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tinue a part which has been acted to the end and exhausted. A soldier who had seated himself upon a throne was once told : “Sire, the education of your son should be watched over with great attention; he must be educated so that he may replace
Replace me!' answered he, 'I could not replace myself; I am the child of circumstances. The same man was deeply sensible that the power which animated him was not his own; that it was lent him for a specific purpose, and until a certain hour, the approach of which he could neither hasten nor retard. It is said he was somewhat given to fatalism. You will remark that all great men have been more or less fatalists; the error is in the form, not at the foundation of the thought. They feel that, in fact, they do not exist on their own account; they possess the consciousness of an immense power; and, being unable to ascribe the honour of it to themselves, they refer it to a higher power, which u ses them as instruments in accordance with its own ends. Not only are great men given to fatalism, they are also addicted to superstitions peculiar to themselves. Hence, also, it comes to pass that great men, who in action show decision and an admirable ardour, often hesitate and slumber before they are roused to action; the sentiment of necessity, the evidence of their mission, must strike * them forcibly ; they seem to feel that until then they should act only as individuals, and that their power is not present with them."
This view of matters appears to result from not studying closely the various characters of great
We may lay their classifications, certainly, in the sense in which Cousin speaks. Neither Columbus, nor Bacon, nor Berkeley, nor Plato, nor Milton (as a poet), nor Shakspeare, were the result of circumstances ; no, these men, we have said, plant the seeds of things, they proclaim their idea, and leave it to leaven the world; they sow their seed, and leave it to bring forth its fruit; they are not often men of action; they consecrate their lives to contemplation, invention, and discovery; they learn to labour, and to wait; they are absorbed in one thought-it is their life, their immortality; they are the “ victims and the votaries of the ideal," and shall we make such men the result of circumstances? If the world bid ever so high for another Homer, or another Dante, or another Richter, would the world be nearer the having such a man or men ?—In a sense, yes; because the universal demand would imply the power of reciprocity, and the wonderful advance of the race to that point when such men would cease to be so extraordinary as they are now : but, in the true sense, no; the world would be no nearer the possession, whatever they might bid now for their appearance, while their advent to us in the infancy of times and societies, or in the circle of crude manners, proves how little the world, or external circumstances, had to do with the education of their wonderful inner life and being.
Ordinarily, the lives of these men lack interest; their words are better preserved than their lives : a few spent their days in action--but they have usually lived in a silent land. The Mythic age was the day of giants; concealed as they are from us; yet they give intimations of the genius, as well as the power of their spirits. Indeed their power over men resulted from their height above them; hence the chieftains and warriors of antiquity were legislators. Theseus in Greece, Numa in Rome, Thor in the Saxon Forest, and Dunwallo in Britain. Mythology speaks to us in hints; we may safely receive the profile, and reject the colours. The man however, who serves the world best, lives frequently in a hermitage; he derives his wisdom from self-knowledge and communion. We know little of Plato, but that little is not interesting from its important action ; and Kant, the philosopher of Konigsburg, is said never to have been four miles from his home in his life ; yet all the philosophers of Europe hushed their voices to hear him speak, either in admiration or curiosity. What do we know of Gilbert, the
author of the treatise on the magnet? yet his book had results. The great Seers are not very noticeable men, for they are stationary ; occasionally the finger-post walks before us, doing, as well as pointing. One of these was Charlemagne, whose footprint has not worn out of the ground he passed over in Europe yet; so also Columbus, that great, and patient, and hardy sea king; greater than he hath not often been among us; that patient, earnest face, that calm and dignified port, that clear eye, and much-enduring frame, great in action, great in thought. We venerate his magnanimity alike in his glory and his gloom. Cadmus, Roger Bacon, Faust,—all these men were, and still are, to us human pillars of fire,-before all men we should certainly call most great,—by their invention, their vision, and heroism, illuminating the pathway of man through the desert, and premising him an entrance into a land of knowledge, and happiness, and liberty. Our estimate of greatness will be proportioned to our emotion of gratitude ; we shall yield most homage to those from whom we have received most; the world's greatest benefactors are surely worthy of the world's highest regard : that light is surely the most brilliant whose beam penetrates and spreads into the most dim recesses, and over the largest expanse.
A second class of great men may be best described as adroit. They are the captains of ideas, movements, and agitations. They do not originate thought; they do not invent, but they harmonise. They use the tools far better, perhaps, than the men who have invented. To such men, the remark of Victor Cousin, may well be applied.
“They are strong, but wary; they have no inkling for the crown of martyrdom; they seize upon the conclusions of minds, which have gone before them; they interpret the popular will ; these are the men who strike the hour of time.”
“Some men's watches" said Talleyrand, "go a few minutes faster than those of other men ; those few minutes, frequently hang the glory, or the ruin of an empire, or state.
Such men are frequently put down as absurd theorists, because, as one has said, they will not halt until the boys come up to them; they prepare public opinion, they diffuse thought abroad; for what we call public opinion, depends upon the thinkings and reasonings of the most intelligent of the community; and these again, derive their opinions from the man whose perceptions long since understood the necessities of the times. The main quality of their mind is nimbleness ; they plough with Sampson's heifers; their strength is neither in depth, nor in intensity, but in encyclopedicalness, in