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from this ideal of friendship, as the union of thought and soul, that she conceived a certain distaste for the less intellectual society of her own sex. “A woman's friendship is soon made up; a charm of manner, a word, a nothing, is sufficient for a liaison,-but they are commonly like ribbon-knots, so that it is said women cannot love one another. I do not know; we can love for a day or two, more or less, but can we love perfectly?” Gradnally, as her life was left desolate, she seemed to grow in grasp of thought and insight into the spiritual order. “In the desert,” as she once observes, “one can only learn thought. I told Maurice, when he talked to me about Paris, that I could not understand its language. And yet I have met people there whom I could understand. Certain souls meet through all distance. One rises, the other descends; and thus is there the meeting; thus has the Son of Man descended among us. May we not believe that those who go before us in the great things of life have pity on us, and in love send us some impulse toward the other world, some gleam of faith, some flash of light, which had else been wanting to the soul?” An ascetic by one half of her nature, finding“ void and nothing every where in the world,” she had the ascetic's power of rising above suffering and the things of sense. “It is true we are all born, as it were, devoted to misery. Every one has some grief; but the Christian is like the martyr, he suffers, but he sees the heavens open.”
With all this, and perhaps all the more that she was real as only intense natures can be, she had a power of appreciating the little surroundings of life, and of seeing beauty everywhere where there was not sin. Her style, which is commonly marked by the strength of severe concision, at times rises into eloquence, and at times plays round her thought with the purity and light of a sunbeam.
“ Louise told me the other day that I found a great deal to say where other people see nothing. Hold !' she said ; you would say a hundred
' things about that. It was a door-latch which she raised as she went out. Assuredly there is much to say and think about this bit of iron, which so many hands have touched; which has sprung up under so many different emotions; under so many looks, under so many men, days, years. Oh, the history of a door-latch would be long!" "What can be more womanly, in the pleasantest sense, than the following, or more instinctively just than the criticism of bourgeois government under Louis Philippe ! The gods have only made two things perfect -the woman and the rose.' Amiable saying of a philosopher, whose tribe are not famous for them, and which for that very reason has been preserved, and which for that very reason I have extracted from a journal where it lay among the dry politics, like a flower in the shingle. I am not fond of state matters, in spite of the great interest that attaches to them; because the way in which they are treated makes one despise the men; a feeling that is painful for me: then these great and cold questions have no meaning for me, and I understand nothing where the springs of action are speculation and diplomacy. When his papers come, my father seizes on the debates, and I on the feuilleton. It is there that I read the Rose, and Solon's
pretty speech about the flower and us. It is a trifle, a perfume from the East, which has pleased me; a scent-box in a wilderness. It was some pretty Greek who made him say that; or perhaps it is true; how shall I say? Is there any thing to compare with the rose? Is there any thing to compare with the woman? When these two flowers of the earthly paradise appeared, the question must have been asked of God himself which he thought the more beautiful.” Almost invariably these playful thoughts end in religion. In the early part of her journal, written when she was quite young, she has a great grief for a sick dog. “My Bijou is so pretty, so winning, so wellbred, so unspeakably dear as coming to me from Lili. A dog is so cheerful, so caressing, so tender, so quite our own. I think I shall cry over it; but it will be here in my room, where all my secrets pass.” And she goes on to decide, that she will be justified in praying to God to save it. Similarly, on one occasion, she sees a figure on the wall. “Never have I seen a head more sublime, more divinely sorrowful, with the features attributed to our Saviour. I am struck by it, and admire the effect of my candle behind the handle of a water-jug, whose shadow encircles three flowers on the tapestry, which make up this picture." Among the secular books which composed her little library, Xavier de Maistre seems to have been the only one which at all influenced her style. Competent French judges say that no better has been written by a woman since the days of Mme, de Sévigné. The masculine thought underneath it was probably fed by Corneille, Shakespeare, St. Augustine, Pascal, Bossuet, and Lamennais. After all, a modern lending-library might not have added much to this list. Baià pèv ådla póòa ought to be the motto of every private collection. Perhaps no better could be found for Eugénie de Guérin's Journal and Letters.
II. The History of English Nonconformity. By R. Vaughan, D.D.
l he is one of the best known, and not the least successful, of those numerous writers who think they are leading opinion when they are following in its wake, and who contrive, with the best intentions, to degrade great truths into very commonplace truisms. No province of literature is more infested by these feeble platitudinarians than the history of the English Puritans. At the beginning of the century no slander was too foolish to be believed against the men who ruled England at nearly the most critical crisis of her fate. The progress of historical investigation, a gradual change in political feeling, and, above all, the publication of Cromwell's Letters, has brought about a revolution in sentiment; and now there is perhaps no one living except the lady writers of high-church novels, who either believes that Cromwell was a brewer, or that Charles was a martyr. This is just the state of things to enlist on the Puritan side the disastrous aid of dull defenders. There is still a certain appearance of boldness in saying, with Dr. Vaughan, “our spiritual forefathers may not have been
perfect, but my impression is, that, take them for all in all, neither the world nor the church has seen such men elsewhere in modern times ;" whilst in reality there is no originality or vigour needed for repeating sentiments which, true or false, have become so popular that they may, in all probability, soon appear in copybooks. The natural tendency which impels weak men to crowd and impede the triumph of a great cause has, most unfortunately, in the case of the reaction in favour of Puritanism, been increased by accidental circumstances.
English Dissenters, who, for a length of time, let the deeds of their forefathers moulder in oblivion, are now prone enough to plume themselves on the achievements of the men from whom, in a sense, they may trace their own descent, and, as it were, use the tombs of Baxter and Owen as convenient pulpits from whence to harangue in favour of modern voluntaryism. Most unfortunately, the very motives which lead Nonconformists of the nineteenth century to celebrate the history of Nonconformists of the seventeenth century, make it hardly possible that they should tell that history either with dignity or with truth; whilst almost the worst effect of the iniquitous legislation of 1662 has been to take from the Dissenters of 1862 that liberal culture and thorough education which is needed to produce considerable historians. Thus, Dr. Vaughan exhibits throughout his well-meaning volume a certain want of mental cultivation. The subject which he has to treat is one of immense difficulty and immense interest. A writer whose sentences and thoughts had the compression of Gibbon's would find it difficult, in the space of five hundred quarto pages, to give even a clear outline of all those marvellous changes of sentiment and belief involved in the history of English Nonconformity. Dr. Vaughan obviously does not even see the difficulty of his task; for, while writing in a diffuse style, he fills the two first chapters of his work with topics absolutely irrelevant to the matter in hand, and, intending to write on Nonconformity, commits the practical bull of descanting on religious life in the first Christian centuries, and religious life in the Middle Ages, when Nonconformists had no existence. At last he buckles himself to his task, and narrates with considerable detail the story of Puritanism from the death of Elizabeth down to 1662. Much that he says is true, many things that he tells are full of interest; but his truths have all been better stated before; and his facts are known to every one who has paid any attention to the events which preceded and followed the Great Rebellion. Not one new discovery is added by Dr. Vaughan to the stock of information possessed by competent students ; not a single new thought is suggested to any thinker who is even moderately acquainted with the historical literature of the last thirty years. The treachery of Charles II., the vices of his mistresses, the irreligion of his bishops, are not, as Dr. Vaughan would appear to think, in any sense facts not generally known. On the controversy between the churchmen who passed the Act of Uniformity and the ministers who thought it a less crime to disobey the Church than to disobey their God, the moral feeling of Englishmen has already pronounced a decision. Few persons now doubt
that a measure which deprived the Establishment of Baxter and of Calamy was not dictated either by care for religion, or by far-sighted views of church-policy. On the points where every liberal-minded man is agreed, Dr. Vaughan says much. Of the points on which the judgment of the most candid and most able critics is still divided, he says little, and that little is not worth saying. No one, for example, can read the details of the Savoy Conference without being struck by the fact that the moral dignity and the controversial ability of the Puritan leaders were at least equalled by the narrowness and intolerance of their opinions; hence it happens that, while Bishop Morley was in heart and intellect infinitely Baxter's inferior, most modern English churchmen feel that on the isolated points at issue Bishop Morley held wiser opinions than the author of the Saints Rest. England would have gained much had the prelates of Charles II.'s court not driven the low-churchmen of their day into dissent; but England would have lost much had Baxter been able to substitute the narrowness of his proposed Liturgy for the comparative breadth of the PrayerBook. Whence arose the strange paradox, that good men held the opinions of bigots, whilst men whom it would be a compliment to call bigots supported opinions which now command the assent of the best educated amongst good men ? Perhaps the question never occurred to Dr. Vaughan; he certainly gives it no answer.
Another inquiry he could not entirely blink. That the Puritans held views as to pleasure which are opposed at least to the ordinary feelings of respectable English society is sufficiently apparent; and the question inevitably arises, whether it be the sentiment of the Puritans, or the feeling of modern Englishmen, which is false and unchristian. answer this question satisfactorily would involve a most profound investigation into the foundations on which the whole Puritan theory of life rested. Dr. Vaughan does not see this, and gives an off-hand reply by quoting one of the least convincing of the many inconclusive arguments put forth by Mr. Kingsley. To urge that modern manners bear more likeness to the habits of the Puritans than the habits of the Cavaliers is, after all, as far as it proves any thing, only a proof of what needs no demonstration ; for there is, we suppose, little doubt that whatever the fanlts even of Cromwell's Ironsides, their moroseness was more akin to religion than was the profligate levity of the bravos and gentlemen who crowded the court of Charles II. After all, the real problem to be solved by any philosophic inquirer into the history of English Nonconformity is,—what were the causes which, in spite of the immense virtues of the Puritans, made Puritanism terminate in failure. Dissenters, perhaps, hardly see how completely their great Nonconformist ancestors did fail in their endeavours ; but persons who have no narrow admiration for the Church of England cannot fail to perceive that the decline of the English Nonconformists has equalled, and not been altogether unlike, the decline of the French Protestants. In both cases a religious party, which at one time held commanding influence in their respective countries, has sunk into the position of uninfluential sects. As regards the English Puritans it is
clear that before the Act of Uniformity their power was on the wane. Baxter, Calamy, and Owen were the surviving heroes of a great age ; they left no successors ; and perhaps the most important, though doubtless the least agreeable, labour which falls to the lot of the historian of Nonconformity is to form a careful estimate and account of the alterations in the character of English dissent after the Revolution of 1688.
Dr. Vaughan shirks this part of his subject. Having in the earlier part of his book tried to undertake a task which did not fall to his share, in the latter portion of his history he utterly neglects his appropriate work. Some few pages, stuffed with sentiments about the progress of religious liberty, are made to do duty for what should be a most important chapter in the annals of religious opinion. The meagreness of our author's concluding remarks at once saves them from criticism, and proves him unfit for the work he has undertaken. If his faults were peculiar to himself, they might be left unnoticed and unreproved ; but his platitudes, his truisms, and his wordiness, are characteristics of a whole school of writers whose amiable respectability and want of originality too often saves them from criticism. But critics are occasionally called upon to do summary justice on literary offenders ; and it is time that worthy gentlemen who do no harm as long as they confine their literary activity to writing sermons, or to composing biographies of their equally worthy friends, should learn that they do offend, and that grievously, when they meddle with subjects which require for their proper treatment immense learning, and even greater powers of imagination and force of intellect.
III. Descriptive Catalogue of Materials relating to the History of Great
Britain and Ireland. By Thomas Duffus Hardy. Vol. I., Parts
1 and 2. Longman. Giraldi Cambrensis Opera. Vol. II. Edited by the Rev. T. S. Brewer.
Longman. Royal and other Historical Letters illustrative of the Reign of Henry III,
Selected and edited by the Rev. W. W. Shirley.
It is not often that three books of such singular and varied excellence as the three we have mentioned above can be looked forwithin the space of three months—in a series naturally so unequal as the edition of our popular records must be. Mr. Duffus Hardy's Catalogue is a monument of learning, which perhaps no other scholar in England could have produced. The historian now sees before him the full extent of those various sources of history,- legends, chronicles, or letters, as the case may be, — merely to discover which might well tax the whole labours of a life-time. Our knowledge of the broad outlines of history, of the succession and interdependence of events, will not be materially affected by this publication, as the most reliable chronicles and the most important extracts from obscurer works are already familiar to the antiquarian. But