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his felicity consists in bringing the body into pursuits with which theology maintains an in
that unresisting servitude to the mind, without which freedom and serenity are but empty words. Such as is his paradise in the highest conceivable degree, such in the highest attainable degree must be his earthly Eden. Dismiss it if you will as a midsummer night's dream; yet must it be consessed that it is such a dream as could visit no slumbers but those of one whose fancy was pure from sensual defilement, and whose intellect had been trained to active exercise and to close self-observation. Or, give the theorist credit for nothing more than having skilfully selected the most alluring possibilities of future good from the many celestial schemes with which the poetry and the poetical prose of all ages abounds, and still it will be true that the choice has been guided by opinions such as every one would wish to adopt, and by tastes which in our better moments we should all desire to gratify. The time subtracted, for such visions, from the scarcely more substantial delights among which we are living, will send us back to the cares of life, not less fitted resolutely to endure them, and to the pleasures of life, not less prepared wisely to enjoy them. Style in literature is like manner in society —the superficial index, which all can read, of internal qualities which few can decipher. If the author of these, books had cared, or had been able, to write with ease and simplicity, or had he disguised his meaning under spasmodic contortions, or had he talked over these grave matters in the tone of a blunt and sagacious humourist, or had he dissolved them in religious sentiment, or flattened them down to the level of a monotonous orthodoxy; in short, had he either risen to the graces of nature, or condescended to those of affectation, he would have had more numerous and enthusiastic admirers. Language in his hands is an instrument of wonderful volume, flexibility, and compass; but produces harmonies of such recondite elaboration, that the sense aches for the even flow of a few plain words quietly taking their proper places. Felicitious expression is an excellent thing in its season; but serve up a whole octavo full of exquisite sentences, and neither the guest nor the cook himself can clearly tell what the repast is made of. In the works of the historian of Enthusiasm, as in those of Dr. Channing, penury and affluence of thought are made to look so like each other, that they must be undressed in order to be distinguished; and while he is making out which is which, the courteous reader is apt to lose his courtesy. In proportion as he is the more profound thinker of the two, the Englishman is the more to be upbraided for the perverse ingenuity which thus mars his own success. Objects so elevated as his, should not have been exposed to such hazard. What those objects are has already been partly explained, but they demand additional illustration. Secluded from the worlds of business and of literature, but a keen observer of both, and viewing all sublunary things in their bearing on the eternal welfare of mankind, our author mourned over the low estate of theology amongst us, and of those higher intellectual
dissoluble connexion. We are constrained to doubt whether his regrets are as wisely indulged as they are eloquently expressed. Christianity is for the daily use of homely people. Precepts affecting all the happiness of this life, and doctrines involving all the interests of the next, are not to be delivered in that honeyed discourse which steeps the soul in self-oblivion. When truth appears amongst mankind in her severe and native majesty, she rejects the services of her accustomed handmaids, erudition, poetry, rhetoric, philosophy and criticism. Eloquence alone attends her, but it is an eloquence of which the mere words are unheeded—a weapon of such edge and temper as to be irresistible in the grasp of the feeblest hand. And feeble indeed are many of those which attempt to draw this durindana from the scabbard. Malignity itself cannot accuse our pul
"pits and theological presses of beguiling us by
the witchcraft of genius. They stand clear of the guilt of ministering to the disordered heart the anodynes of wit or fancy. Abstruse and profound sophistries are not in the number of their offences. It is a mere calumny, to accuse them of lulling the conscience to repose by any Syren songs of imagination. If the bolts of inspired truth are diverted from their aim, it is no longer by enticing words of man's wisdom. Divinity fills up her weekly hour by the grave and gentle excitement of an orthodox discourse, or by toiling through her narrow round of systematic dogmas, or by creeping along some low level of schoolboy morality, or by addressing the initiated in mythic phraseology; but she has ceased to employ lips such as those of Chrysostom or Bourdaloue. The sanctity of sacred things is lost in the familiar routine of sacred words. Religion has acquired a technology, and a set of conventional formulas, torpifying those who use and those who hear them. Her literature also bears the impress of an age in which the art of writing has wellnigh proved fatal to the power of thinking; when the desire to appropriate gracefully has superseded the ambition to originate profoundly; when the commercial spirit envelopes and strangles genius in its folds; when demi. gods and heroes have abandoned the field; and the holiest affections of the heart die away in silence; and the ripest fruits of the teeming mind drop ungathered into the reaper's bosom; —an age of literary democracy and intellectual socialism, in which no bequests are made to remote posterities, and no structures are ris. ing to command and break the universal mediocrity. From the retirement which he knows so well how to describe and to enjoy, our author casts a mournful gaze round this dreary horizon. Acquainted, perhaps, but too distinctly with the religious parties of his native land—their insirmities and their faults, he longed for the advent of a more catholic spirit, of a more intense and unostentatious piety, and of theological studies animated by some nobler impulse than the hire of booksellers or the praise of ephemeral critics. By expostulation and by example he has endeavoured thus to regenerate the national character. Nor are the qualifications which he has devoted to this enterprise of an ordinary kind. Measured by Etonian and Christchurch standards, he may not be entitled to a place amongst accomplished scholars; but he possesses stores of knowledge which might atone, could such guilt admit of expiation, even for the crime of a false quantity. Familiar with the elements, at least, of all physical science, and intimately conversant with ecclesiastical history, he has explored the enigmas of the human heart, even too deeply for his own repose. His bosom yearned, and his mind toiled for the happiness of mankind; but his labours would seem not to be well sustained by the cheering influence of hope. He loves children, for they are as yet exempt from the prevailing degeneracy; and the face of nature, for it reflects the creative intelligence; and books, for they are the depositories of human wisdom; and the universal church, for it is the ark freighted with the best treasures, and charged with the destinies of our race. Man also he loves, but with feelings pensive if not melancholy, and fastidious even when most benignant. In his many books, there is not a tinge of spleen; but they exhibit that disgust for the follies and the vices of the world, which with some is the aliment of satire, with others a fascination alluring them to the very evils they despise, with a few, amongst whom our author must take his place, at once a summons to exertion and a motive to sadness. Casting off these depressing influences, he has devoted all the resources of a comprehensive understanding, and all the affections of a benevolent heart, to correct the general debasement, and to exhibit a model of those higher pursuits to which he would reclaim his generation. Enthusiasts, fanatics, spiritual despots, sciolists in education—pastors who slumber within the fold, and the robbers who spoil it, form a confederacy, the assailant of which should be encouraged by the gratitude of all good men. If the soul of William Cowper has transmigrated into any human frame, it is that of the historian of Enthusiasm. Not, indeed, that the poet has found a successor in the magic art of establishing a personal and affectionate intimacy between himself and his readers. There is no new fireside like that of Olney round which we can gather; nor any walks like those of Western Underwood, of which we are the companions; nor a heart at once broken and playful, whose sorrows and amusements are our own ; nor are we surrounded by a family group, with tame hares, spaniels, bird-cages, and knitting-needles, as familiar to us as those of our own boyhood, and almost as dear, each in turn reflecting the gentle, thoughtful, elevated mind of him to whom they belonged, in all its vicissitudes of despondency and hope, of grave wisdom, and of mirth as light and pure as that of infancy. This is the high prerogative of genius, addressing mankind at large through the vernacular idiom of one land in the universal language of all. But Stamford Rivers, the dwelling-place of the anonymous writer of these volumes, has given birth to a succession of efforts to exalt
the national character, which might vie with those of Olney and of Weston in piety and earnestness, in genuine freedom of thought, in the relish for domestic pleasures, and for all the innocent delights of life, in the filial love of God, and the brotherly love of man. Learning and logical acumen, and a certain catholicity of mind, which the poet neither possessed nor needed, impart to the works of the essayist a charm, without which it is vain, in these days, to interfere in the debates which agitate society. There is a charm, too, even in his distaste for the pursuits most in request amongst us; for it springs from the grandeur of the ideal excellence by which his imagination is possessed. Omniscience, though veiling its intimations in the coarse mantle of human language, will still emit some gleams of that radiance which illumines the regions of the blessed; and these he would reverently gather and concentrate. There is in Christianity an expansive power, sometimes repressed but never destroyed; and that latent energy he strives to draw forth into life and action. Those mysteries which shroud the condition and the prospects of our race, however inscrutable to the slaves of appetite, are not absolutely impervious to a soul purified by devout contemplation; and to these empyreal heights he aspires at once to point and to lead the way. To him whose foot is firmly planted on the eternal verities of heaven, there belong motives of such force, and a courage, so undaunted, as should burst through all resistance; and he calls on those who enjoy this high privilege to assert their native supremacy above the sordid ambition, the frivolities, and the virulence of the lower world. The voice thus raised in expostulation will die away, not unheeded by the interior circle he addresses, nor unblessed by a meet recompense; but unrewarded, we fear, by the accomplishment of these exalted purposes. Eloquent as is the indignation with which our anonymous monitor regards the low level to which divine and human literature has fallen amongst us, and mean as is his estimate of the pursuits with which the men of his own days are engaged, a hope may perhaps, without presumption, be indulged, that less fastidious and not less capable judges will pronounce a more lenient sentence on us and on our doings.
In the great cycle of human affairs there are many stages, each essential to the consummation of the designs of Providence, and each separated by broad distinctions from the rest. They whose province it is to censure, and they whose desire it is to improve their age, will never find their sacred fires extinct from the mere want of fuel. History and theory are always at hand with humiliating contrasts to the times we live in. That men have been better or might be better than they are, has been true since the first fathers of our race returned to their native dust, and will still be true as long as our planet shall be inhabited by their descendants. But below the agitated surface of the ocean, under-currents are silently urging forward, on their destined path, the waters of the mighty deep, themselves im pelled by that Power which non” may ques
tion or resist. Human society obeys a similar influence. Laws as anomalous in appearance, as uniform in reality, as those which direct the planetary movements, determine the present state, and regulate the progress of commonwealths, whether, political, literary, or religious. Christianity demands the belies, and experience justifies the hope, that their ultimate tendency is towards the universal dominion of piety and virtue. But it is neither pious nor rational to suppose, that this consummation can be attained by any sequence of identical causes constantly working out similar effects. The best generations, like the best men, are those which possess an individual and distinctive character. A chain of splendid biographies constitutes the history of past centuries. Whoever shall weave the chronicles of our own, must take for his staple statistics illuminated by a skilful generalization. Once every eye was directed to the leaders of the world; now all are turned to the masses of which it is composed. Instead of Newtons #. over royal societies, we have Dr. irkbecks lecturing at mechanics’ institutes. If no Wolseys arise to found colleges like that of Christ Church, Joseph Lancaster and William Bell have emulated each other in works not less momentous at the Borough Road and Baldwin's Gardens. We people continents, though we have ceased to discover them. We abridge folios for the many, though we no longer write them for the few. Our fathers compiled systems of divinity—we compose pocket theological libraries. They invented sciences, we apply them. Literature was once an oligarchy, it is now a republic. Our very monitors are affected with the degeneracy they deplore. For the majestic cadence of Milton, and the voluptuous flow of Jeremy Taylor's periods, they substitute the rhetorical philosophy, invented some fifty years since, to countervail the philosophical rhetoric of the French Revolution; and put forth, in a collection of essays for the drawing-room, reproofs which the hands of Prynne would have moulded into learned, fierce, and ponderous folios. It is impossible to prevent—is it wise to bewail, this change in our social and intellectual habits? During the inundations of the Nile, the worship of the mysterious river ceased, and no hymns were heard to celebrate its glories. Idolatry lost its stay, and imagination her excitement; but the land was fertilized. Learning, once banked up in universities and cathedrals, is now diffused through shops and factories. The stream, then so profound and limpid, may now, perhaps, he both shallow and muddy. But is it better that the thirst of a whole nation should be thus slaked, or that the immortals should be quaffing their nectar apart in sublime abstraction from the multitude 1 There is no immediate and practicable reconcilement of these advantages. Genius, and wit, and science, and whatever else raises man above his fellows, must bend to the universal motives of human conduct. When honour, wealth, public gratitude, and the sense of good desert, reward those who teach elementary truth to the people at large, the wisest and the best will devote to that office powers,
which, in a different age, would have been consecrated to more splendid, though not perhaps to more worthy undertakings. In the state of letters, there is no maintaining a polity in which the three elements of power are blended together in harmonious counterpoise. There a monarch infallibly becomes a despot, and a democracy subjugates to itself whatever else is eminent, or illustrious. Divines, poets, and philosophers, addressing millions of readers and myriads of critics, are immediately rewarded by an applause, or punished by a neglect, to which it is not given to mortal man to be superior or indifferent. Inform the national mind, and improve the general taste up to a certain point, and to that point you inevitably depress the efforts of those who are born to instruct the rest. Had Spenser flourished in the nineteenth century, would be have aspired to produce the Faery Queen? Had Walter Scott lived in the sixteenth, would he have condescended to write the Lady of the Lake? Our great men are less great because our ordinary men are less abject. These lamentations over the results of this compromise are rather pathetic than just. It forms one indispensable chapter in the natural history of a people's intellectual progress. It is one of the stages through which the national mind must pass towards the general elevation of literature, sacred and profane. We know not how to regret, that genius has from the moment abdicated her austere supremacy, and stooped to be popular and plain. Mackintosh surrendered his philoso |. to the compilation of a familiar history of England. Faithless to his Peris and Glendoveers, Mr. Moore is teaching the commonalty of the realm the sad tale of the woes inflicted on the land of his birth. No longer emulous of Porson, the Bishop of London devotes his learned desire to preparing cheap and easy lessons for the householders of his diocess. Lord Brougham arrests the current of his eloquence, to instruct mechanics in the principles of the sciences which they are reducing to daily practice. Tracts for the times are extorted from the depositories of ecclesiastical tradition, obedient to the general impulse which they condemn, and constrained to render the Church argumentative, that they may render her oracular. Nay, the author of the “Natural History of Enthusiasm” himself, despite his own protests, yields at length to the current, and has become the periodical writer of monthly tracts, where, in good round controversial terms, the superficial multitude are called to sit in judgment on the claims of the early fathers to sound doctrine, good morals, and common sense. Let who will repine at what has passed, and at what is passing, if they will allow us to rejoice in what is to come. If we witness the growth of no immortal reputations, we see the expansion of universal intelligence. The disparities of human understanding are much the same in all times; but it is when the general level is the highest that the mighty of the earth rise to the most commanding eloquence. But whatever may be the justice of the hopes we thus indulge for future generations, our business is with ourselves. If, as we think,
they are well judging who devote the best gifts of nature and of learning to the instruction of the illiterate, the praise of wisdom is not to be denied to such as write with the more ambitious aim of stimulating the nobler intellects amongst us to enterprises commensurate with their elevated powers.
No strenuous effort for the good of mankind was ever yet made altogether in vain; nor will those of our author be fruitless, though the results may fall far short of his aspirations. The general currents of thought and action can never be diverted from their channels, except by minds as rarely produced as they are wonderfully endowed. Energy, decision, and a selfreliance, independent of human praise or censure, are amongst their invariable characteristics. To this sublime order of men the Recluse of Stamford Rivers does not belong. Nor can a place be assigned to him among those calmer spirits, whose inventive genius, or popular eloquence, has enabled them from their solitudes to cast on the agitated masses of society seeds of thought destined at some future period to change the aspect of human affairs. He is an independent more than an
original thinker. He is rather exempt from fear than animated by ardent courage in announcing the fruits of his inquiries. A great master of language, he is himself but too often mastered by it. He is too much the creature, to become the reformer, of his age. His assiduity to please is fatal to his desire to command. His efforts to move the will are defeated by his success in dazzling the fancy. Yet his books exhibit a character, both moral and intellectual, from the study of which the reader can hardly fail to rise a wiser and a better man. Standing aloof from all vulgar excitements, heedless of the transient politics and the fugitive literature of his times, and intent only on the permanent interests of mankind, he has laboured to promote them with an honest love of truth, aided by brilliant talents, comprehensive knowledge, and undannted intrepidity. And thus he has come under the guidance of principles, which no man can cultivate in his own bosom, or earnestly impart to other minds, without earning a reward which will render human applause insignificant, or reduce the neglect of the world to a matter of comparative indifference.
[EDINBURGH Review, 1841.]
All religions, and all ages, have their saints; their men of unearthly mould; self-conquerors; sublime even in their errors; not altogether hateful in their very crimes. If a man would understand the dormant powers of his own nature, let him read the Acta Sanctorum. Or, is “too high this price of knowledge,” let him at least acquaint himself with the legends of the later heroes of the Gallican church. Of all ascetics they were the least repulsive. They waged war on dullness with the ardour of Dangeau and St. Simon, and with still better success. While macerating their bodies in the cloisters of Port-Royal, they did not cease to be French men and French women of the Augustan age. While practising the monastic virtue of silence their social spirit escaped this unwelcome restraint, in a body of memoirs as copious as those which record the splendour and the miseries of Versailles. In a series of volumes, of which the above is the first, the author is about to tell their story in the language (vernacular and erudite) of his country and his times. A rapid sketch of it may be of use in directing the attention of our readers to one of the most remarkable episodes in ecclesiastical history.
He whose journey lies from Versailles to Chevreuse, will soon find himself at the brow
* Reuehlin, Geschirhte von Port-Royal. Der Kampf des Reformirten und des Jesuistischen Katholicismus. l_ter Band: bis zum Tode Angelica Arnauld. (Reuchlin, History of Port-Royal. The Struggle of the Reformed
and the Jesuitical Catholicism. 1st vol.: to the death of Angelique Arnauld.) 8vo, Leipsic, 1839.
of a steep cleft or hollow, intersecting the monotonous plain across which he has been passing. The brook which winds through the verdant meadows beneath him, stagnates into a large pool, reflecting the solitary Gothic arch, the water-mill, and the dove-cot, which rise from its banks; with the farmhouse, the decayed towers, the forest-trees, and the innumerable shrubs and creepers which clothe the slopes of the valley. France has many a lovelier prospect, though this is not without its beauty; and many a field of more heart-stirring interest, though this, too has been ennobled by heroic daring; but through the length and breadth of that land of chivalry and of song, the traveller will in vain seek a spot so sacred to genius, to piety, and to virtue. That arch is all which remains of the once crowded monastery of Port-Royal. In those woods Racine first learned the language—the universal language—of poetry. Under the roof of that humble farmhouse, Pascal, Arnauld, Nicole, De Saci, and Tillemont, meditated those works, which, as long as civilization and Christianity survive, will retain their hold on the gratitude and reverence of mankind. There were given innumerable proofs of the graceful good humour of Henry the Fourth. To this seclusion retired the heroine of the Fronde, Ann Genevieve, Duchess of Longueville, to seek the peace which the world could not give. Madame de Sevigne discovered here a place “tout propre a inspirer le desir de faire son salut” From the Petit Trianon and Marly, there came hither to worship God, many a courtier and many a beauty, heart-broken or jaded with the very vanity of vanities—the idolatry of their fellow mortals. Survey French society in the seventeenth century from what aspect you will, it matters not, at Port-Royal will be found the most illustrious examples of what imparted to that motley assemblage any real dignity or permanent regard. Even to the mere antiquarian, it was not without a lively interest. At the eve of his departure to the conquest of the holy sepulchre, the good knight, Matthieu de Marli, cast a wistful gaze over the broad lands of his ancestors, and intrusted to his spouse, Mathilde de Garlande, the care of executing some work of piety by which to propitiate the Divine favour, and to insure his safe return. A Benedictine monastery, for the reception of twelve ladies of the Cistertian order, was accordingly erected, in imitation of the cathedral at Amiens, and by the same architect. Four centuries witnessed the gradual increase of the wealth and dignity of the foundation. Prelates of the houses of Sully and Nemours enlarged its privileges. Pope Honorius III. authorized the celebration of the sacred office within its walls, even though the whole country should be lying under a papal interdict; and of the host consecrated on the profession of a nun, seven fragments might be solemnly confided to her own keeping, that, for as many successive days, she might administer to herself the holy sacrament. Yet how arrest by spiritual immunities the earthward tendency of all sublunary things? At the close of the reign of Henry IV., the religious ladies of Port-Royal had learned to adjust their “robes a grandes manches” to the best advantage. Promenades by the margin of the lake relieved the tedium of monastic life. Gayer strains of music than those of the choir, might be heard from the adjacent woods; and if a cavalier from Paris or Chevreuse had chanced to pursue his game that way, the fair musicians were not absolutely concealed nor inexorably silent. So lightly sat the burden of their vows on those amiable recluses, that the gayest courtier might well covet for his portionless daughter the rank of their lady abbess. Such at least was the judgment of M. Marion. He was advocate-general to Henry IV., and maternal grandfather of Jaqueline Marie Angelique and of Agnes Arnauld. Of the arts to the invention of which the moderns may lay claim, that of jobbing is not one. M. Marion obtained from “the father of his people” the coadjuterie of the abbey of Port-Royal for the high-spirited Jaqueline, then in her eighth year; and that of St. Cyr for the more gentle Agnes, over whom not more than five summers had passed. The young ladies renounced at once the nursery and the world. A single step conducted them from the leading strings to the veil. Before the completion of her first decade, Angelique, on the death of her immediate predecessor, found herself, in plenary right, the abbess and the ruler of her monastery; and, in attestation of her spiritual espousals, assumed the title and the name of the
Mere Angelique, by which she has since been celebrated in the annals of the church. To the church, however, must not be imputed this breach of ecclesiastical discipline. In the ardour of his parental affections, the learned advocate-general was hurried into acts for which he would have consigned a criminal of lower degree to the galleys. He obtained the requisite bulls from Rome by forged certificates of his granddaughter's age; and to this treason against the holy see, Henry himself was at least an accessary after the fact. Hunting in the valley of Port-Royal, the gay momarch trespassed on the precincts of the sacred enclosure. To repel the royal intruder, a child, bearing in her hand the crosier, which bespoke her high conventional rank, issued from the gates of the abbey at the head of a solemn procession of nuns, and rebuked her sovereign with all the majesty of an infant Ambrose. Henry laughed and obeyed. Marion's detected fraud would seem to have passed for a good practical joke, and for nothing more. In the result, however, no occurrence ever contributed less to the comedy of life, or formed the commencement of a series of events more grave or touching. It would be difficult or impossible to discover, in the history of the church, the name of any woman who has left so deep an impress of her character on the thoughts and the conduct of the Christian commonwealth. The family of Arnauld held a conspicuous station among the noblesse of Provence, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In a later age, a member of that house enjoyed the singular honour of at once serving Catharine de Medicis as her procureur-general, and of defeating, sword in hand, at the head of his ser. vants, the force sent to assassinate him on the day of St. Bartholomew. Returning to the bosom of the church, which had thus roughly wooed him, he transmitted his fortune and his office to his son, Antoine Arnauld, the husband of Catharine Marion. They were the happy parents of no less than twenty children. Of these the youngest was the great writer who has imparted to the name of Arnauld an imperishable lustre. Five of the daughters of the same house assumed the veil, in the abbey of Port-Royal. Their mother, Catharine Marion, was admitted in her widowed into that society. Pomponne, the minister of Louis XIV.; Le Maitre, unrivalled among the masters of forensic eloquence in France; and De Saci, the author of the best version of the Holy Scriptures into the French language, were three of her grandsons. Before her death, the venerable matron had seen herself surrounded, in the monastery and the adjoining hermitages, by eighteen of her descendants in the first and second generations; nor until the final dispersion of the sisterhood, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, had the posterity of Antoine and Catharine Arnauld ceased to rule in the house of which Mere Angelique had, seventy years before, been the renowned reformer. To those who believe that the psychological distinction of the sexes may be traced to physical causes, and that, where they neither marry