Imatges de pÓgina
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Actual-every increase in his correspondences with his environment-every accession of more life, meant the attainment of a longed-for Ideal, and has not every such attainment been but a prelude to the burst of a higher Ideal on his vision? “ The situation”, says Carlyle, “ that has not its Duty, its Ideal, was never yet occupied by man. Yes, here in this poor, miserable, hampered despicable Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere, is thy Ideal; work it out therefrora : and working, believe, live and be free.” Is not this exactly what our own classic Rishi, Mudgala, said and practised ? Does not the Christian Paul say the same thing“Work out your own salvation"? Can salvation be worked out without working out self-purification, and can we work out self-purification without self-denial and without righteousness ? There may be higher types of man whose store of hereditary purity, accumulated by the self-denial and self-sacrifice of generations of ancestors, or whose store of self-acquired purity, due to the favourable influence of their spiritual environment, may fit them at once for the higher plane of ideal ethereal life, without any troublesome preliminary apprenticeship to the Actual. But such men—the prophets and saints of all lands -are very few. They are the salt of the earth, and help us to grow by their example. The rank and file of hamanity have still to work their way to higher goals, by realising their conditions, by utilising their surroundings--surroundings vital with a Heavenly Presence-by acting well their part on earth -by hoping for a higher life—and by that .divine discontent' which has always been the fore-runner of progress. Icarus could not fly like a bird, but a modern balloonist, by utilising Nature, can soar high into space, and unlike a bird, can even take a companion or two with him into the higher regions. The old astronomer in the fable, with his eyes turned towards the stars and his feet going astray, terminated his studies in a cold well, but the modern astronomer, well knowing that negligence is as great a crime as rashness, takes care both of his eyes and his feet, and, with telescope in hand, sweeps

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heavens from his observatory in perfect security. Friends and brethren, let us not befool ourselves with idle phrases. Go to the root of the question, if you please ; look into its ins and outs, and survey it in all its aspects ; but you cannot get over the invincible truth that progress is impossible without effort. We are day by day curtailing our old inheritance, and doing next to nothing to improve our surroundings. And yet we have only to exert ourselves in right earnest, and the traditions of our race, the memories of our fathers, nay, their living presences around us--for good men never die-will infuse a new life into us, and make us better, purer, holier, happier. Every year, we make our offerings to the manes of our progenitors out of an ever-diminishing stock of righteousness, and every year, by walking after the stubbornness of our hearts in devious ways, we decrease the chances of a better progeny. We care as little for our ancestry as for our posterity ; we listen neither to reason nor to authority ; we worship forms without understanding, and, forsaking the fountain of living waters, “ hew out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water." How long, dear brethren, are we to disobey the clear laws of Nature, pervert our plain path, persist in our trespasses, and gradually make our old “heritage an abomination,” and cur ancient "pleasant portion" a wild desolation ? How long are we to continue this prodigal waste of hereditary vigour and virtue, in utter forgetfulness of the undying Nemesis that dogs the heels of every inordinate act, every inordinate omission ? Is it not yet time for us all to awake from our sleep of ages, and put our households once more in order ? Is it not yet time for a combined, sustained struggle against our new vice of blood, against that fatal blight which so often nips our youth in its bud, or sears the flower of our manhood in its bloom, which turns tender maidens into women before their time, which fades their beauty, stifles their growth, eats into the roots of their life, and riddles them with untold maladies ? Surely, my brothers, you do not believe that the Almighty Lawgiver is dead! Surely, you do not believe

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that his police or his judiciary is less efficient than ours ! Surely, most surely, we are being punished for our transgressions, punished to be schooled into a better life, but to be schooled only if we will learn. Every child-widow in India means a crime against Nature, a sin against God. Every consummation during pubescence, every marriage entailing such consummation, means the curses of the children to be born, a failure of our duty to our past, to our present, and to our future! Do

Do you think that such failure of duty is a thing not to be ashamed of? Is it not equivalent to moral insolvency? And is such insolvency less disgraceful than pecuniary insolvency ? Far be it from me to say that we are all moral insolvents. But so long as we choose to turn a deaf ear to the reproofs of our own back-slidings, so long as we do not break the yoke and burst the bands of the evil customs which hold us in thrall, so long as we strike no blow for our own freedom from their tyranny, we deserve no better fate than that of moral insolvents and parasites and slaves.

A HINDU ANTIQUARY.--And no better Yuga than the Kali Yuga--the Yuga of Kalbi—the Age of Misery. Read, my friends, the sixty-fourth Adhiaya of the Adiparva of the Mahâbhâ rata, and you find that in the Satya Yuga, men knew not women before their full prime, that children never died in infancy, that sterility was the lot of none, that disease was unknown, that woman was not a

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“ Poor thing of usages ! coerced-compelled,

Victim when wrong, and martyr oft when right, that health and holiness went hand in hand, and vigour and virtue were inseparable companions. We have long divorced them by this brutish and foolish usage of premature marriage and the demoralisation it has entailed, and I propose that we solemnly swear, each of us, to rest not and to pause not until we succeed in bringing the old Satya Yuga back again, at least in this essential respect,

A Hindu ANTI-REFORMER.–And pray how are you going to bring it back, dear old man ? Are you going to apply to the prosaic British Government for this boon ?

A HINDU ANTIQUARY.—I mean to try my own people first, and when I despair of them it will be time to apply to the Government.

A HINDU LAWYER.-But how are you going to try your own people first ?

A HINDU ANTIQUARY.-Well, I will join my friend, the missionary here, and implore each caste to reform itself. I will entreat my educated brethren to become missionaries like us, and shame them into establishing at least one indigenous mission which may compare favourably with the 800 foreign missions we have amongst us. I will ask the public to support it at least as well as the Countess of Dufferin Fund, for the object of the fund is curative while ours is preventive. I will devote the remaining few years of my life to this work, for I feel that not a single earnest word, not a single honest effort, is ever wasted. My God, my Father, will bless my poor endeavours, and enable me to sow at least a seed which may one day germinate and grow into a goodly tree. This is my simple old-fashioned faith, and I mean to act up

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to it.

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“We live in deeds, not years ; in thoughts, not

breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial;
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most

lives

!

Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best." M. G. RANADE.— I wish every one of us had your faith and every one of us acted up to it.

A HINDU LAWYER.-It is not difficult to act up to it, if one can only understand that the best selfishness lies in un

selfishness. I am afraid I can't become a missionary, but though I can't spare my time, the mission is welcome to my money.

AN ANTI-REFORMER.—But I don't yet understand what this new-fangled mission is wanted for.

A HINDU ANTIQUARY.-Well, if you can't understand that self-help is essential to our progress, that progress is necessary for perfection, that perfection should be the aim of every human being ; if you can't conceive any higher ideal than that of personal happiness, you can at least understand the great disparity which premature marriage is creating between the two sexes. It has been well said that this practice “shortens the period of pure and joyous maidenhood," and that “the child is thereby forced by an abrupt and violent transition into the woman. It is only the joylessness of a people, that could have made the Nautch a pleasurable mode of passing an evening. This result is a direct consequence of India having withdrawn, from the commerce of society, the element which Nature has provided to brighten, purify, and elevate it; and Nature, indignant at the affront, has retaliated by the infliction of the Nautch as the great national amusement.” The Greeks had their hetære, and we have our Naikins, and the origin of the latter is the same as that of the former. Is it, I ask, conducive to happiness, for the husband to be well educated, and the wife to be ill-educated or not educated at all? Then is it conducive to happiness or even to sensual gratification, to mate an unripe girl to an unripe boy? We are in this respect more kind to our mares and horses, our cows and oxen, than to our own kin, our own sons and daughters. Again, is it conducive to happiness, to have a feeble or unhealthy family? Lastly, if intellectual pleasures are superior to physical pleasures, and if such pleasures are desirable, do you expect that so long as this barbarous custom overshadows our life, we can ever have good poetry or excel in art ? Read the

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