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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. А 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. To answer this question satisfactorily would involve a most profonnd 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 faults 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 ary 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, bas 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 for within 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 our knowledge of the household life of our ancestors, of their mechanical arts and appliances, of the practical working of their laws and customs, may easily be trebled and quadrupled by those who will explore where Mr. Hardy points. What can be more curious, for instance, than the notion of artificial hands and feet, in AngloSaxon times? Or more valuable than to trace the progress of the sea-banks, which have wrested so much of England from salt-water ?
Mr. Brewer's book is of a widely different kind. The Gemma Ecclesiastica of Giraldus Cambrensis was “the whole duty of a priest" in the Middle Ages; a manual of practice by an archdeacon of the twelfth century. Written with an especial eye to Wales, it probably paints the Church in somewhat blacker colours than were deserved for other parts. Written for and presented to no less a pope than Innocent III., it may be taken as a fair view of that clerical tone which is quite distinct from formularies of faith ; and it is thus an invaluable supplement to the decrees of synods. The peculiar character of the author, garrulous, boastful, and quarrelsome, fond of good stories and apt illustrations, makes the book more like a private journal than a grave treatise on divinity. Here we read of a prelate who scandalises the faithful of England by carrying a nun about with him, presumably, of course, for the sake of devout conversation only, but in unwise disregard of St. Paul's conduct toward Thecla. In another passage we come on the trace of one of those biblical superstitions which were so common in the Middle Ages; the first chapter of St. John's Gospel being read aloud by the priest, as a charm against ghosts. Luther mentions in his Table-Talk, that the same practice prevailed in Germany, as a preservative from thunderstorms, probably from some confusion of ideas with the name of “the Son of Thunder.” The scepticism of the twelfth century,—when a certain Master Simon, of Tournay, ventured to ask publicly, “How long shall this superstitious sect of Christians and this modern invention endure ?"—is curiously contrasted with the mercy of the early Church, which allowed absolution, as Giraldus tells us, to the most hardened siuner on his death-bed, if he expressed a wish for it, or—in case of his severe illness—if his friends testified to his desire. On the other hand, the stories of priests who commit the worst crimes, sometimes in the most sacred places, would delight Exeter Hall. One narrative of a miraculous judgment on an offender of this sort reads extremely like a case of spontaneous combustion, recorded at a time when there were no theories on the subject (p. 253).
Mr. Shirley's selection of letters illustrative of the reign of Henry III. takes us through the interesting period that succeeded the first confirmation of Magna Charta, when the land was distracted between the aliens who were still powerful in it, the nobles who enjoyed a brief period of anarchy, and the papal legate who was scheming to make himself regent of the kingdom, under the colourable pretext of guardianship to a minor and the son of a vassal. It is strange to think that we were once, through John's baseness, in a fair way
to be a State of the Church. The vigour of our governors, the great
earl marshal, Hubert de Burgh, and Stephen Langton, represented the nation worthily, and saved us. Particularly instructive notices of private war will be found in this volume. Every antiquarian has felt certain that it was a constant form of disorder in the Middle Ages; but hitherto it has been easier to find instances where it was punished or repressed, than where it ran its course unchecked. Ordericus Vitalis speaks of it as almost unknown. Mr. Austen could only find three instances, and in one of those the offenders were brought to justice. The early letters which Mr. Shirley gives are rich in allusions to it as an habitual abuse. The volume has been carefully edited; and its successor, taking us through the Barons' War, will probably be among the most important publications of the Record Commission.
IV. A Manual of English Literature, historical and critical. With an
Appendix on English Metres. By Thomas Arnold, B.A., formerly Scholar of University College, Oxford, and late Professor of English Literature in the Catholic University of Ireland. London: Longmans, 1862.
It is much to be regretted that we have no history of English literature equal to the interest of the subject and the wants of the student. Our
age has produced historical works of vast research and able criticism ; unfortunately English literature is not their subject matter. With the single exception of Hallam, no writer of preëmi. nence has handled the subject; a proof of the firm hold which the Greek and Latin Classics retain, but a fact which cannot be regarded with complacency. There are some indications that the reproach will not long continue. The help given to the study of our early and heretofore unknown writers by the publications of the Master of the Rolls, and the general conviction that law and modern history ought to form part of all liberal education, will cause the want to be supplied. The subject is a grand one, and why it should have escaped our living historians, who are no less profoundly read in modern than in ancient literature, is not easy to understand. Of one class of books there is no lack, – of “guide-books,” “hand-books,” "compendiums," "courses," “readings," and "manuals ;" to which
“ class we may apply the words of Lord Bacon, “The opinion of plenty is among the causes of want, and the great quantity of books maketh a show rather of superfluity than of lack; which surcharge nevertheless is not to be remedied by making no more books, but by making more good books, which as the serpent of Moses might devour the serpents of the enchanters." We would not undervalue the usefulness of a book because it is elementary Elementary books are in some sort a necessary evil. Every science has its outlines and framework, and it helps the student greatly when these are correctly drawn.
Mr. Arnold's book is a great improvement on any previous one with which we are acquainted. It is scholarly and accurate, bearing