Imatges de pàgina

of historic events. The general question as to the relation between history and character resolves itself into an examination of the relation between character and personality. It will now be seen that character cannot possibly be among the most comprehensive causes of history, in that it refers only to one of the five large factors of history. It is perfectly true that that one factor is occasionally an overpoweringly strong factor, and whenever this is the case character becomes supreme as an historic cause. Such is, however, not always the case. . Like everything else, personality too has its history. In some periods of history personality is the supreme power; and the writer has elsewhere essayed to show that all classical history, or the history of the Phoeni. cians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans is cephalic—i.e. is derived from the influence and driving force of a few towering personalities, and thus from character. In the Middle Ages, on the other hand, the secular history of Europe is not at all dependent on cephalic causes, while the ecclesiastic history is. In modern times personality plays, on the whole, a minor rôle ; and instead of having State-creating personalities such as Moses, Theseus, Lycurgus, or Romulus, we meet, as a rule, only with very clever statesmen, such as Oldenbarneveld, Richelieu, Cromwell, Mazarin, Bismarck or Cavour.

The right appreciation of the relation of history to character depends, as may now be seen, very largely on the view of history in general. He who reads the grammar and meaning of history as a mere commentary on single great men, he who accepts Carlyle's hero-worship, will unfailingly overrate the value of character in history; as Carlyle himself, by his overstrung bent for ethical views, was biassed into a belief in hero-worship. If, however, we keep strictly to the sober view above indicated—to wit, that history is the product of five large factors, four of which do not undergo any considerable influence at the hands of individual character-we shall arrive at a juster and at a more adequate appreciation of the share that character has in the shaping of human history. Thus we shall see at once that ancient or classical history is largely a history of character; while mediaeval and modern secular history is pre-eminently a history of the four historic constants. This sufficiently accounts for the undying and intense interest we still take and always will take in ancient classical history. It is, fundamentally, an interest in what interests us most in humans,-character. It is the interest we take in good novels, in great poems, in fine dramas. To man nothing is more interesting than man-i.e. than character. Both as an artistic expression of moral plasticity, and as an ethical mani. festation of plastic morality, character engages our deepest interest and our keenest attention. The decalogue of Moses may have been an improved copy of a previous code of law, Babylonian or Edomite ; but the grand character of Moses lays hold of our soul with a force that no mere ` intelligence ' or deftness can ever claim or attain. It is

even so with all the grand figures of classical history. They are not mere persons, they are personalities. They are types, not to say eternal types of humanity at its grandest.

Character, then, may and does contribute very much to the making of history, provided the other four great factors have prepared historic circumstances enabling a personality to exert his influence. These circumstances were, as has been remarked, very much more frequent in classical antiquity than in post-Roman times. It is accordingly in classical antiquity where we can study the problem of history and character' most fully. One of the first teachings of Hebrew, Greek or Roman history is a confirmation of the simple yet very important truth that where there are peaks, there are mountains. The great characters of classical history presuppose, and are in fact based upon, great nations. Where the four great constant factors of history have not favoured the rise of a great nation, there the fifth factor, or personality, has had little chance of exercising the forces of great character. The Babylonians or the Egyptians, the Assyrians or the Hittites, were massive and bulky, but not great. In spite of very much information about them, we have not yet discovered among them the existence of characters and personalities remotely similar to those of the Hebrews or the Greeks. Their realms were principally the make of geo-political forces; and arising, as they did, not from a higher and more intense energisation of human forces, they never led up to the intensest manifestation of man's capacities,—to personality. There were in those empires' persons, even personages, but no personalities.

When, however, we turn to the ever-memorable border-nations in Western Asia who, by fighting the immense inland empires singlehanded, were compelled to energise themselves into nations of a singular force; when we approach, e.g. the Hebrews, we soon meet with types of men so full of the grit and energy of true character, that we still accept them as models to be followed. Moses is not merely a wise law.giver, or a good jurist improving slightly on the legislation of previous ages ; he is not only an efficient manager and agent for emigrants, nor merely a successful organiser of a ' popular rising '; he is infinitely more than all that. What the Israelites in Egypt needed was a mighty character, who had an unshakeable belief in the great destiny of his nation. Many a Midianite or roving Arab Bedouin might have had, and no doubt did possess, as much knowledge about the desert between Egypt and Palestine as did Moses. Many a sheik at that time may have had some notions about ethical monotheism or monotheistic law. However, the Israelites, to make good their trek from Egypt, stood in need of a man immeasurably superior to all such mere cleverness or sapient experience. They needed a man in whose mighty soul was burning an inextinguishable flame of national faith, an indestructible great hope. Such a man must have all the ethical forces of character. This powerful confidence, this immense hopefulness does not come from mere intellect, nor from knowledge alone. It is, like character itself, in a sense, above and beyond the material, or the intellectual ; it is metempirical and spiritual. Wherever and whenever nations destined to greatness were in need of some great inspirer of confidence, they naturally and instinctively turned to someone like Moses, to a personality in whom character

was the central force. The Reformation was not made by the subtle and learned Erasmus, nor by the well-informed Melanchthon ; but by rough Luther, in whose grand soul character trampled upon all infirmities, fears, and apprehensions, and who unwaveringly held on high the banner of his faith in the religious revival. When England was at war with Louis the Fourteenth, the mightiest monarch of his time, the people placed their faith not in brilliant, over-intellectualised Halifax, but in William the Third, who, asthmatic, constantly ill and, on the Continent at least, constantly beaten, yet never hesitated in the enterprise that his indomitable character had once decided to carry through.

To resume, then, the relation of character to history can be studied most adequately in one of the five great causes or forces of history, in personality; and since this cause does not always step in as a factor of events, since it is dependent on circumstances determined by the four other causes of history, we cannot possibly say that all history is the make of character. And yet it remains true, that great history is largely the make of great characters or personalities, A closer study of some of those characters will enable us to draw a fuller picture. Before doing so, however, we must not overlook one general feature of history which bears directly on our topic.

In history it is, as it were, the rule that great movements, whether spiritual, political or social, come to be personified in one characteristic person.

We say great movements, and it is meant to imply that only such movements as really agitate the soul of a whole nation, that profoundly stir the latent or dormant forces of an entire people for a considerable length of time, can be called great movements. Thus, for instance, socialistic movements of the third estate' have, in England, never assumed an intensity remotely comparable to similar movements in ancient Rome or modern France. The risings of 1381, 1450, or 1848, were only ‘risings' but not great movements ; and accordingly England has produced Wat Tylers and Jack Cades, but no Gracchus nor a Mirabeau. But when the movement takes on dimensions of intensity and comprehensiveness so large as to revolutionise the whole ethic, social or spiritual life of a nation, then, as history frequently shows, such movements all 'taper up,' as it were, into one immense personality. The essential feature of such a personality invariably is its peculiar character. In this, the deepest sense, we may, for such historic movements and times, rightly say that they were made by character.

If, for instance, we study the times of Joan of Arc, we may, if not

with complete correctness, say that her unique character saved France. Her country was, in the twenties of the fifteenth century, plunged in the deepest misery. To the loss of so many battles, to the devastation of so large a portion of France, was added a demoralisation so exasperating that the people and the leaders of France despaired of the future altogether. There still were numerous valiant and able soldiers and knights in France; there still were means left of retrieving the misfortunes of Agincourt, Rouen, and Verneuil. But what was lacking? What neither king nor princes could instil into the nation, that was courage, and confidence in themselves. The humiliating peace of Troyes weighed upon the people with the benumbing power of a nightmare. A dumb yet profound desperation took hold of the French, and in their houses, taverns or churches they talked and thought of nothing else than the downfall of their country. In that hour of national darkness help came from the most unexpected quarter. Had a young knight of the illustrious houses of La Trémoille, Pardiac, Clermont, or other grands seigneurs shown the skill and character then requisite for a re-energisation of the drooping spirits of the French people, no one would have wondered at it. As a Du Guesclin saved France in the early seventies of the fourteenth century, so a Pardiac might have saved her in the twenties of the fifteenth. Nor would it have appeared strange or unexpected had a member of one of the monastic orders come forward as the person able to imbue the French with renewed hope in their destiny. What just about that time happened in Bohemia and Hungary owing to the fiery preachings of Capistrano, a Franciscan friar, that might very well have arisen in France at the hands of an inspiring Dominican, Cluniac, or Carthusian. Capistrano successfully combated, by sheer force of his spiritual eloquence, the formidable Hussites, and the still more formidable Turks. Might not France too have found her Capistrano and her John Hunyadi ?

As a matter of fact, as is well known, the saviour of French nationality did not come from among the men of France, but from among her women. This too ought not to surprise us inordinately, in that, at the present day too, French married women generally prove themselves to be possessed of an unusual energy of thought and action. In marked contrast to the women of other countries, whether Latin or Teutonic, the married women of France show in all the relations of life a singularly keen energy and alertness. This, their characteristic feature, is however more or less dormant during the period of their girlhood. The French girl is kept in such strict seclusion and under a constant supervision so severe, as to restrain all her youthful exuberance, and to enfeeble, at least in appearance, all her self-reliance and energy. If, therefore, the person endowing France in the twenties of the fifteenth century with the inestimable boon of national self-confidence had come from the ranks of her married women, even then we should have no great reason for astonishment. This has happened in France pretty frequently in all the centuries. But that such a much-needed personality should arise from the obscure background of French girlhood, that the national inspiration of France should be due to a very young girl of Lorraine, that is indeed a phenomenon calling forth a legitimate amazement. In other words, it is not easy to see how and why the pent-up forces of energy in France should, in the twenties of the fifteenth century, come to their inevitable incarnation in the personality of a very young French girl. It is true that young girl, Jeanne d'Arc, lived not too far from the town of Troyes, where in 1420 the treaty handing over France to the king of England had been made. All round Troyes the waves of French popular indignation ran much higher than in the other parts of the country. The men of France together with their wives had, in the long intestine wars of the French parties, totally unlearnt the love of France as the common mother of all of them. They had long been nothing but enraged and envenomed partisans. The last refuge of French patriotism, untainted by any party-thought, was in the hearts of those women who at all times were held to represent the purity and sanctity of unapproachable womanhood—the young girls. What wonder then, that, the person focussing in her pure soul all the remaining ethical forces of her country was a young girl ? Jeanne said she had heard 'voices. Quite so; she heard the voices of the conscience of France, crying in vain for help from the men of France, and thus addressing itself, as to its last refuge, to the pure souls of her maidens. She felt, and rightly, that in her character was the guarantee of the salvation of France. What France then lacked, the strength of character and the belief in ethical powers, that she, as a perfectly innocent and truthful young maiden, felt welling up in her heart as a source of unending benefaction to her wretched countrymen. The conscience of France, driven from all its former abodes, was forced, as it were, to take refuge in the last possible place of rest, and from there it would reach again the hearts of the nation. What Jeanne felt was that she could bring to her people the very purity and strength of character that the great majority of French maidens bring to their husbands. As no Frenchman ever reaches his true level without being married to a well brought-up French maid, so France was, in the second and third decades of the fifteenth century, miserably tottering from failure to failure until the right maiden took the country under her patronage.

The great force of Joan of Arc was, as may now be seen, neither in her insight, nor in her military qualities, but in her singularly sublime character. France was then in the position of a dissolute young man who can be saved only by the purity and sweet but determined energy of a young bride. Joan felt her vocation with the same unerring clearness that many a maiden has felt, that she could bring steadiness and happiness to the unbalanced young man of her chaste love. She expressed that certitude of vision in a mystical,

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