paternalism
Education — What Knowledge Is of Most Worth ?

Spinoza, Baruch 1632-1677 3525

That in a Free State Every Man May Think What
He Likes and Say What He Thinks



LIVED PAGE

Stael, Madame de 1766-1817 3534

Of the General Spirit of Modern Literature
Of Spanish and Italian Literature

Steele, Sir Richard 1672-1729 3549

The Character of Isaac Bickerstaff
Bickerstaff and Maria
Sir Roger and the Widow
The Coverley Family Portraits
On Certain Symptoms of Greatness
How to Be Happy though Married
Paetus and Arria
The Ring of Gyges
The Art of Pleasing
Benignity

The Dream of Fame
Of Patriotism and Public Spirit
Of Men Who are not their Own Masters

Stephen, Sir James i 789-1 859 3599'

Christianity and Progress

Sterne, Laurence 1713-1768 3603

A Chapter on Sleep
A Peasant's Philosophy

Stevenson, Robert Louis i 850-1 894 3608

El Dorado
Old Mortality

Books and Tombstones

The Haunter of Graves

The Heaven of Noble Failure

The Door of Immortality

Stewart, Balfour i 828-1 887 3621

The Conservation of Energy

Sturleson, Snorre c. II 79- 1 24 1 3629-

Gefjon's Ploughing
Gylfi's Journey to Asgard
Of the Supreme Deity
Of the Primordial State of the Universe
Of the Way that Leads to Heaven
Of the Ash Yggdrasill, Mimir's Well, and the Norns
or Destinies



LIVED



PAGE



Sturleson, Snorre — Cotitinued

Of the Norns and the Urdar-fount
Of Loki and His Progeny
Of the Joys of Valhalla



Swift, Jonathan

The Art of Political Lying

A Meditation upon a Broomstick

Thoughts on Various Subjects

Against Abolishing Christianity in England

Against Bad English



1667-1745



3640



Swinburne, Algernon Charles

Chaucer and the Italian Poets
A Poet's Haughty Patience

Symonds, John Addington

Morning Rambles in Venice



1837-



1840-1893



3659



3666



FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
VOLUME IX



PAGE

Madame Roland (Portrait, Photogravure) Frontispiece
Johann Christ oph Friedrich von Schiller (Portrait, Photogravure) 3348

Abbotsford from the River (Photogravure) 3388

Sir Philip Sidney (Portrait, Photogravure) 3426

A Dinner Party (Photogravure) 3468

In the Interests of Literary Morals (Photogravure) 3488

Madame de Stael (Portrait, Photogravure) 3534

Algernon Charles Swinburne (Portrait, Photogravure) 3659



3265




MADAME ROLAND
(Manon Jeanne Phlipon Roland de la Platiere)

(1754-1793)

^N INTELLECT, Madame Roland was one of the most remarkable
women of the eighteenth century, and in the romantic in-
terest of her life, she is second among the heroines of the
French Revolution only to Charlotte Corday. Her <^ Philosophical and
Literary Essays,'^ published soon after her death and republished in
London in 1800, fully sustain the historical and traditional theory of
her ability. It was the remarkable power of her intellect which en-
ergized her husband and enabled the Girondist party to keep a foot-
hold in the stormy politics of the Revolution at a time when to be
accused of moderation was almost equivalent to a conviction of capi-
tal crime. Gratien Phlipon, Madame Roland's father, was an engraver
by profession and it is from him that she seems to have received
the speculative impulses which enabled her to break away from the
political conventionality of her time and become a leader in revolu-
tion. Her earliest reading was of the great classical writers from
whom she imbibed the republican principles which animated her work
for the overthrow of the royalty in France. In M. Roland, whom she
married in 1781, she found a kindred spirit. He was nearly twenty-
two years her senior and no doubt greatly her superior in thorough-
ness, but he lacked her quickness of intellect and was always ready
to rely rather upon the intuitions of her genius than on his own com-
mon sense. When they appeared together at Paris in 1791, they soon
became one of the potent influences against royalty. Roland became
a member of the Jacobin Club and acted with them until their radi-
calism resulted in the formation of a more conservative party, — the
Girondists, — which in the crisis of 1792 made him Minister of the In-
terior. He used this position to force issues with the king. A letter
written by Madame Roland, and addressed by her husband to the
king, led to a Cabinet crisis and to the dismissal of Roland. This
was the prelude to the overthrow of royalty, but instead of being the
Aspasia of a great and world-reforming republic as she had hoped,
Madame Roland found herself at first the sport and then the victim
of forces too violent to be checked or directed by any power of in-
tellect or of combination. After the death of the king and the Sep-
tember massacres, the Girondists fearlessly devoted themselves to
IX — 205



32 66 MADAME ROLAND

inevitable destruction. Hated alike by Royalists and Jacobins, they
had no refuge except in honorable death ; and this, with Vergniaud
and Roland at their head, they challenged by impeaching Robespierre
when he was at the height of his power. On June ist, 1793, Madame
Roland was arrested, and on November 8th, 1793, was carried to the
guillotine in the Place de la Revolution, where the scaffold was over-
looked by a statue of Liberty, which she addressed in her celebrated
apostrophe, ^' O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name ! "
On hearing of her death, her husband, then at Rouen, pinned on his
breast a paper declaring his unwillingness to survive her, g,nd killed
himself by falling on the point of the stiletto he carried in his
walking cane.



LIBERTY — ITS MEANING AND ITS COST

INSULATED and tranquil, in the stillness of the night and in that
of the passions, I dare think, I dare write, without presump-
tion and without fear. Silence, son of repose, it is in thy
profound bosom that my wandering ideas are heaped up and
collected. The shades spread on the theatre of illusion stop its
prestiges; all is confounded; all is silent . . . even to my
heart: this is the moment when victorious reason commands, and
acts with liberty. What have I said ? What implies that great
name, whose imposing and confused object by turns astonishes,
misleads, and inflames the imagination? What is liberty?*

I cannot consider it so generally; I distinguish, liberty of the
will, that of the mind. I doubt whether the first exists; the sec-
ond appears to me very uncommon, and the third belongs but to
sages. Metaphysical liberty is a problem on which I endeavor
to exercise my ideas; political liberty is a blessing the image and
utility of which I love to recall to mind; philosophical liberty,
the only liberty, perhaps, that it is my province to know, is a
treasure which I wish to acquire.

Political liberty, for each individual of a society, consists in
doing everything that he judges proper for his own happiness,
in what does not injure others. It is the power of being happy,
without doing harm to any one. Is there an advantage that can
be compared to it ? Nothing in the world can supply its place :
delicious fruit of the laws, it gives the human soul all the energy
of which it is susceptible.

* This paragraph follows exactly the text of 1800 as do all the articles by
Madame Roland here given.



MADAME ROLAND 3267

The reign of the general will is the only reign that maintains
public felicity; from the moment when power secures independ-
ence to some parts of the state, corruption introduces itself, and
soon becomes manifest by the misery of the oppressed.

Slavery and virtue are incompatible. Slavery breaks all the
ties that connect man with his fellow-creature; it relaxes and
destroys the two springs that contribute most to the development
of our faculties, the esteem of ourselves, and glory, which is only
the result of public esteem; it suffers nothing to subsist but
odious force and degrading fear.

Tyranny equally debases him who exercises it and those whom
it enslaves; with it all lose the sentiment of truth, the idea of
justice, and the taste of good.

It is to him who knows the extent and the limits of his rights,
that we may look for a respect for those of others, a generous
intrepidity in their defense, and the noble care of their preser-
vation.

True courage belongs only to the free man. Of what can
those be capable who are nothing except by the will of the mas-
ter ? And to what obligations would he believe himself restricted,
who must fancy himself of a nature superior to that of the peo-
ple he commands ?

The enjoyment and the inviolability of the first rights of so-
cial man, — personal safety and property, — with the power of claim-
ing them in case of an accidental injury, properly constitute the
essence of liberty. This is the masterpiece of legislation; but so
many things prevent its being carried into execution, or counter-
act its being brought to perfection and concur in its ruin, that
very seldom is it seen to subsist, even for a short time, unimpaired.

All nations are not capable of enjoying liberty ; the same nation
cannot support it equally at all times.

The climate, the soil, and the species of its productions, the
situation of the places, their extent, etc., pave the way to it or
estrange it from its inhabitants, according to the spirit, the wants,
and the resources which it affords them. Liberty is for the most
part the companion of poverty; the fertility of a country abound-
ing in superfluities, stifles it in a manner by its richness. And,
indeed, it is pretty generally true, that the finest countries are
those which have the worst governments.

Bare competence, or comfort acquired by labor, makes men
honest and the state happy ; in this, it is with the nation as with



3268 MADAME ROLAND

the individual, too many wants excite cupidity and engender
corruption.

The English are said to be free, and I believe they are so
more than their neighbors, — more than most of the nations of
Europe, except the Swiss; but commerce and the love of gain,
riches, and luxury, by weakening their morals, insensibly sap
their constitution, or render useless a great part of its effects.

People are often mistaken respecting the word liberty. I give
not this name to the anarchy into which fell again certain re-
publics; such, for instance, as Syracuse, after the death or ex-
pulsion of the tyrants who had governed them by intrigue or by
violence, and whom they had given themselves through weakness.
Liberty suits none but simple men, who have few wants. When
we consider the infinite care, the continual vigilance, which the
maintenance of the laws demand in a free state, the time re-
quired for the acts of sovereignty which regard each of the
citizens, we are sensible how few of them remain for other
occupations. If we reflect, besides, that industry and the arts
open the first door to inequality, insulate those who profess them
by affording them extraordinary means of acquiring property,
and offering them resources independent of the common good,
we shall perceive how great was the wisdom of the legislators
who banished them from their states.

The Lacedaemonians were nothing else than husbandmen and
soldiers ; but they had helots ? It would be very astonishing if,
in the same government, the slavery of one part of the species
should be absolutely necessary to the perfect happiness of the
other. This idea makes me shudder; I dare not investi-
gate it.

I hasten to arrive at what suits me much better; I leave
metaphysical reveries and political speculations to the more able;
I prefer what more nearly concerns action, and I think that is
my element. I understand by liberty of mind, not only that
sound view of an enlightened judgment which is not disturbed
by prejudices or by passions, but also that firm and tranquil
temper of a strong soul, superior to events. I call it philosophy,
because it is the fruit of wisdom and one of its most unequivocal
proofs; it is under these titles that I regard it as a treasure. I
add that I am determined to labor to acquire it ; nothing is more
true nor more easy. With reason sufficient to appreciate things
at what they are worth, we may suffer ourselves to be affected



MADAME ROLAND 3269

too warmly by some of them, for want of having contracted the
habit of conquering ourselves by courageous and daily exercise.
The same vivacity of feeling which on many occasions elevates
us above ourselves, often sinks us again below our level by the
frequent revolutions of which it renders us the sport.

The empire over ourselves is the finest of empires, that of
which the conquest costs us most, and the possession of which is
the sweetest. We think we have done much when we have fa-
miliarized ourselves with austerity, — let us speak more correctly,
with grief; it seems that it is it which, acting on our organs in the
most immediate manner, must principally disturb the liberty of
the mind. Yet if it be true that the value which we attach to
things makes almost their whole importance, and that the force
of ideas and the power of imagination are capable of diverting
us from the actual impressions which they make on our senses,
it must be acknowledged that physical evils are not the most
dangerous for an elevated and delicate soul. It is not precisely
in undergoing such and such trials that our courage is manifested,
but it is in supporting the loss of what is dearest to us, and this,
too, is where it generally fails. Alas ! we are so constituted for
pain, that all the efforts employed to bear us up against it, serve
only to render it more acute in certain parts. The better we
have known the variety of those things which fix the desires of
the misled vulgar, and the more we have diminished the objects
of our esteem, the more, too, do we remain violently attached to
those which we preserve and which we think we ought to dis-
tinguish. Reason, virtue, everything draws these ties the closer;
if cruel necessity chance to break them, what dreadful torments!
the disorder of the body is nothing; the rigors of fate scarcely
deserved to be mentioned; but in the pains which proceed from
the heart, or which strike at it, I can do no more than wrap up
my head and waste away in silence. O sensibility! delight and
torment of our days, how much do thy sacrifices exercise and fa-
tigue our philosophy ! it is with the greatest justice that has been
established, as the first principle of happiness, that secret enjoyment
of virtue, which consists in the recollection of having done well,
and in the resolution of continuing to do so; beyond that, every
thing is full of illusions and falsehoods, and the sweetest acces-
sories to this first pleasure arc crossed by poignant and bitter
afflictions. Where is the man who has learned to content himself
with this satisfaction and dispense with every other ? His felicity



3270



MADAME ROLAND



is independent and unchangeable; that is the true sage and my
hero; he alone can preserve perfect liberty of mind.

We have so perverted the use of the blessings bestowed on
us by nature, that we have reduced ourselves no longer to find,
but in their voluntary privation, the peace that ought to accom-
pany them.

We must love mankind sufficiently to concern ourselves about
their welfare, and esteem them so little as not to expect any re-
turn on their part.

Judgment appears to me to consist in discovering that we can
accomplish our own happiness only in laboring at that of others;
reason seems to me the firm resolution of acting always agreeably
to this principle; the highest degree of virtue is to do good
with enthusiasm, because it is honorable and delightful. Sublime
delirium, by which the exalted soul finds unheard-of strength, and
puts itself on a footing with the gods! Happy he who knows
its transports and renders himself worthy of ever enjoying them !
Exact calculation and cold reasoning never make us capable of
doing so; it belongs to feelings alone to inspire us with them.
Reflection sometimes damps the ardor of our efforts, as repose
cools courage; in point of morals, as soon as we are certain of
having adopted the best, we must follow them blindfold. But it
is to the fascination, to the enchantment of virtue alone, that it
is allowable to subject the liberty of the mind.

I touch lightly on these subjects; how many things concerning

each of them do I perceive confusedly in my mind, and which a

little application would draw forth! But I will not labor: I

rapidly sketch the most prominent ideas, and I wait for the others

to become clear.

Complete. From the works of Mme. Roland.
London, 1800.



PENSfeES
On Happiness

Happiness! , . . every one talks of it, few know it, and
those who feel it, waste not their time in describing it. I,
who am meditating on it I enjoy it not at this moment.
Feeling fills the soul; every enjoyment absorbs profound re-
flections; he, whose mind discusses matters coolly, is certainly



MADAME ROLAND 3271

not affected in a warm and touching manner. Such never wrote
but from the want of something to divert his mind: how many-
others would have thought little had not active grief unfolded

their faculties ?

Complete.



Doing Good

BENEFICENCE has this peculiarity, that the more we exercise it,
the more pleasure we find in its exercise. We attach our-
selves to the unfortunate object that we relieve, and the
assistance we give him becomes a want to those by whom it is
administered.

He who has once caused the tears of gratitude to flow, and
who can afterwards seek a pleasure sweeter than that, is not
worthy of feeling all the charm of doing good.

Complete.



Borrowed Ideas

IT IS useful to borrow the ideas of others; but the habit of con-
sulting them, makes the mind contract a sort of sloth and
dullness, which renders it incapable of ever determining by its
own powers. Reading extends the judgment; to form it, is the
province of meditation.

There are some people who are stupid from dint of science;
so many names, facts, and experiences are heaped up in their
head, that natural genius has been smothered by them; their con-
versation is a repertory of what they have read, without ever
being the expression of what they have reasoned upon; it does
very well to make use of them as of a dictionary, but the think-
ing, contemplative being must be sought for elsewhere.

Too much reading overloads the memory, and dulls the imag-
ination; meditation, on the contrary, carried to excess, heats,
exalts, and leads to madness.

Complete.



3272 MADAME ROLAND

The Gift of Silence

I HAVE often remarked, that the persons who passed for the most
discreet were not the most happy in the choice of their confi-



Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerThe world's best essays, from the earliest period to the present time; (Volume 10) → online text (page 1 of 39)