Great Men and Famous Women. Vol. 3 of 8
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[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.

Captions marked with [TN] have been added while producing this file.]


A Series of Pen and Pencil Sketches of



Copyright, 1894, BY SELMAR HESS

edited by Charles F. Horne

New-York: Selmar Hess Publisher

Copyright, 1894, by SELMAR HESS.



ALFRED THE GREAT, Sir J. Bernard Burke, LL.D., 101 ST. AMBROSE, Rev. A. Lambing, LL.D., 68 ARCHIMEDES, John Timbs, F.S.A., 59 ARISTOTLE, Fenelon, 54 ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY, Rt. Rev. Henry Codman Potter, 88 ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, James, Cardinal Gibbons, 73 FRANCIS BACON, Hon. Ignatius Donnelly, 154 WILLIAM BRADFORD, Elbridge S. Brooks, 172 AUGUSTUS CAESAR, 66 JOHN CALVIN, 140 CHARLES I. OF ENGLAND, F. Hindes Groome, 177 Letter written on the eve of his execution by Charles I. to his son, 180 CHARLES V. OF GERMANY, 133 MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, Rev. W. J. Brodribb, 63 NICHOLAS COPERNICUS, John Stoughton, D.D., 122 OLIVER CROMWELL, Lord Macaulay, 181 DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL, Margaret E. Sangster, 10 DEMOSTHENES, E. Benjamin Andrews, 47 DIOGENES, Fenelon, 54 ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF ENGLAND, Samuel L. Knapp, 149 FREDERICK, THE GREAT ELECTOR, 189 GALILEO GALILEI, 161 JOHN HUSS, Rev. Dr. Tweedy, 106 ISABELLA OF CASTILE, Sarah H. Killikelly, 114 JUSTINIAN THE GREAT, 85 JOHN KNOX, P. Hume Brown, 144 LOUIS XI. OF FRANCE, E. Spencer Biesly, M.A., 111 LOUIS XIV., Oliver Optic, 192 MARTIN LUTHER, 127 Letter of affection from Luther to his little son Hans, 132 LYCURGUS, Rev. Joseph T. Duryea, 22 MAHOMET, 95 MOSES, Henry George, 1 ST. PATRICK, Rev. G. F. Maclear, B.D., 80 WILLIAM PENN, 200 PERICLES, 34 CARDINAL RICHELIEU, 166 SOCRATES, Fenelon, 38 SOLOMON, Rev. Charles F. Deems, 16 THEMISTOCLES, 29









Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime, And departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time.




(1571-1451 B.C.)

[Footnote 1: Copyright. 1894. by Selmar Hess.]


Three great religions place the leader of the Exodus upon the highest plane they allot to man. To Christendom and to Islam, as well as to Judaism, Moses is the mouthpiece of the Most High; the medium, clothed with supernatural powers, through which the Divine Will has spoken. Yet this very exaltation, by raising him above comparison, may prevent the real grandeur of the man from being seen. It is amid his brethren that Saul stands taller and fairer.

On the other hand, the latest school of Biblical criticism asserts that the books and legislation attributed to Moses are really the product of an age subsequent to that of the prophets. Yet to this Moses, looming vague and dim, of whom they can tell us almost nothing, they, too, attribute the beginning of that growth which flowered centuries after in the humanities of Jewish law, and again, higher still and fairer, gleamed forth in that star of spiritual light which rested over the stable of Bethlehem, in Judea.

But whether wont to look on Moses in this way or in that, it may be sometimes worth our while to take the point of view in which all shades of belief may find common ground, and accepting the main features of Hebrew record,[2] consider them in the light of history, and of human nature as it shows itself to-day. Here is a case in which sacred history may be treated as we would treat profane history without any shock to religious feeling. The keenest criticism cannot resolve Moses into a myth. The fact of the Exodus presupposes such a leader.

[Footnote 2: Moses, the lawgiver of the Hebrew people, was, according to the Biblical account, an Israelite of the tribe of Levi, and the son of Amram and Jochebed. He was born in Egypt, in the year 1571 B.C., according to the common chronology. To evade the edict of Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, that all the male children of the Hebrews should be killed, he was hid by his mother three months, and then exposed in an ark of rushes on the banks of the Nile. Here the child was found by Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him for her son, entrusting him to his own mother to nurse, by which circumstance he was preserved from being entirely separated from his own people. He was probably educated at the Egyptian court, where he became "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians." At the age of forty years Moses conceived the idea of freeing his Hebrew brethren from their bondage in Egypt, and on one occasion, seeing an Egyptian maltreating an Israelite, he interfered, slew the Egyptian, and buried him in the sand. The next day, upon his attempting to reconcile two Hebrews who had quarrelled, his services were scornfully rejected, and he was upbraided with the murder of the Egyptian. Finding that his secret was known, he fled from Egypt, and took refuge with a tribe of Midianites in Arabia Petraea, among whom he lived as a shepherd forty years, having married the daughter of their priest Jethro or Reuel.

As Moses led his father-in-law's flocks in the desert of Sinai, God appeared to him at Mount Horeb in a bush which burnt with fire, but was not consumed, and commanded him to return to Egypt and lead out his people thence into the land of Canaan. On his arrival in Egypt, the Israelites accepted him as their deliverer and after bringing ten miraculous plagues upon the land of Egypt before he could gain Pharaoh's consent to the departure of the people, he led them out through the Red Sea, which was miraculously divided for their passage, into the peninsula of Sinai. While the people were encamped at the foot of Sinai, God delivered to them through Moses the law which, with some additions and alterations, was ever after observed as their national code. After leading the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years, Moses appointed Joshua as his successor in the command over them, and died at the age of one hundred and twenty years, on Mount Pisgah, on the east side of the River Jordan, having first been permitted to view the land of Canaan from its summit. God buried him in the valley of Bethpeor, in the land of Moab, but his tomb was never made known.]

To lead into freedom a people long crushed by tyranny; to discipline and order such a mighty host; to harden them into fighting men, before whom warlike tribes quailed and walled cities went down; to repress discontent and jealousy and mutiny; to combat reactions and reversions; to turn the quick, fierce flame of enthusiasm to the service of a steady purpose, require some towering character—a character blending in highest expression the qualities of politician, patriot, philosopher, and statesman.

Such a character in rough but strong outline the tradition shows us—the union of the wisdom of the Egyptians with the unselfish devotion of the meekest of men. From first to last, in every glimpse we get, this character is consistent with itself, and with the mighty work which is its monument. It is the character of a great mind, hemmed in by conditions and limitations, and working with such forces and materials as were at hand—accomplishing, yet failing. Behind grand deed, a grander thought. Behind high performance, the still nobler ideal.

Egypt was the mould of the Hebrew nation—the matrix in which a single family, or, at most, a small tribe, grew to a people as numerous as the American people at the time of the Declaration of Independence. For four centuries, according to the Hebrew tradition—a period as long as America has been known to Europe—this growing people, coming a patriarchal family from a roving, pastoral life, had been placed under the dominance of a highly developed and ancient civilization—a civilization symbolized by monuments that rival in endurance the everlasting hills; a civilization so ancient that the Pyramids, as we now know, were hoary with centuries ere Abraham looked on them.

No matter how clearly the descendants of the kinsmen who came into Egypt at the invitation of the boy-slave become prime minister, maintained the distinction of race, and the traditions of a freer life, they must have been powerfully affected by such a civilization; and just as the Hebrews of to-day are Polish in Poland, German in Germany, and American in the United States, so, but far more clearly and strongly, the Hebrews of the Exodus must have been Egyptian.

It is not remarkable, therefore, that the ancient Hebrew institutions show in so many points the influence of Egyptian ideas and customs. What is remarkable is the dissimilarity. To the unreflecting nothing may seem more natural than that a people, in turning their back upon a land where they had been long oppressed, should discard its ideas and institutions. But the student of history, the observer of politics, know that nothing is more unnatural. For "institutions make men." And when amid a people used to institutions of one kind, we see suddenly arise institutions of an opposite kind, we know that behind them must be that active, that initiative force—the "men who in the beginnings make institutions."

This is what occurs in the Exodus. The striking differences between Egyptian and Hebrew policy are not of form but of essence. The tendency of the one is to subordination and oppression; of the other, to individual freedom. Strangest of recorded births! from out the strongest and most splendid despotism of antiquity comes the freest republic. From between the paws of the rock-hewn Sphinx rises the genius of human liberty, and the trumpets of the Exodus throb with the defiant proclamation of the rights of man.

Consider what Egypt was. The very grandeur of her monuments testify to the enslavement of the people—are the enduring witnesses of a social organization that rested on the masses an immovable weight. That narrow Nile Valley, the cradle of the arts and sciences, the scene, perhaps, of the greatest triumphs of the human mind, is also the scene of its most abject enslavement. In the long centuries of its splendor its lord, secure in the possession of irresistible temporal power, and securer still in the awful sanctions of a mystical religion, was as a god on earth, to cover whose poor carcass with a tomb befitting his state hundreds of thousands toiled away their lives. For the classes who came next to him were all the sensuous delights of a most luxurious civilization, and high intellectual pleasures which the mysteries of the temple hid from vulgar profanation. But for the millions who constituted the base of the social pyramid there was but the lash to stimulate their toil, and the worship of beasts to satisfy the yearnings of the soul. From time immemorial to the present day the lot of the Egyptian peasant has been to work and to starve, that those above him might live daintily. He has never rebelled. The spirit for that was long ago crushed out of him by institutions which made him what he is. He knows but to suffer and to die.

Imagine what opportune circumstances we may, yet to organize and carry on a movement resulting in the release of a great people from such a soul-subduing tyranny, backed by an army of half a million highly trained soldiers, requires a leadership of most commanding and consummate genius. But this task, surpassingly great though it is, is not the measure of the greatness of the leader of the Exodus. It is not in the deliverance from Egypt, it is in the constructive statesmanship that laid the foundations of the Hebrew commonwealth that the superlative grandeur of that leadership looms up. As we cannot imagine the Exodus without the great leader, neither can we account for the Hebrew polity without the great statesman. Not merely intellectually great, but morally great—a statesman aglow with the unselfish patriotism that refuses to grasp a sceptre or found a dynasty.

It matters not when or by whom were compiled the books popularly attributed to Moses; it matters not how much of the code there given may be the survivals of more ancient usage or the amplifications of a later age; its great features bear the stamp of a mind far in advance of people and time, of a mind that beneath effects sought for causes, of a mind that drifted not with the tide of events, but aimed at a definite purpose.

The outlines that the record gives us of the character of Moses—the brief relations that wherever the Hebrew scriptures are read have hung the chambers of the imagination with vivid pictures—are in every way consistent with this idea. What we know of the life illustrates what we know of the work. What we know of the work illumines the life.

It was not an empire such as had reached full development in Egypt or existed in rudimentary patriarchal form in the tribes around, that Moses aimed to found. Nor was it a republic where the freedom of the citizen rested on the servitude of the helot, and the individual was sacrificed to the state. It was a commonwealth based upon the individual; a commonwealth whose ideal it was that every man should sit under his own vine and fig-tree, with none to vex him or make him afraid; a commonwealth in which none should be condemned to ceaseless toil; in which, for even the bond slave, there should be hope; in which, for even the beast of burden, there should be rest. A commonwealth in which, in the absence of deep poverty, the manly virtues that spring from personal independence should harden into a national character; a commonwealth in which the family affections might knit their tendrils around each member, binding with links stronger than steel the various parts into the living whole.

It is not the protection of property, but the protection of humanity, that is the aim of the Mosaic code. Its sanctions are not directed to securing the strong in heaping up wealth, so much as to preventing the weak from being crowded to the wall. At every point it interposes its barriers to the selfish greed that, if left unchecked, will surely differentiate men into landlord and serf, capitalist and workman, millionaire and tramp, ruler and ruled. Its Sabbath day and Sabbath year secure, even to the lowliest, rest and leisure. With the blast of the Jubilee trumpets the slave goes free, the debt that cannot be paid is cancelled, and a re-division of the land secures again to the poorest his fair share in the bounty of the common Creator. The reaper must leave something for the gleaner; even the ox cannot be muzzled as he treadeth out the corn. Everywhere, in everything, the dominant idea is that of our homely phrase—"Live and let live!"

And the religion with which this civil policy is so closely intertwined exhibits kindred features—from the idea of the brotherhood of man springs the idea of the fatherhood of God. Though the forms may resemble those of Egypt, the spirit is that which Egypt had lost; though a hereditary priesthood is retained, the law in its fulness is announced to all the people. Though the Egyptian rite of circumcision is preserved, and the Egyptian symbols reappear in all the externals of worship, the tendency to take the type for the reality is sternly repressed. It is only when we think of the bulls and the hawks, of the deified cats and sacred ichneumons of Egypt, that we realize the full meaning of the command—"Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image!"

And if we seek, beneath form and symbol and command, the thought of which they are but the expression, we find that the distinctive feature of the Hebrew religion, that which separates it by such a wide gulf from the religions amid which it grew up, is its utilitarianism, its recognition of divine law in human life. It asserts, not a God whose domain is confined to the far-off beginning or the vague future, who is over and above and beyond men, but a God who in His inexorable laws is here and now; a God of the living as well as of the dead; a God of the market-place as well as of the temple; a God whose judgments wait not another world for execution, but whose immutable decrees will, in this life, give happiness to the people that heed them and bring misery upon the people that forget them.

The absence in the Mosaic books of any reference to a future life is only intelligible by the prominence into which this truth is brought. Nothing could have been more familiar to the Hebrews of the Exodus than the doctrine of immortality. The continued existence of the soul, the judgment after death, the rewards and punishments of the future state, were the constant subjects of Egyptian thought and art. But a truth may be hidden or thrown into the background by the intensity with which another truth is grasped. And the truth that Moses brought so prominently forward, the truth his gaze was concentrated upon, is a truth that has often been thrust aside by the doctrine of immortality, and that may perhaps, at times, react on it in the same way. This is the truth that the actions of men bear fruit in this world, that though on the petty scale of individual life wickedness may seem to go unpunished and wrong to be rewarded, there is yet a Nemesis that with tireless feet and pitiless arm follows every national crime, and smites the children for the father's transgression; the truth that each individual must act upon and be acted upon by the society of which he is a part; that all must in some degree suffer for the sin of each, and the life of each be dominated by the conditions imposed by all.

It is the intense appreciation of this truth that gives the Mosaic institutions so practical and utilitarian a character. Their genius, if I may so speak, leaves the abstract speculations where thought so easily loses and wastes itself, or finds expression only in symbols that become finally but the basis of superstition, in order that it may concentrate attention upon laws that determine the happiness or misery of men upon this earth. Its lessons have never tended to the essential selfishness of asceticism, which is so prominent a feature in Brahmanism and Buddhism, and from which Christianity and Islamism have not been exempt. Its injunction has never been, "Leave the world to itself that you may save your own soul," but rather, "Do your duty in the world that you may be happier and the world be better." It has disdained no sanitary regulation that might secure the health of the body. Its promise has been of peace and plenty and length of days, of stalwart sons and comely daughters.

It may be that the feeling of Moses in regard to a future life was that expressed in the language of the Stoic, "It is the business of Jupiter, not mine;" or it may be that it partook of the same revulsion that shows itself in modern times, when a spirit essentially religious has been turned against the forms and expressions of religion, because these forms and expressions have been made the props and bulwarks of tyranny, and even the name and teachings of the Carpenter's Son perverted into supports of social injustice—used to guard the pomp of Caesar and justify the greed of Dives.

Yet, however such feelings influenced Moses, I cannot think that such a soul as his, living such a life as his—feeling the exaltation of great thoughts, feeling the burden of great cares, feeling the bitterness of great disappointments—did not stretch forward to the hope beyond; did not rest and strengthen and ground itself in the confident belief that the death of the body is but the emancipation of the soul; did not feel the assurance that there is a power in the universe upon which it might confidently rely, through wreck of matter and crash of worlds. But the great concern of Moses was with the duty that lay plainly before him: the effort to lay foundations of a social state in which deep poverty and degrading want should be unknown—where men, released from the meaner struggles that waste human energy, should have opportunity for intellectual and moral development.

Here stands out the greatness of the man. What was the wisdom and stretch of the forethought that in the desert sought to guard in advance against the dangers of a settled state, let the present speak.

In the full blaze of the nineteenth century, when every child in our schools may know as common truths things of which the Egyptian sages never dreamed; when the earth has been mapped, and the stars have been weighed; when steam and electricity have been pressed into our service, and science is wresting from nature secret after secret—it is but natural to look back upon the wisdom of three thousand years ago as the man looks back upon the learning of the child.

And yet, for all this wonderful increase of knowledge, for all this enormous gain of productive power, where is the country in the civilized world in which to-day there is not want and suffering—where the masses are not condemned to toil that gives no leisure, and all classes are not pursued by a greed of gain that makes life an ignoble struggle to get and to keep? Three thousand years of advance, and still the moan goes up, "They have made our lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service!" Three thousand years of advance! Yet the piteous voices of little children are in the moan.

We progress and we progress; we girdle continents with iron roads and knit cities together with the mesh of telegraph wires; each day brings some new invention; each year marks a fresh advance—the power of production increased, and the avenues of exchange cleared and broadened. Yet the complaint of "hard times" is louder and louder: everywhere are men harassed by care, and haunted by the fear of want. With swift, steady strides and prodigious leaps, the power of human hands to satisfy human wants advances and advances, is multiplied and multiplied. Yet the struggle for mere existence is more and more intense, and labor is cheapest of commodities. Beside glutted warehouses human beings grow faint with hunger and shiver with cold; under the shadow of churches festers the vice that is born of want.

Trace to their root the causes that are thus producing want in the midst of plenty, ignorance in the midst of intelligence, aristocracy in democracy, weakness in strength—that are giving to our civilization a one-sided and unstable development; and you will find it something which this Hebrew statesman three thousand years ago perceived and guarded against. Moses saw that the real cause of the enslavement of the masses of Egypt was, what has everywhere produced enslavement, the possession by a class of the land upon which and from which the whole people must live. He saw that to permit in land the same unqualified private ownership that by natural right attaches to the things produced by labor, would be inevitably to separate the people into the very rich and the very poor, inevitably to enslave labor—to make the few the masters of the many, no matter what the political forms, to bring vice and degradation no matter what the religion.

And with the foresight of the philosophic statesman he sought, in ways suited to his times and conditions, to guard against this error.

Everywhere in the Mosaic institutions is the land treated as the gift of the Creator to His common creatures, which no one has the right to monopolize. Everywhere it is, not your estate, or your property; not the land which you bought, or the land which you conquered, but "the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee"—"the land which the Lord lendeth thee." And by practical legislation, by regulations to which he gave the highest sanctions, he tried to guard against the wrong that converted ancient civilizations into despotisms—the wrong that in after centuries ate out the heart of Rome, and produced the imbruting serfdom of Poland and the gaunt misery of Ireland, the wrong that is to-day crowding families into single rooms and filling our new States with tramps. He not only provided for the fair division of the land among the people, and for making it fallow and common every seventh year, but by the institution of the jubilee he provided for a redistribution of the land every fifty years and made monopoly impossible.

I do not say that these institutions were, for their ultimate purpose, the best that might even then have been devised, for Moses had to work, as all great constructive statesmen have to work, with the tools that came to his hand, and upon materials as he found them. Still less do I mean to say that forms suitable for that time and people are suitable for every time and people. I ask, not veneration of the form, but recognition of the spirit.

Yet how common it is to venerate the form and to deny the spirit! There are many who believe that the Mosaic institutions were literally dictated by the Almighty, yet who would denounce as irreligious and "communistic" any application of their spirit to the present day. And yet to-day how much we owe to these institutions! This very day, the only thing that stands between our working classes and ceaseless toil is one of these Mosaic institutions. Let the mistakes of those who think that man was made for the Sabbath, rather than the Sabbath for man, be what they may; that there is one day in the week on which hammer is silent and loom stands idle, is due, through Christianity, to Judaism—to the code promulgated in the Sinaitic wilderness.

It is in these characteristics of the Mosaic institutions that, as in the fragments of a Colossus, we may read the greatness of the mind whose impress they bear—of a mind in advance of its surroundings, in advance of its age; of one of those star souls that dwindle not with distance, but, glowing with the radiance of essential truth, hold their light while institutions and languages and creeds change and pass.

That the thought was greater than the permanent expression it found, who can doubt? Yet from that day to this that expression has been in the world a living power.

From the free spirit of the Mosaic law sprang that intensity of family life that amid all dispersions and persecutions has preserved the individuality of the Hebrew race; that love of independence that under the most adverse circumstances has characterized the Jew; that burning patriotism that flamed up in the Maccabees and bared the breasts of Jewish peasants to the serried steel of Grecian phalanx and the resistless onset of Roman legion; that stubborn courage that in exile and in torture has held the Jew to his faith. It kindled that fire that has made the strains of Hebrew seers and poets phrase for us the highest exaltations of thought; that intellectual vigor that has over and over again made the dry staff bud and blossom. And passing outward from one narrow race it has exerted its power wherever the influence of the Hebrew scriptures has been felt. It has toppled thrones and cast down hierarchies. It strengthened the Scottish Covenanter in the hour of trial, and the Puritan amid the snows of a strange land. It charged with the Ironsides at Naseby; it stood behind the low redoubt on Bunker Hill.

But it is in example as in deed that such lives are helpful. It is thus that they dignify human nature and glorify human effort, and bring to those who struggle hope and trust. The life of Moses, like the institutions of Moses, is a protest against that blasphemous doctrine, current now as it was three thousand years ago; that blasphemous doctrine preached ofttimes even from Christian pulpits: that the want and suffering of the masses of mankind flow from a mysterious dispensation of Providence, which we may lament, but can neither quarrel with nor alter.

Adopted into the immediate family of the supreme monarch and earthly god; standing almost at the apex of the social pyramid which had for its base those toiling millions; priest and prince in a land where prince and priest might revel in all delights—everything that life could offer to gratify the senses or engage the intellect was open to him.

What to him the wail of them who beneath the fierce sun toiled under the whips of relentless masters? Heard from granite colonnade or beneath cool linen awning, it was mellowed by distance, to monotonous music. Why should he question the Sphinx of Fate, or quarrel with destinies the high gods had decreed? So had it always been, for ages and ages; so must it ever be. The beetle rends the insect, and the hawk preys on the beetle; order on order, life rises from death and carnage, and higher pleasures from lower agonies. Shall the man be better than nature? Soothing and restful flows the Nile, though underneath its placid surface finny tribes wage cruel war, and the stronger eat the weaker. Shall the gazer who would read the secrets of the stars turn because under his feet a worm may writhe?

Theirs to make bricks without straw; his a high place in the glorious procession that with gorgeous banners and glittering emblems, with clash of music and solemn chant, winds its shining way to dedicate the immortal edifice their toil has reared. Theirs the leek and the garlic; his to sit at the sumptuous feast. Why should he dwell on the irksomeness of bondage, he for whom the chariots waited, who might at will bestride the swift coursers of the Delta, or be borne on the bosom of the river with oars that beat time to songs? Did he long for the excitement of action?—there was the desert hunt, with steeds fleeter than the antelope and lions trained like dogs. Did he crave rest and ease?—there was for him the soft swell of languorous music and the wreathed movements of dancing girls. Did he feel the stir of intellectual life?—in the arcana of the temples he was free to the lore of ages; an initiate in the society where were discussed the most engrossing problems; a sharer in that intellectual pride that centuries after compared Greek philosophy to the babblings of children.

It was no sudden ebullition of passion that caused Moses to turn his back on all this, and to bring the strength and knowledge acquired in a dominant caste to the life-long service of the oppressed. The forgetfulness of self manifested in the smiting of the Egyptian shines through the whole life. In institutions that moulded the character of a people, in institutions that to this day make easier the lot of toiling millions, we may read the stately purpose.

Through all that tradition has given us of that life runs the same grand passion—the unselfish desire to make humanity better, happier, nobler. And the death is worthy of the life. Subordinating to the good of his people the natural disposition to found a dynasty, which in his case would have been so easy, he discards the claims of blood and calls to his place of leader the fittest man. Coming from a land where the rites of sepulture were regarded as all-important, and the preservation of the body after death was the passion of life; among a people who were even then carrying the remains of their great ancestor, Joseph, to rest with his fathers, he yet conquered the last natural yearning and withdrew from the sight and sympathy of men to die alone and unattended, lest the idolatrous feeling, always ready to break forth, should in death accord him the superstitious reverence he had refused in life.

"No man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." But while the despoiled tombs of the Pharaohs mock the vanity that reared them, the name of the Hebrew who, revolting from their tyranny, strove for the elevation of his fellow-men, is yet a beacon light to the world.

[Signature of the author.]



(1074-1001 B.C.)

[Footnote 3: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.]


More than a thousand years before the beginning of the Christian era, in a little farmstead in Palestine, there was rejoicing at the birth of a son. Not the first-born, whose coming was a fit occasion for gifts and feasting, not the second, the third, nor even the seventh. David was the eighth son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Jesse would seem to have been a landholder, as his fathers had been before him, a man of substance, with fields and flocks and herds. We first meet David, a ruddy, fair-haired lad, tough of sinew and keen of eye and aim, keeping the sheep among the mountains.

Two hundred years before David's day, a fair woman of Moab had brought a new infusion of strength, a new type, into the princely line of Judah. The blood of the daring children of the wilderness flowed in the veins of those who descended from Boaz. Just as in modern times and in royal houses a single feature, as a set of the jaw, a curve of the lips, a fulness of the brow or the eye, is stamped upon a race by some marriage of its heir with a strong woman of another race, so, it has always seemed to me, that the poetry, the romance, the fire and the passion, came with Ruth of Moab into the household of Boaz. For they were strong and beautiful, these sons of Jesse, who had Ruth as their not remote ancestress, and the mother-qualities live long and tell through many generations.

Of Jesse's many sons, David was the youngest. His early life was spent as was that of other boys belonging to his class and period. He must have added to his natural abilities and quickness, rare talents for attaining such knowledge as was possible, knowledge of all woodcraft and of nature, knowledge of musical instruments, and acquaintance with arms. Clean of limb and sure of foot, ready of repartee, fearless and alert, he was, even as a boy, something of what he was to become in maturity, one of the greatest men of his own or any age. Unique in some capacities, versatile and varied in arts and accomplishments, at once vindictive and forgiving, impetuous and politic, shrewd and impulsive, heroic and mean, of long memory for wrongs committed, of decisive act and incisive speech, relentless and magnanimous, strong and weak. A man whose influence has never died out among men, and who is to-day a vital force in the world of religion, of philanthropy, and of letters.

The short and ill-starred reign of Saul, the first king of the Jews, chosen when the people had wearied of the theocratic style of government, came to a speedy end. While yet the crown was on his head, the favor of the Lord departed from Saul, and Samuel, the Lord's prophet, was sent, 1064 B.C., to anoint his successor. The monarch was virtually deposed, though still in power. Saul was like a man under sentence of death who is still ignorant of his coming fate, and Samuel, who entertained a strong regard for him, evidently cared little to carry out the command received from God to discover the new king. Almost under protest, the old prophet sought Jesse the Bethlehemite, great-grandson of Boaz and the beautiful Ruth, and father of the sturdy set of stalwart sons who passed in review before him.

The youngest of these, a lad herding sheep in the fields, ruddy and goodly to look upon, bearing in his eyes the fearlessness of her who left her father's house to follow Naomi's desolate fortunes, came from the fields when he was sent for. Peaceful as was his shepherd's life in general, it was not without its occasional spice of danger, as when a lion and a bear, famished and furious and ravening for their prey, came out of the wintry woods to devour the sheep. Then, as the sacred chronicler tersely and with Homeric brevity tells us, the shepherd "slew both the lion and the bear."

That strange possession, the Spirit of the Lord, came upon David from the day of his anointing by Samuel, though it is improbable that he understood then, or for long afterward, precisely what was the function to which he had been consecrated. David was far older, and had dipped deep into many cups, before he spoke or thought of himself as "The Lord's Anointed."

The steps toward the throne were not smoothed for the boy's feet, though his upward path was in a comparatively straight line. First, quite naturally, it came about that he was sent for by King Saul, who was afflicted with periods of melancholia which were charmed away only by the sweetness of melody. David's harp, on which he played skilfully, was the instrument of relief to Saul, and Saul looking on the young man loved him, desired to attach him to his person, and speedily made him his armor-bearer. Jonathan, Saul's son, grew so deeply attached to David, that their souls were knit together in that strong friendship which strikes its fibres into the soil underlying passion, and godlike in its endurance. The friendship of the two young men passed into a proverb, a proverb which is the crystallization of history. As David and Jonathan, is friendship's strongest simile.

Of the episodes of this portion of David's life, the conflict with Goliath is familiar to every reader. The youth, armed with a pebble and a sling, slays the boastful champion, storming about in helmet and greaves and brazen target, and the victorious hosts of Israel pursue the defeated and flying Philistines hour after hour, till the sun goes down. Saul, apparently forgetful of his former favorite and armor-bearer, inquires whose son the stripling is, led proudly into his presence by Abner, the captain of the host.

"I am the son of thy servant, Jesse, the Bethlehemite," is the modest answer.

Again, this time aroused by jealousy, Saul's moody fit returns and his insanity is once more dispelled by David's harp. David becomes the king's son-in-law, and Michal, the king's daughter, loves her husband so dearly that she sets her woman's wits at work to save him when her father's hot displeasure, in the summary fashion known to Eastern kings, sends messengers to seek his life. Poor Michal, whose love was never half returned!

The next chapter in David's history is a curious one. Anointed king over Israel, he wanders an outlaw captain, hiding in crannies of the mountains, gathering to himself a band of young and daring spirits, reckless of peril, and willing to accept service under a leader who fears nothing, and whose incursions into the adjacent countries dispose people to hold him in wholesome terror. Again and again, in this precarious Robin Hood life of his, David has the opportunity to revenge himself upon Saul, but with splendid generosity puts the temptation aside.

"The Lord judge between me and thee," he exclaims; "the Lord avenge me of thee, but mine hand shall not be upon thee."

An interesting side-light is thrown upon this portion of David's career, by the incident of his meeting with Abigail, a woman fair and discreet, married to a sordid churl named Nabal. David and his band had protected Nabal's fields from other rovers, and had been, so to speak, a wall of fire between the churl's estate and the hand of depredation. But at the time of the sheep-shearing the surly ingrate refuses food and drink to the band of David, though the favor is most courteously asked. When the rough answer is brought back, one sees the quick temper of the soldier, in the flashing repartee, and the hand flying to the sword. Little had been left to Nabal of barn or byre, if sweet-voiced and stately Abigail, wiser than her lord, had not herself brought a present in her hand, and with a gentle tongue soothed the angry warrior.

In days to come, Abigail was to be wife to David, after the custom of the period, which attached a numerous harem to the entourage of a chieftain or a king.

In judging of David, of his relations with women, and of his dealings with his enemies, it is not fair to measure him by the standards of our own time. His was a day of the high hand, and of lax morality. The kings of neighboring countries knew no gentleness, no law but of self-interest and of self-pleasing in their marriages, and in their quarrels. Many of the alliances made by David were distinctly in the line of political arrangements, bargains by which he strengthened his boundary lines, and attracted to his own purposes the resources or the kindly interest of other nations.

Reading of David's dashing forays, when he and his valiant two hundred fought the Amalekites, chased the Philistines, took prisoners and spoil, yet with rare wisdom ordained that, in the division of the spoils, those who tarried at home by the stuff, the guard of wives and children, should share equally with those who took upon them the pleasanter, if more perilous, tasks of the battle, we are transported into the morning of the world. These were days when the trumpets blew and the flags fluttered, days of riotous health and the joy of life.

After the death of Saul and of Jonathan his son, David succeeded to the throne. This story is very dramatic. The conquering Philistines affixed the bodies of the dead heroes to their temple walls, and hung their armor as a trophy in the house of Ashtaroth. But the valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead came by night, took down the bodies and burned them, then buried the bones, and wept over them for seven days. David himself ordered to execution the messenger who brought him Saul's crown and bracelet, confessing that his own hand had given the king the coup de grace. His lamentation over Saul and Jonathan rises to the height of the sublime. Never laureate sang in strains more solemn and tender.

But from this moment on the tenor of David's life was boisterous and broken. He was constantly at war, now war that was defensive only, again war that was fiercely aggressive. He had to face internal dissensions. As his sons grew up, children of different mothers and of different trainings, there came to the heart of the father, always most passionately loving, such bitterness as none but great souls know.

Between David's house and that of Saul there was long and fierce dispute, and never any real peace. Treachery, assassination, jealousy, marked the course of these two houses, though David, to his lasting honor, be it said, showed only kindness and rendered only protection to the kindred of Saul. He could not control the cupidity or fierceness of his retainers, but he gave the crippled Mephibosheth the household and the income befitting a prince.

David was thirty years old when he began his reign. His first capital was Hebron, where he was publicly anointed, after the custom of the period. His reign lasted forty years, seven years and six months of which he spent in Hebron. Observing the natural advantages of Jerusalem as a stronghold, he took it after a sharp contest, and set up the throne there, remaining there for thirty-three years.

In nothing did David display great abilities in a more marked manner than in the choice of his generals and counsellors. Joab, Abishai, and Zeruiah, Hushai and Ahithophel were all men of great administrative or executive powers. They were not invariably faithful to David's interests, but in the main they served him well, and to his "mighty men of valor" he owed the debt for success that all great captains owe to those who surround their persons, further their plans, and aid their enterprises.

In the Second Book of Chronicles the honor-roll of David's heroes is starred with undying lustre. Thirty captains are mentioned, among them three mightiest, and the record of these valiant men is like the record written of Thor and his followers in the legendry of the stormy Norsemen. There was one who slew an Egyptian, a giant five cubits high, with a spear like a weaver's beam, and the champion went down to the combat armed with a staff only, disarmed the Egyptian, and slew him with his own spear. Another slew "a lion in a pit in a snowy day." One sees the picture, the yellow-maned, fierce-eyed lion, the white drift of the blinding flakes, the hole of the pit, deep-walled and narrow, a fit lair for the wild beast. The incident of the well of Bethlehem belongs here. The king was spent and athirst, and he longed for a drink from the old well by the gate. But when three mighty men cut their way sword in hand through the enemy's host, and brought the precious water, the king would not drink it, but poured it out before the Lord in libation. "God forbid," he exclaimed, "that I should drink the blood of these men, that have put their lives in jeopardy!"

If David had always been as noble! But men have the defects of their qualities. These mighty men of earth have often, on one side or another, a special liability to temptation. In the seduction of Bathsheba and the cowardly murder of Uriah, her husband, David committed a sin for which he was punished not only in the denunciation of Nathan the prophet and the loss of Bathsheba's first child, but by the stings of a deep remorse, which expresses itself in a psalm which is a miserere. Yet Bathsheba became the mother of Solomon, and Solomon was the heir chosen by the Lord to preserve the kingly line of David, and to maintain the kingdom in great glory and splendor.

In the quaint language of the sacred scribes, we find David's frequent battles graphically described. Rapid and pitiless as Attila or Napoleon, he "smote" the Amalekites, and the Ammonites, and the neighboring warlike peoples, and compelled them to pay tribute. He was not more rapacious than France has recently shown herself to Siam, or than England to India, and he was emphatically the "battle-axe of God." It was enlightenment against savagery, the true religion against the idolatries and witchcrafts of a false worship. In every way David displayed statesmanship, not carrying on war for the mere pleasure of it, but strengthening his national lines, and laying deep the foundations on which his successor was to carry forward a kingdom of peace.

It was not until Hiram, king of Tyre, sent cedar from Lebanon, on floats down the Mediterranean, that David built him a house. The hardy soldier had often slept with the sky for his roof, and the grass for his bed, but as he grew rich and strong he needed a palace. With the pleasure and security of the palace, the ceiled house, came the wish of the devout soul to erect a temple to God. Never was sacrifice greater nor pain more intense than that which the great king experienced when told that not for him was to be this crowning joy, this felicity which would have made his cup overflow. His hands had shed too much blood. He had been a man of war from his youth. The temple on Mount Zion, a glittering mass of gold and gems, shining like a heap of snowflakes on the pilgrims going up to the annual passover, was to be the great trophy not of David's, but of Solomon's time. David acquiesced in the divine ordering, though with a sore heart. But he occupied himself with the accumulation of rich materials, so that when Solomon came to the throne he might find much and valuable preparation made.

The troubles of David's reign, gathering around him thickly, as the almond blossoms of age grew white upon his head, were chiefly brought upon him through dissensions in his family. Did so loving a father spoil his sons in their early youth, or were they, as is probable, influenced by the spites, the malignities, and the weaknesses of the beautiful foreign princesses who were their mothers? In the rebellion of Absalom, the king tasted the deepest draught of sorrow ever pressed to mortal lips, and the whole tragic tale is as vivid in its depiction, and as intensely real in its appeal to-day, as when fresh from the pen of the writer.

The conduct of Absalom, whose beauty and vanity were equalled by his ambition and his ingratitude, has made him forever infamous. He omitted no act that could convict him of shameless infidelity to all that was worthy a prince, and with an armed host he set his battle in array against his father. One charge, reiterated again and again, showed the depth of that father's heart—a heart like that of the Father in Heaven for its yearning over ingrates and rebels:

"Beware that none touch the young man Absalom!"

Joab, of all men in the realm, least afraid of David and most relentless when any one stood in his way, himself became Absalom's executioner, when, David's people being victors, Absalom hung caught by his hair in the boughs of an oak, unable to escape. Then it was a question who should tell the king these tidings, which dashed the hearts of the conquerors with a sudden pang. Finally a swift runner reached the watch-tower, whence the old king looked forth, awaiting news of the day.

"Is the young man Absalom safe?" he asked

And Cushi answered, "The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is."

"And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, thus he said 'O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom my son, my son!'"

Long, long ago, these battles and sieges, these truces and victories, were over forever on this earth. Egypt and Assyria, contemporary with Israel in greatness, have perished from the memories of men, save as a few marbles remain to tell their tale. The vitality of David is imperishable, but not because he was a shrewd statesman, a doughty warrior, or a captain of conquering armies. David the shepherd, David the king, are of the past. David the musician, David the psalmist, is as alive to-day as he ever was, the music of his harp still vibrating in temples and cathedrals and in human souls. Those matchless hymns antedating our modern era by so many shifting centuries, are lisped by children at their mother's knee, form part of every religious ritual of which the one God is the centre, and voice the love and prayer and praise of every heart that seeks the Creator. With the intense adoration and trust of the Hebrew, we too exclaim, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," and "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble."

[Signature of the author.]



(1033-975 B.C.)

[Footnote 4: Copyright, 1894, by Selmar Hess.]


Looking down the vista of the past ages we see standing conspicuous among men David, the father of Solomon. In David's case it is as if the all-wise God had constructed in one human being an organ with all the keys and stops possible to humanity, and as if the Holy Ghost had on that organ with those keys and stops played every tune of every song that all humanity may need to sing in life or death, or carry in memory from earth to heaven. When we remember who Solomon's father was we are helped to grasp the significance of the life and character of the son, who, narrower indeed than his father, was yet more brilliant and more intense.

In 1033 B.C., shortly after the death of David's first child by Bathsheba, which was begotten in sin, a second child was born, whom David called "Solomon," or "peaceful," probably with reference to the peace between God and David brought about by the latter's deep penitence for his sin against Uriah. But the Prophet Nathan, to whose wise and tender care he was early committed, called him "Jedediah," or, "The beloved of the Lord." If, as the best authorities are agreed, Solomon wrote the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs, he had still another name, "Lemuel," which means, "to God," or "dedicated to God."

The great number and variety of traditions about Solomon extant in Persia, Arabia, Abyssinia, and among the Jews and other peoples, is a proof of the profound impression which he made on his age, and an evidence of his greatness; for only the great among men beget many traditions. Before taking up the authentic and credible history of Solomon a few specimens of these traditions may well receive our attention.

The Abyssinians claim that a son given to the Queen of Sheba by Solomon was the founder of their imperial dynasty! In Persian literature Solomon is a favorite character. With nothing to say of David, it has countless stories of his gifted son. One alone, called "Solomon-Nameh," fills eighty books. Arabia also claims Solomon as the Father of her kings, and to this day, under the eastern sky dusky Arabs sit around the lonely tent-fire and tell weird and wonderful tales of the wit, wisdom, and wealth of Solomon. Legends of which he is the hero are also preserved not only in Asia and Africa, but also in the remotest corners of Europe. According to these stories he could interpret the language of birds and beasts, was acquainted with the mysterious virtues of herbs and gems, knew spells for casting out demons and charms for curing diseases, possessed a ring which revealed to him the past, present, and future, was acquainted with the arts of magic and by them made evil spirits his slaves, who helped him with his vast buildings and other great enterprises. It was with the assistance of demons called Jinns that he built the gorgeous city of Persepolis; while other evil spirits, rebelling, he conquered after a long and fierce struggle and immured in dark depths and caves of the sea. But let us return to sober history. The only trustworthy account of the wise king available, is that which is written in the Bible and in the crumbling ruins of his great buildings and public and private works in the East, especially in and around Jerusalem.

He was ten years of age when the rebellion of his older brother, Absalom, fell almost like a death-blow upon the brow and heart of his aged father David, with whom he shared the perils of flight and a brief exile. Not many years later Adonijah, another brother, with the connivance of Joab, David's rugged old general, and Abiathar, the elder high priest, attempting to steal the throne, Zadok the high priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, the most famous and heroic of Israel's captains after Joab, together with Bathsheba, the beautiful and ambitious mother of Solomon, succeeded in thwarting Adonijah's base designs and roused in David for a short time his old-time energy. Whereupon he placed Solomon upon the throne while yet a young man only fifteen or twenty years of age.

Upon taking up his sceptre Solomon first of all, removed his father's enemies and the heads of the conspiracies which had been made against the throne, not even hesitating to cut off Joab, whose deeds of prowess had added a marvellous lustre to the military fame of Israel. Solomon now sat secure upon his throne, the undisputed monarch of the wide territory secured by the conquests of his great father. About this time, in order to strengthen his kingdom, he married a daughter of the Pharaoh of Northern Egypt, an alliance which pleased the people, for it showed that their king was a king among kings. The end of this political alliance, however, was not as brilliant as its beginning promised; because, although Egypt was at that time the most mighty nation of the world, because the most wealthy and civilized, yet it was divided into two kingdoms, and after the lapse of years, the Pharaoh of the united kingdom did not hesitate to become Solomon's foe because one of his wives had been an Egyptian princess.

After removing the enemies of the throne, and marrying the daughter of Pharaoh, Solomon repaired to the heights of Gibeon, six miles north of Jerusalem, a spot far-famed as the home of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, which was the original Tent of the wanderings. On the brazen altar in front of the Tabernacle the young king offered to Jehovah a holocaust of a thousand victims.

It was on the night after this magnificent sacrifice that the Lord offered to Solomon, dreaming, his heart's chief desire. The wise and as yet pious young king asking for wisdom, the Lord was so pleased that He promised him not only wisdom, but also wealth, honor, and long life. He had already been endowed with extreme personal beauty.

Immediately following this vision the wisdom of the king was tested in a way which showed that his God was a faithful promiser. Into the royal presence two women of bad character were ushered by the authorities, bringing two babes, the one living and the other cold in death. In the night the latter's mother had by accident smothered it, whereupon she had stolen the living babe from its mother's side. In the morning a bitter conflict was waged by the two women over the living child, each wildly claiming it as her own. When the officers of the law were appealed to they brought the case before their king, whose wisdom and fitness to judge a great kingdom were now to be tried. As the spectators of the dramatic scene looked on, it was with anxious curiosity, which in a moment was turned into horror as Solomon ordered a stalwart attendant to take a keen sword and cut the living little one into two parts and give to each mother a half. One of the women appeared stolidly satisfied with this arrangement, but the other sprang between the babe and its executioner, and, weeping, pleaded that its life might be spared and her rival be permitted to have the whole child. In this pity and tenderness Solomon discovered the true mother heart, and to her gave the babe, while the news of the marvellous wisdom of the new king spread like wild-fire through Jerusalem and all Israel.

Solomon had now secured an assured place in the hearts of his subjects, and was firmly seated on a throne from which for forty years he governed Israel with a rule whose wisdom was surpassed only by its magnificence.

As it is impossible at this date to get at the exact chronological order of the events of his life from the time that he ascended the throne, and as it was remarkable for the fruits of peace rather than war, we may best study it by considering his government, household, buildings, riches, and writings.

Solomon's rule extended over a wide territory and over many peoples, for it had been the glory of David that he fought successfully with and subdued the enemies of Israel on every side. From the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates, and from the Red Sea to the northern bounds of Syria, the great son of David held sway, and thus was God's ancient promise to Abraham fulfilled. (Gen. xv. 18.)

Solomon's government was Asiatic, that is it was an absolutism, marked by luxury, display, and taxation so heavy as to amount almost to oppression. Its luxuriousness and display are illustrated by his seraglio, which included seven hundred wives (1 Kings xi. 3); and its despotic nature is seen in such acts as his summary and severe punishment of Adonijah, Joab, and Abiathar.

For the first time in the history of Israel, alliances were entered into with other nations. We have already seen how Solomon had married an Egyptian princess. Then he made a treaty with his neighbor on the Mediterranean coast, Hiram, king of Tyre, who in exchange for corn agreed to supply Solomon with timber for building the Temple and his own magnificent palace. The timber was floated down from Tyre to Joppa whence it was transported to Jerusalem or wherever needed.

At peace with surrounding nations, and with a thoroughly systematized and centralized government, Solomon sat on his throne of ivory and gold and looked around on his people, to see an astonishing increase of population and a tremendous growth in business and wealth, especially during the first half of his reign.

Entering his court and his household, one saw all things in keeping with his Asiatic government: magnificent palaces, surrounded by beautiful gardens; multitudes of slaves, each one having his work and doing it with swiftness and precision; troops of courtiers, and a harem of seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Around his gorgeous throne stood his officers and attendants, in his stables were forty thousand horses, and chariots in proportion. Whenever he went forth before his people it was to dazzle them with his splendor. But, fond as he was of display and of women, he nevertheless did not neglect the business of his kingdom, a large part of each day being spent either in his throne-room with his officials, or superintending his great public and private works. Besides this no inconsiderable part of his time in his home was given to study, meditation, and writing.

The king was one of the greatest builders of the ages. Among the structures erected by him, easily first in splendor was the Temple. In Solomon's Temple lies Solomon's true greatness and glory rather than in his songs, his proverbs, his riches, and his outward splendor. It was the bud whose blooming was in Christ and Christianity. Around it was to be preserved the people chosen to save the true knowledge of their God for the human race and produce the human nature of Jesus Christ, humanity's incarnate God and Saviour.

The conception of a fitting, permanent, earthly abode for Jehovah, and for the ark and the sacred symbols therein, was David's. He it was who took the ark to Jerusalem and placed it in a temporary tabernacle or tent while he collected money and materials for a great shrine. To aid him in his great work David had already secured the friendship of Hiram, king of Tyre, with whom, as we have seen, Solomon made a treaty, and from whom he procured both workmen and materials for his great enterprise.

The Temple was begun four hundred and eighty years after the exodus from Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, or 1012 B.C., and was completed in the twelfth year of his reign. Its site was Mount Moriah at the point where Araunah's threshing-floor had been, and where the angel met David at the time the plague was stayed.

The house of the Lord finished, Solomon built his gorgeous palaces. And thirteen years after the completion of the Temple (991 B.C.) the people of Israel assembled on the occasion of its dedication. This occurred at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, when a magnificent festival of two weeks' duration was held. The priests bore the ark into the "Holy of Holies" and deposited it under the wings of the cherubim. When they had retired the cloud of glory filled the whole edifice, and thus proclaimed the approving presence of Jehovah. Thereupon Solomon stood upon the brazen platform which had been built for him and made his memorable prayer. He thanked God for helping him to build the Temple; and prayed that He would hear the prayers that should there be made. Scarcely was his prayer ended when fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice which had been laid on the altar, and the awe-stricken multitude bowed with their faces to the ground upon the pavement and worshipped and adored the Lord, saying, "For He is good; for His mercy endureth forever." (2 Chron. vii. 3.)

In keeping with the Temple were the gorgeous palaces on which for thirteen years Solomon lavished time and toil and money. In the "Tower of the House of David," as one of these was called, hung a thousand golden bucklers; while in the great judgment-hall stood the far-famed throne of the great king. (1 Kings x. 18-20.) Solomon's other buildings were beautiful gardens and pools, and aqueducts and a luxurious summer resort. He moreover, either established or built many important towns or fortresses, among others being Tadmor in the wilderness, afterward celebrated in history as Palmyra. Countless workmen and inestimable wealth were involved in the building enterprises of the great king, which included at the last, to his shame, rival temples to Moloch, and the other false gods of his heathen wives.

Of course, Solomon's government, household, and buildings, as we have considered them, involved the accumulation and expenditure of vast sums of money. But the king's ambition, energy, industry, and business talent rose to the height of these demands. From two sources he drew his vast wealth, namely, taxation and commerce. He received large revenues in the way of tributes from subject peoples, in addition to the increasingly heavy taxes which he imposed on the people of Israel. Besides taxation, the king increased his wealth by means of his great commercial operations in the desert, which was the highway between the Orient and the Occident, and by means of his two fleets, one on the Mediterranean and the other on the eastern arm of the Red Sea, which provided a waterway to both Southern Asia and Western Africa. So rich did Solomon become from these sources that it is said that he "made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plentiful as stones." (2 Chron. i. 15.) There was, however, one fatal fault in Solomon's commercial policy: all the gain went to the palace and the government. Herein lay one of the secrets of the division and fall of the nation immediately upon the close of his career.

Naturally, Solomon's commercial greatness, together with the pomp and splendor of his court and government, carried his fame to all parts of the earth. But that for which he received the greatest respect from surrounding nations was his wisdom, manifested in many ways but chiefly in his writings. One of the marked effects of David's long and vigorous reign was to stimulate mental activity in the Hebrew mind. The great foreign wars with the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the Sabeans, and the surrounding nations, who were more or less advanced in a knowledge of the arts and sciences, had the effect of widening the range of knowledge of Israel as a nation, and of stirring her up to an ambition to excel her neighbors in affairs of peace as well as in those of war. Solomon's peaceful and wise reign, characterized as it was by commercial prosperity, gave the people both the time and means for cultivating the arts. In study and in wisdom the king was the leader of his day and generation. He was learned in political economy, a great king. He was learned in music and poetry, having composed some of the most beautiful of the Psalms, such as the second. But in cultivating the fine arts he did not neglect the physical sciences, for he was a botanist, writing of all kinds of trees and plants; and he was a natural historian, writing works on beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes. It would be most interesting to see these science primers prepared by Solomon, and compare them with what we see on the same subjects in our own day. But the Bible has not preserved them, and they have long centuries ago passed into oblivion. Solomon's knowledge was not of that shallow sort which is limited to the sphere of earthly material, "seen things;" for he was wise with that deeper knowledge which has for its object God and the human soul, and their natures and movements in their natural relations. This wisdom is illustrated and handed down to us in his Proverbs of which we are told he spoke three thousand. A portion of these is in the Book of Proverbs, the others are lost to us.

In his poetry also was crystallized much of his wisdom. This consisted of one thousand and five songs, all of which have gone down in the flood of years, with the exception of the Song of Solomon, which is an epithalamium, in which pure wedded love is incarnated. It is a sort of poetry of the family relations, and, therefore, worthy a place in the sacred canon. Taken literally and read with a pure heart, it is eminently fitted to spiritualize the family relations. This theory of this much discussed portion of Solomon's writings by no means shuts out the more spiritual use of the book, wherein we see in it the Church represented by the bride and God by the bridegroom.

In Ecclesiastes we have the latest conclusions of Solomon's moral wisdom. Read in the light of its general scope rather than the dim light of detached portions, it appears as the confessions of a humbled, penitent, believing, godly man, who, after piety followed by apostasy, comes back to piety with the conclusion that after all, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

Through his writings and sayings Solomon's genius flashed from Jerusalem into the surrounding darkness of the heathen nations, and lighted by its rays, as mariners by the beacon in the light-house tower, there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom, (1 Kings x. 1-10.) The celebrated visit of the Queen of Sheba is a deeply interesting illustration of these royal visits to the court of Israel's splendid king.

Such was King Solomon the magnificent, and such the life of one of earth's most famous men. But, after all, he is a striking illustration of Plato's saying, that "Princes are never without flatterers to seduce them, ambition to deprave them, and desires to corrupt them." So, forgetting that as a king he was God's vicegerent, he lived more and more to gratify his lusts and ambitions, and to please his flatterers, especially his heathen wives. These finally seduced him into permitting temples to be built to Moloch and their other false gods. This ended in Solomon's becoming idolatrous himself. Then his wealth gradually melted away, his allies plotted against him, and, in the midst of life, being about fifty-eight years old, he died in the year 975 B.C., leaving a terrible legacy to his sons: a corrupted religion, a depleted treasury, and a discontented and broken people.

Although there is every reason to believe that Solomon died a penitent man, yet his sins and the consequent wretchedness of soul, and the ruin of his kingdom, teach most emphatically the weakness of human nature, even when accompanied by the greatest genius, the perils of material prosperity, and the real insufficiency of all possible earthly good to satisfy the wants of the soul of man.

[Signature of the author.]



(About 884-820 B.C.)

[Footnote 5: Copyright. 1894. by Selmar Hess.]

Scholars generally agree in the judgment that Lycurgus was a real person. It is probable that he was born in the ninth century B.C., and that, in the later part of the same century (850-820), he was an important, if not the principal, agent in the reconstruction of the Dorian state of Sparta, in the Peloponnesus. According to Herodotus, he was the uncle of King Labotas, of the royal line of Eurysthenes. Others, whom Plutarch follows, describe him as the uncle and guardian of King Charilaus, and therefore in the line of Procles. Either way his mythical lineage would be traced to Hercules. We are able to find no trustworthy records of the circumstances of his birth, and of the incidents of his childhood and youth. Plutarch, with all his diligence, found nothing. Nor could he sift and blend the varying stories of his later life and so construct a consistent and credible narrative, O. Mueller says: "We have absolutely no account of him as an individual person."


Accordingly Lycurgus appears already in his maturity. We know what he was only from what he did. He has this imperishable honor, that he did something, and did it in such a manner and with such effect that the memory of him and his deeds has lasted until this late time, and bids fair to last throughout all time.

The following traditions concerning Lycurgus are commonly repeated. Polydectes, his brother, was king in Sparta. After the king's death a son was born to the widow. Lycurgus became his guardian and presented him to the magistrates as their future king. He was suspected by the queen's brother of a design to take the crown, and even of a purpose to destroy his infant nephew. Accordingly he went into exile. He remained some time in Crete, studying the institutions of the Dorian people of that island. He travelled extensively in Asia and was especially careful to observe the manners and customs of the Ionians. He found the poems of Homer, transcribed and arranged them, and caused them to be more generally known. The Egyptians claimed that he visited their country and derived much of his wisdom from them. Meanwhile the affairs of Sparta were in a critical condition and the king and the people alike desired his presence and his aid in restoring peace and renewing the prosperity of the community and the people of Laconia. Immediately upon his return he entered upon the work of framing a constitution and reconstructing the state. Notwithstanding much opposition and complaint from the classes obliged to make concessions and sacrifices for the common good, he secured the assent of the people to his legislation. Having seen the system in working order, he announced his purpose to leave the country for a period, and moved the citizens to take an oath that they would observe the laws until he should return. He departed to remain away to the end of his life, but first repaired to Delphi and obtained an oracle promising prosperity to the Spartans, so long as they should maintain faithfully the constitution.

Laconia was the southeastern portion of the peninsula. The soil was mainly mountain land and meagrely productive under toilsome and careful tillage. So much of it as was naturally fertile lay in the centre, shut in from the sea by the mountains. At the time of the Dorian immigration, it was occupied in part by the descendants of the old Pelasgian population and in part by a mixed people which had come in at different times and from various sources. Because of the limited area there was already considerable pressure between the several elements. Accordingly the Dorians and their Achaean and AEolian allies met with a stout resistance, and established themselves after an obstinate and long-continued struggle. They descended from the sources of the Eurotas and forced their way into the plains in the midst of the land. They seized the heights on the right bank of the river at a point where its channel is split by an island and it was most easy to cross the stream. The hill of Athene became the centre of the settlement. Their establishment in the land was a slow process. It is said Laconia was divided into six districts, with six capital cities, each ruled by a king. The immigrants were distributed among the inhabitants and lands were allotted to them, in return for which they recognized the authority of the kings and engaged to support them in power. They seem to have been adopted by the kings, as their kindred were in Crete, as the military guardians of their prerogatives. The result was inevitable. They who are intrusted to maintain power become conscious that it is really their own, take formal possession of it, and exercise it for their own ends.

Two leading families drew to themselves the central body of the Dorians, rallied the rest, gathered them all at one point, and made it the centre of the district and the seat of government. They were supported by families of common descent and recognized by the people of the land, who suffered no change in the circumstances of their life. These gave them homage, paid to them taxes, and united with their kindred in celebrating funeral rites at their tombs. Sparta became the capital of the whole country, while the former capitals became country towns.

But there were difficulties in the way of the new regime. There were conflicting claims between the two royal families. Both of them were in collision with families in all respects their equals as to lineage and rank. The older and newer elements of the mass of the population were mingled but not yet combined. Everywhere there was friction, with occasions enough for irritation and confusion. The descendants of the primitive races were attached to their ancient ways. The Dorians were not less, but more tenacious of their traditional customs. And they were conscious of their vantage and knew they were able to insist on their preferences. As the props of the royal houses they could hope to make terms with them, or withdraw and let them fall, or turn to cast them down. The kings were compelled, on the one hand, to exert themselves to hold in control a subject people, and, on the other, to check the headstrong Dorian warriors. There was danger of the disruption of the kingdom, a lapse into anarchy, the rise of opposing factions, and a conflict destructive alike and equally of the welfare of all classes of the people.

There was need of a statesman who could comprehend the problem, find a solution, commend it to the judgment of all classes, and gain their cordial consent to the renovation of the state upon a more equitable basis. He must be a man of large capacity, great attainments, thorough sincerity, earnest devotion, generous and self-sacrificing patriotism. He must have ability to conceive a high ideal, steadily contemplate it, and nevertheless consider the materials on which and the conditions under which he must do his work, maintain the sober judgment which discriminates between the ideal and the practicable, and exercise the rigid self-control which calmly renounces the best conceivable and resolutely attempts the best attainable. He must have regard to the ideas, sentiments, associations, sacred traditions, and immemorial customs of the several races and classes of the people. He must be prudently conservative and keenly cautious in shaping and applying new measures and methods. He must study and comprehend the inevitable oppositions of interests, and conceive modes of action which involve reasonable concessions accompanied by manifest compensations. He must ally himself with no party and yet command the confidence of all parties. Whatever prior advantage he may have had in the matters of birth, rank, and association, he must use to conciliate those who would be asked to make the largest apparent sacrifices, and so turn it to account for the benefit of those who might otherwise suspect and distrust him and fall away from his influence. He must be able to explain and commend the system he might devise, convince the several parties of its wisdom, persuade them to yield their preferences and accept the needful compromises, and move them to make a fair and full experiment of its provisions. Such a man was Lycurgus, if we may trust the persistent tradition that he was the framer of the new constitution and the second founder of the Dorian state of Sparta. From time to time the question has been raised, was the work of Lycurgus original or an imitation, shaped perhaps by his observations among the Dorian folk on the island of Crete? It does not matter what the answer shall be. The statesman who fitly adapts may be as wise and skilful as he who invents and creates. The man who loves his people, plans and labors for their good, will not peril their welfare by his experiments, disdaining the help of those who have wrought before him, and the guidance of his contemporaries in examples, the benign results of which he may have had opportunity to witness. The truth appears to be that Lycurgus had respect to the reverence of the people for the ancient ways, and retained as far as he was able the suitable elements of the primitive polity of the Homeric age. This was based on the Council of Chiefs or Elders and occasional meetings of an assembly of the people to listen and learn, to assent and give heed. From whatsoever sources he drew, he adapted the materials of his knowledge to the conditions under which his structure must be shaped, the circumstances under which it must get on its base and stand secure. Those who affirm the exemplary influence of the Cretan polity, hold fast to the tradition that Lycurgus visited the island and could not have failed to observe the features of society there, and could not have expelled from his mind the similarity of conditions among the two peoples and the expedients which the lawgiver of Crete had employed to meet and resolve the difficulties he encountered and secure the results he attained. It must, however, be remembered that similar peoples with common traditions and customs, under like circumstances may independently work out for themselves systems of society analogous in many particulars and varying only by adaptation to special conditions. If Lycurgus perceived what was suitable to the exigency, wrought it into a plan, moved the people to accept it, brought harmony out of discord, order out of confusion, contentment out of unrest, prosperity out of impending calamity, and rescued the commonwealth for the time, he deserved abundant honor and still deserves a permanent rank among the notable statesmen of the world.

The constitution was unwritten. Its provisions were expressed in forms known as Rhaetra. The kings were retained. Their power was a guaranty of unity. They maintained the continuity of civic life. Each was a check upon the other. They were held under restraint by the senate. Its composition and functions were now fixed. It met not only to deliberate and advise, but to perform judicial offices. In case of capital offences the kings sat with the elders, each having, with every other member, but a single vote. The members were thirty in number, one for each of the ten clans of each of the three tribes, the kings representing their clans and sitting as equals with equals, though presiding at the sessions. The elders must be of the age of sixty and upward, and were appointed for life. The ancient division of the people was preserved; the households were grouped in thirties, the thirties in clans, the clans in tribes. Their capital was Sparta. It was not a compact walled town. It stretched into the open country and Dorians lived along the entire valley of the Eurotas. Not only those dwelling at the ford of the river, but all were acknowledged as Spartans. The kings were required to summon the heads of the families in the assembly once every month. The place was designated. The session was brief. To encourage brevity there was no provision for seats, but the freemen stood. Elders and other public officers were chosen. Official persons made known new laws, declarations of war and peace and treaties. The people simply voted aye or nay. The decision was according to the volume of sound. The session closed with a military review.

The army: The Dorians had entered the land and held their place in it by force of arms. To maintain their power it was necessary to develop a military system and maintain a body of vigorous and able soldiers. All citizens were constituted guardians of the nation. To all their rights was attached the duty of military service. They composed a standing army. The valley became a camp. The men left their estates under the management of the women. The wife cared for the home, reared the young children, and superintended the laborers in the business of the farm. The soldier could not leave the valley or enter it without announcement. The older men visited their homes on "leave of absence," the younger by stealth at night. Emigration was desertion punishable by death. To have gold and silver was to risk the same penalty. The heavy iron money only could be held, and this was without value in foreign parts. The soldier was part of an animated machine. His simple duty was to obey. Speech was repressed. It became abrupt, brief, pithy. Relief was found at the Lesche, near the training-ground, where talk was often free and even merry. The whole aim of the discipline was to form the soldier. Marriage was delayed for the sake of vigorous offspring. The girls were trained for motherhood. They were subject to a system of athletic exercises, and engaged in contests of running, wrestling, and boxing. The boys were put under training at the age of eight years. They became accustomed to severe exercise, and were inured to patient and painful endurance. They were compelled to suffer hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and fatigue, and to bear torture without flinching or show of emotion. Their food was kept almost within the limits of war rations. To increase the amount and variety they were allowed to steal. But they were careful not to be detected, lest they should be severely punished. Likely this was a device for training them to stealthy and cautious movements. After the time of their maturity they continued gymnastic culture. They hunted the goats, boars, stags, and bears on the rugged heights of the Taygetus range. There was no system of liberal education; mental growth and development were not sought as ends. They were rather feared. Poetry and music were used to a limited degree, so far as they might be made conducive to forming the traits of the soldier.

While the Spartans were solely occupied in preparation for the art of war, it is evident there must have been a population as wholly given to the pursuit of the practical arts, or the community could not have existed. There were two classes of laborers. The Perioeci dwelt in the rural townships. They were mainly of the mixed population of the lands, but there were Dorians among them. They were freemen; they held lands, and enjoyed certain rights of local government, voting for their magistrates in their townships. More and more they were trained for military service and entered the ranks as heavy-armed infantry. Some of them were shepherds and herdsmen. From them came all the skilled workmen, who wrought in the quarries and mines, provided building materials, shaped iron implements, made woollen stuff and leathern wares. Their number was three times as great as that of the citizens of the capital city. But over all their townships the Spartans held sway through the kings, the senate, and the assembly. These facts exhibit the civil polity which became so common during Greek and Roman times, and obtained again in Italy after the fall of the empire and the barbarian invasions, up to the time of the Renaissance.

The Helots were a rural people dwelling on the lands of the Spartans which lay about the capital or in the Laconian towns. Some of them were in the country as villagers and rustics when the Dorians came. They remained upon their lands as they were before, but were forced to pay a part of the annual produce of barley, oil, and wine. Some of them were people made captive in the border wars. They were serfs. They were, however, wards of the state. No one could treat them as personal property. They could not be sold or given away. They belonged to the inventory of the farm. Their taxes were defined by law. More could not be exacted. They could not be harmed in person. They were of value to the state and therefore protected. More and more they were needed in the army, where they were respected and honored for energy and bravery. Grote says they were as happy as the peasantry of the most civilized and humane modern nations. They lived in their villages, enjoyed their homes and the companionship of their wives and children, and the common fellowship of their neighbors, with ample supply for their needs and comfort from the surplus product of their labor and apart from the eye of their masters. Still the Helot had in him the common sentiments of our nature. His state was servile and mean. It was not to be expected he would always remain content in his subjection to his superiors in social and civil life. More and more his discontent would menace the stability of the community. Especially when the exigencies of war should compel his rulers to place arms in his hands and enlist him for defence against the foreign foe, it would become necessary to keep close watch upon him and to use strong measures for the repression of his impulse toward freedom.

Judged by the highest standards, Lycurgus certainly did not form the Laconians into an ideal nationality. He set up a military sovereignty in the land, and this demanded that the citizens should be soldiers, live in the camp, and devote themselves solely to the art of war. It is likely he perceived the imperfections of the system, anticipated its reflex effect upon the character and manners of the Spartans, and foreknew its weakness and the consequent perils of the people when it should inevitably be put to stress and strain by the aspirations of the subject classes after freedom and social equality. Could he speak for himself, he would doubtless say, with Solon, that he had not done the best he knew but the best he could, that his constitution was provisional and suited to the time, and that it was designed to serve as a bridge over which his countrymen could cross a torrent and reach safely the solid ground on which they might securely stand to rearrange their polity and form themselves on a more equitable and generous basis into a real and happy commonwealth.

[Signature of the author.]


(514-449 B.C.)


Themistocles, who raised Athens from a subordinate position to her proud rank as leader of the Grecian States, was born about the year B.C., 514. He was the son of Nicocles, an Athenian of moderate fortune, who, however, was connected with the priestly house of the Lycomedae; his mother, Abrotonon, or, according to others Euterpe, was not an Athenian citizen; and according to most authorities, not even a Greek, but either a native of Caria or of Thrace. The education which he received was like that of all Athenians of rank at the time, but Themistocles had no taste for the elegant arts which then began to form a prominent part in the education of Athenian youths; he applied himself with much more zeal to the pursuit of practical and useful knowledge. This, as well as the numerous anecdotes about his youthful wilfulness and waywardness, together with the sleepless nights which he is said to have passed in meditating on the trophies of Miltiades, are more or less clear symptoms of the character which he subsequently displayed as a general and a statesman. His mind was early bent upon great things, and was incapable of being diverted from them by reverses, scruples, or difficulties. The great object of his life appears to have been to make Athens great. The powers with which nature had endowed him were quickness of perception, an accurate judgment of the course which was to be taken on sudden and extraordinary emergencies, and sagacity in calculating the consequences of his own actions; and these were the qualities which Athens during her wars with Persia stood most in need of. His ambition was unbounded, but he was at the same time persuaded that it could not reach its end unless Athens was the first among the Grecian States; and as he was not very scrupulous about the means that he employed for these ends, he came into frequent conflict with Aristides the Just, who had nothing at heart but the welfare of his country and no desire for personal aggrandizement.

In the year 483 B.C., when Aristides was sent into exile by ostracism, Themistocles, who had for several years taken an active part in public affairs, and was one of the chief authors of the banishment of his rival, remained in the almost undivided possession of the popular favor, and the year after, B.C. 482, he was elected archon eponymus of Athens. The city was at that time involved in a war with AEgina, which then possessed the strongest navy in Greece, and with which Athens was unable to cope. It was in this year that Themistocles conceived and partly carried into effect the plans by which he intended to raise the power of Athens. His first object was to increase the navy of Athens; and this he did ostensibly to enable Athens to contend with AEgina, but his real intention was to put his country in a position to meet the danger of a second Persian invasion, with which Greece was threatened. The manner in which he raised the naval power was this. Hitherto the people of Athens had been accustomed to divide among themselves the yearly revenues of the silver-mines of Laurion. In the year of his archonship these revenues were unusually large, and he persuaded his countrymen to forego their personal advantage, and to apply these revenues to the enlargement of their fleet. His advice was followed, and the fleet was raised to the number of two hundred sail. It was probably at the same time that he induced the Athenians to pass a decree that for the purpose of keeping up their navy, twenty new ships should be built every year. Athens soon after made peace with AEgina, as Xerxes was at Sardis making preparations for invading Greece with all the forces he could muster. At the same time Themistocles was actively engaged in allaying the disputes and hostile feelings which existed among the several states of Greece. He acted, however, with great severity toward those who espoused the cause of the Persians, and a Greek interpreter, who accompanied the envoys of Xerxes that came to Athens to demand earth and water as a sign of submission, was put to death for having made use of the Greek tongue in the service of the common enemy.

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