« EdellinenJatka »
the two on terms of mutual aid is for each one of us an important part of life's discipline.
It is often charged that Puritanism was lop-sided, other-worldly, over-emphatic in the care of one's own soul; and that through this tendency it exposed its followers to self-deception and hypocrisy. That there was danger in this direction is obvious. But danger that leads to such high results is worth while. I believe the danger grossly exaggerated; and it is only fair to remember that the Puritan world was a far less interesting, a less spiritual place than it has become since the rise of modern science and the study of the conditions under which mind and morals are planned to coöperate.
On account, too, of its slender comprehension of the relation between persons, Puritanism has been badly shaken and now looks a good deal out of date. Its insistence on personality and the eternal worth of the individual, we have already seen. Self-respect might be called the central Puritan virtue. Certainly the omnipresent sense of sin that brooded over Puritanism concerned itself far more with personal stain than with social damage. Society, with its obligations, is something almost accidental. God has seen fit to create a multitude, each a person, and has called on us, as we respect ourselves, to respect others. Equality is the highest point reached by Puritan sociology, with democracy as its natural expression. But the thought of our time has taken a lurch in a different direction. Individualism, the liberal creed for at least four centuries, is now disparaged, Socialism is exalted. Instead of viewing society as formed by the addition of individuals, we now incline to look upon society as primordial and an individual as its derivative. Socialism, though by itself no less false than its opposite, has at least shown that a single detached
person, complete in isolation, is inconceivable. We exist in relations and are essentially conjunct. But while society and the individual are mutual factors, meaningless apart, I think Puritanism drew attention to that side of the dual fact which is the more important for human welfare. The initiation of action is an individual function. Too often it is forgotten that society has no central consciousness. That is lodged in individuals, who alone, therefore, have the power to criticize, on which power all progress is dependent. Without personal goading, society remains blind and inert. It cannot reform itself. A Garrison, a Phillips, a Mrs. Stowe, a Whittier, a Lincoln must first appear, before American slavery is overthrown. While then the meagre Puritan conception of personality was destined to perish and to carry with it a pretty large superstructure, it trained strong men as the equally one-sided philosophy of to-day cannot. Socialism begets enthusiastic followers. Leaders are fashioned where honor is paid to personality.
If the Puritan notion of personality, however, was too small for man, it was doubly belittling when applied to God. Yet He, too, was imagined as an individual, contrasted, on the one hand, with physical objects, and on the other, with human beings. He easily became pictured as an old man in the clouds, trying, not very successfully, to manage his obstreperous world. It is true, such concrete representation has its uses and is unhesitatingly employed by the Psalmist and most religious teachers. Stated baldly, it seems irreverent to speak of God as a hen. But when we read that 'He covers us with his feathers and under his wings we may trust,' how true and comforting is the comparison!
Just so with the Puritan humanization of God. If we are to speak to Him
in prayer, hear his voice in duty, find Him our supporting companion in privation and sorrow, the object of our gratitude in happiness; if, indeed, we are sincere in our hopes of individual immortality, we must detect in our own personality something too precious to be lacking in Him whom we worship. Only to a person will love go forth. The danger is that personality may become an empty form, excluding all contents. As in ourselves, it should be an organizing principle, rich in relations. and powers, and capable of the utmost self-diversification. But for the Puritans the world was somewhat aloof from God. They knew Him as its original and arbitrary creator, but not as its present indwelling life, as
Something deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns
In like manner the human body, with its multifarious joys, instincts, invigorations and seductions, was looked on, not as a temple of God, but as a prisonhouse of the Spirit. No monotheism, however, can be permanent which ignores the massive truths of polytheism. Puritanism tried to and failed.
No doubt I magnify these faults by abstract statement. Practical life usually finds its way to facts, even through restrictive theories. And it would be unfair not to recognize the enlarged scope offered to Puritan thought about God by the doctrine of the Trinity. According to this, God presents Himself to us in three contrasted ways, -as the ground of all existence, as perfected
humanity, and as the general power, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness, all these being manifestations of the same person. This profound doctrine should, especially in its third phase, have checked the attempt to think of God as an empty individual unit. The Trinity makes Him, not a unit, but a unity. Like all other persons, his nature involves differentiation and forthgoing. But popular associations with the word person were hard to overcome, and the puzzling doctrine easily slipped down into tritheism. When so held, it offered as troublesome perplexities in the reconcilement of its members as the Greeks and Romans felt in harmonizing their polytheistic pantheon.
While, then, I believe that American civilization owes more to Puritanism than to any other single agency, I have no desire to see it reëstablished. That is plainly impossible. We must rethink its problems in our own terms and even remould its beautiful home-training, if we would not be blind to what the world has learned since the Pilgrims landed.
Each age has what may be called its holy passions. Those of Puritan times were rationality, order, duty regarded as personal loyalty; those of to-day, humanitarianism, social service, scientific pursuit of ever-developing truth. These later ideals, though slenderly regarded by the Puritans, are quite as needful as their own in the fulfillment of Christ's moral law. Through them the spirit of Puritanism acquires a richer significance.
BY VICENTE BLASCO IBÁÑEZ
THE Duchess of Pontecorvo left her automobile at the bottom of the hill on which the village of Roquebrune is situated, and, leaning on the arm of a lackey, began the ascent of the steep, narrow, winding roads leading through that fortress-town of the Maritime Alps. A visit to Roquebrune had become something habitual with the old lady on afternoons when the sky was bright and cloudless. She had found this picturesque nook where the streets, paved with blue cobblestones, are often tunnels some weeks before, and had advertised its beauties enthusiastically among all her friends. Every day she herself would go up from her villa to the esplanade in front of the village church, to enjoy a magnificent view of the sunset.
There was an element of vanity in this daily climb. The duchess had discovered something unknown to the ordinary resident of the Mediterranean shore; and pride in her achievement made her quite forget the fatigue imposed upon her eighty years by the walk up those perpendicular streets of the medieval town, too narrow for a cart, and familiar with no other means of locomotion than the donkey or the mule used by visitors to the church.
The duchess was a decidedly flaccid, obese person. She could get along only with the help of a gold-headed bamboo cane bequeathed by her deceased husband, the Duke of Pontecorvo. On this walk, however, despite the chronic
swelling of her feet, the Duchess moved with a certain sprightly youthfulness that had been passed on to her old age by the impatient, nervous energy of her mind.
A majestic, a Junoesque beauty, she must have been in her younger days. 'A Marie Antoinette all over again,' her flatterers were still saying, even now, when she was old. Nevertheless, two deep lines fell from her sharp, aquiline nose upon the corners of her mouth, and her blue eyes were faded and watery. She habitually dressed in black, with an impressive, aristocratic sobriety. Curls of white hair, far too thick and lustrous to be genuine, strayed from under her bonnet. What at once struck the eye, however, the thing that had made her famous along the whole coast, was a necklace, the 'Necklace of the Duchess,' as it was familiarly called five hundred thousand dollars' worth of pearls, according to the estimates of people who were supposed to know! This necklace- a 'dog-collar,' in the jargon of the fashionable world-was a veritable corset for her neck and throat, flaming like one great jewel, and hiding in a blaze of glory any defects there may have been in the complexion of her wrinkly skin.
The duchess entered the church, which was quite deserted at that hour. The lackey left her side and stood at respectful attention near a little door, swung out from one side of the building, and casting over the tiles a rectangle of
blue shadow broken by flickering spots of sunlight as round and glossy as coins of gold. The footman never went beyond that point. The duchess preferred to be alone, sole sovereign of a domain that was hers by right of discovery.
The lady made her way through the church and stepped out through another door into a garden lined with palm trees. As she progressed, her cane tapped noisily on the red flagstones that rose and fell unevenly from years and years of exposure to sun and rain. The delight the duchess knew in this clerical retreat came from the charm of contrast. Everything here was different from the sleek, ornate, majestic elegance of her villa down below, on the edge of the great blue Mediterranean plain. On this mountain terrace, flowers were growing in wild freedom and profusion. Rose bushes, untrimmed, uncared-for, wove their branches and thorns and blossoms into one entrancing thicket of color and perfume. The trees, unpruned, crowded close upon one another, even intertwining their trunks to make strange, fantastic, almost human forms. Wild flowers, borne hither on the winds, were disputing the soil with garden plants. All around was one confused hum of insect life - ants, wasps, multi-colored beetles, crawling over the ground, climbing up and down the tree-trunks, or flitting musically through the air.
What the duchess was really looking for, and enjoying in advance, was the wonderful view that opened just beyond the growth of trees, where, from a sort of natural balcony, she could look out from a great height upon the sea, and then down along the curving shore where the promontories of the Alps jut out, making gulfs and bays and peninsulas in the azure mirror. In the distance towered the mountains of Nice, peaks that stood out like blocks of ebony against the crimson afterglow.
Nearer, on the seashore, rose the crag of Monaco, with the old city on its back. Then came the plateau of Monte Carlo, bristling with palaces and gardens. At her feet lay Cap Martin, where her own house was a villa erected among the pine groves by the late Duke of Pontecorvo. Near by was the summer house of her friend and former patroness, the Empress Eugénie, with the residences of other princes and dethroned monarchs. There, also, was the huge palace of John Baldwin, an American iron king, who was regarded in those parts as one of the richest men in the world.
The old lady pushed her way through the shrubbery along the brink of the precipitous slope, in search of one particular spot from which the whole panorama of the Blue Coast spread out before her delighted eyes. There she could sit for an hour or more, watching the slow, placid death of the afternoon. No one surely would disturb her in that tranquil garden. There she could rest for a time, far away from all common cares of the world, take one delicious plunge, as it were, into the glory of the sunset, at an hour when the tenderest memories of the past return,- thoughts of all that has been and will never be again, like a sweet and melancholy music coming to the ear from far away, or a lingering perfume of dead flowers that will bloom no more!
There was something selfish in this daily recreation of the duchess. She was like some despot of music, who has an opera sung to an empty theatre while he sits alone there, lying back at his ease in the depths of an upholstered chair. The wondrous beauty of that dying sun, the purple mourning colors that draped the sky and the sea of that Mediterranean paradise were things she wanted all for herself. And in that garden she could have them.
On this occasion, when the duchess
reached her favorite retreat, she noticed, with some traces of annoyance, that she was not, as usual, entirely alone. A smell of tobacco smoke mingled perceptibly with the fragrance of the flowers. She heard a cough behind the intertwining branches of the trees. A man had invaded her dominions and was enjoying the view which she had chosen to call her own.
The old lady was tempted to protest, as if a trespasser had ventured on property of hers. And yet, when the intruder appeared and stepped toward her, the expression of displeasure on her face changed to one of cordial greeting.
'Oh, it's you, Mr. Baldwin. I am so glad to see you here.'
Whenever, from time to time, John Baldwin, the American multimillionaire, came to spend a few weeks in the palace on Cap Martin, which he had bought through a newspaper advertisement, he attracted the attention of the whole Blue Coast. Though any number of forgotten celebrities- ex-premiers, dethroned monarchs, retired magnatescould be found in the small strip of territory that stretches between Cannes and Mentone, there was not a single 'winterer' on the Riviera comparable to him. The authorities were always soliciting his aid for public charities. Philanthropic organizations were forever sending the most important men of the native population to knock at his door in the interest of this or that good work. Every theatrical or musical function showed his name among its patrons. The omnipotent millionaire was something like a god, who never reveals himself to profane eyes, but makes his presence felt everywhere through his miracles.
Visitors to his beautiful palace were rarely received by him in person,
though just as rarely, if they came for any defensible purpose, did they go away without some donation. The few who had met him personally would point him out as a real curiosity when he appeared on the boulevard in Nice, or in one of the gambling-rooms at Monte Carlo. 'Do you know? That is Baldwin over there- Baldwin, the American millionaire!' Such information would usually be received with an exclamation of surprise. 'What! Baldwin? That, Baldwin? Why, he looks as poor as a rat!'
Baldwin, in fact, always dressed very plainly; and his habits were as simple as his clothes. Though his garages on Cap Martin held numerous automobiles of the most fashionable makes, he went almost everywhere on foot. He chose his secretaries for their refinement and good taste in dress. He seemed to enjoy being taken for the servant of the elegant secretaries who sometimes went with him on his walks.
People described him ordinarily as 'the richest man on earth.' Those who pretended greater intimacy with his affairs asserted that he had a million dollars on his checking account at the bank. When asked why he allowed such an enormous capital to lie idle, he would answer with a sigh of weariness. Money bored him so! What could he do with money? It was impossible to invest it in anything better than his own business; and since his various enterprises in mining and manufacturing had already reached their maximum development and were in need of no further capital, why should he worry?