Page 4067

4067 REFLECTIONS.

CHAPTER CLXXIX-REFLECTIONS.

THE concluding paragraphs of a historical

work may well be brief

and simple. It is not

permitted to the writer

of history to moralize at

length upon the events

which are sketched by

his pen. He is forbidden to conjecture, to

imagine, to dream. He has learned, albeit

against his will, to be humble in the

presence of facts. To him the scenery on

the shore of the stream that bears him

onward-tall trees and giant rocks-must

pass but half observed, and for him the sun

and the south wind strive in vain to make

enticing pictures on the playful eddies of

human progress.

None the less, the writer of history may

occasionally pause to reflect; he may ever

and anon throw out an honest deduction

drawn from the events upon which his

attention has been fixed. Particularly is

this true when he has come to the end. All

of a sudden he anchors in the bay of the

present, and realizes that his voyage is done.

In such a moment there is a natural reversion of thought from its long and devious

track across the fields, valleys, and wastes

of the past, and a strong disposition to

educe some lesson from the events which he

has recorded.

The first and most general truth in history is that men ought to be free. If happiness is the end of the human race, then freedom is its condition. And this freedom is

not to be a kind of half-escape from thralldom and tyranny, but ample and absolute.

The emancipation in order to be emancipation at all, must be complete. To the historian it must ever appear strange that men

have been so distrustful of this central principle in the philosophy of human history. It

is an astonishing fact that the major part of

the energies of mankind have been expended

in precisely the opposite way-in the

enslavement rather than the liberation of

the race. Every generation has sat like a

stupid image of Buddha on the breast of its

own aspirations, and they who have struggled to break their own and the fetters of

their fellow-men have been regarded and

treated as the common enemies of human

peace and happiness. On the contrary,

they have been saviors and benefactors of

whom the world has not been worthy. The

greatest fallacy with which the human intellect has ever been beguiled is, that the

present-whatever age may be called the

present-has conceded to men all the freedom which they are fit to enjoy. On the

contrary, no age has done so. Every age

has been a Czar, and every reformer is

threatened with Siberia.

Nevertheless, in the face of all this baleful opposition and fierce hostility to the forward and freedom-seeking movement of the

race, the fact remains that to be free is the

prime condition of all the greatness, wisdom,

and happiness in the world. Whatever force,

therefore, contributes to widen the limits

which timid fear or selfish despotism has set

as the thus-far of freedom, is a civilizing

force, and deserves to be augmented by the

individual will and personal endeavor of

every lover of mankind; and, on the other

hand, every force which tends to fix around

the teeming brains and restless activities of

men one of the so-called "necessary barriers"

to their progress and ambition, is a force of

barbarism and cruelty, meriting the relentless antagonism of every well-wisher of his

kind.

Let it be remembered, then, that the

battle is not yet ended, the. victory not yet

won. The present is relatively-not absolutely, thanks to the great warriors of

humanity-as much the victim of the

enslaving forces as was the past; and it is

the duty of the philanthropist, the sage, the

statesman, to give the best of his life and

genius to the work of breaking down, and

not imposing, those bulwarks and barriers

which superstition and conservatism have