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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 15, 1888)
a relic of my very impressible childhood that there are
some good, honest, upright people in the world.
C. Well, to come down to something definite, how do you
N. Why, I am glad you mentioned him, because the
French and Russian novelists take us oh" to another standard
of taste and life. Now I don't like Thackeray. He always
gives me the impression that everybody is mean. You know
it is generally stated that he never depicted an admirable
C. But what authors do you like?
N. Well, I like Scott. There is a true, manly ring about
his characters. Then I like Dickens, for although he
describes suffering and crime, one pities, rather than con
demns his characters. Then, best of all, probably , I like
C. Well now, it seems to me you arc all wrong. Thacke
ray has painted some admirable characters. I want nothing
better as a man than Col. Ncwcomc, and the mother of
Beatrix Esmond, though far from an ideal, is nevertheless a
noble woman. As for Dickens, a great many wide readers
pity the author rather than his characters. "Bcn-Hur" is
indeed a wonderful thing, but from the very nature of the
case it is and can be the only one of its kind. It fits right
into a niche which seems to have been left for it. The
demand is now supplied and it docs not furnish the basis for
a school of novels.
N. Well, what is your idea of a novel?
C. Why, it seems to me if the novel has a higher mission
than to amuse it is to fit a man to live with and understand
his fellow men. A novel with ideal characters leads one to
exccl his fellows to be better than he will find them. If he
allows his life or his understanding of human nature to lie
regulated in any way by these ideal characters, he will be
deceived by his fellows or disappointed in them. Then again,
if one reads a novel representing characters worse than exist,
he will impute bad motives where, in reality, there arc only
good ones. Aside from literature, the only way we have of
judging past actions is from memory; to infer the result of
our present mode of life or our future destiny in this world
we must have before us the experience of others. But we
all have a decided dislike to have either experience or advice
administered orally. If then we are influenced more readily
or more agreeably by a novel than by a friend or parent, the
the best adviser is that novel which gives us a true picture of
N. You seem to be an ultra-realist.
C. Yes, I am, if you place the novel upon any higher
plane than a mere means of amusement. I can con
ceive of no actual benefit to be derived from reading such a
novel as "She." It is this view of the novel as an educator
it seems to me, that justifies an author in dealing with topics
that are offensive to good taste. The whole question hinges
upon the relative merits of innocence and virtue. Even if
innocence of the knowledge of evil were a possibility, virtue
is a much more admirable quality. Take "Scarlet
Letter." The j'.ot of the novel is eminently distasteful, and
yet was there ever a lesson so strongly taught?
N. And do you really think Balzac or Tolstoi will benefit
American readers morally?
C. Most assuredly if they will read them remembering
the difference between French or Russian and American life.
One can't shut his eyes to the evil that is in the world, and I
should call that a very weak character which is unable to
receive the good and reject the bad from the influence of a
novel, or of a person either. Your standard of a novel
would exclude you from any knowledge of universal
N. Well, I'll read Anna Karenina and sec what I think
C. Before you do so read Matthew Arnold's review of it
in the December Fortnightly.
Who was Livingstone? Nine tenths of the world in reply
to such a question, will answer, "An African explorer."
The answer would be correct, but not sufficient. Many other
men have earned fame by explorations in Africa, but upon
none of them can rest such honor as Livingstone merits.
Not for recognition as an explorer wcic Livingstone's labors.
Titles, decorations and honors for discoveries were never
sought by him. To sum up the character of Livingstone as
an explorer only, gives no conception of his greatness. His
explorations were made for a greater work that was to follow.
He found the paths by which Christianity and civilization
might enter Africa.
David Livingstone was born in Scotland in 1813. The
pluck and perseverance of the Scotch character were imbued
in him. It was developed by the constant struggles of his
early life. He soon learned the lessons of self-sacrifice. He
obtained his education by fragments. Placed in a factory at
the age of ten years, with no prospect of further education,
it seemed as if the way to future advancement of Livingstone
was barred. But he was not thwarted. The poor and strug
gling Scotch lad fitted himself for a work, the magnitude of
which never has been fully realized. In its accomplishment
Livingstone became one of the greatest servants of humanity.
For many centuries Africa seemed Anglo-Saxon proof.
The ignorance and degradation of the African people blighted
all the influences that fostered civilized growth. Science and
philanthrophy struggled long to enter the land in which were
wrapped the mysteries of ages. Humanity demanded that
the darkness be pierced; that the light of civilization and
Christian truth, which had only flickered upon the coasts of
darkness, should be carried into the gloom beyond. To do
this was the mission of Livingstone.
When twenty-five years of age Livingstone sailed to Africa
as a missionary. He became an explorer in order to estab
lish footholds for coming missions, and to prepare the people
for enlightenment. Though he became an explorer, his
aim was still the same -the redemption of Africa.
Livingstone plunged into.the wilderness of African mys
tery. For years he traversed the southern country. He
studied it and its people, the customs and the language. He
filled his note books with contributions to scientific knowledge.
Though almost alone and with no armed force, he penetrated
through the regions of southern Africa to the head waters of
the Zambesi. Thence he travelled westward to the Atlantic.
Then he started eastward again and passed over the entire
breadth of Africa. The darkness was pierced, though by
only a single ray. The light of knowledge was flashed across
the African continent from the western to the eastern coast.
After a short stay in England Livingstone returned to
Africa. Starting at the mouth of the Zambesi, he penetrated
far into the interior, establishing mission schools when pos
sible. He constantly enriched science by his observations.
Lake Nyassa was discovered and the surrounding country
examined. This expedition was largely in the interest of
missionary workbut Livingstone observed and noted every
thing worth attention. A jealous government, however,
checked his progress and compelled him to return.
Once more he returned to England, but soon was back
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