his tears away he continued, almost heartbroken, "Before
For the smart must be borne; some one must bear it, as sure as God lives. Every word of man is either a note or a forged note:--have these eternal skies forgotten to be in earnest, think you, because men go grinning like enchanted apes? Foolish souls, this now as of old is the unalterable law of your existence. If you know the truth and do it, the Universe itself seconds you, bears you on to sure victory everywhere:--and, observe, to sure defeat everywhere if you do not do the truth. And alas, if you _know_ only the eloquent fallacious semblance of the truth, what chance is there of your ever doing it? You will do something very different from it, I think!--He who well considers, will find this same "art of speech," as we moderns have it, to be a truly astonishing product of the Ages; and the longer he considers it, the more astonishing and alarming. I reckon it the saddest of all the curses that now lie heavy on us. With horror and amazement, one perceives that this much-celebrated "art," so diligently practised in all corners of the world just now, is the chief destroyer of whatever good is born to us (softly, swiftly shutting up all nascent good, as if under exhausted glass receivers, there to choke and die); and the grand parent manufactory of evil to us,--as it were, the last finishing and varnishing workshop of all the Devil's ware that circulates under the sun. No Devil's sham is fit for the market till it have been polished and enamelled here; this is the general assaying-house for such, where the artists examine and answer, "Fit for the market; not fit!" Words will not express what mischiefs the misuse of words has done, and is doing, in these heavy-laden generations.
Do you want a man _not_ to practise what he believes, then encourage him to keep often speaking it in words. Every time he speaks it, the tendency to do it will grow less. His empty speech of what he believes, will be a weariness and an affliction to the wise man. But do you wish his empty speech of what he believes, to become farther an insincere speech of what he does not believe? Celebrate to him his gift of speech; assure him that he shall rise in Parliament by means of it, and achieve great things without any performance; that eloquent speech, whether performed or not, is admirable. My friends, eloquent unperformed speech, in Parliament or elsewhere, is horrible! The eloquent man that delivers, in Parliament or elsewhere, a beautiful speech, and will perform nothing of it, but leaves it as if already performed,--what can you make of that man? He has enrolled himself among the _Ignes Fatui_ and Children of the Wind; means to serve, as beautifully illuminated Chinese Lantern, in that corps henceforth. I think, the serviceable thing you could do to that man, if permissible, would be a severe one: To clip off a bit of his eloquent tongue by way of penance and warning; another bit, if he again spoke without performing; and so again, till you had clipt the whole tongue away from him,--and were delivered, you and he, from at least one miserable mockery: "There, eloquent friend, see now in silence if there be any redeeming deed in thee; of blasphemous wind-eloquence, at least, we shall have no more!" How many pretty men have gone this road, escorted by the beautifulest marching music from all the "public organs;" and have found at last that it ended--where? It is the _broad_ road, that leads direct to Limbo and the Kingdom of the Inane. Gifted men, and once valiant nations, and as it were the whole world with one accord, are marching thither, in melodious triumph, all the drums and hautboys giving out their cheerfulest _Ca-ira_. It is the universal humor of the world just now. My friends, I am very sure you will _arrive_, unless you halt!--
Considered as the last finish of education, or of human culture, worth and acquirement, the art of speech is noble, and even divine; it is like the kindling of a Heaven's light to show us what a glorious world exists, and has perfected itself, in a man. But if no world exist in the man; if nothing but continents of empty vapor, of greedy self-conceits, common-place hearsays, and indistinct loomings of a sordid _chaos_ exist in him, what will be the use of "light" to show us that? Better a thousand times that such a man do not speak; but keep his empty vapor and his sordid chaos to himself, hidden to the utmost from all beholders. To look on that, can be good for no human beholder; to look away from that, must be good. And if, by delusive semblances of rhetoric, logic, first-class degrees, and the aid of elocution-masters and parliamentary reporters, the poor proprietor of said chaos should be led to persuade himself, and get others persuaded,--which it is the nature of his sad task to do, and which, in certain eras of the world, it is fatally possible to do,--that this is a cosmos which he owns; that _he_, being so perfect in tongue-exercise and full of college-honors, is an "educated" man, and pearl of great price in his generation; that round him, and his parliament emulously listening to him, as round some divine apple of gold set in a picture of silver, all the world should gather to adore: what is likely to become of him and the gathering world? An apple of Sodom set in the clusters of Gomorrah: that, little as he suspects it, is the definition of the poor chaotically eloquent man, with his emulous parliament and miserable adoring world!--Considered as the whole of education, or human culture, which it now is in our modern manners; all apprenticeship except to mere handicraft having fallen obsolete, and the "educated man" being with us emphatically and exclusively the man that can speak well with tongue or pen, and astonish men by the quantities of speech he has _heard_ ("tremendous _reader_," "walking encyclopaedia," and such like),--the Art of Speech is probably definable in that case as the short summary of all the Black Arts put together.
But the Schoolmaster is secondary, an effect rather than a cause in this matter: what the Schoolmaster with his universities shall manage or attempt to teach will be ruled by what the Society with its practical industries is continually demanding that men should learn. We spoke once of vital lungs for Society: and in fact this question always rises as the alpha and omega of social questions, What methods the Society has of summoning aloft into the high places, for its help and governance, the wisdom that is born to it in all places, and of course is born chiefly in the more populous or lower places? For this, if you will consider it, expresses the ultimate available result, and net sum-total, of all the efforts, struggles and confused activities that go on in the Society; and determines whether they are true and wise efforts, certain to be victorious, or false and foolish, certain to be futile, and to fall captive and caitiff. How do men rise in your Society? In all Societies, Turkey included, and I suppose Dahomey included, men do rise; but the question of questions always is, What kind of men? Men of noble gifts, or men of ignoble? It is the one or the other; and a life-and-death inquiry which! For in all places and all times, little as you may heed it, Nature most silently but most inexorably demands that it be the one and not the other. And you need not try to palm an ignoble sham upon her, and call it noble; for she is a judge. And her penalties, as quiet as she looks, are terrible: amounting to world-earthquakes, to anarchy and death everlasting; and admit of no appeal!--
Surely England still flatters herself that she has lungs; that she can still breathe a little? Or is it that the poor creature, driven into mere blind industrialisms; and as it were, gone pearl-diving this long while many fathoms deep, and tearing up the oyster-beds so as never creature did before, hardly knows,--so busy in the belly of the oyster chaos, where is no thought of "breathing,"--whether she has lungs or not? Nations of a robust habit, and fine deep chest, can sometimes take in a deal of breath _before_ diving; and live long, in the muddy deeps, without new breath: but they too come to need it at last, and will die if they cannot get it!
To the gifted soul that is born in England, what is the career, then, that will carry him, amid noble Olympic dust, up to the immortal gods? For his country's sake, that it may not lose the service he was born capable of doing it; for his own sake, that his life be not choked and perverted, and his light from Heaven be not changed into lightning from the Other Place,--it is essential that there be such a career. The country that can offer no career in that case, is a doomed country; nay it is already a dead country: it has secured the ban of Heaven upon it; will not have Heaven's light, will have the Other Place's lightning; and may consider itself as appointed to expire, in frightful coughings of street musketry or otherwise, on a set day, and to be in the eye of law dead. In no country is there not some career, inviting to it either the noble Hero, or the tough Greek of the Lower Empire: which of the two do your careers invite? There is no question more important. The kind of careers you offer in countries still living, determines with perfect exactness the kind of the life that is in them,--whether it is natural blessed life, or galvanic accursed ditto, and likewise what degree of strength is in the same.
Our English careers to born genius are twofold. There is the silent or unlearned career of the Industrialisms, which are very many among us; and there is the articulate or learned career of the three professions, Medicine, Law (under which we may include Politics), and the Church. Your born genius, therefore, will first have to ask himself, Whether he can hold his tongue or cannot? True, all human talent, especially all deep talent, is a talent to _do_, and is intrinsically of silent nature; inaudible, like the Sphere Harmonies and Eternal Melodies, of which it is an incarnated fraction. All real talent, I fancy, would much rather, if it listened only to Nature's monitions, express itself in rhythmic facts than in melodious words, which latter at best, where they are good for anything, are only a feeble echo and shadow or foreshadow of the former. But talents differ much in this of power to be silent; and circumstances, of position, opportunity and such like, modify them still more;--and Nature's monitions, oftenest quite drowned in foreign hearsays, are by no means the only ones listened to in deciding!--The Industrialisms are all of silent nature; and some of them are heroic and eminently human; others, again, we may call unheroic, not eminently human: _beaverish_ rather, but still honest; some are even _vulpine_, altogether inhuman and dishonest. Your born genius must make his choice.
If a soul is born with divine intelligence, and has its lips touched with hallowed fire, in consecration for high enterprises under the sun, this young soul will find the question asked of him by England every hour and moment: "Canst thou turn thy human intelligence into the beaver sort, and make honest contrivance, and accumulation of capital by it? If so, do it; and avoid the vulpine kind, which I don't recommend. Honest triumphs in engineering and machinery await thee; scrip awaits thee, commercial successes, kingship in the counting-room, on the stock-exchange;--thou shalt be the envy of surrounding flunkies, and collect into a heap more gold than a dray-horse can draw."--"Gold, so much gold?" answers the ingenuous soul, with visions of the envy of surrounding flunkies dawning on him; and in very many cases decides that he will contract himself into beaverism, and with such a horse-draught of gold, emblem of a never-imagined success in beaver heroism, strike the surrounding flunkies yellow.
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