Like all people who live apart from
it, the Founder of the Christian religion was possessed
of a profound knowledge of the world. As, according
to the proverb, the woodlander sees nothing of the
wood for its trees, so those who live in the world
know nothing of it. They know its gaudy, glittering
surface, its Crystal Palace fireworks, and the paste-diamonds
with which it bedecks itself; they know its music-halls
and its night clubs, its Piccadillys and its politics,
its restaurants and its salons; but of the bad or
good? heart of it all they know nothing.
In more meanings than one, it takes a saint to catch
a sinner; and Christ certainly knew as well as saved
But none of His precepts show a truer
knowledge of life and its conditions than His commandment
that we should love our enemies. He realised can
we doubt? that, without enemies, the Church
He bade His followers build could not hope to be established.
He knew that the spiritual fire He strove to kindle
would spread but little, unless the four winds of
the world blew against it. Well, indeed, may the
Christian Church love its enemies, for it is they
who have made it.
Indeed, for a man, or a cause, that
wants to get on, there is nothing like a few hearty,
zealous enemies. Most of us would never be heard
of if it were not for our enemies. The unsuccessful
man counts up his friends, but the successful man
numbers his enemies. A friend of mine was lamenting,
the other day, that he could not find twelve people
to disbelieve in him. He had been seeking them
for years, he sighed, and could not get beyond eleven.
But, even so, with only eleven he was a very successful
man. In these kind-hearted days enemies are becoming
so rare that one has to go out of one’s way
to make them. The true interpretation, therefore,
of the easiest of the commandments is make
your enemies, and your enemies will make you.
So soon as the armed men begin to
spring up in our fields, we may be sure that we have
not sown in vain.
Properly understood, an enemy is but
a negative embodiment of our personalities or ideas.
He is an involuntary witness to our vitality.
Much as he despises us, greatly as he may injure us,
he is none the less a creature of our making.
It was we who put into him the breath of his malignity,
and inspired the activity of his malice. Therefore,
with his very existence so tremendous a tribute, we
can afford to smile at his self-conscious disclaimers
of our significance. Though he slay us, we made
him to ‘make an enemy,’ is not
that the phrase?
Indeed, the fact that he is our enemy
is his one raison d’etre. That alone
should make us charitable to him. Live and let
live. Without us our enemy has no occupation,
for to hate us is his profession. Think of his
wives and families!
The friendship of the little for the
great is an old-established profession; there is but
one older namely, the hatred of the little
for the great; and, though it is perhaps less officially
recognised, it is without doubt the more lucrative.
It is one of the shortest roads to fame. Why
is the name of Pontius Pilate an uneasy ghost of history?
Think what fame it would have meant to be an enemy
of Socrates or Shakespeare! Blackwood’s Magazine
and The Quarterly Review only survive to-day
because they once did their best to strangle the genius
of Keats and Tennyson. Two or three journals of
our own time, by the same unfailing method, seek that
circulation from posterity which is denied them in
This is particularly true in literature,
where the literary enemy is as organised a tradesman
as the literary agent. Like the literary agent,
he naturally does his best to secure the biggest men.
No doubt the time will come when the literary cut-throat shall
we call him? will publish dainty little
books of testimonials from authors, full of effusive
gratitude for the manner in which they have been slashed
and bludgeoned into fame. ‘Butcher to Mr.
Grant Allen’ may then become a familiar legend
over literary shop-fronts:
’Ah! did you stab at Shelley’s
With silly sneer and cruel
And Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Keats,
To murder did you nobly try?
You failed, ’tis true; but what
The world remembers still
’Tis fame, for you, to be
That barks behind the heels
Any one who is fortunate enough to
have enemies will know that all this is far from being
fanciful. If one’s enemies have any other
raison d’etre beyond the fact of their
being our enemies what is it? They
are neither beautiful nor clever, wise nor good, famous
nor, indeed, passably distinguished. Were they
any of these, they would not have taken to so humble
a means of getting their living. Instead of being
our enemies, they could then have afforded to employ
enemies on their own account.
Who, indeed, are our enemies?
Broadly speaking, they are all those people who lack
what we possess.
If you are rich, every poor man is
necessarily your enemy. If you are beautiful,
the great democracy of the plain and ugly will mock
you in the streets. It will be the same with
everything you possess. The brainless will never
forgive you for possessing brains, the weak will hate
you for your strength, and the evil for your good heart.
If you can write, all the bad writers are at once
your foes. If you can paint, the bad painters
will talk you down. But more than any talent or
charm you may possess, the pearl of price for which
you will be most bitterly hated will be your success.
You can be the most wonderful person that ever existed,
so long as you don’t succeed, and nobody will
mind. ’It is the sunshine,’ says
some one, ‘that brings out the adder.’
So powerful, indeed, is success that it has been known
to turn a friend into a foe. Those, then, who
wish to engage a few trusty enemies out of place need
only advertise among the unsuccessful.
P.S. For one service
we should be particularly thankful to our enemies they
save us so much in stimulants. Their unbelief
so helps our belief, their negatives make us so positive.