Saturday, September 30, 2006

6 October: Boreham on Alfred Tennyson

A Singer's Coronation
On this, the anniversary of his death, it is interesting to reflect that it is just one hundred years since Alfred Tennyson was made Poet Laureate.[1] It was the culmination of the most exciting and sensational period in a long and illustrious career. Within a few months, in 1850, Tennyson published "In Memoriam," married the woman for whom he had waited impatiently for 20 years, and received from Queen Victoria the bays that had just fallen from the brows of Wordsworth. To mark the centenary of this extraordinary succession of momentous events, Sir Charles Tennyson, the grandson of the poet, produced a full-length biographical portrait of his illustrious grandsire. It is an intensely human and extremely valuable document. Our libraries are well stocked with lives of Tennyson, it is true; at least a dozen must have been written by skilful and capable hands; but the poet's grandson, free to reveal what his uncle and other writers were under obligation to conceal, has given us an entirely new conception of the poet's personality.

We have always thought of Tennyson as the lordliest of our laureates. There was something princely in his very bearing. On his winning an athletic contest as a student, W. H. Brookfield told him that he had no right to be both a Hercules and an Apollo. Later in life, he was told that, in a braided uniform on the bridge of a battleship, his commanding appearance would ensure the success of any squadron. He compelled a second glance from every man he met. His name still summons to the fancy a figure altogether impressive and magnetic. Yet he has seemed a trifle remote, austere, grandiose, and statuesque.

The Human Aspect Of True Greatness
But his grandson presents for our contemplation quite another Tennyson. On one page we find him setting the rafters ringing with his boisterous laughter. On another, he is weeping beside the white-robed body of his first born, stillborn son—"a grand, massive man-child, noble brow and hands, which he had clenched in his determination to be born." In a later chapter we find him romping on the floor with his children, and anon he is revelling in his favourite game of blind-man's-buff at a young people's party. In his last days, as squire of Farringford in the Isle of Wight, nothing pleased him more than a long chat with the coachman down at the stables, with the ploughboy out in the fields, with the cottagers at their gates in the village, or with an old shepherd for whom he had a special affection. When this aged yokel was told that his familiar companion was the greatest poet living, he threw up his hands in blank amazement. "What a headpiece he must have," the old man cried, "an' 'e doan't look it, do' ee?"

The outstanding vindication of Sir Charles Tennyson's literary venture consists in his ability, denied to his predecessors, to divulge the grim background against which the poet's life must be viewed. The early chapters of the grandson's book furnish a vivid, almost dramatic, revelation of the stark misery of Tennyson's boyhood, a revelation that could not have been made 50 years ago without occasioning serious embarrassment, and perhaps giving mortal offence, to scores then living. It is not a pretty picture. We see the Somersby rectory crowded with a dozen children, of whom Alfred is fourth. The Vicar, who is something of a poet, something of a painter, something of an architect, and something of a musician writhes under a sense of bitter frustration. He is angry with the world for not having made better use of him. He takes to drink; his mind totters; and there are times when, on visiting a parishioner, he is unable to recall his own name.

A Long Lane With a Sudden Turning
Some of the boys, Alfred among them, were sent to the Louth Grammar School. It was a hateful place. Tennyson could never speak of his life there without a shudder. To the end of his days he refused to pass within sight of the buildings. His hand, after a caning, was useless to him for several days. The astounding thing is that, even then, Tennyson was determined to be a poet. If, he said, all the vocations and professions threw open their doors to welcome him, there was only one that he would enter. To be anything but a poet would be an insult to the muse, an outrage on his oracle. It was because of this that the felicities of life came to him so tardily. He was 21 when, in a leafy wood he was introduced to Emily Sellwood by Arthur Hallam, whose memory is embalmed and immortalised in the elegant stanzas of "In Memoriam." He vowed that day that he would marry her; but it was 20 years before the ecstatic dream could be realised.

Once married and crowned, everything went well with him. The Queen and the people took him to their hearts. Tennyson's outstanding distinction lies in the fact that, born in a scientific age, he set to music the new thoughts that were stirring in the minds of men. In him, the aesthetic and the analytic met together; in him, Science and Poesy kissed each other. Yet, side by side with this element of sublimity, Tennyson retained, all through the years, his exquisite simplicity. Neither learning, success, popularity nor wealth spoiled him. As an old man, he one day took his niece, Agnes, for a stroll over the sunlit downs. "You know," he said, taking her arm, "God is walking with us now, on these downs, just as truly as Christ walked with His two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is the joy of my heart that He is as much by my side at this moment as you are. There is not a flower on the downs that owes as much to the sun as I do to Christ." It was in this spirit that the lordliest and most lovable of our laureates exercised the minstrelsy with which, for more than 60 years, he enriched an attentive and appreciative world.

F W Boreham

[1] This editorial appears in the Hobart Mercury on November 18, 1950.

Image: Alfred Tennyson

Friday, September 29, 2006

5 October: Boreham on William Tyndale

A Hurricane of Thrills
The fact that we mark today the anniversary of the death of William Tyndale suggests an interesting question.[1] Have we ever adequately appreciated the really momentous character of the early years of the sixteenth century? The air tingled with sensation and romance. It was an age of thrills. Civilisation was being overhauled and recast. The very planet was assuming a fresh shape. For it was the age of Bartholomew Diaz and Vasco da Gama, the age of John Cabot and Christopher Columbus, the age of Balboa and Magellan, the age of Cortes and Pizarro.

The voyage of Diaz added Africa to the map of the world; the voyage of Columbus added America, and the voyage of Vasco da Gama unveiled India to the eyes of Europe. Continents were springing up like mushrooms of a misty morning.

Moreover, fresh continents produced fresh oceans. It was only 21 years from the time when Columbus sailed on his momentous voyage to that scarcely less notable hour when Nunez de Balboa—

With eagle eye
First stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Looked at each
other with a wild surmise
Silent upon a peak in Darien.

Navigation was the fever of the hour. The vast oceans, so long a waste of loneliness, became a snowstorm of white sails. It is really amazing, when we take into consideration the crazy little vessels that were then the latest words in nautical science, that the intrepid spirits of that stirring period were able to make history so swiftly.

Every few days bronzed explorers seemed to be stepping from the decks of battered and weather-beaten ships to tell of new and surprising discoveries in the Atlantic, in the Pacific, in the Indian Ocean—everywhere!

The Transformation Of A Planet
Nor was the land less sensational than the sea. For one thing, William Caxton was busy setting up his magic presses. Macaulay says that the invention of printing was the most notable event that took place during a thousand years of human history. It took the world by storm.

Learned men, fashionable ladies and great nobles thronged Caxton's little printing house to see how the miracle was performed; whilst less intelligent people declined to go near it, declaring that such results could only be achieved by witchery, necromancy, and illicit commerce with evil spirits. And to add to the wonder of it all, the printing press came into the world at the very moment when the world had something well worth printing.

Whilst Columbus was opening up a new world in the West, Copernicus was discovering a new universe in the skies, and science was awakening to the glory of a grander day. Astronomy was being born. Culture of all kinds was exciting boundless enthusiasm. It was the Age of the Renaissance. Men were eager to think. In the realms of Philosophy, Music, Art, and, indeed, in every department of learning, illustrious adventurers whose names will live for ever, appeared like bright stars that twinkle suddenly out of the age-long dark. An infinite horizon was opening to the simplest minds. Men fell in love with the world—with this world and with every other. People who had lived in an age became citizens of all the ages. Those who had lived in a tiny village found themselves exploring mighty continents.

Lecky declares that the enlightenment and civilisation of ancient times was restricted almost entirely to great centres like Athens and Rome; it never penetrated rural districts. In the awakening that took place in England in the early years of the sixteenth century, it was quite otherwise. Mysteries that had for centuries baffled the minds of sages became the gossip of every chimney corner and the talk of every taproom.

A Work That Can Never Die
In those days, as Sid Sidney Lee avers, Englishmen were breathing a new atmosphere. They came under a fresh stimulus, compounded of many elements, each of them sensational and inspiring. It was a new birth of the intellect, a passion for extending the limits of human knowledge. Curiosity became universal. Men were fired by a firm resolve to make the best of life.

In such circumstances, it is by no means surprising that there awoke in the minds of the people an insatiable desire to possess the Scriptures in the English tongue. On their literary merits alone the demand was eminently reasonable. An age that was insisting on the choicest productions of ancient Greece could scarcely be denied the princeliest classic of all.

To William Tyndale the gratitude of the nation is due. He was a private tutor down in Gloucestershire when, moved by the temper of the time, he first conceived his historic design. Impressed by the fact that many famous scholars who came as guests to his master's table knew little or nothing of the sacred writings, he resolved to resign his position and devote himself to the task of translation. "I will never rest," he told his young charges as he took farewell of them, "I will never rest until every ploughboy in England knows the Scriptures better than the greatest scholars know them now!" He translated the New Testament in such a masterly way that, although many subsequent revisions have been made, the amendments have affected only matters of detail.

When, a few years ago, the Revised Edition was published, the revisers generously acknowledged that it is practically impossible to improve, to any considerable extent, on Tyndale's majestic rendition. For more than 20 years he laboured ceaselessly at his prodigious undertaking, counting no expenditure of time or energy too great if, by making the effort, he could enhance the value of his work.

His statue stands in a place of honour on the Victoria Embankment in London, and, as long as the world lasts, he will be regarded as one of the outstanding men of a singularly memorable time.

F W Boreham

Image: William Tyndale

[1] This editorial appears in the Hobart Mercury on October 4, 1952.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

4 October: Boreham on Catherine Booth

A Soldier Lady
The anniversary of the death of Catherine Booth recalls one of the most vivid and colourful periods in English history. The 19th century was essentially a century of commanding and dynamic personalities. There were giants in those days. But among all the outstanding and creative forces that then sprang into being, not one was more remarkable, in respect of her character, her influence, and her achievements than the winsome yet queenly little lady who is popularly known, as the Mother of the Salvation Army.

The story of her birth is extraordinary. As a young woman, her mother Sarah, after a disastrous love affair, fell into a deep depression, took it into her head that she had sinned beyond redemption, and spent months on end in bed bemoaning her forlorn condition. It chanced that a young wheelwright, an eloquent preacher, visited the district. Sarah's father, although having very little faith in movements of the kind, was prepared to clutch at any straw and urged his unhappy daughter to go to hear him. Sarah immediately fell under his spell, and, before the bewildered father realised which way the wind was blowing, the wheelwright and Sarah were engaged! He stormed and pleaded to no avail. Sarah ran away from home and married her preacher. And the result was—Catherine Booth!

How poor Catherine came to achieve the dominating position in the public life of England that she afterwards occupied is one of the mysteries and miracles of history. She said on her deathbed that she had never in her life known a single day in which she was free from pain: her childhood was shadowed by the curvature of her spine; her early womanhood consisted of a long, brave fight against incipient consumption; in maturity she bore her illustrious husband eight children in 12 years; and in the Autumn of life, she became a victim of the cancer that slew her soon after she was 60. From earliest infancy she was a sensitive, sympathetic, spiritually-minded little thing. Stories of the sufferings of the slaves always brought tears to her eyes. The sight of a drunken man profoundly affected her.

Like Perfect Words To Perfect Music Set
Catherine and William Booth were 22 when they first met. He was a pawnbroker's assistant in South London, with a flair for delivering evangelistic addresses to any crowds that he could muster. He was tall, angular, gawky; his somewhat unattractive appearance being redeemed only by his fine and lustrous eyes. A metropolitan boot manufacturer, impressed by the young man's obvious fervour and talent, offered him £1 a week to give up pawnbroking for preaching. It was at this delicate juncture that the two young people first cast eyes at each other. It was on Good Friday, 1852, which happened also to be William's birthday, that the pair fell hopelessly in love. Catherine could not easily convince her virgin soul that it was right and proper for a girl of her age to feel towards any young man as she felt towards William. William had no scruples of that kind; his cogitations followed quite another channel. How on earth was he to keep a wife on £1 a week? But it was the old story. Neither bolts nor bars...! They became betrothed a week or two later; and, after three interminable years, were married. The result is woven into the web of history.

The most arresting fact about their union is the precision with which their outstanding individualities blended and harmonised. Both were very great; yet their separate greatnesses never clashed. In the nature of things, it was necessary that he, as the autocratic commander of a huge organisation, should be authoritative, self-assertive, dictatorial. It was imperative that his word should be law and that he should realise this. It might be supposed that the ideal wife for such a man would be a clinging, shrinking, devoted little thing who would implicitly subserviate her will to his. But Catherine's will was as strong as her husband's. She had a mind of her own, and never hesitated to give it expression. She and he often differed; and most people, reading today the record of these good-natured discussions will feel that she had the best of it. She was every inch a woman, dainty, and refined and of infinite sweetness and charm. Her husband and children worshipped everything that pertained to her.

Loved At Home And Honoured Abroad
Yet there was always something tremendous about her. Her intellect was so keen, her eloquence so persuasive, and her authority so absolute that she could hold spellbound the immense multitudes that thronged to hear her closely-reasoned orations. In argument, her tongue was like a rapier. At times in which the country was stirred by some moral issue, a word from her always seemed to bring the matter to finality: there was nothing more to be said.

Who that was in London on October 14, 1890, can forget the incredible scenes that marked her funeral? It was a day of universal grief. The whole nation mourned: the people saluted in her one of the mightiest forces of the age. To the piety of a Santa Teresa she added the passion of a Josephine Butler, the purposefulness of an Elizabeth Fry, and the practical sagacity of a Frances Willard. The greatest in the land revered her, trusted her, consulted her, deferred to her. The letters that passed between her and Queen Victoria are remarkable in themselves. Mr. Gladstone attached the greatest weight to her judgment and convictions. Bishop Lightfoot, one of the most distinguished scholars of his time, has testified to the powerful influence which she exerted over him. And, whilst the loftiest honoured her, the lowliest loved her. She sleeps beneath a simple stone in Abney Park, London; and on that stone is inscribed the secret of her valuable and victorious life: More than conqueror through Him that loved us.

F W Boreham

Image: Catherine Booth

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

3 October: Boreham on George Bancroft

History in Colour
When he first arrived in London, George Bancroft, whose birthday this is, was a tall, good-looking, well-knit man of forty-six. He had come to represent the United States at the Court of Queen Victoria. America is a law unto itself in such matters. It has been said that England rewards her brilliant young writers by starving them; America kills hers by kindness. As soon as a man makes some mark in the literary world, instead of encouraging him to focus all his attention upon the work that is peculiarly his own, she sets herself to lure him from it by the offer of an embassy or a consulship. A man who has written a good book should surely be incited to write a still better one. America, on the contrary, makes him an ambassador and sends him overseas. The work of Lowell, Bret Harte, Bancroft, and others was sadly hampered by this doubtful policy.

As scarcely more than a boy, Bancroft aspired to be the chronicler of his country's glory. He was in the early thirties when the first volumes of his "History of the United States" were given to the world. From the time of Herodotus, no writer of a nation's story has ever made his pages so varied, so colourful, so exciting, as has Bancroft. "Here," exclaimed Carlyle, in complimenting him on the quality of his opening volumes, "here I find, set visibly before me, the old primeval forest in its hot dark strength and tangled savagery and putrescence; rough Virginian planters with their tobacco pouches, galloping in buckskin among the cattle in the glades of the wildwood; sturdy Puritans, stern of visage but sound of heart; all this and much more, is ocularly here." Suffusing the rich fruits of painstaking research with the genius of an active imagination, his main appeal is to the eye. With evident pride he leads out his imposing and variegated procession. As a painter of stirring and captivating pictures he has never been surpassed.

The Fountainhead Of Western Adventure
The grandfathers of today have not forgotten—will, indeed, never forget—the delicious thrills which they enjoyed as children in devouring the American Indian stories of R. M. Ballantyne, Fenimore Cooper, and Mayne Reid. In those days every schoolboy was familiar with the wigwams and the moccasins, the frayed leggings and the feathered headgear, the tomahawk and the scalping knife, the canoe and the peace-pipe, and all the other distinctive and picturesque features of Indian life among the woods, the rapids and the rolling prairies of the West. But, in following breathlessly the hair-raising exploits of these fierce and cunning braves, the boys of yesterday seldom suspected that the neglected but glowing pages of Bancroft contained in their original and authentic forms most of these animated narratives.

The chapters in which the historian deals with the struggles of the early pioneers—struggles with the densely-wooded virgin soil; struggles with a stern and inhospitable climate; struggles with astute and well-mounted Indians—are as absorbing as anything in the pages of the novelists who have stolen his thunder for their melodramatic effects. Bancroft possessed a tremendous appreciation of the heroic, whether among the lawless adventurers who swarmed across the Atlantic in quest of wealth, or among the pious pilgrims of New England, or among the Quakers of Pennsylvania, or among the Catholics of Maryland, or among the negroes of the southern States, or among the Indians on the warpath. And, gathering it all up with eager and admiring hand, he wove it into an epic that has stirred the blood of every reader.

Dedication Of a Long Life To a Noble Purpose
Like a cinematographic film of gripping intensity and enchanting beauty, Bancroft flings across his spacious screen the moving drama of America's most critical and eventful years. His story is splashed by all the elements of grandeur, pathos, loveliness, and horror. It is one of the wonders of the world that, within the compass of a century or two, a primeval forest peopled only by the Mohawks and the Delawares, the Hurons and the Iroquois, should have given place to cities of towering architecture with populations greater than the entire population of Australia. In microscopic detail, Bancroft traces that amazing process of evolution, weaving it into a story that can never be read without admiration and emotion.

Beginning early, he lived to be a very old man, and was thus able to complete a work so monumental and so majestic that John Bright called it the most readable, the most graphic, and most instructive history ever written. Sir George Otto Trevelyan, himself an historian of the very first rank, regarded Bancroft's achievement as a model for the chroniclers of all future ages. No man, in any century, ever laid the foundations of their country's historical literature more broadly, more accurately, or more magnificently than did Bancroft. Although he lived to see the children come of age who were born when he attained his three score years and ten, he exhibited, in his closing years, no symptoms of feebleness or decrepitude. His mind was alert; his soul was aflame with curiosity concerning every detail of which he had to write. He loved to magnify his office. "The work of the historian," he wrote, "is incomparably noble." He beheld with wondering eyes the pageant of the ages; but he recognised that the procession is marshalled, and, with reverent eyes, he discerned its august Commandant. The writer of history, he declared, is the biographer of deity. Bancroft thridded the maze of the centuries, not only seeing the puppets moving, but seeing also the Hand that so cunningly fashioned those puppets and so cleverly pulled the strings. On his 87th birthday, Browning cabled him a touching little poem of congratulation, and others, no less eminent, marvelled at the vigour and fruitfulness of his mind in extreme old age. For 60 years his history occupied all his thought, and, as long as our literature endures, it will stand as his most eloquent memorial.

F W Boreham

Image: George Bancroft

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2 October: Boreham on Miguel Cervantes


Warring With Windmills
It was on October 2, 1547, that Miguel Cervantes, the author of "Don Quixote" was born; and, although four centuries have passed, the world retains its sense of admiration. "Don Quixote" is a lonely book. Even in a library of a million volumes it would stand by itself.

It has no natural kith or kin.There are no other books that can be fittingly grouped around it. There is no other volume to be classified with it; there is none of the same kind. Moreover, this one never seems to be twice in the same mood. Sometimes, as we glance at it, it appears to have donned the motley; its clownish antics compel a smile. At other times, it stares at us austerely, reproachfully, angrily.

What are we to make of it? Not so very long ago, "Don Quixote" was generally regarded as one of the supreme triumphs of literary achievement. Dr. Johnson sat up to all hours of the morning to devour it, and, when he came to the final volume, lamented that the story was so short. Charles Lamb declared that Cervantes was the most consummate artist that the world had ever seen, Macaulay insisted that "Don Quixote" is beyond all comparison, the best novel in the world. Coleridge could find no language sufficiently adulatory to express his praise. Victor Hugo called Cervantes the Homer of humour; Froude declared that he was without a rival in any literature.

Clipping The Wings Of Inspiration
This tall, gaunt Spaniard, whose left arm hangs helplessly at his side, and who drags one foot awkwardly and painfully as he walks, is worth knowing. His hair and his beard are a mixture of chestnut and silver, whilst there is something in his lean countenance and twinkling eyes that invites confidence and even affection. He is crippled and scarred by military service and foreign slavery; he has been educated in the school of realism and brutality; but he has carved his way to immortality in spite of everything. To understand him, you must reflect that, in the 16th century, every precaution was taken to present mere literary men from being exalted above measure.

Poor Miguel languished in a dungeon, not because of any high crime or misdemeanour, but to keep him duly humble and to correct any tendency on his part to criticise too caustically his betters. One does not like to think, as he follows the hectic progress of the gallant Don, proudly astride Rosinante, with the faithful Sancho Panza on foot beside him, that the pages that afford us such exquisite delight were penned by an unhappy wretch whose own laughs were few and far between. His body was scarred with the brands of five years of cruel servitude on the galleys at Algiers; he rotted for some time in a loathsome cell in his native land; his health, after he returned broken from the wars, was never robust; and he spent a good deal of his time, when at liberty, in wondering where the next meal was to come from.

Byron accuses Cervantes of having laughed Spain's chivalry away. But this is scarcely fair. Spain's chivalry was as dead as a door nail when Cervantes reached for his quill. Cervantes was forty when the Great Armada was defeated. The pride of Castile received its death blow; the glory of Spain was humbled to the dust. Everybody felt that the age of chivalry had passed. It often happens, however, that a good thing, when it passes, is succeeded by a spurious imitation of that thing.

The sturdy Puritanism of Cromwell and Milton was immediately followed by a disgusting and hypocritical Puritanism which evoked universal nausea. In the same way, the golden age of Spanish chivalry was succeeded by a burlesque that awoke in all sensible minds a feeling of derision and contempt, and it was against this counterfeit of chivalry that Cervantes, who was older at the time than Shakespeare was on the day of his death, determined, in his own way, to protest.

The Wedding Of Chivalry And Sanity
At that moment, boys in their teens, hearing from their fathers the humiliating story of their country's fading prestige, vowed that they would reinstate Spain as mistress of the main. They had no idea as to how this proud ambition could be achieved, but, like knights in shining armour going in search of distressed damsels at whose beautiful feet they could lay their swords, they streamed forth in quest of stirring adventure.

Hot-headed young enthusiasts were swept off their feet by a passionate desire to cover themselves with glory. They were prepared to suffer and to die even though no practical gain resulted from their spendid and exciting exploits. They would fare forth and fight something, whether that something needed to be fought or not.

It was to counteract this curious and extravagant temper, partly admirable and partly ludicrous, that Cervantes wrote the book that has immortalised his name. Glorifying the spirit of sacrifice, and paying eloquent homage to the shining genius of chivalry, he, at the same time, ridiculed the appreciation of these heroic ideals to unworthy and ignoble ends. He designed to show that whilst there is nothing nobler than a man's willingness to shed his blood in a glorious cause, there is no real knightliness in hazarding one's life in tilting at windmills.

Will all his sly satire and delicious nonsense, Cervantes never derides genuine valour. He struggles to hold steadily the balance between romance and reality. He insists that the risk run must bear some due proportion to the ends to be achieved. Cervantes will always be remembered as the finest representative of Castilian culture, who, unappreciated in life and lying in an unknown and unhonoured tomb has enshrined his name in a lustre that can never fade.

F W Boreham

Image: Miguel Cervantes

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Boreham Books in the Pipeline

Press Release: New Books By F W Boreham

New Boreham Publishing Initiative
Michael Dalton (USA) and Geoff Pound (UAE) have teamed up to establish John Broadbanks Publishing. Both enthusiasts of the writings of Boreham their dismay at the general unavailability of these writings due to their being out of print has led to this exciting decision.

Despite a resurgence of interest in the life and books of Dr F W Boreham no contemporary publisher has yet been willing to risk republishing the books of a preacher and essayist who has been in his grave for almost 50 years.

Prolific Writer
F W Boreham lived in England, New Zealand and Australia between 1871 and 1959. He authored 55 books, wrote 3,000 editorials in major papers and was a premiere preacher. Epworth Press, which published and reprinted most of the Boreham books said his book sales went into the millions and that “Boreham was the biggest catch since John Wesley.” He was introduced at an international conference of pastors in 1936 as “the man whose name is on all our lips, whose books are on all our shelves and whose illustrations are in all our sermons.”

First Book
This new vision is to republish some of the Boreham books that are not only out of print but are exceedingly scarce in the second hand market. The first reprint will be Boreham’s tribute to his mentor. It was first printed in 1948 with the title The Man Who Saved Gandhi and will be given the new title Lover of Life: F W Boreham’s Tribute to His Mentor.

It is hope this book will be available by the end of 2006. Further information has been posted and will be added at the following site F W Boreham On Mentoring.

Further Books Planned
The plan also involves repackaging some of the Boreham essays and sermons into two new books, The Best Essays of F W Boreham and The Best Stories of F W Boreham.

It is hoped these books will emerge in 2007. Further information has been posted and some of the stories will be added to the following site The Best Stories of F W Boreham.

Michael and Geoff are grateful to have the permission of Whitley College which has held the copyright to Boreham books since this was passed over by the Boreham family in 1996. A proportion of any profits arising from this new publishing venture will continue to be donated to Whitley College for the training of pastors and missionaries, two ministries that were dear to the heart of F W Boreham.

As this is a ‘self-publishing’ activity donations are being sought to assist in the seeding of this venture.

If you would like to invest in this exciting project you can donate money by writing your check, payable to ‘Michael Dalton’ and send to:

Michael Dalton
2163 Fern Street
Eureka, CA 95503

The selection process of the best essays and stories is happening now. If you would like to put in a recommendation for a favorite essay or a story to be included in the new books do write to Geoff Pound

If you desire more information or if you would like to register your interest in purchasing these books do write to
Michael Dalton at or
Geoff Pound at

Geoff Pound
Michael Dalton

1 October: Boreham on Lord Shaftesbury

The Friend of Millions
Australians who visit London never afterwards forget the beautiful statue of Eros, the god of Love, that adorns the centre of Piccadilly Circus. The graceful figure is one of the real distinctions and one of the most familiar landmarks of London life. Stored away for safe custody during the years of war, its return to its old eminence was applauded by tens of thousands of excited citizens; yet how many of those who so enthusiastically admire it realise that it represents London's memorial to the great Lord Shaftesbury, the anniversary of whose death today will elicit many references. The noble monument bears an eloquent inscription, carefully drafted by Mr. Gladstone; but, of the throngs that surge through Piccadilly, who ever turns aside to read it?

The life of Lord Shaftesbury presents us with an epic of lofty achievement. In the mines and factories, in the prisons and asylums, among the tattered waifs of the noisome slums and the overwrought toilers on the rural farms, Lord Shaftesbury effected changes by which life was literally transfigured. Existence for countless thousands was scarcely tolerable until he appeared. He revolutionised the whole industrial world and earned the grateful benedictions of millions. His figure became the best known, the most commanding, and the most honoured in the public life of England. And so compelling was his personal magnetism, and so absolute his irresistible authority that, whether he was addressing the House of Lords or talking to the ragamuffins in some filthy alley, he was invariably heard with the most profound respect.

Two Hemispheres Of One Personality
He who would set down in black and white a description of the conditions prevailing in England during the early years of the nineteenth century would invite the incredulity of his readers. The recital would read like the record of a national nightmare. In contrast with that hideous nightmare, Lord Shaftesbury dreamed a beautiful dream and lived to see it come true. He achieved his triumph by a remarkable combination of the mystical and the practical. In one respect he was a mystic. "I believe," he repeatedly declared, "that the sole remedy for all our distresses is the gospel. We must take Christ to the people. He and He alone is the power of God unto salvation." Giving this mystical creed a practical application, he was to be seen at dead of night in the haunts of the underworld, surrounded by the most desperate criminals of his day. "But, my lord," objected one well-known gaolbird, "this is all very good; but, if we do as you say, how are we to live? Prayer won't fill empty stomachs!" The interjector did not know his man. Lord Shaftesbury took the names of those who sincerely desired to live honestly, and, within a few months, he had settled them on Canadian farms or introduced them to honourable and remunerative vocations.

The mystical streak in his composition owed its origin to Maria Millis, the servant girl who tended him as a child. Edwin Hodder, his biographer, says that, becoming very fond of the gentle, serious boy, this girl would take him on her knee and tell him the stories of Bethlehem and Calvary. "It was her hand," Hodder says, "that touched the delicate chords and awoke the first music of his inner life." In her will she left him her watch, and, to the day of his death, he wore no other. "It was given me," he would tell his titled friends, "by the best friend I ever had!" The origin of the other streak, the practical one, is to be traced to his school days at Harrow. He saw a pauper funeral. The roughly-made coffin was borne by a number of drunken men, shouting roistering choruses. They eventually dropped the coffin, and, standing round, roared lustily at the joke. The open eyed schoolboy saw as in a cameo, the degradation that was then associated with poverty. "That incident," he used to say, "changed the whole course of my life." The spot is now marked by a memorial; the incident deserves to be regarded as historic.

A Good Man's Terror And A People's Tribute
The secret behind all this is revealed in Lord Shaftesbury's private journal. He confesses that, all through life, he was haunted by one constant dread. It was not the horror, which is fairly common, of doing some unworthy thing that might bring shame upon his name; it was rather the fear of leaving undone some good thing that it was in his power to do:

At vesper-tide,
One virtuous and pure in heart did say,
"Since none I wronged in deed or word today,
From whom should I crave pardon? Master, say!"
A voice replied:
"From the sad child whose joy thou hast not planned;
The goaded beast whose friend thou didst not stand;
The rose that died for water from thy hand."

The most conclusive evidence that such misgivings on his part were quite superfluous was furnished by his funeral. London, the city that has gazed upon so many solemn pomps and stately pageants, had never seen such a funeral. From the moment at which the casket emerged from the home at Grosvenor Square till the moment of its arrival at the Abbey doors the dense black crowds stood bareheaded in the driving rain in honour of one who had made the world a happier place for everybody. In the procession, one group carried a banner reading: "I was an hungered and ye gave me meat!" Another banner read: "I was in prison and ye visited me!" And so on. The coffin, when it rested in the Abbey, before being conveyed to the village god's-acre at which, in accordance with his strong wish, it was finally interred, was buried beneath masses of the most exquisite flowers. There were ornate wreaths from crowned heads and bunches of violets from the children of the ragged schools. Princesses and servant girls alike, sent fragrant tributes; millionaires and crossing sweepers joined in the universal manifestation of sorrow. The entire nation felt, and still feels, the immensity of the debt it owes him.

F W Boreham

Image: Lord Shaftesbury

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

30 September: Boreham on Vasco de Balboa

The Era of the Pacific
The end of September marks the birth of Pacific adventure. It was on this date, if the records of the time are to be trusted, that Vasco Nunez de Balboa,—

". . . . . . . . . . . . With eagle eye,
First stared at the Pacific—and all
his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise
Silent upon a peak in

Man has an unconquerable genius for ascertaining what is on the other side of things. If there is a hill, he wants to know what is on the other side of the hill; if there is a sea, he wants to know what is on the other side of the sea; if there is a desert, he wants to know what is on the other side of the desert. Animals and birds show no such curiosity; they ignore the unknown; man is fascinated by it. In 1492 there was ample room in Europe for the population of Europe. But there rolled the Atlantic! What was on the other side of the Atlantic? Until that haunting riddle had been read, there could, for Columbus, be no rest by day and no sleep by night. And at length the great day dawned on which the redoubtable explorer, startled Europe by declaring that, on the other side of the Atlantic, there lay a new world! But, almost before Europe had recovered from the shock of surprise, men asked a further question: What is on the other side of that new world? And it was this question that Balboa answered.

It is not easy nowadays to recapture the spirit of that stirring time. In his "Ferdinand and Isabella," his "Conquest of Mexico" and his "Conquest of Peru," Prescott has painted the magnificent picture in glowing and lifelike colours. However much we may shudder at the scenes of rapine and carnage that disfigured the amazing record, it is impossible to deny our enthusiastic admiration to the men who dared a dozen deaths every day of their lives, and, changed the face of the world. As a result of their exploits, geography no longer turned on its old pivot.

Maritime Adventure Stages a Transformation
Taking into consideration the crazy little vessels that were then the last words in nautical science, it is really astounding that the intrepid spirits who became the masters and moulders of that epoch-making period were able to make history so swiftly. During the few years that intervened between the discoveries of Columbus and those of Balboa, a complete and revolutionary change overtook the minds of men. When Columbus appeared at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, imploring their majesties to entrust him with ships in which he might sail the taunting and uncharted seas, the boys in the streets of Castile tapped their foreheads at the mention of his name in token of the general belief in the insanity of the would-be voyager. And when at length he obtained the grant for, which he had so passionately pleaded, convicts had to be drawn from the gaols of the Peninsula in order to make up the 90 men he needed for a crew.

Within a few years the crossing of the Atlantic became the cherished ambition of every Spanish cavalier. The waters of the Guadalquivir were seldom unadorned by the white sails of vessels setting out for the new world. When Ferdinand appealed for 1,200 volunteers for transatlantic service, more than 3,000 representatives of the noblest Spanish families begged to be permitted to occupy any position, however menial, in the splendid enterprise. And, before a single adventurer had crossed the American continent to be startled by the vision of the Pacific, the passion for emigration had become so intense and so widespread in Europe that responsible statesmen thought Spain in grave danger of depopulation.

The Greatest Of Three Oceanic Ages
It is an unpleasant comment on the temper of the time that the men who added so many glittering jewels to the crown of Spain received very little in the way of thanks. Columbus was sent home in chains; Cortes was treated at court with cold disdain; Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific, achieved his triumph in the course of the comparatively brief interval that intervened between his imprisonment and his execution. Three years before his historic accomplishment, he was languishing in the dungeons of San Domingo; three years after his return from the western waters, he was hurried to the gallows.

Since the day on which the ill-starred Balboa first gazed upon its shining waters, history has been made in the Pacific at a fairly rapid rate. Following upon the resolve of Columbus to find out what lay beyond the Atlantic, and the resolve of Balboa to find out what lay beyond the new world that Columbus had unveiled, Magellan determined to ascertain what lay beyond the Pacific that Balboa had glimpsed. Before suffering a fate almost as tragic as that of Balboa, he sailed right across the new ocean for the first time. Then came the adventurous voyages of Drake, Tasman, Behring, Anson, Byron, Bougainville, Cook. Vancouver, La Perouse, and a score of others. And thus, incidentally, Australia and New Zealand came to be. Nor does the story end there. "Have you ever noticed," President Theodore Roosevelt—the uncle of the late President—once asked, "have you ever noticed that the history of the world divides itself into three distinct periods? The first—the Age of the Mediterranean—closed when Columbus discovered America. The second—the Age of the Atlantic—then dawned, growing in importance until our own time. We are now witnessing the advent of the third—the Age of the Pacific—and, mark my words, the Age of the Pacific is destined to be the greatest of them all!" Anybody who allows his mind to roam fancy-free over the history of the Mediterranean era, with its records of Egypt, Phoenician Greece, and Rome; and then over the history of the Atlantic era with its annals of a score of empires, will recognise that these two periods have set the third era—the era of the Pacific—something to eclipse. And yet, looking upon the Pacific today, he would be a bold man who would declare that Theodore Roosevelt was mistaken.

F W Boreham

Image: Vasco Nunez de Balboa

29 September: Boreham on Horatio Nelson

The Hour and the Man
Never does the twenty-ninth of September return to us without our being reminded afresh of the birth and the imperishable lustre that enshrines the name of Lord Nelson. It is clear that:

Wherever the track of our British ships
Lies white on the ocean foam,
His name is sweet to our British lips
As the names of the flowers at home.
Wherever brave deeds are treasured and told,
In the tales of the days of yore;
Like jewels of price in a chain of gold
Are the name and the fame he bore.

The Personal Element
In connection with the stupendous happening that we today celebrate, as with every outstanding event in our annals, there are two distinct elements—the essentially historic and the purely personal. As a rule, the personal element fades with the passage of time, until at length it becomes a negligible quantity: it is the historic viewpoint that ultimately becomes emphatic and dominant. In the case of Trafalgar, however, a reverse principle holds. Every year less and less is said about the issues at stake in the memorable struggle, but every year more and more is said concerning the part played in the famous battle by its central hero, Horatio Nelson. The question arises; is this as it should be? Are we keeping things in their right proportion and in their true perspective when we allow the personal to wax and the national to wane? At first blush it would scarcely seem so, yet some of the most eminent authorities would justify such a course. Mr. John R. Spears, for example, has written a textbook on "Master Mariners" for the Home University Library. In his survey of the Napoleonic era he stoutly maintains that the thing best worth remembering is the magnetic personality of Nelson. He argues that "the destruction of the allied fleet, however needful it may have been, was, in a broad view, only a secondary feature of Trafalgar. The important fact is that the battle brought to an end in a blaze of glory the story of the life of a nation's hero. It was necessary that this mariner, whom his countrymen would set up as an example for all time, should die fighting afloat in the manner pleasing to the gods of his ancestors, and that he should show, as those ancestors did, that understood in his heart that it was indispensable to be brave." This is very striking: and the impression that it creates is deepened and intensified by the fact that an eminent naval commander, in lecturing in Australia recently, insisted that the greatest factor in the greatest sea fight of our history is, quite easily, the personal one.

When The World Needed Him
Nelson is fortunate is being a memory of a very select circle—the circle that embraces those illustrious men whose lifework received fitting recognition alike from their immediate contemporaries and from their remote successors. The temper of the time lent itself to the formation of an adequate conception of Nelson by men who actually saw his face and heard his voice. "There is such a universal bustle and cry about invasion," wrote Lord Radstock, some time before Trafalgar, "that no other subject will be listened to. I found London almost a desert and no good news stirring to animate it." The nation was paralysed with apprehension: and not our nation only: for the overwhelming ambition and resolute aggression of Napoleon cast a sinister gloom over the entire world. His restless and insatiable craving for universal empire stole the sleep from the eyes of all responsible statesmen in Europe. No throne was secure: no nation was safe. "Rarely," says Mahan, "has a man been more favoured than Nelson in the hour of his appearing." He burst into history just when the world needed him, and, moreover, just when the world knew that it needed him. And when, in its crowning hour, he laid down his life, the people whose hearts had for months been failing them for fear were not slow to express their unbounded gratitude and admiration. "The people of England," Southey tells us, "grieved that funeral ceremonies, public monuments and posthumous rewards were all that they could now bestow upon him whom the King, the Legislature and the nation would have alike delighted to honour, whom every tongue would have blessed, whose presence in every village through which he might have passed would have awakened the church bells, would have given the students a holiday, would have drawn children from their sports to gaze upon his face, and would have enticed old men from the chimney-corner to look upon Nelson ere they died." Nelson did not, it is true, survive the greatest of his triumphs, but he lived to find himself the idol of the populace and to receive at their hands the homage which they revelled in pouring at his feet. When he passed through Portsmouth for the last time, on his way to join his ship, the streets were so congested with the throngs of people who desired to see his face tbat the police, unable to control the crowds, were compelled to smuggle the hero through alleys, back lanes and private property in order to convey him safely to the quay. He was the darling of the nation; and succeeding generations have never shown any disposition to challenge that contemporary judgement.

A Golden Tradition
Least of all has our own generation felt disposed to regard those distant plaudits as exaggerated. Mr. G. M. Trevelyan, who is the third son of Sir George Otto Trevelyan and the grand-nephew of Lord Macaulay, declares, in one of his most recent historical works, that the Great War resulted in a heightened and intensified appreciation of the personality and prowess of Lord Nelson. In one sense, of course, the Great War made Trafalgar look ridiculous. We became so accustomed to thrilling accounts of great naval engagements in which huge battleships raced through crimson seas at express speed, annihilating their antagonists by hurling the most terrific explosives across the intervening leagues, that we could but smile at the quaint memory of those old wooden sailing ships that crawled painfully towards each other at a mile an hour, and that fought in the grip of a terrible embrace, the crews leaping from deck to deck as the grim hand-to-hand struggle proceeded. Yet if, in that one sense, the Great War made Trafalgar look ridiculous, there is another sense in which it made Nelson look sublime. His name was continually on the lips of the officers and men of the Grand Fleet: the magic of his subtle personality pervaded every quarter-deck. Mr. Trevelyan argues that, so far from his having suffered any eclipse, the titanic struggle of our own time has only made us feel, more deeply than we ever felt before, how much we owe to him. Nelson, he says, won for us, not only the memorable battles that he fought, but the unknown and unrecorded battles that he rendered superfluous and impossible. "Copenhagen," says Mr. Trevelyan, "Copenhagen, together with the Nile and Trafalgar, gave such a triple sanction to the international creed of British naval invincibility that it carried us through the nineteenth century with security unchallenged. When, in our own day, England was again in danger, these memories, graven deeply into the world's consciousness, did much to paralyse the initiative of our foes, who vaguely and intuitively felt, before a single battle was fought, that our hold on the sea, do what they would, could never be loosened." Nelson bequeathed to posterity a golden tradition: and, in the day of our need, that tradition was of greater value to us than a hundred battleships.

Brilliance of a Single Brain
Trafalgar, then, is simply another name for Nelson. The battle was to all intents and purposes won—and won by him—before a shot was fired. From the moment at which the enemy discovered the disposition of the British ships as they crept slowly into action, the result was never for a moment in doubt. As the French and Spanish officers watched the two parallel lines of ships approaching their own powerful and crescent-shaped fleet at right angles, they knew that their mighty combination was about to be cut into three distinct parts, and each part smashed separately. With every advantage in respect of the size and number of their ships, they recognised that they were doomed to irretrievable disaster. The brilliance of a single brain had already ensured their overthrow. The deathlessness of men like Nelson is more than a poetic fiction. As long as Great Britain has a navy—and even if the advocates of disarmament see all their dreams come true, it will probably be Britain's task to police the seas—the influence of Nelson will always be one of the most potent and dominant factors in its control. The realm with which he was most familiar has changed out of all recognition since his time, and the days to come must witness transformation equally sensational; but, come what may, nothing is more certain than that his name will ever be held in proud and grateful remembrance.

F W Boreham

Image: Horatio Nelson

28 September: Boreham on Louis Pasteur

An Architect of Civilisation
The name of Louis Pasteur, who died on September 28, 1895, must stand inscribed for all time on the scroll of humanity's greatest benefactors. His story is worth recalling. In the narrowest room of a small cottage in the Rue des Tanneurs at Dole, Pasteur was born amidst the Christmas-time revelries of 1822. It was a dingy little place opposite a tannery, but the great scientist was never tired of acknowledging his obligations to the years that he spent there.

The readiness of poor parents to forgo any slender comforts that they might have secured for themselves in order that they might fit their offspring for a loftier position in life than they themselves occupied is one of the most admirable and charming traits in human history; and it has never been more strikingly exemplified than in that modest tenement at Dole. The boy who was destined to bless the world with his discoveries left home when he was still a child, but the letters that passed between him and his parents represent an illuminating comment on the kind of life that must have been lived within those narrow walls. As long as the father's meagre store of knowledge gave him the advantage over his son, he spared no pains to teach him all that he knew; and, the moment that the boy's scholarship outdistanced his own, the elder Pasteur was eager to learn all that his boy could teach him. When, in 1882, and again in 1892, the French nation heaped its honours upon him, Pasteur insisted that the commemorations should be held in the squalid little street in which he was born; and, when his praises were sung by the lordliest and most learned in the land, he repudiated the glory and insisted on ascribing it to the memory of his parents.

Victory of the Microscope over the Telescope
Pasteur's authority is world-wide. It is no exaggeration to say that, on all the five continents of the world, commerce and industry are producing choicer and better materials today than would have been possible but for the work of Pasteur. Flocks and herds are healthier and finer; our foods and drinks are more palatable and nutritious; our clothing is more decorative and more enduring; our homes are more hygienic and more comfortable; and all the conditions of work and play are infinitely more congenial and more enjoyable because of his influence. Mr. G. K. Chesterton once affirmed that the history of the world may be divided into two parts. There is the Era of the Telescope and there is the Era of the Microscope. The telescope had its day and it was a great day, but in the nature of things, it came to an end. The number of immensities is strictly limited For the adventurers of the future there are no more poles to be discovered. It was some vague recognition of this stern fact that led to the inauguration of the second era, the Era of the Microscope.

Men suddenly realised that there is such a thing as the infinitude of the infinitesimal. The realm that we have come to know as the realm of germs, the realm of microbes, the realm of bacteria, burst upon the imaginations of men; and it was Louis Pasteur who blazed the trail that opened up that amazing area of expanding wonder. He stands as a pioneer. The pathfinders who had returned from the forests and jungles of the newly-opened continents had thrilling stories to tell of adventures with lions, tigers, wolves, and bears. But Pasteur realised that, whilst lions and tigers may count their victims by the score, the tiny creatures to which he was devoting his attention were compassing the slaughter of millions. He was horrified at the discovery that disease was frequently spread by those who were seeking most assiduously to cure it.

Transition from the Practical to the Sentimental
Whilst Pasteur was revolutionising medical thought in France, Lister in England was working along parallel lines; and it is characteristic of the golden traditions of the profession that each rejoiced unfeignedly in the splendid and invaluable triumphs of the other. Pasteur was nothing if not practical. In his 33rd year he was made professor and dean of the new Faculty of Science at Lille. He at once interested himself in the problems connected with the processes of fermentation in the local distilleries. He then applied himself to a study of the epidemic among silkworms that threatened the very existence of a great textile industry. Nothing that affected the prosperity or happiness of his fellowmen was beneath his notice. A little later, when sorrows began to multiply around him, his work entered upon a fresh phase. His father, mother, and several of his children had died. Impressed by these painful bereavements, he thought of the losses so common among his neighbours, and wondered if it would not be possible to lessen the griefs of the world. "It would be a grand thing," he exclaimed, "to give the heart its share in the progress of science." And from that moment he devoted himself to the work that has made his name immortal. "We are watching," said Dr. Sedillot, "the conception and birth of a new surgery which will be one of the greatest wonders of all time." And so it proved.

The story of Pasteur's old age reads like a page from a beautiful poem. Living at his institute, he slept in a tent under the flowering chestnut trees in the grounds, his admiring students waiting upon him night and day. On sunny afternoons he strolled to a shady group of pines and purple beeches amidst whose quiet seclusion his wife and daughters read to him. Princes and emperors who, in other days, had personally thanked him for the benefits that he had conferred upon their peoples, sent earnest inquiries after his health. And then, on a perfect Saturday afternoon he passed serenely away, having earned the benedictions of men of all classes, of all nationalities and of all times.

F W Boreham

Image: Louis Pasteur

27 September: Boreham on Science and Religion

Life's Basic Harmonies
It was on September 27, 1831 that the British Association met for the first time. It still holds its meetings at this time of the year, and all the other learned bodies hold their annual meetings, and all the world pricks up its ears to listen. Things are said by the most eminent living authorities that may possibly startle or excite us, but that are at least deserving of close and careful attention. As a natural consequence we each experience a quickened interest in scientific research, for we all realise nowadays, that science is everybody's business.

The day has gone for ever in which such exalted matters were regarded as the academic foibles of the few; we recognise them as the vital concern of the multitude. They affect us each: they affect us each all the time, and they affect us each in relation to everything and everybody with whom we have to do.

During the past few years, science has given the average man an entirely new conception of the grandeur of that organic scheme of things of which he himself is a component part. When, at the request of President Roosevelt, Mr. Wendell Willkie made his historic tour of the nations, nothing impressed him more than the basic an fundamental unity of the race. On his return to the United States, he elaborated his thought in the book "One World," completed just before he died. Such revelations as are made to us when the masters of the various sciences meet in solemn conclave impress us with the same conviction on a still more imposing scale. We are confronted, not merely by One World, but by One Universe. A sense of basic unity and exquisite harmony is the outstanding feature of things everywhere.

Many Notes Comprise The Perfect Music
The ancient controversies have died a natural death because men have come to see that, whatever records leap to light, truth can never by any possibility be the enemy of truth. The truth that the astronomer discovers among the stars cannot be at variance with the truth that the geologist finds among the stones. The truth that the botanist reveals from among earth's flora cannot contradict the truth that the zoologist reads among earth's fauna.

If the seeming truth of one age, or if the apparent truth of one school, denies the cherished conviction of another age, or challenges the mature conclusions of another school, one or other of these antagonistic factors must of necessity be masquerading in the guise of truth. In the conflict that must inevitably ensue, error must be vanquished and truth will hold its ground more firmly after the fray.

Stressing this aspect of things, an ancient seer employed a picturesque pair of parables. Watching from an oasis in the desert, he saw two caravans approaching, one from the east and one from the west. The one hurried: the other loitered; but they arrived simultaneously. "That," the observer remarked, "was no coincidence: they had obviously trysted." Again, in lowering the flap of his tent at night, he heard the terrifying roar of a lion: next morning he came on a place where the brushwood was splashed with blood, and the ground littered with bones and horns and hide and fur. These two things—the bloodcurdling roar in the darkness and the gruesome spectacle in the daylight—are, he reflects, no coincidence. They are two aspects of the same thing.

Life is full to overflowing of such coincidental and dovetailing phenomena. When, on the one hand, truth comes to us from the stars, and when, on the other, it comes to us from geologic strata, and when, on their contemporaneous arrival, we find that one consignment of truth is in exact agreement with the other consignment of truth, we instinctively feel that the harmony is not the result of chance. They agree so perfectly because of a basic unity at the heart of things.

Needless Dread Of New Discoveries
Truth can never deny truth: the truth that issues from the womb of the future will recognise its kinship with every particle of truth that has ever been revealed or discovered since the world began. Let the astronomer sweep the vast dome of heaven with ever mightier telescopes! Let the geologist apply himself with increasing fervour to the reading of the records of prehistoric ages! Let the archeologist plough up all the plains and sift the sands of the desert in his search for the urns and monuments and hieroglyphics of antiquity! Let the greatest living scholars scrutinise under the most powerful microscopes every vowel and consonant and punctuation mark in our most sacred literature!

One of the most striking developments of recent history has been the way in which Science and Religion, like the two caravans keeping their tryst in the desert, have moved towards each other. A century ago the young people of Christian homes were forbidden to read the works of scientists; while the sages and savants looked with ill-disguised contempt upon all religious trends and institutions.

Then a new day dawned. Men who were searching after truth along one line of investigation came to recognise that they had no reason to fear the men who were searching after truth along another line. If a contradiction arose, it was felt that the confusion was purely a matter of interpretation. If astronomy and geology reach different conclusions, nobody supposes that the stars and the strata are at strife. Obviously, there is something amiss, either with the interpretation of the stars by the astronomers or with the interpretation of the strata by the geologists. Similarly, when Science and Religion speak with discordant voices, it does not now occur to us that Nature and Scripture are at variance. We ask the scientists to reconsider their interpretation of the one, and the theologians to review their interpretation of the other, in the certainty that, when they have done so, we shall hear once more the music of the Spheres.

F W Boreham

Image: 'with ever mightier telescopes'

26 September: Boreham on Walter Scott

Romance of Reality
It was on September 26, that Sir Walter Scott was laid to rest at Dryburgh Abbey. Sir Walter must always stand as one of the princeliest and most lovable figures in our literature. We all cherish the thought that although, throughout the 30 years during which his name was a household word in Europe, he endured sorrows such as few men are called to suffer, he also tasted satisfactions such as few men are permitted to enjoy. He saw himself idolised in his own lifetime. By the time that he was 50, he was a kind of legendary figure, a reincarnation of some noble crusader or knight of fine romance. How are we to account for his commanding authority? And can it last?

The fascination of Scott is very largely in his reverence for reality. He writes fiction, it is true; but he writes fiction in such a way as to glorify fact. He was a novelist; but he was more than a novelist; he was a first-class historian. Indeed, Macaulay—no mean critic—declares that Scott is the perfect historian, and holds him up as a model to more ponderous chroniclers.

Splendour Of Dust And Cobwebs
He was consumed by a passion for antiquity. To him, the past was a fairyland, an enchanted domain, a realm of radiant romance. Oliver Wendell Holmes speaks of the reverent hush amid which, in the days of long ago, the old wine bottles, smothered with the dust and cobwebs of countless years, were borne from the dark cellar into the gaiety and brightness of the banqueting hall. "The resurrection of one of these old sepulchred dignitaries," he says, "had something of solemnity about it: it was like the disinterment of a king. The very bottle seemed to inspire a personal respect; it was wrapped in a napkin and borne tenderly and reverently round to the guests, who listened silently and breathlessly to the first gusts of the amber fluid." It is a perfect symbol of the spirit in which Sir Walter Scott brought his splinters of antiquity from the dusty caverns in which they had reposed for ages, and, with sparkling eyes, produced them for the delectation of a new generation. The past mesmerised him. On that memorable day when, in Edinburgh Castle, the grimy old chest that contained the ancient regalia of Scotland was at last opened, he was like an excited schoolboy.

In his passion for the buried romance of auld lang syne, he converted his home—the stately and imposing Abbotsford—into a museum. He adorned it, not with furniture of the latest style or with paintings fresh from the easel of a modern master, but with the antique drinking fountain of Edinburgh city, the lintels of the old Tolbooth prison, the blunderbuses and pouch of Rob Roy, the dining cup of Prince Charlie, and thousands of similar curiosities, all rich in historical association. Sir Walter revelled in the glories that had vanished, and, jealous lest our poetic and picturesque yesterdays should be forgotten, he dedicated his wondrous skill to the patriotic task of making those remote happenings live again. This intense historic fervour, pulsing through his pages, made him easily the greatest novelist of the romantic period.

A Poet's Tragedy And Triumph
The culminating tragedy—perhaps the most poignant and desolating tragedy in our literary history—is the tragedy of the black dog. The black dog skulked at Sir Walter's heels during the last seven years of his life; it haunted him; it ruined him; it unmanned him; and, when he was only 61, it slew him. "The Black Dog still hangs about me," he wrote again and again. Those who are familiar with the Journal will be at no loss as to the identity of the Black Dog. Scott allowed his financial affairs to become involved with those of his publishers; the house crashed, and he was ruined. He worked like a galley slave to earn enough to pay off his creditors, and, when at last the pen dropped from his enfeebled hand, he was comforted by the reflection that nobody but himself had suffered through his misfortunes.

But the struggle killed him. The nation sent him to Italy, but it was too late; and he was glad to hurry back to his own beautiful home to die. Everybody remembers Lockhart's touching story of the end. "He desired to be wheeled through his rooms in the bathchair. We moved him leisurely for an hour or more up and down the hall and the great library. 'I have seen much,' he kept murmuring, 'but nothing like my ain hoose; give me one turn more!' Next morning he begged to be taken to the window overlooking the Tweed. 'Read to me!' he said, and I asked from what book. 'Need you ask?' he exclaimed; 'there is but one!' I chose the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, and, when I had finished reading of the Father's house and the many mansions, he sighed, 'That is a great comfort!"' And, a few days later, amid a nation's tears, he was laid to rest among the crumbling and ivy-covered ruins at Dryburgh. Almost within sight of his home at Abbotsford, it is now a place of pilgrimage for countless visitors.

F W Boreham

Image: Walter Scott

25 September: Boreham on Tea

Cups and Saucers
It was on September 25, 1667, that a London apothecary advised Mrs. Pepys—the "poor wretch" who figures so prominently in her husband's famous diary—to try for her defluxions a strange Chinese concoction known as 'tay.' In the three centuries that have followed, that queer concoction has attained an amazing popularity, indeed, Admiral Lord Mountevans and Lord Woolton have recently borne eloquent witness to the inestimable value of the service rendered by tea amidst the desperate hazards and fierce excitements of the war. This, of course, is by no means surprising. From the dawn of time, tea has been humanity's constant friend. The men who slaved at the erection of the pyramids may or may not have boiled their billies on the banks of the Nile at midday, and at sunset, yet certainly the infusion and enjoyment of the refreshing beverage was familiar to generations that even in those days represented the dim antiquity of the race. Away back in the childhood of the world, the drinking of tea acquired not only a social but a cultural and even spiritual significance. An ancient Oriental philosopher declares that the ancient cult of Tea-ism was founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence.

A child thinks of tea as liquid prophecy. He counts the "kisses" that rise to the surface as the sugar melts, and fancies that he can tell from the number of stalks that float on the cup how many strangers are likely to visit the home. This, of course, belongs to the realm of fantasy. But, even though we decline to recognise a cup of tea as liquid prophecy, we are bound to regard it as liquid history. Whether we turn our faces to the east or the west, this fact stands crystal clear. "Tea," says Sir John Rees, "has changed the face of India; the abodes of savagery, the haunts of the dread head-hunters, have been transformed into graceful and picturesque plantations. And, if we turn to the west, the evidence is no less striking.

Teacups Decide The Destiny Of Nations
When the monument to the Pilgrim Fathers was unveiled at Southampton, Mr. W. H. Page, the brilliant American Ambassador, bore witness to the influence of tea upon the moulding of the Western world. If, he argued, tea had been available to the Pilgrim Fathers, it might have redeemed their temperament from a certain acerbity that disfigured their behaviour. A supply of soothing Pekoe, he suggested, might have saved them from persecuting Quakers and burning witches. "Why," Mr. Page exclaimed, "it was tea that was at the bottom of the War of Independence!" Tea, he averred, is the biggest thing in American history; and he closed by declaring that, if tea had crossed the Atlantic a few generations earlier, the whole course of world history would have been revolutionised. History—north, south, east, and west—is redolent of tea.

It was on a sultry September afternoon, shortly after the restoration of the Stuart monarchy, that Samuel Pepys "did send far a cup of tee—a China drink—of which I never drank before." This was just before the Great Plague; and, what with the pestilence, the fire that followed, and the national unrest our premier diarist had other fish to fry without worrying about the novel beverage that he had sipped that September afternoon. But, as soon as things approximated to normality, his mind reverted to the fascinating theme. "Home," he says, "and there find my wife making of tea, a drink which Mr. Pelling, the potticary, tells her is good for her cold and defluxions." Whether or not the honest potticary's anticipations were realised and the defluxions dispelled does not appear, but, judging from the tardiness with which the beverage won its way to popular favour, we may assume that there was nothing about the cure that savoured of the miraculous.

A Famous Storm In A Teacup
A generation later, Dr. Johnson became the champion of the teapot. "I am a hardened and shameless tea drinker," he says. "For twenty years I have diluted my meals with nothing but the infusion of this delicious plant. My kettle has scarcely time to cool. You may describe me as one who, with tea amuses his evening, with tea solaces his midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning." Unhappily, this citation plunges us into the atmosphere of controversy. We see at a glance that Dr. Johnson's confession was not made in cold blood. There is heat in it, for the doctor is angry. Tea had been attacked and the irascible old doctor had sprung to its defence. The truth is that Mr. Jones Hanway, one of the most influential writers, philanthropists, and reformers of the 18th century, had at last turned his attention to this new habit of tea-drinking. And when, greatly daring, he hurled his thunderbolts among the tea-cups, he brought upon his innocent old head the wrath of Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Johnson, and a host of other powerful belligerents. Johnson had written in praise of tea: Hanway attacked him; and Johnson, after a full and deliberate pause, fired a second shot. Boswell says that it is the only instance in which the doctor deigned to notice anything written against him. But Hanway had touched him on a very tender spot. Nobody, as Boswell remarks, was ever more fond of the infusion of the fragrant leaf than was he. He drank immoderately, and, by setting the fashion, assured the triumph of the teapot.

A century later, the habit that looked like a freak in Pepys and a fad in Johnson had become so universal that Cowper could attune his lyre to the theme:—

And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column and the
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome
peaceful evening in.

From that moment the teapot has never looked back. Its conquests are countless. It was said of Charles Simeon, one of the most scholarly and most saintly figures of his time, that he envangelised five continents with his teapot. Spending his life as vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, he crowded his tea table with undergraduates, and then exercised all his powers of persuasion to make missionaries of them. When he died, the most magnetic personalities on all the mission fields were Simeon's "tea table men." The teapot has established a noble tradition, and it will doubtless enhance its ancient prestige amidst the unimaginable wonder of the years to be.

F W Boreham

Image: Cup of tea

Sunday, September 10, 2006

24 September: Boreham on Charles Simeon

Born to Blush Unseen
The life of Charles Simeon, whose birthday we mark today, represents a miracle of modesty. Some people make history noisily. You hear, far off, the clanging of their hammers, the tearing of their saws. Circumstanced as they are, it is the only way in which the work can be done. The time is ripe for violent methods and resounding blows. The iron is hot and the anvil stands ready. But whilst the village blacksmith works in one way, the village artist works in quite another. There are men who make history as the sun makes daylight. Their influence is as silent as the dawn. Of that quiet but effective company, Charles Simeon is the most distinguished representative. His name is seldom mentioned; his works are never read. Yet, as all the historians of his time agree, he stands as one of our most important epoch-makers. To few men do we owe more than we owe to him. He never attained to any exalted rank or dignity; he never achieved any thrilling or romantic exploit; his is not one of the names that was sent echoing about the world.

As a young man leaving college, he was appointed to the charge of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, and, when death overtook him 54 years later, he was still ministering unostentatiously to that same inconspicuous congregation. "But," as Lord Macaulay says, "if you knew what his authority and influence were, and how they extended from Cambridge to the most remote corners of the land, you would realise that his sway was far greater than that of any Primate." And Sir James Stephen, that most illustrious, most penetrating and most critical of personal chroniclers, declares that the splendour of a bishop's mitre pales before that nobler episcopate to which Charles Simeon was elevated by popular acclaim. His diocese embraced every city of his native land and extended to many of its most distant dependencies.

Resistless Magnetism Of A Noble Character
Simeon captivated everybody by the serene calm of his tremendous passion. It was his restrained but deadly earnestness that so profoundly impressed men like John Wesley and William Wilberforce. Mr. Wesley was an old man of 82 when he first met Charles Simeon, then a stripling of 26, but he was immediately captivated by the cultured fervour and resistless intensity of the young Cambridge minister. It was twelve years later that Simeon and Wilberforce met. They were of about the same age. Wilberforce was simply magnetised; he left the meeting desiring above all things to be just such a man as Simeon; and, whilst still in that exalted frame of mind, he applied himself with fresh energy to his crusade for the emancipation of the slaves. Among others who fell under Simeon's spell was Henry Martyn, whose name has been immortalised in prose by George Eliot and in poetry by Macaulay. Martyn used to say that he owed everything to Charles Simeon, at whose feet he conceived the idea, and gathered the inspiration for his adventurous life work.

Combining extraordinary charm of personality with the broadest human sympathies, Simeon made everybody feel that, on the still altar of his soul, a sacred fire was burning. At that flame torches were lit that dispelled the darkness of distant continents. The students of the university, thronging his church, said little but felt much. And, as all the world now knows, they carried the contagion of those quiet services into all the enterprises and audacities of the heroic lives that they afterwards lived. For Simeon's supreme triumph came through the awakening—partly as the fruit of his own efforts—of a world consciousness in all the churches. He took people of narrow vision to a lofty pinnacle and spread at their feet a panorama of continents and archipelagoes.

Differing Strategies To The Same End
On that January day in 1788, on which Captain Arthur Phillip dropped anchor in Sydney Cove and inaugurated the drama of Australian history, there were, in England, two outstanding and representative men. The one was John Wesley, a veteran of 85, lamenting the swift failure of his amazing powers. The other was William Carey, a young cobbler of 27. Although they did not recognise it at the time, they typified two momentous eras. Wesley represented the age of world revival; Carey represented the resultant age of world conquest. Within a few years of Capt. Phillip's historic exploit, all our great missionary societies sprang into being, including the Church Missionary Society, of which Charles Simeon was a founder. In the shaping of that new era, two men—Thomas Chalmers in Scotland and Charles Simeon in England—conceived ways of promoting by strategy the new world movements. Chalmers relinquished his magnificent pulpit in Glasgow in order that, as professor at St. Andrew's University, he might fire the imagination of the students with missionary ideals. In consequence, some of the men who went to the ends of the earth under his inspiration, have inscribed their names indelibly in the archives of missionary adventure. This was the Scotsman's strategy; the Englishman's was no less effective.

Simeon decided to give a weekly tea party. He coaxed to his rooms some of the most brilliant students of his day. From that tea table there went forth men who, on all the continents and islands, have won deathless renown. As an old man of 70 Simeon glanced over a list of the names of the men who, during the 40 years between 1789 and 1829, had rendered devoted and self-sacrificing service in India alone. "Why," he exclaimed with delight, "they are all of them my tea party men!" On his deathbed, eight years later, he referred to his famous tea party with faltering voice and moistening eye. Cambridge has never witnessed such a funeral as his. More than 1,500 gownsmen joined the procession to the grave. Every great country and every great cause was represented.

F W Boreham

Image: Charles Simeon

23 September: Boreham on Patrick Bronte

Ne'er-Do-Well's Centenary
We celebrate tomorrow the anniversary of the death of one of the most forlorn figures in our literary history.[1] Patrick Branwell Bronte died on September 24, 1848. Like his father, he was handsome, redheaded and hail-fellow-well-met with everyone. But everything seemed to be against him. If ever a boy needed a mother's care, he did. But Mrs. Bronte died when he was four. If ever a boy needed the companionship of a brother or two, Branwell did. But he had none. He had three sisters, wonderful as women, but of very little use as sisters.

In that crazy old parsonage on the Haworth hill, hemmed in by gravestones, the three consumptive girls—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—moved about like apocalyptic mysteries, sealed with seven seals. They were shy; but they were more than shy; they were reserved, taciturn, secretive. Every crack and cranny in the ramshackle old house was stuffed with their secrets. Mysteries, like mice, peeped out of every hole and scampered over the uneven floor. The girls brought to absolute perfection the art of keeping everybody—even one another—at arm's length. In their funny Bronte way they were deeply attached to one another, and to Branwell; but they exchanged no confidences. Branwell, effervescing with vitality and brimming over with the lust of life, found this pale feminine companionship less than satisfying.

He possessed genius. When unexpected guests arrived at the Black Bull, and the landlord was at his wits' end as to how to entertain them, he would send up to the parsonage for Branwell. A few minutes later the door would cautiously open, revealing a great gaunt forehead, hollow cheeks, piercing eyes and a huge mass of red and unkempt hair. The wily landlord knew that Branwell had as many tricks as a performing monkey; a few glasses of brandy set the entire repertoire in motion; and, for the rest of the evening, the fun was fast and furious.

A Vision Of What Might Have Been
What, one wonders, would have been Branwell's place in history if he had taken himself seriously? Before he was 20 he sent a batch of his poems to Wordsworth. "Read it, sir," he begged, "and, as you would hold a light to one in utter darkness, return me an answer, if but one word, telling me whether to write on or to write no more."

Nobody has ever been able to decide Branwell's part in the authorship of "Wuthering Heights." Mr. E. F. Benson thinks that the novel was Branwell's idea and that he himself wrote the opening chapters. Finding close application tedious, however, he handed the whole thing over to Emily, cheerfully collaborating with her in its development. The two died within a few weeks of each other. Branwell also translated the Odes of Horace. Many scholars have undertaken the same difficult task; but one competent critic declares that, at their best, Branwell's lines need fear comparison with none.

It is, however, in the realm of art that Branwell might have excelled had he been encouraged to apply himself diligently to his palette. In the National Portrait Gallery two of his paintings still hang. One of them represents his three famous sisters: the other is of Emily alone. When we reflect that the former, produced by a boy of very little training, and of no practical experience, is thought worthy of its place in the noble gallery, it is clear that Branwell was endowed with natural aptitude for such work. It reveals several qualities of real excellence. "But when," as John Drinkwater says, "we pass from this youthful venture to the single portrait of Emily, painted 10 years later, we are in the presence of startling achievement."

Brilliance Extinguished By Lack Of Sympathy
Branwell died at 31. His record is a gloomy one. As long as he lived at the parsonage, he kept the place in constant turmoil. He turned Paradise into pandemonium. When she knew that Branwell was spending the evening at the Black Bull, Emily, who understood him best, would sit up to receive him and see him safely to his room. She had good reason for this precaution. On one memorable night, when she had retired before his return, she detected a smell of smoke, and, rushing downstairs, found that in his drunken stupor he had set the place on fire. Giving no alarm, she worked away with pails of water till the last spark was extinguished.

Even when Branwell left home, his withdrawal provided the parsonage folk with no relief. He got into scrapes that nearly drove them to distraction, becoming, among other things, involved in a wretched love-affair with the wife of his employer. The repercussions of this ghastly business tore all laughter from the lips of the unhappy Brontes and banished all sleep from their eyes.

Yet there was a wealth of real downright goodness in him. He heard one day that a small girl in his father's Sunday school was desperately ill. "I went to see the poor little thing," he writes, "and stayed with her for half an hour, reading a psalm and, at her request, a hymn. I felt very like praying with her, too; but, you see, I was not good enough. How dare I pray for another who had almost forgotten how to pray for myself? I was sure she would die and came away with a heavy heart." Charlotte noticed his sadness and asked what ailed him he told her. "She gave me," he says, "a look I shall never forget. It wounded me as if somebody had struck me a blow on the mouth." She did not believe him! "Why can they not give me some credit," he cried, "when I am trying to be good?" He represents a strange medley of weakness and strength. He always said that he would die on his feet, and, surely enough, when his last agony came upon him, he insisted on struggling from his bed and standing upright! And, when his clothes were afterwards examined, the pockets were stuffed with the letters of the woman who had been the cause of all his trouble. These, the poignant happenings of 1848, are worth recalling, even after the passage of a hundred years.

F W Boreham

Image: Patrick Branwell Bronte

[1] This editorial appears in the Hobart Mercury on September 25, 1948.

22 September: Boreham on Michael Faraday

Simplicities of Science
The amazing thing about Michael Faraday, whose birthday this is, is that, on the crude foundation of the poorest possible education, he succeeded in establishing his position as one of the most accomplished scholars that the ages have known. In the realms of commerce and industry we are scarcely surprised when; every now and again, self-made and even illiterate men make a notable mark. It is the triumph of a vigorous mind and a sturdy character over the hardships and disadvantages that unfriendly conditions have imposed. We admire it; we applaud it; but we are not astonished at it. But when, as in Faraday's case, a boy begins by cleaning boots and washing bottles, and ends by becoming the most eminent scientist of his time, he really appears to have achieved the impossible.

Beginning life in poverty, Faraday never showed the slightest desire for wealth. He married on a salary of £2 a week, and, although he might easily have amassed an enormous fortune, it is doubtful if, to the end of his days, he ever earned £400 a year. He invented, but he never patented his inventions. "If they are of any use to the world," he would say, "let the world have the benefit of them!" He argued that it was by the kindness of others that he had acquired the knowledge that had made his masterly achievements possible.

A Hungry Mind Finds Satisfaction Everywhere
Faraday always said that the greatest day of his life was the day on which he became apprenticed to a second-hand bookseller. In this lowly employment it was his duty to patch up and rebind the battered volumes. The boy soon exhibited an extraordinary capacity for imbibing the contents of the books he covered. He made each book pay for its new coat by yielding to his hungry mind the hoarded treasure that it carried. Conspicuously among these indigent tomes was an ancient encyclopaedia, very much the worse for wear. In reclothing it and investing it with a respectability worthy of its inherent dignity, Faraday became infatuated by certain scientific themes of which it treated, and he always averred that it was this old encyclopaedia that determined his destiny. He learned far more in the dusty old bookshop than many students imbibe in the course of a university career. Fortunately, his employer, instead of scowling upon the boy's abstraction, encouraged him in his abstruse and recondite studies. Other people behaved very similarly. To earn a few extra pence, he blacked the boots of an artist who boarded with the bookseller. Taking a fancy to the eager boy, the artist taught him the principles of perspective, lent him books, and gave him lessons in drawing. And his brother, Robert Faraday, a working blacksmith, discovering Michael's desperate anxiety to attend evening lectures, paid the requisite fees out of his own scanty earnings at the forge. And, most gratifying of all, when the time came to approach the men whose names were household words in the halls of science, the boy found a most illustrious and redoubtable champion standing at the salute, awaiting the opportunity to serve him.

Trembling in every limb, Faraday screwed up courage to write to Sir Humphry Davy. For a while the only response, beyond a formal acknowledgment, was a commission to bind for Sir Humphry an immense stack of the great man's worn-out books. But, one memorable day, to the youth's inexpressible astonishment, Sir Humphry's coach drew up outside the bookshop, and, as a result of an embarrassing interview, Faraday was appointed to the position of assistant in the laboratory of the Royal Institution. From that moment, he never looked back. With amazing intellectual agility he made his way from one branch of research to another.

'As The Greatest Only Are, In Simplicity Sublime'
To the very end he appeared utterly oblivious of his own greatness. His beautiful simplicity remained sublimely unspoiled. He consistently behaved like a curious child asking penetrating questions concerning the wonders around him. Never for a moment did he seem to realise that he was changing the face of civilisation. He never suspected, as Mr. Wilfrid L. Randell observes, that he was bringing into existence our immense modern power-houses, making it possible for men to fly round the world, and laying the foundations of all wireless communication. He electrified the industry and commerce of the world, and made less fuss about it than some men would make of a creditable round of golf. His humility was his most captivating charm. Mr. Cosmo Monkhouse has well asked:

Was ever man so simple and so sage,
So crowned and yet so careless of a prize?
Great Faraday, who made the world so wise,
And loved the labour better than the wage!
And this, you say, is how he looked in age,
With that strong brow and those great humble eyes
That seem to look with reverent surprise
On all outside himself. Turn o'er the page,
Recording Angel, it is white as snow!
Ah, God, a fitting messenger was he
To show Thy mysteries to us below!
Child as he came has he returned to Thee!
Would he could come but once again to show
The wonder-deep of his simplicity!

In Faraday the loftiest traditions of the scientific temper are exemplified at their very best. He never closed his eyes to any fragment of truth, however unwelcome; he never divided his mind into watertight compartments; he never shrank from the approach of an honest doubt. Yet, whilst confronting his doubts without flinching, he revelled in the sublimest certainties, weaving them into the very fibre and fabric of his daily life. "Mr. Faraday," said one who stood beside him at the last, "it would be of immense value to us all if you would give us the benefit of your final speculations." "Speculations!" exclaimed the dying sage with a beatific smile, "My dear Sir, I have finished with speculations; I am resting on certainties, for I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day!"

F W Boreham

Image: Michael Faraday