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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

And John of Barneveld as statesman


Motley's

histories are "The Rise of the Dutch Republic," "The United Netherlands," and "John of Barneveld," a series which, for brilliancy of characterization of men and times and events, and interest stimulated and held, may rank, without hyperbole, with the writings of Lord Macaulay. Both are always special pleaders, as I am of opinion history ought probably to be, seeing that it is human nature, and will, in all but solitary instances, be the case whether or no; both are fascinating as a romancist; both are colorists, gorgeous as Rembrandt; both glorify and make you admire and love their heroes, whether you are so minded or not; both have made the epoch of which they wrote vivid as the landscape upon which the sunset pours its crimson dyes. Motley's hero was William the Silent, Prince of Orange; and Macaulay's hero was William III, King of England, Prince of Orange. Motley will bear being ranked as a great historian. He hates Philip II, as I suppose good folks ought who despise egotism, intolerance, vindictiveness, and horrible cruelty. He lauds William the Silent as soldier and statesman, Prince Maurice as a soldier, and John of Barneveld as statesman. Motley marches across old battle-fields like a soldier clad in steel. He gives portraits of Queen Elizabeth, of Leicester, of Granvelle, of Prince Maurice, of John of Barneveld, of Henry of Navarre, of Philip II, of Count Egmont, of Charles V, of Don John of Austria, of Hugo Grotius, and of William the Silent, which are as noble
as the portraits painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. I confess myself a heavy debtor to Motley. He has taught me so much; has familiarized me with the great world-figure, William the Silent, so that I feel at home with him and his struggle, and participate with him in them. He has drawn so clearly the figures of Romanist, Arminian, and Calvinist, as to make them fairly glow upon his pages. Not as minister to St. James, under President Grant, was Motley at his best; but rifling the archives of Holland and Spain with an industry which knew no bounds, and rehearsing the dry-as-dust discoveries in histories that glow like a furnace. Here is the field in which he is all but unconquerable. Long live the American historians!

IX

King Arthur

Perhaps no reader of the world's literature would deny that letters and life had been indefinitely enriched by Alfred Tennyson.

How ideas affect life when once they have become participants therein is the bar at which all ideas must stand for judgment. Carbonic-acid gas enters the lungs, fills them, and blows out the lamp of life. Common air enters the lungs, crimsons the blood, exhilarates the spirit, gives elasticity to step and thought and pulse; is health, and pours oil into the lamp of life whereby the flame burns higher, like watch-fires on evening hills. One air brought death; one air brought more abundant life. What do ideas effect, and how do they affect him who entertains them is the final question and the final test. Now, our earth is always trying to grow men. Not harvests nor flowers nor forests, but man, is what the earth is proudest of. On transparent June days, standing upon the cliffs of the Isle of Man, I have seen the golden wheatfields on the hills of Wales; but heaven, looking earth's way, is oblivious to our tossing plumes of corn or tawny billows of the fields of wheat. Heaven's concern is in our crop of manhood; and ships that ply between the shores of earth and shores of heaven are never laden with gold or silver ingots, as Spanish galleons were, nor with glancing silks nor burning gems, but are forever freighted with elect spirits. Men and women are the commodity earth grows that heaven wants.


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