Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine (June issue)
Author: Bell and Daldy (publisher)
Date of publication: June, 1856
Publisher: Bell and Daldy
Printer: Chiswick Press
Edition: 1
Issue: 1

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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No. VI. JUNE, 1856. Price 1 s


Oxford + Cambridge

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  • Thackeray and Currer Bell . . . . . 323
  • Carlyle . . . . . . . . . . 336
  • Ruskin and the Quarterly . . . . . . 353
  • Froude’s History of England . . . . 362
  • The Singing of the Poet . . . . . . 388




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The Newcomes; Vanity Fair; Our Street; The Perkins’s Ball. Jane Eyre.
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If to be imperfectly understood in his own day be any pledge to an author of immortality to come, Mr. Thackeray may be thought to have no small prospect of “life beyond the grave.” That the objects of his satire should so misunderstand him is natural, but it is strange that so many of the pure-minded and good should not have discovered how kind a heart, how deep a love of all that is true, sincere, unaffected and noble, what a fragrance of philanthropy lies beneath the often bitter leaves of Mr. Thackeray’s writings.
It is in this that we believe him to have been so much misunderstood, affording another instance of the truth how seldom in the first instance mankind judge righteous judgment, or, at any rate, by any other standard than the outward appearance. If it has been well said, “ Le monde n’a pas de longues injustices” it might equally well have been added, “ Bon Dieu, qu’elles sont grandes, tant qu’elles durent.”

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Let Pitt Crawley lay trains for his aunt’s money, let him overreach his nephew, improve an honest empty-headed brother’s backslidings to his own advantage, pay clandestine court to his brother’s wife, who despises and deludes him, and neglect his own, who adores him, what then! Pitt is an accomplished diplomatist: he trims his character as he trims his nails, and the world judges of the one as it does of the other—both are rounded, polished, and decorous.
Let Barnes Newcome sneer at an old relation as a venerable washer-woman, in fact, sneer at everything; let him play the “languid puppy” at his club, and in his father’s sweating-room be the cold, sharp, energetic screw, the veriest curmudgeon; let him leave his own children, the children of a woman whom he has inveigled from an honest lover, to nakedness and starvation, and ply the cupidity of high-born parents to let his ambition rob his friend of a girl who loves that friend; after her marriage, by brutal and dastardly treatment, let him drive the miserable wretch to desperation,
Sig. VOL. I. Z
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divorce, and irrevocable ruin, what then! Barnes Newcome inherits his father’s title, and becomes Sir Barnes; Sir Barnes is a member of Parliament; Sir Barnes lectures on the poetry of womanhood and the affections: “a public man, a commercial man, yet his heart is in his home;” he, too, has trimmed his nails,—we beg pardon, his character,—and the world is most graciously pleased to accept the homage paid by vice, accounting it for virtue. Then comes a bold and straggling hand, writing cabalistic lore—it lifts the pall, and a whited skeleton appears.
Sad and bitter lessons: sad to the spectator, bitter and galling to those who fall under the lash of the satirist. But why should a man’s lessons be all so bitter and sad? Is there no sunshine in the world? Is gloom perpetual and everlasting? Do clouds for ever engross the heavens? Is there no patch of blue to comfort mortal eyesight? Truly, there is both sunshine and gloom, both cloud and blue sky; but even as one painter most excels in fixing the frolics of light, so another’s heart will perchance (perforce?) be in the storm, or his life spent in depicting the grey sadness of the sky. What right have you or I to say—paint sunshine alone, or storms alone; what right to prevent an author from writing satire exclusively, or panegyric exclusively?
Not, indeed, that Mr. Thackeray is much given to croaking, any more than to panegyric. He seldom croaks, and when he does, it is with easy, artistic phlegm. One of his peculiar characteristics is the even-handed coldness with which he treats both sides of his subject, and all sides of his characters. And although in his last work, by a happy termination, he has departed from his usual severity as an artist, few novelists have been so felicitously cool, and rigidly impartial.
He leaves all real croaking to his readers:

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“You pay your shilling, and take your choice. The famous little Becky puppet is uncommonly flexible in the joints, and wicked in the expression. The Dobbin figure, though apparently clumsy, yet dances in a very amusing and natural manner.”

But at the close of the fair he says:

Ah, Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire?—or, having it, is satisfied?”

Something like croaking, too, this; but only a sigh, expressive of the profound melancholy which comes over the manager of the performance, as he sits before the curtain on the boards, and looks into the crowd. And whoever sees with the author’s eyes must be melancholy for a while. “ All is not gold that glitters, ” is the maxim inscribed on every page of his writings. It pervades his plots—pervades his characters. Through “Vanity Fair,” “Pendennis,” and “The Newcomes,” from top to bottom of “Our Street,” whether we follow the Kickleburys up the Rhine, or watch the ball at the Perkins’s, the still small whisper of the author pervades the atmosphere: “Behold the tinsel.” A melancholy voice in the midst of an overwrought civilization; where every advantage has its disadvantage, every picture its reverse; where platters have insides, and two sides are to every question! Not they who talk most of money, and loudest about their interest, are most interested or greedy of lucre. Not they who prate of love and extol friendship, are most loving and true. Not they who raise their voices in loud appeal to justice, are most righteous and equitable. And yet some men are most generous, most noble, most disinterested, who are no less loud in profession than in action. Some can love deeply, very deeply, whose discourse of love is warm. Some will speak nobly of justice, who are most nobly just. As our author himself expresses it with two-edged irony:

“It does not follow that all men are

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honest, because they are poor; and I have known some who were friendly and generous, although they had plenty of money. There are some great landlords who do not grind down their tenants; there are actually bishops who are not hypocrites; there are liberal men even among the Whigs, and the Radicals themselves are not all aristocrats at heart.”

What a chaos, men will say, and how can we ever walk straight?
From seeing the maxim so broadly written, that “all is not gold that glitters,” they go a step further, and too often say, “there is no gold at all, no friendship, no truth, no devotion; all is selfish, fickle, and insincere—all is dross, begilt and betinselled.” But here they forsake and calumniate their master. There is gold; but it is hard to find, lying often where men would fain not seek it. Then there is silver gilt, next best; and if that cannot be had, why then consult your purse, and try brass—brass electro-plated.
Do you see that lofty figure? It looks like a heroine; only Mr. Thackeray has no faith in heroines, hardly more so, in fact, than in heroes.* It is Miss Ethel Newcome, who, under a warmer and less artistic hand, would no doubt have grown to an extraordinary heroine, but under his, turns out little more than such a woman as most men have seen somewhere or other in their lives, even though they may not have had the entrée to the drawing-rooms of her chaperon and grandmother, Lady Kew, nor been admitted into the privacy of Sir Brian, her father. Ethel Newcome is one of the hundred girls every year, as the phrase is, on the market—a phrase which the veracious history before us will not, perhaps, bring into greater favour than it is. But, as Major Pendennis says to his nephew Arthur, whom Mr. Thackeray has selected as locum tenens in his new creation, Ethel

“is one of the prettiest girls out this

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season, Lady Ann’s daughter, an exceedingly fine girl. I hear the young men say so,” continues the worthy major; “and nothing shows more how monstrous ignorant of the world Colonel Newcome is, worthy old Indian. His son could no more get that girl than he could marry one of the royal princesses. Mark my words: they intend Miss Newcome for Lord Kew. Those banker fellows are wild after grand marriages. Kew will sow his wild oats, and they’ll marry her to him; or if not, to some man of high rank. His father, Walham, was a weak young man; but his grandmother, old Lady Kew, is a monstrous clever old woman, too severe with her children, one of whom ran away, and married a poor devil without a shilling. Nothing could show a more deplorable ignorance of the world than poor Newcome supposing his son could make such a match as that with his cousin. Is it true that he is going to make his son an artist? I don’t know what the deuce the world is coming to. An artist! By gad, in my time, a fellow would as soon have thought of making his son a hairdresser, or a pastry-cook, by gad.”

Where is the gold, and where the tinsel in all this? How much of both is there in Ethel, “seventeen years old, rather taller than the majority of women” (that is, a little below the average height of heroines), “of a countenance somewhat haughty and grave, but on occasion brightening with humour, or beaming with kindliness, quick to detect affectation and insincerity, impatient of dulness and pomposity.” Look at her “passing her hand gently over the softest of lips and chins, her face assuming a look of arch humour, as she thereby indicates her admiration of her cousin Mr. Clive’s moustache and imperial, while the blushing, bowing youth casts down his eyes before hers. She is more sarcastic now than she became when after years of suffering had softened her nature. Truth looks out of her bright eyes, and rises up armed, and flashes scorn or denial, perhaps too readily, when she encounters flattery, meanness,
Transcribed Footnote (page 325):

*These words are here used in their vulgar sense; not in the true sense in which the word “hero” occurs so frequently in Carlyle’s writings.—Ed.

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and imposture.” Surely this sounds something like gold; not of the heroic standard, perhaps, not the soft and tender metal seven times purified and refined, but still gold, with that amount possibly, of the indurating alloy sufficient to make it wear the stamp of sublunary life.

“And yet, if the truth must be told, this young lady is popular, neither with many men, nor with most women. The innocent youth who pressed round her, attracted by her beauty, are rather afraid, after a while, of engaging her. This one feels dimly that she despises him; another, that his simpering common-places (the delight of how many well-bred maidens!) only occasion Miss Newcome’s laughter. Young Lord Crœsus, whom all maidens and matrons are eager to secure, is astonished to find that he is utterly indifferent to her, and that she will refuse him twice or three times in an evening, to dance as many times with poor Tom Spring, who is his father’s ninth son, and only at home till he can get a ship and go to sea again. The young women are frightened at her sarcasm. She seems to know what fadaises they whisper to their partners, as they pause in their waltzes; and Fanny, who was luring Lord Crœsus towards her with her blue eyes, dropped them guiltily to the floor, when Ethel’s turned towards her;* and Cecilia sang more out of tune than usual; and Clara, who was holding Freddy, and Charley, and Tommy, round her, enchanted by her bright conversation, and witty mischief, became dumb and disturbed when Ethel passed her with her cold face; and old Lady Hookham, who was playing off her little Minnie, now at young jack Gorget, of the Guards, now at the eager and simple Bob Bateson, of the Cold-streams, would slink off when Ethel made her appearance on the ground: whose presence seemed to frighten away the fish and the angler.”

There may be more dross than gold, perhaps, in all this, and yet, reader, which will you choose?—to which award hearty sympathy?—to “the innocent dancing youth,” or to the

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lofty Miss Newcome? To the simpering common-places of Lord Crœsus and the guilty blue eyes of Fanny, or to the full glance of Ethel’s cold eyes only “on occasion brightening with humour, or beaming with kindliness and affection?”
But, you say, is there no mean, no medium between haughtiness and wit on one side, and weakness and silliness on the other? Listen to the author: “Every advantage has its disadvantage. For every ounce of gold there are pounds of gilding. Every jewel has its counterfeit. The great Koh-i-noor itself served all practical purposes in imitation. Goodnature and weakness are (how often!) found together—how often convertible and mistaken. Overflowing tenderness is mistaken for weakness, and vacillation wears the look of kindness. Superiority and pride, like birds of a feather, flock together; and they, too, with the undiscerning, pass for the same.”
But, you ask, is it always so? No, certainly not. But, we apprehend, a satirist describes not the rule, but the exception; or, at any rate, what ought to be and generally will be found to be more or less the exception. For instance, what grosser mistake than to suppose Juvenal’s writings contain a faithful picture of the whole of Roman society! And all Mr. Thackeray’s characters, though less grossly so, are more or less exceptional, without being heroes or heroines. He describes the effects of overwrought civilization, in excess or defect of the golden mean of perfection—not so much the golden mean itself. All his writings, viewed in this light, are profoundly true; viewed as exact pictures of the whole state of society, they are at best but clever distortions. And this is one great source of the misapprehension
Transcribed Footnote (page 326):

*Is this not rather uncommon in society, where the first accomplishment a girl learns is to acquire an unflinching stare? But perhaps eyes that brook the gaze of a man will cower before a woman.

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under which both the author and his writings commonly lie. “He is a misanthrope,” says one—“A disappointed man,” says another, “and his characters and scenes are libels on human nature.” But is every novelist bound to describe the whole of human nature, for the especial behoof of Smith or Cavendish? Must every novelist be patent looking-glass maker to Cavendish and Smith, so that whoever else’s face is there, their own, so to speak, may be painted in the centre, a possession for ever? You are unreasonable, Cavendish, you are unreasonable, Smith; and if Mr. Thackeray, out of the continent of human nature, has chosen him a small principality of his own to describe, it is unjust of you to declare, through thick and thin, because it lies out of your corner, that he meant to describe that also, and has altogether failed. It is the West End chiefly that he describes, and not even the whole of that; but, so to speak, the part which is diseased by the reaction of the very laws of progress, which lead men lower down in the scale to improve under ordinary circumstances. It is that culminating part of the ancient tree, which is beginning to bleach and decay, while ever fresh and healthy branches are spreading and sprouting from below. In society, as in nature, there is constant action and reaction. Refinement, pushed to the limits of a particular phase, breeds degeneracy and torpor, and, as a consequence, the artificially begotten inferiority of some characters leads an opposite class of minds to exaggerate all their own claims to superiority, until they become or threaten to become vices. Thus the independent spirit of Ethel is made haughtier by the petty cringing and self-seeking of Fanny. The self-confidence of one man swells and frets at the sight of another’s vacillation. The modesty of Addison recoils and shrinks before the forwardness of Steel. “ Rien” says Montaigne, “ Rien ne me redresse tant dans

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mon assiette, que de voir les défauts d’autrui.” And still more might the saying of Luther be applied, for civilization is like a drunken man on horseback—“prop her up on one side, and she falls over on the other.”
And if it be said that all this is nothing new—being, in fact, no more than Aristotle’s doctrine under a new dress, of the extremes which lie on either side of the golden mean, we may ask in Mr. Thackeray’s words:

“What stories are new? All types of all characters march through all fables: tremblers and boasters; victims and bullies; dupes and knaves; long-eared Neddies, giving themselves leonine airs; Tartuffes wearing virtuous clothing; lovers and their trials, their blindness, their folly and constancy. With the very first page of the human story do not love and lies too begin? So the tales were told ages before Æsop: and asses under lion’s manes roared in Hebrew; and sly foxes flattered in Etruscan; and wolves in sheep’s clothing gnashed their teeth in Sanscrit, no doubt. The sun shines to-day as he did when he first began shining; and the birds in the tree overhead, while I am writing, sing very much the same note they have sung ever since they were finches. Nay, since last he besought good-natured friends to listen once a month to his talking, a friend of the writer has seen the New World, and found the (featherless) birds there exceedingly like their brethren of Europe. There may be nothing new under and including the sun; but it looks fresh every morning, and we rise with it to toil, hope, scheme, laugh, struggle, love, suffer, until the night comes, and quiet. And then will wake Morrow and the eyes that look on it; and so da capo.”

And day by day the planets go their everlasting rounds. But if, because neither they nor the sun are new, Kepler had not observed and Newton generalized his observations, we should be without the laws of gravitation. And this, which is true of astronomy, may equally well be applied to human nature. No less than the former, the latter has laws, orbits, oscillations and eccentricities, which remain, even more than the heavens, man’s peculiar study
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and richest field of speculation—a field so far from having been exhausted by the curiosity of ages, although for ever lying next our feet, that, if compared with many a waste reclaimed but yesterday to science from barren observation, it will be found to have yielded a smaller proportionate harvest than any other realm of thought. Not that we need wonder at this, if we judge of psychology by the analogy of its correlative science physiology, in which the study of anatomy preceded that of organic life. Being at the centre ourselves, our looks are first turned towards the objects at the circumference. Another reason is the natural aversion felt by all men until a particular stage of thought arrives, to believe or even suppose that man as a living agent can be the subject matter of science. The idea seems fatalistic, and to interfere with their freedom. Man is his own last study. We speak here of the genuine scientific process, when man has been schooled by many blunders and failures to proceed methodically. Every one knows that at different times centuries have been spent in abortive efforts to discover “the essence,” “the philosopher’s stone,” etc. etc. First comes the dissection and rational survey of the dead and inanimate, next comes the analysis of that which lives and moves, last of all generalizations on the moving cause. So in Ethics, the critical and inductive theory of human action might naturally have been expected to come last of all in the scale of sciences; and so it has proved indeed, for it is yet in great measure to come. But however distant such an event may be, every fresh writer who stereotypes the society or any part of the society of his day, has bequeathed a valuable legacy to moral philosophy. As Copernicus to Kepler and Kepler to Newton; as Vesalius to Bichat and Bichat to Carpenter; such were Homer and the tragedians to Aristotle; and such Milton, Shakespeare,

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and our novelists, let us hope may be to him who some day will discover the theory, if not of human, at least of British, gravitation. But in the meantime, it is interesting to note how the same phase of society and feeling is reflected in different minds; how the social oscillations—the great actions and reactions of class characteristics, normal and abnormal, find a kindred exposition under a garb outwardly most dissimilar, in minds apparently far as the poles asunder. Who, for example, at first sight would accuse Thackeray and Currer Bell of any connection? And yet, at the bottom, the present time is viewed by both much in the same light. Hitherto, in all highly civilized nations a time has come, when the machinery and scaffolding of civilization have threatened to overgrow the building itself; a time, when prudence threatens to choke goodness, cleverness to trample on simplicity, affectation to lord it over nature and even over art; when interest blinds justice, worldly wisdom petrifies the heart, and etiquette poisons comfort; a time when the letter seems likely to swallow up the law, means to usurp the place of ends, and rules to make a clean sweep of reason; when honours are more coveted than worth, riches than happiness, power than affection; when clothes are for character, and hollow praise for genuine love—a time rich in the “irony of fate.” Such in some respects seems to be our present phase. And far as Currer Bell and Thackeray seem apart, yet a deep hatred of this predominance of the husk over the kernel, of the letter over the spirit, of the essence over the accident, will, we think, be found to form the prevailing undercurrent of their works.
Jane Eyre by many has been looked upon as an immoral production, and Currer Bell as the treacherous advocate of contempt of established maxims and disregard of the regulations of society. Now this is precisely the
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fault which the Pharisees found with the teaching of the Saviour. Where indeed, we would ask, is the immorality of Jane Eyre, if not that, acting in the purity of her heart and the might of her integrity, she spurns the letter to give triumph to the spirit? Who are they, that prate of falling and make a sickening display of their humility, but those who gloat over human frailty, and, longing to fall, are for ever spreading the sterile couch of deprecation beforehand? Are there no strong hearts left? Because temptation has often triumphed, has singleness of purpose died out of the world, and may no one be calmly conscious of virtue to act and strength to resist? Jane Eyre is Currer Bell’s answer to the question—and, viewed as a contrast to the disgusting cant of immorality lurking beneath tawdry finery and mock humility, may be considered no unimportant contribution to the characteristic delineations of our time. Her situations are often extremely forced; she revels in the depiction of freedom; but after all, she makes will triumph over temptation, exalting the spirit over the letter, nor is there anything in her descriptions which betrays more than the intense aspirations of a powerful moral sense and the eager desire to raise the weak and neglected of the earth to the independence of mind, without which, virtue is but a shadow. The noble conduct of the women, who, through evil report and good report, in spite of sneers and fears, within the last few months, left the comforts of an English home to bear consolation and kindness and care to our wounded beneath an eastern sun—was in the true spirit of Jane Eyre.
We will quote the following passages from Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair, with a view to illustration, and also to compare the peculiarities of their authors. Jane is governess in Mr. Rochester’s family. His wife is mad. He loves Jane Eyre, and has

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just related to her the unfortunate circumstances, which in earlier life led him to contract an alliance with a woman he never did love.

“A pause.

“Why are you silent, Jane?”

I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggle, blackness, burning! Not a human being could wish to be loved better than I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and I must renounce love and idol. One drear word comprised my intolerable duty—“Depart!”

“Jane, you understand what I want of you? Just this promise— ‘I will be yours, Mr. Rochester.’ ”

“Mr. Rochester, I will not be yours.”

Another long silence.

“Jane!” he recommenced, with a gentleness that broke me down with grief, and turned me stone-cold with ominous terror—for this still voice was the pant of a lion rising—“Jane, do you mean to go one way in the world, and to let me go another?”

“I do.”

“Jane” (bending towards and embracing me) “do you mean it now?”

“I do.”

“And now?” softly kissing my forehead and cheek.

“I do”—extricating myself from restraint rapidly and completely.

“Oh, Jane, this is bitter! This—this is wicked. It would not be wicked to love me.”

“It would to obey you.”

A wild look raised his brows—crossed his features: he rose; but he forbore yet. I laid my hand on the back of a chair for support: I shook, I feared—but I resolved.

“One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life when you are gone. All happiness will be torn away with you. What then is left? For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs: as well might you refer me to

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some corpse in yonder churchyard. What shall I do, Jane? Where turn for a companion, and for some hope?”

“Do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in heaven. Hope to meet again there.”

“Then you will not yield?”


“Then you condemn me to live wretched and to die accursed?” His voice rose.

“I advise you to live sinless; and I wish you to die tranquil.”

“Then you snatch innocence and love from me? You fling me back on lust for a passion—vice for an occupation?”—

“Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you, than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure—you as well as I: do so. You will forget me, before I forget you.”

“You make me a liar by such language: you sully my honour. I declared I could not change: you tell me to my face I shall change soon. And what a distortion in your judgment, what a perversity in your ideas is proved by your conduct! Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair, than to transgress a mere human law—no man being injured by the breach? for you have neither relatives nor acquaintances whom you need fear to offend by living with me.”

This was true; and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling; and that clamoured wildly. “Oh comply!” it said. “Think of his misery; think of his danger—look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong nature; consider the recklessness following on despair—soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?”

Still indomitable was the reply—

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I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. ” Becky Sharp respected herself in a very different manner, as we shall presently see. “I will keep the law given by God, sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there are no temptations, they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise up against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane; with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by; there I plant my foot.”

I did. Mr. Rochester, reading my countenance, saw I had done so. His fury was wrought to the highest; he must yield to it for a moment, whatever followed; he crossed the floor and grasped my waist. He seemed to devour me with his flaming glance; physically, I felt at the moment powerless as stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace—mentally, I still possessed my soul, and with it the certainty of ultimate safety.

The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter—often an unconscious, but still a truthful, interpreter—in the eye. My eye rose to his; and while I looked in his fierce face, I gave an involuntary sigh; his gripe was painful, and my overtasked strength almost exhausted.

“Never,” said he, as he ground his teeth, “never was anything at once so frail and so indomitable,” etc.

Mind triumphs over matter, and Jane keeps her word and departs.
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As a contrast in artistic performance, in spirit and in style, with this we compare the following picture from Vanity Fair.

“ ‘Rawdon,’ said Becky, very late one night, as a party of gentlemen were seated round her crackling drawing-room fire (for the men came to her house to finish the night; and she had ice and coffee for them, the best in London): ‘I must have a sheep-dog.’ ”

“ ‘ A what?’ said Rawdon, looking up from an écarté table.

“ ‘A sheepdog!’ said young Lord Southdown. ‘My dear Mrs. Crawley, what a fancy! Why not have a Danish dog? I know of one as big as a came-leopard, by Jove. It would almost pull your Brougham. Or a Persian greyhound, eh? (I propose, if you please); or a little pug that would go into one of Lord Steyne’s snuff-boxes? There’s a man at Bayswater got one with such a nose that you might,—I mark the king and play,—that you might hang your hat on it.’

“ ‘I mark the trick,’ Rawdon gravely said. He attended to his game commonly, and didn’t much meddle with the conversation except when it was about horses and betting.

“ ‘What can you want with a shepherd’s dog?’ the lively little Southdown continued.

“ ‘I mean a moral shepherd’s dog,’ said Becky, laughing, and looking up at Lord Steyne.

“ ‘What the devil’s that?’ said his Lordship.

“ ‘A dog to keep the wolves off me,’ Rebecca continued. ‘A companion.’

“ ‘Dear little innocent lamb, you want one,’ said the Marquis; and his jaw thrust out, and he began to grin hideously, his little eyes leering towards Rebecca.

“The great Lord of Steyne was standing by the fire sipping coffee. The fire crackled and blazed pleasantly. There was a score of candles sparkling round the mantelpiece, in all sorts of quaint sconces, of gilt and bronze and porcelain. They lighted up Rebecca’s figure to admiration, as she sat on a sofa covered with a pattern of gaudy flowers. She was in a pink dress, that looked as fresh as a rose; her dazzling white arms and shoulders were half covered with a thin hazy scarf through which they sparkled; her hair hung in curls round her neck; one of her little feet peeped out from the fresh crisp folds of the silk: the prettiest little foot in the

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prettiest little sandal in the finest silk stocking in the world.

“The candles lighted up Lord Steyne’s shining bald head, which was fringed with red hair. He had thick bushy eyebrows, with little twinkling bloodshot eyes, surrounded by a thousand wrinkles. His jaw was underhung, and when he laughed, two white buck-teeth protruded themselves and glistened savagely in the midst of the grin. He had been dining with royal personages, and wore his garter and ribbon. A short man was his lordship, broad-chested, and bow-legged, but proud of the fineness of his foot and ancle, and always caressing his garter-knee.

“ ‘And so the Shepherd is not enough,’ said he, ‘to defend his lambkin?’

“ ‘The Shepherd is too fond of playing at cards and going to his clubs,’ answered Becky, laughing.

“ ‘ ’Gad, what a debauched Corydon!’ said my lord—‘what a mouth for a pipe!’

“ ‘I take your three to two;’ here said Rawdon, at the card-table.

“ ‘Hark at Melibæus,’ snarled the noble Marquis; ‘he’s pastorally occupied too: he’s shearing a Southdown. What an innocent mutton, hey? Damme, what a snowy fleece!’

“Rebecca’s eyes shot out gleams of scornful humour. ‘My lord,’ she said, ‘you are a knight of the Order.’ He had the collar round his neck, indeed—a gift of the restored Princes of Spain.

“Lord Steyne in early life had been notorious for his daring and his success at play. He had sat up two days and two nights with Mr. Fox at hazard. He had won money of the most august personages of the realm: he had won his marquisate, it was said, at the gaming-table; but he did not like an allusion to those by-gone fredaines. Rebecca saw the scowl gathering over his heavy brow.

“She rose up from her sofa, and went and took his coffee-cup out of his hand with a little curtsey. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I must get a watch-dog. But he won’t bark at you.’ And, going into the other drawing-room, she sat down to the piano, and began to sing little French songs in such a charming, thrilling voice, that the mollified nobleman speedily followed her into that chamber, and might be seen nodding his head and bowing time over her.”

But that the same spirit under the utmost difference of the outer garb, and the same hidden sympathy united
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the clergyman’s daughter and the man of the world, may perhaps be seen from the following passages.

“Conventionality is not morality; self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the crown of thorns.

“These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them; they should not be confounded; appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for a world redeeming creed of Christ. There is—I repeat it—a difference; and it is a good and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.”

These ideas under Mr. Thackeray’s pen assume the following shape:

“Shame! What is shame? Virtue is very often shameful according to the English social constitution, and shame honourable. Truth, if yours happens to differ from your neighbour’s, provokes your friend’s coldness, your mother’s tears, the world’s persecution. Love is not to be dealt in, save under restrictions which kill its sweet healthy free commerce. Sin in man is so light, that scarce the fine of a penny is imposed; while for woman it is so heavy, that no repentance can wash it out. Ah! yes; all stories are old. You proud matrons in your May-fair markets, have you never seen a virgin sold, or sold one? Have you never heard of a poor wayfarer fallen among robbers, and not a Pharisee to help him? Of a poor woman fallen more sadly yet, abject in repentance and tears, and a crowd to stone her? I pace this broad Baden walk as the sunset is gilding the hills round about, as the orchestra blows its merry tunes, as the happy children laugh and sport in the alleys, as the lamps of the gambling palace are lighted up, as the throngs of pleasure-hunters stroll, and smoke, and flirt, and hum: and wonder sometimes, is it the sinners who are the most sinful? Is it poor

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Prodigal yonder amongst the bad company, calling black and red and tossing the champagne; or brother Straightlace that grudges his repentance? Is it downcast Hagar that slinks away with poor little Ishmael in her hand: or bitter old virtuous Sarah, who scowls at her from my demure Lord Abraham’s arm?

And here it may not be out of place to point out a few particulars in which we conceive Currer Bell and Thackeray to agree and to disagree. Both satirize existing features of society; but Currer Bell, by describing what is not; Thackeray, by describing what is; the former by eliciting moral heroism from the depths of a nature apparently ordinary; the latter by divesting of heroism characters which might pass for heroic; the former by giving reins to an aspiration after plain unvarnished and inner truth of human action, which betrays her into exaggerations; the latter by coldly saying, “there is high life for you, such as it is; pick out the good and steer clear of the evil, if you can;”—a spirit which occasionally leads him in spite of his benevolence and artistic impartiality beyond the boundaries of irony and satire into indiscriminate cynicism.
We are told, for instance, that Hobson and Brian Newcome, so long as their mother, the old bankeress, was alive, contrived to sow their wild oats under the rose, in spite of her puritanical jealousy, but that when the old lady was gone, Mr. Hobson had no need any more of disguise, but took his pleasure. Fighting, tandems, four-in-hand, anything. All very proper. “But,” proceeds our author, “do not let us be too angry with Colonel Newcome’s two most respectable brothers, if for some years they neglected their Indian relative, or held him in slight esteem. Their mother never pardoned him, or at least by any actual words admitted his restoration to favour. For many years, as far as they knew, poor Tom was an unrepentant
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prodigal, wallowing in bad company, and cut off from all respectable sympathy.”
Coupling this with the fact of their own wild oats, the irony is sufficiently fair.
Thackeray continues his ironical defence. “Their father had never had courage to acquaint them with his more true and charitable version of Tom’s story. So he passed at home for no better than a black sheep.”
In short, they turned the small end of the glass to their own, the large end to their brother’s sins. “His marriage with a penniless young lady did not tend to raise him in the esteem of his relatives at Clapham. It was not until he was a widower, until he had been mentioned several times in the gazette for distinguished military service, until they began to speak very well of him in Leadenhall Street, where the representatives of Hobson Brothers were, of course, East India proprietors, and until he remitted considerable sums of money to England, that the bankers, his brethren, began to be reconciled to him.”
So far, this is all in the vein of impartiality, so peculiar to Thackeray; for, although the defence is to a great extent ironical, it is clear that he himself is ready to make some allowance for the circumstances. But unfortunately he does not stop there. His hand begins to shake a little, and his two-edged probe to cut both ways—as much in a wrong as in a right direction. “I say,” he continues, waxing more cold and cynical as he warms with his subject, “do not let us be hard upon the brothers. No people are so ready to give a man a bad name as his own kinsfolk; and, having made him that present, they are ever most unwilling to take it back again. If they give him nothing else in the days of his difficulty, he may be sure of their pity, and

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that he is held up as an example to his young cousins to avoid. If he loses his money, they call him poor fellow, and point morals out of him. If he falls among thieves, the respectable Pharisees of his race turn their heads aside and leave him penniless and bleeding. They clap him on the back kindly enough when he returns, after shipwreck, with money in his pocket. How naturally Joseph’s brothers made salaams to him, and admired him, and did him honour, when they found the poor outcast a Prime Minister, and worth ever so much money, Surely human nature is not much altered since the days of those primeval Jews. We would not thrust brother Joseph down a well and sell him bodily, but—but if he has scrambled out of a well of his own digging, and got out of his early bondage into renown and credit, at least we applaud him and respect him, and are proud of Joseph as a member of the family.”
All this is too indiscriminate, and when applied to human nature at large savours of vulgar misanthropy. That relations should be unable to repress feelings of vexation at the sight of their own flesh and blood digging pits of private and family scandal, is surely not so very reprehensible. Nay, that their vexation should be greater in proportion to the proximity of the ties, would seem, indeed, to be the legitimate result of greater affection in the beginning. In high life, ties of blood are (God knows) often slender enough, but not so universally so, after all, judging by the prevalent outcry against nepotism. It is necessary to the well-being of society that black sheep should meet their deserts. But then comes the evil of the law—that the punishment is often altogether arbitrary, and that it so often falls on the wrong person. Over this Mr. Thackeray may well draw the edge of his razor. On the other hand, what would become of society,
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if the plan were reversed—if all men went mad after black sheep; if white sheep were as carefully tabooed; if to be in debt, to gamble and to drink and cockfight, drive tandem, seduce, be hail fellow well met, what if all this should become the gauge of excellence?
Mr. Thackeray may be the last man to defend such a state of things. Were it the rule, instead of the exception, we verily believe such is the temper of his mind, his love of liberty, his hatred of tyranny, assumption, extremes, absurdities, and usurpations of all kinds, that he would attack the tyranny of license as he now assails the tyranny of convention. But if it be not—and it is not the rule, neither are the cases set forth by Mr. Thackeray by any means the rule,—it behoves him the more to guard against leaving impressions on the minds of his readers which mar the good he would otherwise produce. The impression he too often leaves is that all respectability is a deception—the outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual wickedness. “Why should we care for it, then; let us live and choose for our friends the ‘good fellows’ of life. Let us seek for heart. Intellect, industry, you see—self-command, the energy and thrift of Barnes, what are they, to the noble and irregular instincts of Clive? ’Gad, ma’am, ‘boys will be boys,’ and Barnes, who was never a boy, never was a man. He lived to die a villain; whereas Clive was a happy man, after all.” This, then, is one fault that we venture to find with Mr. Thackeray: that he draws the balance too much in favour of mere feeling and impulse.
Another fault we may be excused for pointing out before we proceed to close this article with the more agreeable and congenial task of dwelling on some of the excellencies by which, in our opinion, the author of “The Newcomes” is pre-eminently distinguished

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as a writer of fiction. We have said that he seldom croaks; he is too much a man of the world—he is too well schooled in the different sides of social pictures to take things otherwise than coolly and philosophically. But he cannot, we think, be exonerated from moralizing to an undue extent. It would seem as if it were the result of the impatience of a writer not caring to be at the trouble of dramatizing his sermon. Thackeray seems to cling to his moral reflections as tenaciously as Walter Scott did to his descriptions. Both are exquisite of their kind, and the reflections infinitely more interesting than the descriptions. But where a writer has unequalled powers of putting men in action, his fame as a novelist will be just in proportion as he himself consents to retire from the scene.
It is urged against Thackeray and Currer Bell, that, in different ways, they both covertly undermine principle, to give unlimited license to feeling. But what is principle? Principle, to me, is feeling regulated; to you, feeling suppressed. And yet life, after all, is but feeling—feeling of some kind or another—from the cradle to the grave! If you unduly fetter and cramp it, you are answerable for one of three things: its corruption and degeneracy, or its violent explosion, to the detriment of bystanders; or else its decay and death. “All is not gold that glitters.” All is not respectability that bears the name. There is real and genuine respectability; and there is its figment and phantom to terrify the weak, to grieve the good, and to amuse the bad. We execrate practical jokers, who trifle with the fears of the unsuspecting, and ought we to defend the infinitely greater mischief of those who tamper with the tenderness of their neighbours, either because they are too supine to distinguish between virtue and vice, or because they make their own standard that of the world; or finally, because
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they cannot or will not separate the rule from the paramount reason? Men are not made for rules, but rules are made for men. We are not to be happy for the good pleasure of society, but society is for the “good pleasure” and best happiness of man. If not, oh that we had wings, and might fly to the desert! Why should we not all have as much, instead of as little, happiness as we may? And if my neighbour’s views or character are deficient, and he ruthlessly interferes with and poisons my happiness, shall I not murmur? No doubt he who would get on without any rules at all, might as well contend against maps, triangles, compasses, and in short, the whole fabric of civilization. But, on the other hand, who could maintain that a map is a substitute for a landscape, or that to love a sunset is the feeling of a madman, because sunsets are not found in maps? If nobody ever went beyond the tether of a rule, we should all stand still, and the state of the world be stereotyped in imperfection. Ore implies dross; refining, refuse; labour, some degree of waste: but so long as there is a healthy preponderance of gold, refinement, and effort after excellence, so long may we be well satisfied that we are not at a stand-still. It is not that we should relax the code of discipline and framework of society for the comfort of one or more individuals, but that by an enlightened study of the reason we should raise the spirit of the rules by suitable improvements, or by an enlarged and liberal interpretation. Has not the whole current of our national progress been against unjust and illiberal restrictions, founded, not in the nature of things, but in the intolerance of men? And so within the bosom of society, the sooner we get rid of the hateful priestcraft and druidism of a spurious respectability the better, and the greater praise to those who lend their talents to the task.
In conclusion, what is the moral and purpose to be derived from the

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writings before us? To be what we are, to say what we think, and daily to strive that what is best shall please us more and more: such are the lessons which Mr. Thackeray’s writings seem calculated to convey.
And yet, if we do so, shall we be happy?
Alas! the world is in embryo still, a chaos of paradox and repugnancy. You must not only be humble—you must seem so; you must not only be loving, sincere, unselfish, you must appear to be unselfish, loving, and sincere. What follows? Let me but “seem,” then, “to be,” shall take its chance. Why should I rack my brain for the essence, when the appearance is so short a cut to comfort? Why court the simple eloquence of truth, when meretricious affectation and fine talking, which is pleasing intoxication to myself, and dust in the eyes of my audience, will serve every rational purpose? And if I cannot say from my heart, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men,” how easy it is to say it with my lips, by aping the shibboleth of party.
Ah, reader, have you any experience, and have you not discovered how to seem is as everything, to be, as nothing? Do not half the people in the world act as though they thought that to seem happy is far more important than to be so?—to seem pious even greater than to be good?
But courage! Truth is in the nature of things, as sparks fly upwards, as the drops fall down. Men do not love evil and shamming for evil and shamming’s sake. Who would compass by foul means what he can by fair? Do we not all run riot after seeming goods? Wherein we pursue goods, we are good; wherein they are but seeming goods, it is our ignorance. Let us but overcome that ignorance, and so let us more and more leave the tinsel and burrow for the gold, detest affectation and cling to the truth, eschew the shadow and clasp the reality.
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Chap. III

Another Look at “The Lamp for the Old Years”
Editorial Note (page ornament): Initial T is ornamental
Towards the end of my last chapter I insisted on the necessity of understanding the Past time before passing sentence on it, and that the only way to do so effectually was to migrate thither in spirit, and follow the men as they lived and worked, see as they saw, and feel as they felt, and, above all, seek affectionately through all difficulties and contradictions, for the good inherent in them, as for the very heart and substance and inspiring power of either man or work; and I gave a few examples of what Carlyle, thus looking, had seen, and thus seeking, had found in his special province of history the last two centuries; how he had taught us to form a braver, truer, and far happier judgment than the common one, of such men as Voltaire, Byron, Goethe, and other men of the time who left their mark behind them. I now wish the reader to acknowledge that this method of Carlyle’s is but the due following of “Might is Right” as the universal law, and to accept it as true of all history; of the history of all Action no less than of Opinion, through all the strange, eventful fortunes of men and nations hitherto. Let him acknowledge that all thought which has had a lasting influence on Belief, has had along with its error, a measure of truth or Divine Might exactly proportionate to its actual effect: that all work, likewise, that has stood the test of time, and all relations of authority amongst men, which have been in anywise permanent, must have

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been then and there rightful in the main. Is permanence, then, the test of worth in work, and in a world where nothing is permanent? Yes! it is a very helpful test, though it requires, no less than any other, a wise mind to apply it. For does a thing last among men, maintaining itself against all enemies? Then it is a sign that many men are at least reconciled to it, do suffer it to remain, tacitly approving of it; that experience satisfies it; that in short it must have or have had some solid foundation, some alliance with real fact, which means justice and truth. It must be a good thing, and not a bad thing. This is true; and yet let any Order show in the strivings of its birth or the plenitude of its power, or the decay of its age, any symptoms of oppression or other vice, which man, “drest in a little brief authority,” is at all times apt to yield to, and the modern Leveller will condemn it as an unjustifiable tyranny from the beginning! Thus, have we not seen in America, that “land of Anarchy plus the Street-constable!” a rebellion against the primeval law of the subjection of women to men, which Fact has justified all over the world for six thousand years and upwards?—a rebellion which one may prophesy will be temporary only. And if this be so of an authority, the form of which is of necessity perpetual, and therefore present as well as past, and of the most simple natural kind, it is no wonder that condemnation is hurled far and wide with the utmost assurance against systems of authority now past and gone, which
Transcribed Note (page 336):

*The Editions I refer to are, “The Miscellanies,” third Edition; “Past and Present,” second Edition; “Sartor,” third Edition;“Cromwell,” third Edition;“French Revolution,” third Edition; and of other works the first Edition.

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we cannot so easily see the good of, now that their virtue is all diverted into other channels, and their names are labelled with the vices that produced their downfal. The old dog is hanged, and has a bad name, and now he only scents the gale. Nevertheless, could the old dog’s history be truly known, we should most likely find that once he was a useful servant to men, obedient to them, victorious for them; and most surely these old authorities and institutions did once sustain themselves by the might of their usefulness, which was their present rightfulness, and by that only, and were by no means mere stupid legalized tyranny. The compulsion we abhor in them was for the most part only a martial law, very needful for martial times, all society being “in a state of surge,” as our French neighbours call it; and the relation between men so created and preserved was in the main a just one.* Thus, as Carlyle has shown, the Feudal Barons were in their day the right rulers of England; the Pope at Rome was the right ruler of Christendom; the white Englishman was, nay is, the proper master of the Jamaica negro. The title of their authority was Might, but it was a good and true title, a God-given one: the injustice of their practice was but weakness, and in time their ruin. For by the self-same law, what is unjust cannot last. Feudal Serfdom had to go; Roman Papacy had to go; Black Slavery had to go, men enduring their wrongfulness no longer; and alas! in the hurry and rage of the change, much good went with them for the time. Each of these institutions carried with it order, organization, and left but a sorry substitute in its room. There is a penalty on Injustice! Might is Right still.
These are but three examples; an

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infinite number remains behind. Carlyle always accepts both voices of the Past, the condemning as well as the approving; the rising and the setting sun; the summer and the winter of all human things.
It is important to insist upon the Law of “Might is Right” applying to many acts that at first sight seem acts of brute force only. Violence! it is a word full of painful significance; and one must admit that history abounds in examples of violence which were simply crimes. Nevertheless, we ought to know that the Eden-gift of physical strength is a right noble one, given to man to do his master service; that there is a true Right residing in the Might of it. Does Robert Burns do wrong with his plough to the “wee modest, crimson-tipped flower” or the “brown, timorous Beastie?” Or does London, being carnivorous, commit thereby a thousand daily crimes? The ploughman’s trade and the butcher’s are, I think, both lawful and manly. These examples are beyond all gainsaying; but violence to men? This too is surely often a duty, and, rightfully performed, belongs to the true heroic class of human deeds, is sometimes truly sublime. Because it then implies a stern conquest of self, not of self-centred passions, but of the first impulses of noble, brotherly affections; because reverence for God and His laws claiming preference to regard for men, has then to manifest itself in visible and terrible action. Such is Penal Justice, a perpetual necessity for men and nations. To forward it, to honour it when done, is the duty of all; Nature herself teaching this, as by faithful instinct even the child reveres his father’s sword, and the maiden heart ever loves the soldier: but to execute it—this is emphatically
Transcribed Note (page 337):

* Since this series of articles has begun, Mr. Froude’s History of England has appeared; it abounds in practical illustration of all that I have said or have to say concerning Carlyle’s principles of historic decision. Carlyle is the true godfather to that excellent book.

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the duty of Men, true and strong and brave. This is a very old truth, but modern philanthropism would fain deny it, and Exeter Hall, not content with thinking Penal Justice a sorrowful, would persuade us that it is a degrading, work. But Carlyle despises such effeminate philosophy, which would make the Past as gloomy as it makes the Present feeble. He will honour Penal Justice, whensoever it has been done, and moreover, (what is for our present purpose more important,) howsoever done; whether with solemn order, or fiercely, savagely, even with much accompanying crime. For he will always judge according to the substance, and not by mere external incidents. And as the everlasting essence of Penal Justice is War, so in every society its primary form has been open War—War with its savagery and misery and wastefulness, and thousandfold individual injustice, which, if we condemn utterly, we do very foolishly. Looking at it in a broad and manful way, as Carlyle has done, not losing our nerve at the sight of human suffering, or our judgment in intemperate indignation for wrong, we may say that war was a necessary means to win that beautiful result now visible in all European Societies, pre-eminently in England; visible, and yet so seldom thoughtfully noticed—Peace in our streets. Warfare there still remains, even in England, but now a better warfare; temperate and just, orderly, solemn, and beautiful in the sight of men, drawing to the side of right all good men, and finding every year fewer and worse, (who are also weaker) adversaries; so that instead of lawless revenge by private club and dagger, we have a Code of Law, Courts of Justice, and just judges; instead of a fierce, greedy soldiery, a few civil persons in blue; (brave warriors none the less!) instead of headlong massacre or torture at the stake, an “improved drop” at Newgate, with a chaplain in attendance.

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What a progress! What a miserable faith to conceive that this result has been won by chance, or worse, is the upshot of mere contending evils! “Might is Right” saves us from such a doleful misbelief, and points out the truth that the continuous fighting of those old Feudal Barons did at heart mean this, “Let there be Justice; let there be war against the unjust man!” A right worthy maxim for men in all times and places. I am not aware that any modern writer, except Carlyle, has insisted upon this, as the very key to the history of that and other fighting times. I am sure that none will do justice to the terrible as well as the happier labours of the past, unless he begin by believing that wherever an enduring good has been produced, good men and good deeds have had the making of it. The application of this principle to National History, has a much wider field than that which we should call Criminal Justice. For let it be duly considered, that robbery and murder are not the only punishable crimes, though the mechanism of human law chiefly touches these, but all social vices, all violation and neglect of public duty, especially that of strict truthfulness and faithful activity, are punishable, and are inevitably punished; and that this is the true significance of all great Revolutions. As enduring facts, these Revolutions first justify themselves; on closer inspection, they prove to be acts of Justice. At first lawless, terrible, rudely yet undoubtedly penal, afterwards they develope into order new forms of social combination, and in their season bring forth good works of men. Thus was ushered in a Roman Republic, a Roman Empire, a British Constitution, and many other notable national conditions. Such also was the French Revolution, the frightful incidents of which are yet all too pre-eminent in our memory; its ultimate results are still unknown to us; but thus much, as Carlyle has shown,
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is certain, that it was a penalty upon the misrule and neglect of long years, the death-doom of institutions whose work was done. It, too, was in the main just. Sixty years is too short a distance to give us the right view of this mighty movement as a whole; and we are too apt to judge of it by details, such as the September Massacres: and even of these we judge too harshly, by not considering sufficiently that eternal mystery of human fellowship, whereby the children are visited with the sins of their fathers, and each has to bear his brother’s burden, as well as share in his blessings; and by forgetting that when masses of men are striving together for life and death, discriminating justice is impossible. That the Septemberers did a most brutal, cowardly, and wicked deed, is a conclusion which none can miss, and which Carlyle in nowise questions; on the contrary he directly affirms it: but he insists on the other hand, that an approximation to due retributive justice is practicable only under the sanction of custom and the security of order, and that the Septemberers had none such to guide or restrain them: they were the untaught and much-wronged mob of the St. Antoine; they knew only that they had enemies, and that those enemies were in their power; if they destroyed them, did they not, even in that mad hour, extemporise “a tribunal of wild-justice?” I cannot condemn Carlyle for dwelling upon this, as many have done—even his friend Sterling—far otherwise; it is to me one more emphatic proof of his god-like strength and candour of judgment, which can grasp the most tremendous movements of conflicting good and evil, and do justice to all. Weaker minds act in some sort like the Septemberers: in their fear they massacre whole multitudes of the past.
The conduct of all Revolutionists must be judged in the same large way, those of modern times not excepted.

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Carlyle also fearlessly applies the principle of “Might is Right” to the case of National Conquest: surely a dark subject in these days. The Mechanical Morality which so paralyzes faith, thought, and action, and the selfish tyrannous cowardice, which would make the whole world work in chains, for fear of mischief, here as elsewhere are all too predominant, preventing us from knowing the truth of National Duty, and making that great province of the Past, called International History, a barren waste for us, the record of mere crime and misery. But it is a false and narrow notion, this modern one, that Nations have no concern with one another, except that of passing the commercial money-bag in the most convenient way: they are a Brotherhood of men founded upon Justice, wherein the element of crime, and with it the element of punishment, cannot be wanting. Punishment, and as with individuals, not only for the palpable wrongs of external violence, but for national evil of every kind—most surely for evil not-doing as well as for evil-doing. Nay, further, to those who look upon the wide world with its glorious resources as given to mankind to make the most of it, and who know that mankind ought to make the most of it, that each nation owes to itself and to others a quite infinite duty, a right of Conquest immediately discloses itself. Happy indeed for that Society, which has made for itself a Law; where the warfare and the conquest are of a quiet regulated kind, where Justice can be done by formal judgment, and from day to day, not in bloody assizes once a century; where each man and each company of men are appointed to their proper place and work by lawful authority, and there protected. But what if there be no law? For one thing there will be much unhappiness; perpetual warning by terror and sorrow to haste and make a law; but meanwhile the unwritten Divine Law of Justice does
Sig. VOL. I. A A
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most surely exist, most surely through all confusions it shall work, and shall ever choose for its instrument the supreme might of men; failing the sceptre for its minister, it shall choose the sword. It is a painful, but withal a glorious truth, that Nations have hitherto been managed by Sword Law. As yet there has been no International Law worthy of the name; the Papal supremacy in the medieval times and the Press in our own, are the nearest approximations to it, but provisional merely, and very arbitrary and ineffectual: after many centuries, a few commercial rules, and a few fighting laws, “rules of the ring,” have got established, and that is all. So that if on the one hand War has been a constant crime, most wasteful and miserable (as I most fully admit, but cannot here enlarge upon), it has no less been a constant duty. If we would understand History we must acknowledge this, and remember too the cruel temptations, difficulties, necessities of warfare: we shall then form a judgment of the old warrior-ages and warrior-nations very different from the sweeping condemnations which modern philanthropy pronounces, as it sits in its comfortable cathedra, which was once won by the sword, and is still hedged round visibly or invisibly with protecting bayonets. In all seriousness I would say that the savage who thought it all right that nation should war against nation, is nearer the truth than we who think it all wrong. The world is not a prison, all its inhabitants felons, and its history a mere Newgate Calendar: far otherwise! Justice must always carry a sword in its right hand; and this Exeter Hall Theory is in truth an abnegation of Justice; neither is it so humane, as it thinks: it was once the faith of a Robespierre! And yet I will not altogether quarrel with the narrowness of modern theories, but only with the vain arrogance of them. As to the ancients was given a narrow but intense belief that they might execute

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their peculiar work of War, so to the most of us a limited vision is given that we may execute with singleness of mind our work of peaceful Industry. Enough, if we do that well; and let wiser men govern us in the present, wiser men interpret for us the fierce drama of the past; the wisest that can be found, for such are needed. The work of the true historian ranks in difficulty and glory among the very highest.
The a priori method is one way of attaining a right conclusion upon the ‘thousand wars of old;’ of still greater force is the retrospective one, that looks from the eminence of the present, over the road which has led hither. Think upon the Divine work of human progress which has been realized in the world, upon the fruit which 6000 years bear to-day; just think upon it, reader—and then ask yourself, “How has this come to pass?” War, you will find, you cannot help finding, has had a great hand in it. Conquest has been a mighty uniter of men, a great cultivator, a great preacher, everywhere a right arm of truth and knowledge and order; commerce of cotton and books is quite a modern contrivance, once impracticable, unknown. By Conquest were nations first formed, by conquest Empires have been built up; conquest has hitherto been a chief fact, a ruling influence in the history of mankind. And yet, we are told, this is altogether wrong, and the glories of human achievement have been the winnings of mere banditti robbery; Satan lording it over his heritage, directing the course of the world, and strangely, to a good end! Really such a theory is a libel upon God and the Devil! It is a mere mistake; it is incredible; a thinking man must not, dare not, believe it. If these conquests will not square with our formal notions of Justice, why, we had better see if we cannot enlarge our definition of justice, and make it agree more nearly to the law of the world; or better still, know
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that no definition can be complete; cease defining, therefore, and try seeing and considering.
Such thoughts as these are perpetual in Carlyle’s writings, he has enforced them very grandly in some chapters of the tractate called ‘Chartism,’ a book now out of print, but which, it is to be hoped, will not long continue so, for it is one of the wisest and most instructive that he has written. I extract two passages:
“M. Thierry has written an ingenious book, celebrating, with considerable pathos, the fate of the Saxons fallen under that fiercehearted Conquistator, Acquirer or Conqueror, as he is named. M. Thierry professes to have a turn for looking at that side of things; the fate of the Welsh too moves him; of the Celts generally, whom a fierce race swept before them into the mountainous nooks of the West, whither they were not worth following. Noble deeds, according to M. Thierry, were done by these unsuccessful men, heroic sufferings undergone; which it is a pious duty to rescue from forgetfulness. True, surely! A tear at least is due to the unhappy; it is right and fit that there should be a man to assert that lost cause too, and see what can still be made of it. Most right;—and yet, on the whole, taking matters on that great scale, what can we say, but that the cause which pleased the gods has, in the end, to please Cato also? Cato cannot alter it; Cato will find that he cannot at bottom wish to alter it. Might and Right do differ frightfully from hour to hour, but give them centuries to try it in, they are found to be identical. Whose land was this of Britain? God’s, who made it, His, and no others, it was, and is. Who of God’s creatures had right to live in it? The wolves and bisons? Yes they; till one with a better right showed itself. The Celt ‘aboriginal savage

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of Europe,’ as a snarling antiquarian names him, arrived, pretending to have a better right; and did, accordingly, not without pain to the bisons, make good the same. He had a better right to that piece of God’s land; namely, a better might to turn it to use; a might to settle himself there, at least, and try what use he could turn it to. The bisons disappeared; the Celts took possession and tilled. For ever, was it to be? Alas, For ever is not a category that can establish itself in this world of Time. A world of Time is, by the very definition of it, a world of mortality and mutability, of Beginning and Ending. No property is eternal but God the Maker’s; whom Heaven permits to take possession, his is the right; Heaven’s sanction is such permission—while it lasts; nothing more can be said.—p. 73. Conquest, indeed, is a fact often witnessed; conquest, which seems mere wrong and force, everywhere asserts itself as a right among men. Yet, if we examine, we shall find that, in this world, no conquest ever could become permanent, which did not withal show itself beneficial to the conquered, as well as to conquerors. . . . . How can-do, if we will well interpret it, unites itself with shalt-do among mortals; how strength acts ever as the right arm of justice; how might and right, so frightfully discrepant at first, are ever in the long run one and the same—is a cheering consideration, which always in the black tempestuous vortices of this world’s history, will shine out on us like an everlasting polar star. Of conquest, we may say, that it never yet went by brute force and compulsion; conquest of that kind does not endure. Conquest, along with power of compulsion, an essential universally in human society, must bring benefit along with it, or men, of the ordinary strength of men, will fling it out. The strong
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man, what is he, if we will consider? The wise man; the man with the gift of method, of faithfulness and valour, all of which are the basis of wisdom; who has insight into what is what, into what will follow out of what, the eye to see and the hand to do; who is fit to administer, to direct, and guidingly command; he is the strong man. His muscles and bones are no stronger than ours; but his soul is stronger, his soul is wiser, clearer,—is better and nobler; for that is, has been, and ever will be, the root of all clearness worthy of such a name. Beautiful it is, and a gleam from the same eternal polestar visible amid the destinies of men, that all talent, all intellect is in the first place moral; what a world were this otherwise!”—p. 38.
It will, I am sure, be manifest how much this law (or universal fact) of “Might is Right,” faithfully considered, justifies and clears up in History; how it will emancipate the modern reader from the tyranny of likings and mislikings, rightly called prejudices, and require him to consider the facts of each case thoroughly; how it will help him to understand the rough doings of Goths and Romans and Moors, and the other grim conquerors, of whom the annals of every kingdom bear record. And to those men in old time he will thereby do justice. Remembering how, till the last few centuries, what a warring world this has been, I do not see how it is possible to escape the conclusion that the noblest nations have been the conquering nations, and that their leaders, must, despite all blemishes, be reckoned among the noblest and best men; Joshua, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Mahomet, our own William the Conqueror, and the rest. Nay, modern times shall not be altogether excluded. Robert Clive, for instance, founder of our Anglo-Indian Empire, what was he? It may be worth while to examine. What India was in the beginning

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of last century; and what India is now, most persons have some notion of. A country has been redeemed from the anarchy of decay, rendered comparatively a garden of order, and is now full rich in future promise. The result is accepted by the tacit consent of all sensible men. But can Truth account Clive “a just man?” Clive, it may well be thought, felt in that day, that the time was come when the fruitful land of Bengal and its many thousand inhabitants should be no longer misruled by a Surajah Dowlah, or by other plainly incompetent wicked men like him; felt deeply, very deeply,even if unconsciously, that his wise and strong countrymen, the English, ought to have it for theirs; felt what a Joshua or an Oliver Cromwell would have expressed in the words, The Lord has delivered it into our hands. Now, under these circumstances, with the goal clearly in view, Clive is in too great a hurry to arrive there, and meanwhile thinks that all is fair against lying Hindoos, and so he hatches a secret conspiracy, forges a treaty,and employs other scandalous artifices, of which Macaulay tells us; finally, he conquers gloriously on the plain of Plassey. Shall we call this man a mere liar and unjust robber? By no means. These lies and base trickeries were all avenged upon him and us; as Macaulay rising into high truth, emphatically says, they really hindered our success; and for Clive himself, while we condemn these crimes, let us say that he was nevertheless a wise, brave, and just man, who, in the main, saw God’s will concerning India, and did it.—Again, almost as I write, the kingdom of Oude is being annexed to our Indian possessions. Is this too just? The Times and the English public seem to think it is; but is it because the Nabob broke his written word given fifty years ago? Such an answer will satisfy no one. Dimly, yet certainly (as is our English fashion), it is here felt, that the Right is our Might. We can govern the
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people of Oude as they should be governed, and we ought! We are called to do it.
It is easy to understand how such a principle as “Might is Right,” applied to individual and National conduct, must sound to many most unjust, most immoral: and it must be admitted that it always has been, and will always be, very liable to abuse,—as, indeed, God’s gifts always are; and the highest faculties and truths the most of all. Yet, fairly judged, it is but an extension of Law and Duty to include all the fiercer efforts and convulsions of Life; an assertion, that in the strangest fiery confusion, as well as in the known and quiet and beaten road, there abides the presence of Divine Law and Human Duty. The negative commands of the Decalogue are good, their plain meaning sufficient for the daily life of the Israelites or English citizens; but for an invasion of Canaan, an invasion of India? and yet these too shall be lawful and right. And the practical danger of accepting, at Carlyle’s teaching, a principle of action and judgment superior to all codes of law, and even all spoken systems of morality, reduces itself to its proper limits, if we take into account that Carlyle, on the other hand, perpetually insists upon the claims of human law, its sacredness, its true divine authority; again and again affirming, that walking in the beaten path, patient obedience to constituted authority, thorough performance of proximate and common duties, is what is appointed to almost all men at all times; and that the right fulfilment of these is the only qualification to understand and accomplish other loftier, wider enterprises, which will, from time to time, reveal themselves as needful to be attempted. At the present moment, Carlyle’s counsel to England is more than any man’s, an exhortation to do home duties; and his counsel to every Englishman is to begin by reforming himself. I mention this, in order to anticipate natural objections:

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but if England be for the present condemned for its evil deserts to those minor tasks, and yet be saved from the terrible necessity of attempting mighty ones, while unfit for them, (as France was at the end of last century); narrow notions of duty cannot explain the grand epic homicidal Past. That had to be transacted by men single-minded in their fierce purpose; it can be judged truly only by men as brave as they, and wiser than they. “Tea-table Morality” has there no place; at best it is fit only for modern tea-tables, there to keep comfortable and decorous routine; and thus let us allow it performs a useful function. It is wholly unfit to deal with the great men and great things of the earth, because it cannot understand how closely divine deeds and the worst crimes approach one another in outward aspect. At tea-tables, the taking away of life is murder; the seizing of goods is stealing; the notion of order is, that matters should be quite comfortable to all parties. The Execution of Charles, the assumption of supreme power by Oliver Cromwell, are mere lawless horrors; cover your eyes and shriek! But Carlyle can face these horrors, because he is a true man. With a daring so peculiarly his own, that I call him “bravest of the brave” in literature, he loves to ponder over the wondrous phenomena which attend great men in epochs of change; loves to contemplate the path of these children of might as of a flaming sword; and above all, when the hero, asserting his God-given right, has not only to break through the trammels of routine, but with steeled heart goes forth to fight and to conquer rebellious men. Oliver is a man whom he delights to honour, let pedantry, maudlin philanthropy, Tea-table Morality, and coward minds say what they will. And thus he writes touching Oliver’s self-election to the throne of England. “Power? Love of power! Does ‘power’ mean the faculty of giving places, of having
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newspaper paragraphs, of being waited on by sycophants? To ride in gilt coaches, escorted by the flunkeyisms and most sweet voices—I assure thee it is not the Heaven of all, but only of many! Some born Kings I myself have known, of stout natural limbs, who in shoes of moderately good fit, found walking handier; and crowned themselves, almost too sufficiently, by putting on their own private hat, with some spoken or speechless, ‘God enable me to be King of what lies under this! For Eternities lie under it, and Infinitudes, and Heaven also and Hell. And it is as big as the Universe this Kingdom; and I am to conquer it, or be for ever conquered by it, now while it is called To-day!’—The love of ‘power,’ if thou understand what to the manful heart ‘power’ signifies, is a very noble and indispensable love. And here and there, in the outer world too, there is a due throne for the noble man:—which let him see well that he seize, and valiantly defend against all men and things. God gives it him; let no Devil take it away. Thou also art called by the God’s-message. This, if thou canst read the Heavenly omens, and dare do them, this work is thine. Voiceless, or with no articulate voice, occasion, godsent, rushes storming on, amid the world’s events; swift, perilous; like a whirlwind, like a fleet-lightning steed: manfully shalt thou clutch it by the mane, and vault into thy seat on it, and ride and guide there, thou! Wreck and ignominious overthrow, if thou have dared when the Occasion was not thine; everlasting scorn to thee if thou dare not when it is;—if the cackling of Roman geese and Constitutional Ganders, if the clack of human tongues and leading articles, if the steel of armies, and the crack of Doom deter thee, when the voice was God’s! Yes, this too is in the law for a man, my poor quack-ridden, bewildered, Constitutional friends; and

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we ought to remember this withal, Thou shalt is written upon Life in characters as terrible as Thou shalt not,—though poor Dryasdust reads almost nothing but the latter hitherto.”— Cromwell, iii. 312.
Thou shalt! Every man casting one earnest glance upon his own private past feels this to be true. Bitterer, more overwhelming far than the remembrance of any sins, is the remembrance of that one great sin of Not-doing. The gift of Life has been his; what might he not have done with it? and what has he done? Looking forward too, it is, “Thou shalt,” that fills the view; an infinite Duty. Something, however, all men have done; and some have done great things, though even these have often an ugly wrappage. Look through the wrappage even as Carlyle commands! Then old History beams cheerful again; our ancestors grim with battle-stains though they be, smile graciously, gloriously on us their timid grand-children; and, lo! the Time-Spirit is no longer a deadly Juggernaut, performing its frightful annual journey, but a car of triumph for men past and to come: perhaps in a corner of it some of us may be permitted to ride! In short, is there not in this teaching of Carlyle’s a gospel of good news to our sceptic despondent age? A gospel of good news—for once more, a man living amongst us is heard to affirm, that God is King of the earth, and rides in the wild whirlwind of human deeds, as well as whispers in the still small voice of the secret Conscience, so that the Past is but a Psalm of Praise; and our glorious world is no longer a dead Machine, but an arena of infinite duty, where every force is consecrated, every sin meets its authentic retribution; as of old, the seat of Divine judgments; an awful world; for ever beset with mystery, resplendent with infinite majesty and terror.
It would be a mistake to suppose that Carlyle, with his “Might is Right,” has an eye only to the catastrophes of
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History, to the convulsive efforts and flaming victories of men, earthquakes as it were, raising up mountains, and swallowing up whole cities; though, undoubtedly, he has chiefly singled out these for study, because they most require expounding. People are apt to think Carlyle a sort of Ballad-singer come again, chaunting (in prose) the exploits of a few favourite Heroes, and the discomfiture of their enemies, just because he is great in this way. But he is not the vulgar lover of noisy gunpowder Percies they take him for. For who can consider the Life of Man, still more the Life of a Nation, and fancy that either is a grand firework display—a few fine single rockets, and the rest utter darkness and nothingness? Certainly Carlyle cannot. For along with that loud, blaring doctrine of “Might is Right,” he has another, which he calls (when in the nomenclating mood) “The Divine Empire of Silence.” The Divine Empire of Silence, a mystical title! nevertheless a reality, and the highest reality; the infinite, divine, and everlasting Mystery of all things, and especially of Man.
To begin with, Life is no firework display; but a long, long struggle, demanding the energies of the whole man; not lightning resolve only, and death-defying valour, and brilliant noisy qualities; but far more the silent qualities, patient abiding purpose, calm strength, and all manner of quiet endurance, quiet endeavour, which leave record of themselves chiefly, often entirely, in their effects. Victory is indeed appointed to good men, but seldom such as the world can shout for in the hero’s ears; seldom even such as the good man can himself see (has he not to live by faith?); and always it must be won by Suffering:
  • Suffering which is permanent, obscure, and dark,
  • And has the nature of infinity.
And so Carlyle reckons adversity no evil; it is, he says, the element of human

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life; a training in the stern reality of things, which compels a man to be sincere, and urges him to work sincerely; a training, which to the wise and strong, brings new wisdom and new strength. Oliver hemmed in at Dunbar, “upon an entanglement very difficult;” Oliver toil-worn with the thousand nameless anxieties of governing; Richter writing cheerily in his kitchen, “amid the hissing of frying-pans;” Samuel Johnson in his garret: Carlyle dwells upon these, and others in like circumstances, with the heartiest and most affectionate sympathy; for he knows that difficulty and sorrow are good for man. It is the deep feeling for this truth that forms one element of that pathetic power, in which Carlyle is without a rival in the prose of historic literature; and one of many things that win for him the trustfulness of the reader, as for one whose Faith has bravely faced the dark side of existence, and has come forth the purer and the stronger for the trial. Still more profoundly touching is his sympathy with those who have to strive, not against poverty only, and the ills of the flesh, but against spiritual darkness and error, and who may not utterly win. His estimate of Johnson in this respect is a very beautiful example, inspired with a graciousness which seems quite divine; so gracious is it, and yet so just.
Nor is Carlyle so unjust to men as to conceive that in any conflict, the Good is all arrayed on one side, and the Evil on the other; witness his judgment of Montrose the Cavalier, the faithful Swiss Guards at the Tuilleries, the valiant Count de Bouilli, and a hundred others. To the vanquished he does justice, as to the victors. The conflict, he says, is always one of Mights and Rights, and whatever may seem the issue, every Might, every Right, is fully accomplished. Accomplished very often silently, slowly, mysteriously, but inevitably; and it is because Carlyle knows the
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assuredness, that he can penetrate the mystery deeper than others, and can make the silent speak. That union of might and right, which, when we first heard it, sounded the loudest and most immoral of paradoxes, now proves a most useful truth, when we watch Might trudging along through long years and centuries; just as the sun might scorch all things into tinder, if brought within a stone’s throw of the earth, but at its proper distance is the source of light and life and beauty. And it is thus that Carlyle can reveal new cause for cheerful faith in many a comfortless-looking page of history, where the defeat of the good man seems utter at the first sight, or that which seems useless or entirely evil still obstinately lingers on.
Wallace was a beaten man, and died a cruel death on Tower Hill, but his valour in due time made Scotland, if not an Independent Kingdom, still a free kingdom. Johnson was a beaten man; his Toryism and Church-and-State have fallen or are falling, for it is high time for them to go; but his loyalty has served to keep alive and fruitful the remnant of their ancient virtue, until a better shall come. The Pope too is a beaten man, for Luther defeated him three centuries ago; but he is not yet quite worthless, for when he is he will die altogether. And always the man or creed sick unto death are of some good to the last, if it is only the good of calling forth pity and helpfulness; and even though the helpfulness resemble the charitable office of the Hindoo, who takes his dying relative to the banks of the sacred river, and chokes his mouth with a handful of the sacred mud. Herein Carlyle, as usual, is just to the men of old, because he reaches the secret heart of other times than his own; so different in this from modern Eclecticism, which can admire only its own handsome face, and from shallow modern Radicalism, which condemns the whole Past at a single blow. Of which here is another signal

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instance: He has just been relating how “old Anselm, exiled Archbishop of Canterbury,” was believed in by the people; “how by phantasy and true insight they had the intensest conviction, that God’s blessing dwelt in this Anselm;” and he continues: “ This quarrel of Rufus and Anselm, of Henry and Becket, is not uninstructive to us. It was at bottom a great quarrel. For admitting that Anselm was full of divine blessing, he by no means included in him all forms of divine blessing; there were far other forms withal which he little dreamed of, and William Redbeard was unconsciously the representative and spokesman of these. In truth, could your divine Anselm, your divine Pope Gregory, have had their way, the results had been very notable. Our Western World had all become a European Thibet, with one Grand Lama sitting at Rome; our one honourable business, that of singing mass all day and all night. Which would not in the least have suited us! The Supreme Powers willed it not so. It was as if King Redbeard, unconsciously addressing Anselm, Becket, and the others, had said: ‘Right Reverend, your Theory of the Universe is indisputable by man or devil. To the core of our heart we feel that this divine thing, which you call Mother Church, does fill the whole world, hitherto known, and is and shall be all our salvation and all our desire. And yet—and yet—Behold! though it be an unspoken secret, the world is wider than any of us think, Right Reverend! Behold, there are yet other unmeasurable Sacrednesses in this that you call Heathenism, Secularity! On the whole, I, in an obscure but most rooted manner, feel that I cannot comply with you. Western Thibet and perpetual mass-chanting—No. I am, so to speak, in the family-way; with child, of I know not what,—certainly of something far different
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from this! I have— per os Dei I have Manchester Cotton-trades, Bromwicham Iron-Trades, American Commonwealths, Indian Empires, Steam-Mechanisms, and Shakespeare Dramas in my belly, and cannot do it, Right Reverend!’ So accordingly it was decided, and Saxon Becket spilt his life in Canterbury Cathedral as Scottish Wallace did on Tower Hill; and as generally a noble man and martyr has to do,—not for nothing, no, but for a divine something, other than he had altogether calculated.”— Past and Present, p. 332.
There is rough humour in this; but surely also a deep insight into the hurly-burly of the Past, and a true pathos for suffering men. Let it be said no longer that Carlyle worships the laurel-wreath alone! He has read the “open secret” of human life, which is not all folded in laurel-wreaths; he knows that few are crowned, that to every earnest man life is a battle, and many fighting bravely in the foremost rank must fall. He too has learnt to worship in the holiest of all temples, the Temple of Sorrow.
Becket, Wallace, Johnson, Hero-Martyrs known to fame—their recorded names win at least some grateful remembrance from us, some grateful speech; their victories lie only in the outskirts of the Empire of Silence. There is a more silent Past than theirs. Are there not Unknown Heroes? “Do I think?” exclaims Carlyle, “of Cadmus or the Unknown Orientals, when I write with Letters? The world is built upon the mere dust of heroes; once earnest-wrestling, death-defying, prodigal of their blood, who now sleep well, forgotten by all their heirs.”— Cromwell, iv.327.
Nor heroes only; but heroic rank and file. Think of them. Of that great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations and kindred, and people and tongues, millions of

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fellow labourers, brothers of ours and dear to us, who have gone through great tribulation, who have worked in their little span of life, glimmered in their little nook of earth, helping to make it beautiful for us, then like quiverings of auroral light, have vanished for ever, and their place knoweth them no more. Their names are written in the Book of Life, but “the Morning Newspapers have never heard of them.” Knowledge, oh what then is Human Knowledge? A speck, a something in the sky. What is History? A single thread. What is Fame? An infant’s cry of pleasure or pain. There is a divine sorrow in the silence of the Past; as he who has written “Tears, idle tears” may tell us: would that there were room to quote that most perfect of poems! And to him who will consider it, what a set-off is here in this Mystery of Silence, which should humble us to the very dust, against that proud joyous doctrine of “Might is Right.” Yet between the two truths there subsists an inevitable, an everlasting brotherhood; nay they are the same, for Truth is One. Thousands of mankind come and go, live and die, unnoticed by their brethren; but their work remains, every stroke of it. The harvest of “the happy autumn field” is garnered in our store; and the days that are are heirs to the days that are no more. And one lesson at least we may learn from this, the lesson of Christianity, as Carlyle calls it; “Think of the humble, the unknown workers; work, not for Fame, but in the Great Task-Master’s Eye.”
Dwelling on the secluded life of the gifted Rahel Varnhagen von Ense, Carlyle has said, “She sat imprisoned, or it might be sheltered and fosteringly embowered, in those circumstances of hers; she was not appointed to write or to act, but only to live. Call her not unhappy on that account, call her not useless; nay perhaps call her happier and
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usefuller. Blessed are the humble, are they that are not known. It is written, ‘Seekest thou great things, seek them not:’ live where thou art, only live wisely, live diligently. Rahel’s life was not an idle one for herself or for others; how many souls may the ‘sparkles showering from that life-fountain’ have kindled and illuminated; whose new virtue goes on propagating itself, increasing itself, under incalculable combinations, and will be found in far places, after many days! She left no stamp of herself on paper; but in other ways, doubt it not, the virtue of her working in this world will survive all paper. For the working of the good and brave, seen or unseen, endures literally for ever, and cannot die. Is a thing nothing because the Morning Papers have not mentioned it? Or can a nothing be made something, by never so much babbling of it there? Far better, probably, that no Morning or Evening Paper mentioned it; that the right hand knew not what the left was doing! Rahel might have written books, celebrated books. And yet what of books? Hast thou not already a Bible to write, and publish in print that is eternal; namely a Life to lead? Silence too is great; there should be great silent ones too.—Beautiful it is to see and understand that no worth, known or unknown, can die even in this earth. The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden under-ground, secretly making the ground green; it flows and flows, it joins itself with other veins and veinlets; one day it will start forth as a visible perennial well.”— Misc. iv.193.
Again and again it must be said of the man of whom I write, that he has faith in the unseen, faith such as has been vouchsafed to few; that it is the primal source of his wisdom, of his insight, and of that moving power by which he touches our hearts, and fashions our thoughts after his own.

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The silence of the Past is intimately blended with that other silence of the Future. For was not every Yesterday once a To-morrow, and is not all History only Prophecy accomplished? In no historian has this feeling worked with such living poetic or creative power as in Carlyle. Inspired by it, he can make a formal ceremony a very wonder of interest, as in that glorious chapter in the first volume of the Revolution, called “The Procession,” and impart to events that in their day seemed trivial, their true and most momentous significance. Let one example be given from the “New Eras” in his Chartism. “What a shoot was that, that England, carelessly, in quest of other objects, struck out across the Ocean, into the waste land which it named New England! Hail to thee, poor little ship Mayflower, of Delft-Haven: poor common-looking ship, hired by common charter-party for coined dollars; caulked with mere oakum and tar; provisioned with vulgarest biscuit and bacon;—yet what ship Argo, or miraculous epic ship built by the Sea-gods, was not a foolish bum-barge in comparison! Golden fleeces or the like these sailed for, with or without effect; thou little Mayflower, hadst in thee a veritable Promethean spark; the life-spark of the largest Nation on our Earth,—so we may already name the Trans-Atlantic Saxon Nation. They went seeking leave to hear sermon in their own method, these May-flower Puritans; a most honest indispensable search; and yet like Saul the son of Kish, seeking a small thing, they found this unexpected great thing! Honour to the brave and true; they verily, we say, carry fire from Heaven, and have a power that themselves dream not of. Let all men honour Puritanism, since God has so honoured it.”—p. 80
Again the Past was once a Present; and is there not in every Present, and in every living heart, a kingdom of
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Silence, an infinite number of things altogether beyond the reach of Speech? This seems to be a disparagement of man’s peculiar gift; but it is far other-wise. It was Herder, I think, who wrote an Essay to prove that with the gift of the Divine Reason or Soul, Speech was a necessity; and that even if Speech had not been directly imparted, men must have discovered a method of articulate intercommunion. But in this high faculty which requires Speech for its servant, there is, and has always been, an inner heart, which is for ever unutterable. For its office is to behold that Divine Universal Presence, that dwells in earth and sea and sky, and has its chief temple in Man himself, and demands from him infinite love and wonder, infinite adoration and obedience. And how shall he in anywise fully express this to his brother men? Words cannot do it, nor even deeds, nor even the witness of a whole life, seen face to face, which of all utterances is the fullest and worthiest. The Infinite cannot be comprehended, cannot be expressed: it can only be shadowed forth in symbols of a higher or a lower kind. Accordingly that which is greatest, in any man, must be silent: uttered it cannot be, not even to himself: in that high hour of visitation from the living God, thought is not. Such glory by others, and by himself, can only be seen by the eye of Faith, and even thus as in a glass darkly. Carlyle loves to dwell upon this thought, when treating of his heroes: their Silence, he says, is always greater than their Speech.
How he uses his eye of Faith! like a keen sportsman, that tries every brake and bush in his path, and yet knows how the game lies. How he

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strives to seek after the hidden meaning in the lives and works and words of these heroes, and of all men! Seeks for the presence of the Divine Law, and the human spirit striving unconsciously to obey it,—or it may be to disobey it. His subjects are for the most part common ones; he discusses men well known to History, and topics the most debated in modern times: but he deals with them as no other man has done, at least no modern man, and finds in both a very deep significance, which startles the reader by its novelty, and fascinates him by its absolute truth. His results, in chapter after chapter, as I have said before, come upon us quite like revelations. Thus, in the horrors of Wars and Revolutions he marks the law of Divine Retribution; in vain Boswell he sees a spirit of Reverence for the inspired wisdom of an ugly Johnson; of the French Revolution, and all modern Radicalism, he perceives the secret meaning to be a blind passionate cry for wise government, and a just relation between men and men.
And if it is true of individuals and special movements, that the highest good in them is silent, so it is of mankind at large. Their external performance, looks, as compared with what it is conceivable it might have been, a sorry one; but the very soul of it is nevertheless divine,—is a prophecy of infinite good:
  • “Nay, said a voice, soft as the south wind’s breath,
  • ‘Dive through the stormy surface of the flood,
  • To the great current flowing underneath;
  • Explore the secret springs of silent good;
  • So shall the truth be better understood,
  • And thy grieved spirit brighten strong in faith.’ ” *
Transcribed Footnote (page 349):

Compare also the concluding sonnet to the River Duddon, called “After Thought.”

  • “I thought of Thee, my partner and my guide,
  • As being past away. Vain sympathies!
  • For backward, Duddon! as I cast my eyes,
  • I see what was, and is, and will abide;
  • Still glides the stream, and shall for ever glide;

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If Carlyle and other wise men can thus use their eye of faith, let us use ours as well as we can; and for one thing see in him, Carlyle himself, a spirit infinitely greater than all his spoken words.
And further, the very sacredness of such Divine things as men can think and speak of, is such that it is only a profane heart that can suffer the tongue to talk lightly of them, or too much. The thoughts live in the inmost deeps of the mind, and have to find some utterance, but not the utterance of a town-crier. In gracious looks, in the simplest and most earnest words, in the mysterious emphasis of symbols, above all in action, lies their right expression. Hence Carlyle calls those ages, those men great, which are silent, which speak by symbols,—above all those which act nobly. Great, therefore, to him are the middle ages; great are the emblematic Shakespeare and Goethe, so perfect in self-restraint and in wise utterance; great is even silent laborious Johnson. To this list, which can be enlarged at will, we must add Carlyle himself. His spirit is ever dwelling with the highest, but he very seldom uses the most hallowed names, and then with a perfect simplicity, either of still solemnity, as if with composed frame, and eyes lifted up to heaven, or of earnest passionate adjuration; far oftener however he but touches on the thoughts with quick allusions, or typifies them in symbols, gathered from every domain of sense, his humour here especially doing the noblest service,—uniting all earth to heaven.
But on this principle, how can he

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honour Cromwell and the Puritans? The fact is, that Cromwell and his fellows, so it seems to Carlyle, acted more constantly than any company of men in history, in the sense of a Divine Presence, and their speech corresponded. Corresponded, but tried too much; for the defect of these men lay in the over-value of the office of words, and in their neglect or denial of things earthly (which are also heavenly), Nature, Art, Pleasure, so that speech, even in that generation, became to many a Cant, and remains so to many still. Moreover, Carlyle always insists that the great virtue of Cromwell and his helpers, consisted in what they did, which a candid man, living in an Industrial Age, with at least a due amount of Political and Religious Liberty, will not think small. And they never boasted of what they were doing for the Middle Classes, not even to themselves. Silence, Unconsciousness, are characteristics of all great doers; a doctrine very favourite with Carlyle, which, as he applies to the Past, so also with much significance to the Present.
The sum of all is, that Carlyle judges Men by what they have really believed, and what they have really done. Spiritual Beliefs, or what we call Religions, have been many, and to all Carlyle will do justice. In every case he will seek the substance underlying the form, and will with a courage and candour unusual, assert and approve it; was it not Truth?—the measure of Truth which it was given men then and there to know? Practical Beliefs too, which alas, are not always of the spiritual kind, he will honour as they deserve,
Transcribed Footnote (page 350):
  • The Form remains, the Function never dies;
  • While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
  • We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
  • The elements, must vanish; be it so!
  • 10Enough, if something from our hands have power
  • To live, and act, and serve the future hour;
  • And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,
  • Through love, through hope, and faith’s transcendent dower,
  • We feel that we are greater than we know.”
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forgetting none. The highest is that which recognizes God in all things, especially in the relations between man and man: then follow others through many degrees; as Diderot’s Faith that Material Knowledge is good, and all Lies are bad; the vulgar Englishman’s faith in “Cash and Comfort to be won by work;” lowest of all, is the naked faith that Pleasure is pleasant; but this last is utterly selfish, and is in fact no belief, being a denial of the supreme law and fact of human existence; it is a spiritual death, insupportable by any for long, leading generally in men and nations to quick suicide. Always, too, Belief is the parent of Action; in whatsoever degree it is sincere, it is worthy, it is fruitful. Insincerity, Unbelief, is alone hopelessly barren.
Carlyle thus winds up his essay on Mahomet. “On the whole, we will repeat that this Religion of Mahomet’s is a kind of Christianity; has a genuine element of what is spiritually highest looking through it, not to be hidden by all its imperfections. The Scandinavian God Wish, the god of all rude men,—this has been enlarged into a Heaven by Mahomet; but a Heaven symbolical of sacred Duty, and to be earned by faith and well-doing, by valiant action, and a divine patience which is still more valiant. It is Scandinavian Paganism, and a truly celestial element superadded to that. Call it not false; look not at the falsehood of it, look at the truth of it. For these twelve centuries it has been the religion and life-guidance of the fifth part of the whole kindred of mankind. Above all things, it has been a religion heartily believed. These Arabs believe their religion, and try to live by it! No Christians, since the early ages, or only perhaps the English Puritans in modern times, have ever stood by their Faith as the Moslem do by theirs—believing it wholly, fronting Time with it, and Eternity

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with it. This night the watchman on the streets of Cairo, when he cries, ‘Who goes?’ will hear from the passenger, along with his answer, ‘There is no God but God.’ Allah akbar, Islam, sounds through the souls, and whole daily existence of these dusky millions. Zealous missionaries preach it abroad among Malays, black Papuans, brutal Idolators;—displacing what is worse, nothing that is better or good. To the Arab nation it was as a birth from darkness into light; Arabia first became alive by means of it. A poor shepherd people, roaming unnoticed in its deserts since the creation of the world; a Hero-Prophet was sent down to them with a word they could believe: see, the unnoticed becomes world-notable, the small has grown world-great; within one century afterwards, Arabia is at Grenada on this hand, at Delhi on that; glancing in valour and splendour, and the light of genius, Arabia shines through long ages over a great section of the world. Belief is great, life-giving. The history of a Nation becomes fruitful, soul-elevating, great, so soon as it believes.”— Hero Worship,p. 119.
Again, Carlyle judges men by what they have done. It is the old divine doctrine, “By their fruits ye shall know them,” applied to the infinitely complex and ever-varying phenomena of Human Life. By their deeds—not their long prayers in the synagogue and charities at the street corners, but what they have actually accomplished for men. Carlyle applies this with noble breadth and freedom; with him all good is one. Every truth added to human knowledge, every deliverance from a lie, every right impulse given to a brother man, every solid work from the making of a road or even the breaking of a single stone for it, to the ordering of a kingdom, every good act however defaced and mutilated, every righteous life under whatever form,
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shall be reckoned as fruits, and be religiously, gratefully gathered up. Sins and short-comings, blossom frustrated and fruits blighted by the East wind, every man has enough of these: let them be forgotten, or if remembered, as is sometimes needful, then not without thoughts of the East wind. Work and the spirit of Work, or Duty, is the most precious and memorable thing which the Old Years contain.
Those who desire wise judgments, clearly, emphatically stated, will, I am sure, find no lack of them in the historical volumes of Carlyle. Yet it must be remarked, that the historian has other work besides that of “judging.” Labelling men and things with any titles whatsoever, cataloguing of them according to any standard, is after all but little gained, if it be not perpetually remembered, that man sees but a little way into anything; can catch but a few syllables of the deep counsels of the Almighty. That it be known and taken to heart, that His counsels do reign here; that the Universe, wherein man dwells and works, was, and is for ever, every day of it, a Divine riddle past our finding out, a very wondrous mystery: this, as it is the first joyous impression of our opening years, is also the last solemn teaching of History. It is one of Carlyle’s most peculiar merits, that he does know this, and by a thousand ways which address themselves to the heart, can make his reader sensible of it. To show how he effects

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this and many another noble purpose, would lead me into an examination of the qualities of his artistic skill, (his “style” as it is called, and admitted on all hands to be very remarkable,) and of the magnificent faculties he brings to his task; for which there is no room here. Here, at least for the present, must end what I have to say concerning his “Lamp for the Old Years.” A glorious Lamp it is, and to be bought for a few pounds; but must I add?—of no use to him who has not an Eye. Would that there were more Eyes amongst us! Would that those who command our thoughts and conduct, and who are leading us on towards the Future could but see!
And yet one word more; Carlyle, it is said, does not love men. I can only call this a foolish, miserable error. How can we say it of one who has spent a life in the loving portraiture of men, especially in the honouring of the Greatest and the Best? How can we say it of one, who, as it remains to tell, has laboured much and earnestly to reclaim us, our English Nation, from evil miserable courses, and to guide us into the ways of righteousness, which alone are ways of blessedness? “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee!”—A sad, sad thought, on which I will not dwell, for now to me this Article is a thing of the Past.
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  • “Vex thou not the poet’s mind
  • With thy shallow wit;
  • Vex thou not the poet’s mind,
  • For thou canst not fathom it.”
Editorial Note (page ornament): Initial I is ornamental. This is a typo; the first letter should be a J.
Iudiciously has the reviewer of modern painters in the Quarterly put in the forefront of his battle the assertion, that the function of art is not to express thought, but to make pretty things; for herein lies the whole quarrel between Ruskin and the pedants in literature or art who have opposed him.
What a strangely different life a painter’s would be to what I have conceived it, if the art of painting were of such a nature as this writer thinks; for I have been used to think a painter different from other men, (common men I would rather say, for these painters, as I have thought of them, I have reverenced hitherto very much,) different from common men in two things: first, in a power of eye and hand; they see things differently from common men, remember them longer, though this last especially is not quite peculiar to them; but over their hand they have wonderful mastery, strange feeling in it rather, which they can more or less, according as they are good craftsmen, guide, but which also more or less guides them, I mean their thoughts; sometimes restraining them, sometimes leading and lighting them as rhymes and measures do a poet: in this then the painter differs from all other men, but what if he had only this power?
It is indeed impossible, quite impossible, that he, having this power, should have no other power,—no use for his gifts,—God never treated any man so since the world began,—no man ever yet who could speak melodiously wanted thoughts to speak; that was why his

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melody was given him, that he might think towards his fellows; and in like manner no man who had that hand-power, was without heart-power, nay, without some special power of heart and brain, for which power’s sake all that mystery of skill lying hid in the nerves was given him; he was not meant to be silent, whatever other men might be:
  • “* * Art was given for that—
  • God uses us to help each other so,
  • Lending our minds out.”
So then, besides their power of painting, these men must have the power of observation; they can see things as scarce any other men can, can see strange aspects of well-known things; can see deep into the natures of mysterious things; visions float before their eyes and pierce to their hearts, which go far enough from our dull, sealed eyes; and these visions they tell us of, these thoughts of God’s world, of men’s deeds upon it, as well as they can by means of their art; with many disappointments doubtless, often with ineffectual struggles, to tell us all they thought of; often too with bitter shortcomings, with failing from the old dream; with forgetfulness of the dear figure seen clearly but for such a short time; they do this for us with their “powder mixed with oil,” even as the poets do with words; what thanks, what worship shall we give them in exchange?
At all events, free licence to tell us what they think, whether that thought is “fit for pictorial purposes” or not, and earnest thanks for any thought of theirs, even if their language halts in the sight of all men; no names of dead
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men, howsoever venerable, shall cumber them; no rules, howsoever good they seemed once; only this law to guide them: “tell us what you verily see, but do not pretend to see what you do not.”
This was what I have thought about artists, this is what Ruskin has in his writings taught me to think, that their gift of painting was a great gift, but not their greatest, which greatest gift was the same as that which God has given him whom we call a poet.
Here is the part from which the Quarterly Reviewer quotes, given somewhat more at length:

“Painting, or art generally, as such, with all its technicalities, difficulties, and particular ends, is nothing but a noble and expressive language, invaluable as the vehicle of thought, but by itself nothing. He who has learned what is commonly considered the whole art of painting, that is, the art of representing any natural object faithfully, has as yet only learned the language by which his thoughts are to be expressed. He has done just as much towards being that which we ought to respect as a great painter, as a man who has learned how to express himself grammatically and melodiously has towards being a great poet. The language is, indeed, more difficult of acquirement in the one case than in the other, and possesses more power of delighting the sense, while it speaks to the intellect; but it is nevertheless nothing more than language, and all those excellences which are peculiar to the painter as such, are merely what rhythm, melody, precision, and force, are in the words of the orator and the poet, necessary to their greatness, but not the tests of their greatness. It is not by the mode of representing and saying, but by what is represented and said, that the respective greatness, either of the painter or the writer is to be finally determined.

“Speaking with strict propriety, therefore, we should call a man a great painter only as he excelled in precision and force in the language of lines; and a great versifier, as he excelled in precision and force in the language of words. A great poet would then be a term strictly, and in precisely the same sense, applicable to both, if warranted by the character of the images or thoughts which each in their respective languages conveyed.

“It is not, however, always easy, either

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in painting or literature, to determine where the influence of language stops and where that of thought begins. Many thoughts are so dependent upon the language in which they are clothed, that they lose half their beauty if otherwise expressed.”

“Contradicitur,” says the Quarterly Reviewer, “it is false this, from beginning to end.” Or rather the first part, for he does not tell his readers that he has read this last sentence or anything else in Ruskin’s works which helps to explain this paradox, as indeed it sometimes seems. I wish he were not so unfair, not so bitter, it is a miserable thing to read, an unkind spiteful review, though more miserable to write if one only knew it. But he goes on, in a somewhat muddled manner, trying to prove this his “Contradicitur:” as thus—

“The only way to arrive at the true end for which an art is valuable at all is by determining those qualities which no other art but itself can express, and which are therefore to be considered as proper to it.”

“Expressing qualities!” what kind of an operation is that? “thoughts” he meant, only it did not look well, considering what he was going to prove; so nonsense was the result.
“Now thought,” he says, “having a language proper to itself, cannot possibly be defined as the great specific excellence or purpose of the art of painting.”
Oh! was that the point at issue then, or not? whether “thought” had one language only “proper to itself,” or whether it had at the least two, poetry namely and painting; and, perhaps also, others, though this is beside the question? This mode of argument one sometimes calls “begging the question.” “A language proper to itself!” what do we do with the other languages then? Language of the eye—one can sing about that effectually enough:
  • “And now the tears were on his face,
  • And fondly in his arms he took
  • Fair Geraldine, who met the embrace,
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  • Prolonging it with joyous look.
  • Which when she view’d, a vision fell
  • Upon the soul of Christabel

  • Again she saw that bosom old,
  • Again she felt that bosom cold,
  • And drew in her breath with a hissing sound.”
The poet saw that well enough, could not the painter see it also? Well—

“The best pictures the world ever saw, or perhaps will see, repeat, as in the innumerable Madonnas and Holy Families the same thought over and over again.”

Is the Madonna a “thought” then? Holy Families are they “thoughts?” Mary, Joseph, who long ago planed real boards with real labour, John, who wore at that same time camel’s hair raiment, easily to be known as such by the feel and look of it; the Holy One, where these thoughts, or realities? for it is plain from the sentence immediately following this, that the writer of this article does not mean that the painters of that time painted Madonnas and Holy Families alike, expressing the same “qualities;” which we call thoughts about the Madonnas or the Holy Family. So, if you please, read in this place for “thought,” subject of “thought.” Well—

“Indeed, were we required to answer Mr. Ruskin’s proposition as positively and broadly as he has made it, we should be far nearer the truth by denying it altogether, and declaring that the language of painting is comparatively of no value as the vehicle of thought, which is a faculty conveyed much better by its own proper medium—the written forms of speech; but that the language of painting being capable of utterance, where every other art is silent, is in itself everything.

“That there is, however, a certain measure of thought compatible with, and separate from, the language of painting, we shall be the last to deny. But here we are stopped by the vagueness of the term itself; for though Mr. Ruskin urges further on, that ‘it must be the part of a judicious critic carefully to distinguish what is language and what is thought, and to rank and praise pictures chiefly for the latter.’ Yet such is the confusion and contradiction prominent

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in his own thoughts and language, that it becomes no easy task to ascertain what he really means by ‘thought,’ ‘ideas,’ ‘subject of intellect,’ &c. as applied to painting.”

Yet, in answering Mr. Ruskin, it would be better not to accept the analogy between the language of painting and other languages; because it is pretty deeply rooted in men’s hearts, that language is only a means, even though it be a noble and expressive one, for the conveyance of thoughts of some sort.
Yet after all do we seem merely to be having a contention of words concerning the meaning of the term “thought,” as used by Ruskin and others? It almost seems so from the latter part of what is quoted above, and more particularly from what the critic says concerning Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, where, indeed, with one notable exception, he says “right things, but calls them by wrong names,” though even that is not always by any means a venial error, as in the case of “Bishop Blougram” himself.
Yes, it seems so, but on the whole is not so; in spite of muddled argument, often suicidal, he really thinks that art is, on the whole, something to amuse people; it is good for something; even so, this great art, which may God keep from ever falling to that rank! Yet taken so, it seems to me that mere architecture or pretty pattern painting on room-walls, or other art not imitative, would have this advantage over elaborate imitative painting, that it would be infinitely easier, being in other respects nearly, if not quite, equal to it: but how much below true art, with full power of imitation, would these be? art, whose aim was to use all its powers, increasing and ever to increase them, in telling as man to man what we find not out for ourselves; sternly restraining them from mere waste in the display of “cleverness,” rejoicing much in them nevertheless; putting truth before all things, before any beauty, any power of moving men’s
Sig. VOL. I. B B
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minds, any rhetoric of art that is; which, indeed, can make people shout loud enough in some Election-square, can even make them feel brave and just, and loving; but as for making them brave and just, and loving men,—here, indeed, it fails, because it goes not deep: “not necessarily having truth for its subject matter.”
Yet, it is dismally certain that on the whole, this is what the reviewer degrades the art of painting to; something which amuses men, at best refreshes them when they are tired; think of a man spending his life in an art of this kind! Many do it now not called artists—upholsterers for instance; the life is endurable, I suppose, if it is not thought about much, and has running alongside of it some love or other. Yet imagine yourself living in the days of Giotto—what a start would come across you when you first entered that Arena Chapel, first saw the works of the man sent from God with visions of the things that had been: so Joseph walked, and Mary, and One greater than they. Christ, forgive me, if I never thoroughly believed this thing till now; and this other thing, I too have thought that, but had no language to speak it in, and so was perforce dumb. How many thoughts would those colours and lines have given you? Would you not have reverenced the seer and his language? Has he not been a leader of men, this Giotto, no mere juggler to make the people laugh? his life was better than an upholsterer’s.
How many things are there, intricate thoughts not even by any sweetest poetry to be quite clearly expressed, which can by painting be infinitely expressed? one such I saw the other day. This:
  • “Love is hurt with jar and fret.
  • Love is made a vague regret.
  • Eyes with idle tears are wet.
  • Idle habit links us yet.
  • What is love? For we forget:
  • Ah, no! no!”
How many depths of thought are

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there not there? how many years of life? how many lives from the time of the flood till now?
“Yet this is not the painter’s thought; it is Alfred Tennyson’s.”
Is it not thinking then, to be able to throw yourself into a man’s mind, a poet’s especially, who is different from common men, and think his very thoughts? if it is, see here!
She turned round about, bitter thoughts in her heart; she would not weep, but the old love was going, ah! so soon; he sat silent there, and watched his golden-haired ideal fleeting from him, both thinking of the time when they will be together always, never one any more, the very memory of that sweet, long-past dream, growing dimmer and dimmer as the dull days go by; they see each other sitting together man and wife, unloving now, thought well of by the world; they see each other, for they still think the same thoughts: shall this be? how desolate the lonely world will be! and she creeps a little nearer to him, half involuntarily—“ah, no! no!” And he catches her hand and holds it tight, and kisses it; and she turns away still, her right hand feeling how her heart beats; she tries to choke her tears down, but one has overflowed already, and presently she will turn and be in his arms weeping “idle tears:” very close together they will be, one again, in spite of “April Love.”
How many, reading these lines before, came upon these thoughts, very clearly expressed in the picture in sweetest language? many more, doubtless, saw nothing there but the swing of the rhythm, the clash of the rhyme; but to one who has seen this picture it is no more a set of words indistinctly put together for the rhyme’s sake, but something very living and beautiful, the very purple dress, green leaves, and golden hair, telling us clearly of the beauty they loved so, they two, and which bound them together so closely.
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Yes, dismally does this writer deny that truth is the aim of painting, utterly misconceiving that chapter on the false religious ideal in the third volume of Modern Painters. A mournful chapter enough, not to have been written by any; but the greatest, the faithfullest, one fearing no truth wheresoever it might seem to lead—was it easy, do you think, O critic! for a man who loved art to determine finally this?
“Has there, then,” (the reader asks emphatically,) “been no true religious ideal? Has religious art never been of any service to mankind? I fear, on the whole, not.”
This would be easy enough to say for one who thought all art to be only the art of tickling the senses by clever deception, the art of arranging pretty draperies, painting pretty or picturesque figures because they were pretty or picturesque; but for one who thinks the power of painting a gift from God for the expression of noble thought, not so easy: not a pleasant thing to have to come to this decision, that so many beautiful things were, “on the whole” wrong: think of our critic being so far advanced on this path of his as to impute to Ruskin base eagerness to overthrow the fame of dead men in writing this and such as this! It is very bad indeed, this kind of criticism; but almost mournfuller to me are his comments on that part of the chapter where Ruskin is talking about the cartoons of Raphael, that one especially of the charge to Peter. He cannot see that painting has anything to do with man’s history; Ruskin is wrong (he says) for blaming Raphael’s falsifying of the facts in that cartoon that he might “serve the Papal heresy of the Petric supremacy.” What then, was Raphael right? was it a heresy, this Petric supremacy? and if so, was it right to bend the facts, stern facts enough, for the sustentation of a mere lie? or is the truth to be accepted and talked about when

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it keeps at a distance from us in history, in far-off theology, but calmly to be pitched aside when it comes near to us, that we may enjoy a picture better?
The reviewer says again, that it is irreverent to represent Peter “all shiny, dripping, and shivering”—a mere dirty fisherman; that “such a man or painter would as certainly, could his life be turned eighteen centuries back, and be transformed into an Israelite of that time, be found among those who said in their reason and unbelief, ‘is not this the carpenter’s son?’ ”
Is it so distressing, then, to think that Peter did not wear a “superfine, double-milled Saxony blue coat,” linen shirt, laced and gold studded, that he was only such a man as God chose to make the ears of the world tingle, not with irresolute, badly-aimed broad-sword stroke, as before in that torch-lighted garden, but with words and deeds spoken and done with authority.
That a man should pretend to think this, that it was degrading to Peter and to Some One Else this poverty of theirs; truly he must be a poor painter who could not show in the faces of men some of their souls, enough, at all events, to make purple robe and golden crown needless, if nothing else: yet there were some long ago who put a purple robe on Him, alas! in mockery—neither could they see anything reverent in such a One who was poor.—Yes,
  • “This age, shows, to my thinking, still more infidels to Adam,
  • Than directly by profession simple infidels to God.”
As for this cartoon, is it not absolutely true what Ruskin says of it? Can any one not quite blinded by foolish, aimless bitterness, pretend to say that he thinks Ruskin’s picture, painted in such words, is not infinitely more touching, ay, more beautiful, than that composition of unearnest faces and
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unmeaning action painted, even suppose it were by Raphael? Peter’s face, now, think of that! Not so easy to paint, I grant; but think of any man who could paint well, had mastered the language of painting, daring to paint, instead of passionate, reverent love, a calm anybody’s face, thinking, (if haply it thought at all,) concerning the Roman Church, on earth.
Did none of you, thinking of those times, ever wonder what side you would have taken if you had lived then, and with half awe, half longing, wished it might have been so, to have seen Him face to face? alas! perhaps not to have known Him, perhaps even to have thought Herod’s purple and gold more venerable than that face looking unutterable things, than that voice speaking “not as the Scribes;” but to have seen those brave deeds done, to have heard Peter speaking that morning, not by any to be counted a “mere dirty fisherman,” while the world lasted, though not yet clad in king’s robes.
Then think if some one were verily to show you how it had all been, not as it “would, or might, or should” have been, but as it was: what strange feelings you would have as you approached that vision!
Shall I be disappointed at it? Shall I feebly deny it, though I know it to be true? Shall I feel as if I had been over-hasty in believing those things which they told me always were so easy, which, alas! are not easy to believe? Or shall I say this is TRUE, therefore right, whatever comes of it, and so saying, find one difficulty clearing off after another, one beauty after another growing and glowing bright every moment? Yes, I hope so: meanwhile may some one show us this vision, some part of it, at any rate, and see whether we will thank him: it may come, nay, it must come, if art is to be what she even now seems to be fast becoming. For is it not strange that now, this very year in the which

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the two bitterest attacks have been made on Ruskin of any yet, in the “Quarterly,” namely, and the “Edinburgh,” he himself, not without reason, sings Io Pæan for the triumph of the Pre-Raphaelites? Not a thing to be wondered at, this triumph, only scarcely to be expected so soon; doubtless not much hindered by the critics, for these men, you see, were of “stubborn instincts,” yet not by any means acknowledged either by the critics or by the public: the latter generally feeling themselves called upon “not to understand” many of the pictures, and if that fails, (as the stretch of most men’s conscience has a limit,) they (somewhat cautiously) pick infinitesimally small holes in the truth of the pictures, or even in the execution of them.
Nevertheless, who shall doubt that the Pre-Raphaelites are winning the victory, when he sees the pictures on those walls? Names, more than one or two, not seen there before, claim to belong to that school decidedly; the older ones work harder than ever, and one seems to be drawing very near towards realizing that wish of ours, to know for certain how Christ and his Apostles lived; and there are comparatively few men who calmly offer us “maps” when we ask for pictures. Ah me! what things those pictures are to make one dream. It is hard to come back again from seeing women’s faces, coronetted with golden hair, looking lovingly on us and all the world; from seeing those aspens, thin-leaved, against the golden autumn twilight sky and purple hills; from seeing the strong writhed serpent dying, crimson-bleeding hard by the sphinx there; from “April love,” from purple mountains, and green forest glades; hard to come back from seeing all these, and more, dreamlike, and from feeling the dreams they bring along with them, to hear merely our somewhat muddled and very bitter and unkind reviewer droning on still, for pages and pages of respectably printed
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paper; and not being quite harmless in his droning either; for people will have a king, a leader of some sort, after all; wherein they are surely right, only I wish they would not choose king Critic-mob.
“We are stopped by the vagueness.“ Very much so, my friend; and for ever to be stopped, I fear, if you go on in this way, persisting in shutting your eyes and hearts to a man’s thoughts, and reading with full intention to see nothing whatever but words—ugly things, black, on a white ground, forgetting apparently that we are not reading some mere ethical treatise, system of philosophy, or such like, but a book “all about” Modern Painters, wherein a man may speak his thoughts without caring so much for the words, so long as his meaning is clear. Clear? Clear enough, surely—may even speak his thoughts at any time, not caring much whether they seem to be consistent with that which he verily thought yesterday, which he will think again to-morrow, nay, which he thinks now, for, strange to say, most things have two aspects or more, not contradictory, certainly; and men with any faith can mostly see these, and know well that it is vain to try to “reconcile” them, for if they were not friends already, they could not both be true, which they are, and so leave them, wide apart and startling sometimes, but not opponent. This wise men do; foolish ones try hard to make these things meet, or to prove that they cannot exist in the world together, though they are there before their eyes; in which process, being troubled not much by their conscience, and apt to choke down any obstructive facts, they succeed, to the admiration of themselves and all men, by the help of a syllogism stick, which, however, being taken away, they fall hopelessly at once; hands and knees of no use now, the very nose of them scraping along the gravel, collecting no small grit there.

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A great part of this review is spent in defence of Claude and the Poussins, and the Dutch painters, of whom I only wish to say this: that I myself, and I believe very many others were in no small ecstacy at discovering that we need no more admire these men, for we always deemed their pictures ugly and uninteresting at least, and doubted if they were true: nay, we doubted not, for the very name “picture,” made us think of something dusky and unreal; and we did not love pictures, though we paid some reverence to them. Then this man, John Ruskin, rose, seeming to us like a Luther of the arts. Think of a man actually making a critical book on art interesting! Was ever such a thing heard? Thenceforward, let no one wanting to be listened to, or even to be respected, write twaddle upon art, for we will not have it: for now we know well that this art of painting is connected with man’s suffering, man’s thought; we can see Giotto now, Dante standing near him; Angelico, strange painter, kneeling and weeping as he paints; young Raphael, beautiful and glorious; great Michael Angelo; Andrea del Sarto, sinned against and sinning (O Robert Browning!); Tintoret, and the Venice walls flaming from base to cope; and what if there is a gap there with nothing in it but our old enemies, Claude and Co., who reduced us to such slavery, made us hate painting almost; yet Nelson and the Waterloo field kept us still a nation worth keeping, if only for the production of Turner, Millais, Hunt, many another noble name, I hope, as the years go on, kings over the people.
Not easily, therefore, O Critic, will you get us to think you superior to this man, John Ruskin; not easily will you get us to believe that every little slip in observation through four great volumes makes a man wrong at once and for ever; not easily that every fierce word, fiercely scornful against shams, is spoken in mere malice
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and petty spite, utterly unaccountable, even in the lowest man. Neither, if you try to do this, shall we feel inclined to spare you when you say such things as this, very falsely talking about falsehood here, writing about the “Notes” on the Pictures in the Academy:

“Even granting that Herbert had erred in the high light of a jewel, or Maclise (for with equal injustice Mr. Ruskin accuses the one of the breach of that principle of perspective the observance of which he abuses in the other) in the drawing of a border pattern, even granting this, what does it prove? A picture is not a culprit, to be cross-examined and detected by a trap here and a slip there. Mr. Ruskin’s ideas of truth and falsehood, as applied to art (all traceable to his false start as to the nature and purposes of art), are utterly futile and nonsensical. Falsehood only becomes such when there is the power in the deceiver to pervert the truth, or in the deceived to believe the lie. It is not, therefore, the man who makes the blunder in a picture, but he who makes a false statement about a picture, who is the real offender. Setting aside the malice which is so obviously the leading principle in this pamphlet, the mere fact that he was driven to such paltry modes of criticism, is the highest encomium that living artists could receive.”

Would not any one think from this, (and some more which I have not quoted as not being essential,) that Ruskin was only able to find fault with Maclise and Herbert for petty mistakes in drawing and such like? The “Edinburgh” does the same thing, by the way. What is the truth here? That Ruskin out of all the pictures exhibited that year, (1855,) chose these two as the representative pictures respectively, of the actively bad class, and negatively bad class; Herbert’s picture of ‘Lear and Cordelia,’ namely, having nothing in it, and Maclise’s of the wrestling scene in “As you like it” having something—lies, namely. Oh, truly, this is a fine accusation! You throughout, O critic, have been laboriously trying to convict Ruskin of erring in matters not so much greater

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than these, and now you say that he can find no fault with Maclise, but the wrong drawing of a border ornament.
To young painters, earnest and laborious, painting what they see, in God’s name, quiet passing over of their slips, or friendly gentle mention of them; but to Maclise!—listen:
  • “The silk star-broider’d coverlid
  • Unto her limbs itself doth mould
  • Languidly ever; and amid
  • Her full black ringlets downward roll’d,
  • Glows forth each softly shadow’d arm
  • With bracelets of the diamond bright;
  • Her constant beauty doth inform
  • Stillness with love, and day with light.
  • “She sleeps: her breathings are not heard
  • 10In palace chambers far apart;
  • The fragrant tresses are not stirr’d
  • That lie upon her charmed heart.
  • She sleeps: on either hand upswells
  • The gold-fringed pillow lightly prest:
  • She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells
  • A perfect form in perfect rest.
  • His spirit flutters like a lark,
  • He stoops to kiss her on his knee.
  • Love, if thy tresses be so dark,
  • 20How dark those hidden eyes must be.”
What kind of awakening was it, I pray you, for that “perfect form in perfect rest?” Anything like that in Maclise’s picture, all the noise and rattle of the “Palace Chambers far apart” brought into the room where the lovers were; and the prince, such a prince! Certainly no fairy one, “with joyful eyes, and lighter-footed than the fox,” but a somewhat rakish and very stupid young man in the costume of Charles the Second. Such a princess, of the stout sort, and above the heads of them, many devils, green-black in colour, chased (apparently) by many fairies (stout also) of the not uncomfortable sort: poor princess, to wake to such a reality as that picture! poor prince and princess both!
  • “And on her lover’s arm she leant,
  • And round her waist she felt it fold,
  • And far across the hills they went
  • In that new world which is the old.”
As it is, I am afraid they will never get there.
What mercy to Maclise who painted
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the “Hamlet” in the Vernon Gallery? Maclise, whose acre of ugliness stared out above another picture one year, less in inches than the other in feet, which one could almost think deserved a better fate than to be gaped at by silly women, saying, “I don’t understand it a bit;” or, “Oh it’s quite shocking!” to be sneered at by bad men, not so unlike that man there, with conscience not to be awakened. Poor Eva! hard to be married so, but hard also that your marriage, not un-pathetic, not unworthy of the thoughts of men, should be painted so.
What excuses for Maclise?—who paints our brave Ernest Orlando, with no possession but his young manhood of muscle and brain, as a very fool, fit to do nothing on this earth; who paints romance-loving, freedom-loving genial Rosalind, like the foolishest of modern fine ladies with much hair and little brains—fancy letting his faults slip when he is set up as “a master in Israel.” Think how he has clouded the great poet’s mind for us; we shall now no more read that most glorious of his comedies, without having those coarse facts thrust across our picture; no more now be able to have the music and pictures, both so exquisite, of “The Day Dream,” floating about us without some thought of Maclise’s Prince, “in the costume of the period.”
Our reviewer says: “One great proof, were there no other, of the falseness of Mr. Ruskin’s reasoning, is its quantity. Only on the wrong road could so much have been said at all.”
This sentence is one of those reckless, somewhat meaningless, and utterly untrue things, with which critics are in the habit of fishing for praise for originality. “Mr. Ruskin’s reasoning?” What reasoning? All those four volumes of Modern Painters? If not, what part of them? Well, certainly, if painting were what you think

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it, little would be quite enough to be said about it; but what if it has close connection with “Many Things?” See, moreover, how untrue this assertion is: the theory of the Christian religion and how to live by it, can nothing or but a little be said about that? The theory of right government, can nothing, or but a little be said about that, except it be false? Be sure always, or nearly so, when a thing seems very easy of belief, very clear and plain, with only one clean-hewn side to it, that somewhere there lurks, unseen, quite a terrible army of difficulties, disbeliefs and unexpected entanglements, which, by using a little clear insight at first, by accepting some guidance from other men, would have been beaten long ago.
I have not written much on this article; I could say much more, but it is altogether such a weary business, not without some shame even, to one who undertakes ever so much in outline, to tell people that a bitter unfair critic is wrong.
That fight at Inkermann was, indeed, a glorious one, yet the slaughter of the wounded soldiers by the Russians reflected some disgrace on the noble English victors ever. And so it is here; as one rises from reading this review, with brain somewhat muddled by the confused no-logic of it, one thinks, after all, this man utterly stupid and dull as his writing is, has in some sort done that which he wished to do; his base bitter words will come across Ruskin’s noble words, will sully them somewhat, whatever faith one has in the truth of the one and the falsehood of the other.
And yet after all, courage! What happens for the more part in a battle when across some mean slayer of the wounded, flashes one with inspiration from the God of battles, and nerves high strung for fight, and notched sword bright and trenchant?
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  • True love turn’d round on fixed poles,
  • Love that endures not sordid ends,
  • For English natures, freemen, friends,
  • Thy brothers and immortal souls.
Editorial Note (page ornament): Initial I is ornamental
I suppose one can hardly help regarding this book in its personal aspect,—not merely as a History of England, but as a History of England by the author of the “Nemesis of Faith.” For that book has been talked so much about, and so harshly judged, and its publication has had such a well-known effect on the fortunes of its author, that Mr. Froude must forgive those who are not personally acquainted with him, if they find it difficult, till his History has taken the position which it will undoubtedly take, to disconnect him from his former work. Not that he would be, I suppose, in any way anxious to forget, or to bid others forget, that he wrote the “Nemesis;” but we may be sure that he would prefer to be judged by his more matured and hopefuller production. I think the “Nemesis of Faith” was the saddest book that I ever read, the prolonged and bitter De Profundis of a great soul sick with the inanities of modern life and faith, and knowing not where to turn for consolation or guidance. That is but a scant and sickly gleam of hope, if hope at all, which seems to suggest to him the reconstruction of our ways of thought and maxims of society on a nobler and truer basis by the giving up utterly of what he calls the “Hebrew mythology,” and all that we derive from it. Surely the root of the matter is not there; and the more I read Mr. Froude’s History, the more

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I am convinced that he himself has found that it is not there. One of the most significant facts with regard to the present generation, a fact that stares us everywhere in the face, is, that we have lost altogether that deep and true faith in the Old Testament History, in the real heart and meaning of it, which did so much for our ancestors. We are as ready as men ever were to tear each other to pieces for expressing historical doubts; but this is more for the love of the contention, than of the truths for which we contend. Probably, for one man, who having been brought up in the belief that the Old Testament History gives a true account of God’s dealings with men, is led through that belief into scepticism and sin, there are a hundred or more whose moral laxity and weakness is distinctly traceable to the opposite notion; to the notion, that this History after all cannot be true, universally; but only, if true at all, as an exceptional case, as a story of things which we have nothing to do with, and can scarcely understand. Mr. Froude did not prove the weakness of our age far enough. It lies, not in the covering crust, the superstition that clings so blindly to old forms, but in the abscess beneath, the abyss of faithlessness which that scepticism covers. What we want is to repair our loss; to make it complete and consistent will do us but little good. Now, at last, Mr. Froude has shown us a more excellent way; and I cannot help regarding
Transcribed Footnote (page 362):

* History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elizabeth. By James Anthony Froude, M. A. Volumes I. II. London: John W. Parker and Son, West Strand.1856.

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the book I have before me as a palinode, a confession, that the sooner we can return to the faith of those majestic old times the better it will be for us. He seldom distinctly refers to modern ages; he does not emphasize the contrast he suggests: for he knows full well that every earnest reader will set to work on this book, as he does on almost all History now-a-days, for the sake of comparing ages, long past away, with the state of things he lives and works in himself.
For if there be one thing very conspicuous in the history of the English Reformation, and of the period immediately subsequent to it, and in the history of all the great actors during those times, it is their living and earnest belief in the God of the Bible, and in those transactions of His which the Bible sets forth. This colours all they say; this underlies all they do. Be this belief right, or wrong, by the help of it, they warred most successfully against all forms of evil, and did some of the greatest works the world ever saw. In that one portion of the work of those ages which Mr. Froude’s two volumes set forth, a phenomenon is presented to us, the like of which I suppose no age ever saw—a great revolution wherein all church machinery, all the accidents that had been connected for centuries in the minds of men with the truths of religion, were destroyed or remodelled, without the least peril to the truths themselves, which, instead of weakening and waning, only shone out the clearer, and were the more distinctly assented to by all men. A church reformation of so extensive a character just now would, one fears, have quite a different ending.
I hope I have said enough to induce the readers of this magazine to follow me for a short time through Mr. Froude’s volumes; partly that I may show them wherein his worth as an interpreter of history consists, but more especially that, forgetting him in his work, I may

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help them to understand something of what English life in the sixteenth century was; what the men of those days were doing, and in what spirit they did it; and how great some of those men whom we have ungratefully and arbitrarily chosen to vilify and misrepresent really were.
Mr. Froude’s first chapter is a most interesting and most startling analysis of the social condition of England in the sixteenth century; I cannot illustrate the tone and tendency of it better than by quoting the summary with which it concludes:

“In the brief review of the system under which England was governed, we have seen a state of things in which the principles of political economy were, consciously or unconsciously, contradicted; when an attempt, more or less successful, was made to bring the production and distribution of wealth under the moral rule of right and wrong; and where those laws of supply and demand, which we are now taught to regard as immutable ordinances of nature, were absorbed or superseded by a higher code. It is necessary for me to repeat, that I am not holding up the sixteenth century as a model which the nineteenth might safely follow. The population has become too large, and employment too complicated and fluctuating, to admit of such control; while, in default of control, the relapse upon self-interest as the one motive principle is certain to ensue, and when it ensues is absolute in its operations. But as, even with us, these so called ordinances of nature in time of war consent to be suspended, and duty to his country becomes with every good citizen a higher motive of action than the advantages which he may gain in an enemy’s market; so it is not uncheering to look back upon a time when the nation was in a normal condition of militancy against social injustice; when the government was enabled by happy circumstances to pursue into detail a serious and single aim at the well-being,—well-being in its widest sense—of all members of the commonwealth. There were difficulties and drawbacks at that time as well as this. Of liberty, in the modern sense of the word, of the supposed right of every man, ‘to do what he will with his own,’ or with himself, there was no idea. To the question, if ever it was asked, May I not do what I will with my own? there was the brief answer, No

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man may do what is wrong, either with what is his own or with what is another’s. Producers, too, who were not permitted to drive down their workmen’s wages by competition, could not sell their goods as cheaply as they might have done; and the consumer paid for the law in an advance of price: but the burden, though it fell heavily on the rich, lightly touched the poor; and the rich consented cheerfully to a tax which ensured the loyalty of the people. The working man of modern times has bought the extension of his liberty at the price of his material comfort. The higher classes have gained in wealth what they have lost in power. It is not for the historian to balance advantages; his duty is with the facts.”— I.79.

Indeed, we cannot too constantly bear in mind, that we live in a changed time; nor only that, but in a time of change, change which may not be measured by years, in which years do the work of centuries. In the individual, boyhood is the time of rapid changes; years pass over the man, and leave him just as he was; his hair a little grayer perhaps, his memories a little dimmer, his heart a little less elastic; but in the boy, from month to month, almost from day to day, you can trace growth of body and intellect, changes of feeling, alternations of desire and passion. It is not so in nations, in any the world has seen; least of all in this England of ours. For five or six centuries previous to the Reformation there was very little change. Society remained much the same; not only the outward forms, but the class-types, and the relation of the classes to one another were much the same at the era of the Conquest and at the era of Henry VII. Since then we have been sweeping through a multiplicity of changes, increasing every century in their frequency and intensity, till now at length the youngest of us would scarcely recognize the England of his own boyhood. The results of this on our national character are, at least for the present, anything but good; the fever, and rapidity, and multiformity of modern life contrast painfully with the severe and simple

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entireness of the mediæval character:
  • “ For what wears out the life of mortal men?
  • ’Tis that from change to change their being rolls;
  • ’Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
  • Exhaust the energy of strongest souls,
  • And numb the elastic powers.

  • Thou waitest for the spark from Heaven, and we
  • Light half-believers of our casual creeds,
  • Who never deeply felt nor clearly will’d;
  • Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,
  • 10 Whose vague resolves never have been fulfill’d;
  • For whom each year we see
  • Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
  • Who hesitate and falter life away,
  • And lose to-morrow the ground won today—
  • Ah do not we, Wanderer, await it too?”
Matthew Arnolde. The Scholar Gipsy.
We can never reproduce the Past; yet may we hope to make its good our own, if we believe that, through all change of circumstance, universal principles of right and truth lie at the base of every success, and form the real greatness of every noble deed and character.
The topics which Mr. Froude dwells upon, and which we may more briefly refer to, as illustrating the care of government for the people, and the mutual consideration of various classes of society for each other, are: the feudal tenure of land; the sumptuary laws; the scale of income; the rates of wages and prices; the trade laws; the poor laws; and the education both of rich and poor for civil and military duties. Mr. Froude’s hobby is the statute-book, as we knew from his Oxford Essay, and very well he rides it;—illustrating from its pages every principle he lays down. And it is worth while observing, how different the tone of an act of parliament in those days was from those which are enacted now. They are absolutely readable; they have graces of style about them, and considerable vigour; the vigour of honest sturdy hearts, to which routine and red tape are abominations. Read
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this statute for the encouragement of the linen trade.

“The King’s Highness, calling to his most blessed remembrance the great number of idle people daily increasing throughout this his Realm, supposeth that one great cause thereof is by the continued bringing into the same the great number of merchandize made, and brought out and from, the parts beyond the sea into this his Realm, ready wrought by manual occupation; amongst the which wares one kind of merchandize in great quantity, which is linen cloth of divers sorts made in divers countries beyond the sea, is daily conveyed into this Realm; consumed and spent within the same; by reason whereof not only the said strange countries where the said linen cloth is made, by the policy and industry of making and vending the same are greatly enriched; and a marvellous great number of their people, men, women, and children, are set on work and occupation, and kept from idleness, to the great furtherance and advancement of their commonwealth; but also contrariwise the inhabitants and subjects of this Realm, for lack of like policy and industry, are compelled to buy all or most part of the linen cloth consumed in the same, amounting to inestimable sums of money. And also the people of this Realm, as well men as women, which should and might be set on work, by exercise of like policy and craft of spinning, weaving, and making of cloth, lies now in idleness and otiosity, to the high displeasure of Almighty God, great diminution of the King’s people, and extreme ruin, decay, and impoverishment of this Realm. Therefore, for reformation of these things, the King’s Most Royal Majesty intending, like a most virtuous Prince, to provide remedy in the premises; nothing so much coveting as the increase of the Commonwealth of this his Realm, with also the virtuous exercise of his most loving subjects and people, and to avoid that most abominable sin of idleness out of the Realm, hath, by the advice and consent of his Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled, ordained and enacted that every person occupying land for tillage, shall, for every sixty acres which he hath under the plough, sow one quarter of an acre in flax or hemp.”

Generally, the Statute-book of this age, as of all earlier ages in English history, shows a disposition to deal thus summarily with what are now

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considered private affairs. The principle of a sumptuary law, for example, would in these days be scouted at once, as something quite out of the province of government. It undoubtedly is so, as we at present think of government; but every page of the early Statute-book shows that such interference is not fairly characterised as un-English. Indeed, among the word-trickeries by which we delude ourselves, that use of the word “English,” and of the yet more sacred word “ liberty,” as applied to the license of doing anything we please without reference to any law, human or divine, is one of the most painful. In our own day, a wise and good philanthropist has been vehemently attacked for proposing that a magistrate should have power to inflict summary imprisonment on any man who was not able to give an account of his means of livelihood; and more recently still, one of the most enlightened of our statesmen has been cried down in the most unconscientious way, because he had the boldness to bring forward a scheme of compulsory education. This is not the place to criticise either measure; I only point to the fact, that both these men, despite the abuse they met with for their un-English love of policy, were recommending measures clearly in the spirit of the Plantagenet and Tudor period, the longest and, during its latter part, the most prosperous period in our history. With regard to sumptuary laws—such as that of 10 Ed. III., cap. 3, that nobody should have more than two courses at dinner—the obvious objection to this class of laws is that their enforcement was impossible; and Mr. Froude wisely remarks that they seem to have been promulgated more for the sake of the moral authority which they had as a declaration of what wise and good men considered to be right, than as laws to which obedience could be compelled.
The great principle of the feudal system, that the land of England must
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provide for the defence of England, was, in Henry the Eighth’s time, in full vigour. There was a military organization, a descending scale of owners, each of whom possessed his separate rights with regard to those above and below him in the scale, which the law guarded and none might violate. Serfdom had merged into free servitude; and this was so regulated, that every man had his place; that, though the peasantry had their own choice of masters, there were severe restrictions which prevented either master or servant from disobeying the bond for any light or insufficient reason. Thus the balance was evenly held between a landed monopoly and a peasant proprietary—troublesome from the number of independent owners, and incompatible with the accumulation of capital. Of course all such arrangements pre-supposed a fidelity between man and man, a reverence for the obligation of oaths and acknowledgments, which we must admit we have lost.
But to make the comparison still closer; we are, perhaps, too much disposed to measure the happiness of a labouring man as we measure everything else now,—to regard it as varying directly as the wages, and inversely as the rent and the price of food, carrying that standard back with us to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, we meet with results that fairly startle us, though at the same time, they are no other than ought to have been inferred from the traditional sturdiness and fierceness of the English Commons upon the battle-field. The majority of labourers lived in the houses of their employers; if a man lived in a cottage of his own, he was probably worse off with regard to sustenance than his brother up at the hall. Now look at the prices of food. Wheat, always fluctuating of course, kept at a pretty steady average of six-and-eightpence the quarter—barley being about three shillings—beef and pork were fixed by statute at a halfpenny per pound—

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mutton at three farthings; though the act was unpopular, as tending to raise the price. Fresh meat, moreover, was sold in all markets the whole year round. Strong beer, such as we now buy for eighteen-pence a gallon, was then a penny a gallon; table-beer less than a half-penny, French and German wines were eightpence the gallon—Spanish and Portuguese wines a shilling. This was the highest price at which the best wines might be sold; and if there was any fault in quality or quantity, the dealers forfeited four times the amount. Rent again, cannot be accurately fixed; and we can only judge from information about the rent of more considerable farms, such as we get from Latimer, who tells us in one of his sermons that his father “had no lands of his own; only he had a farm of three or four pounds by the year , at the uttermost, whereupon he tilled so much as kept half-a-dozen men. He had walk for a hundred sheep, and my mother milked thirty kine. He was able, and did find the king a harness with himself and his horse. I remember that I buckled on his harness when he went to Blackheath field. He kept me at school, or else I had not been able to have preached before the king’s majesty now. He married my sisters, with five pounds or twenty nobles each, having brought them up in godliness and the fear of God. He kept hospitality for his poor neighbours, and some alms he gave to the poor; and all this he did of the said farm.” Mr. Froude considers himself below the truth in assuming the penny in terms of bread, beef, beer, wine, and lodging, to have been equal in the reign of Henry VIII. to the present shilling. Then, if we turn to the table of wages, we find an enactment, (6 Henry VIII. cap. 3.) which fixes the wages of artisans (carpenters, masons, and the like) at sixpence a-day for half the year, five-pence for the other half, or an average
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of five-pence half-penny the year round; the common labourer, working by the piece in the harvest months, brought up his average to fourpence a-day for the whole year. Moreover, he was engaged by contract for a year, and could not be dismissed before, unless grave misconduct could be proved against him before two magistrates. So with a weekly holiday, he earned, steadily and regularly, the equivalent of twenty shillings a week; besides that, the parish almost always provided common land for fuel and pasture.
The main difference between this state of things and ours, lies in the fact that the rights of various classes were portioned out by the rule, not of economy, but of equity; it was not the accumulation of capital, but the highest degree of physical well-being of all classes compatible with the producing power of the country, that they desired to see. In those days, private proceedings interfering with the common weal, could not for a moment be tolerated; when, for instance, in the Isle of Wight, a system of uniting farms had begun to prevail, to the great depopulation of the island, and manifest weakening of its capabilities for defence, it was at once enacted that no one should take any several farms more than one, “whereof the yearly value shall not exceed the sum of ten marks;” and that, in case of leases of several farms to a greater value having been already made, the lessee should choose one farmhold, and the rest of his lease should be void. This measure soon justified itself; the population of the island almost alone defended it in 1546, against an army of 60,000 Frenchmen. A measure of somewhat similar form was carried in the twenty-fifth of Henry VIII. to check the money-making spirit which had begun to prevail in the country, enacting that no person should have or keep on lands not their own inheritance more than 2000 sheep.

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Such other facts of this character as can be collected, Mr. Froude collects. He shows how the wealthier peers had incomes varying from two to six thousand a year, out of which they had to defray the cost of an enormous retinue, and, in war, of a great share of the expenses; thinking, as they always did, first of England, and only next of themselves; how the court expenses in this magnificent reign fell under twenty thousand pounds, including the cost of supporting the royal castles and forests, the yeomen and followers, in estimating which we must remember that though necessaries were so cheap, luxuries were very dear indeed; how the qualification of a justice was £20 a year, and how strict was the surveillance which he had to exercise, and which was exercised in turn over him; how the “wages” of a parish priest were kept by statute under £6, so that there could be no very marked difference in habits between priest and squire, and the commons among whom they lived; how the glory of hospitality was kept up, and all tables open at dinner time to all comers; how the people lived in frank style, “hating three things with all their hearts—idleness, want, and cowardice, and for the rest, carrying their hearts high, and having their hands full.”
Then he goes on to speak of trade, of the guilds and companies, of which only the shadows now remain, but which were part of a vast organization penetrating the entire trading life of England, an “organization set on foot to realize that most necessary, if not difficult condition of commercial excellence, under which man should deal faithfully with his brother; and all wares offered for sale, of whatever kind, should honestly be what they pretend to be.” There were companies in every town, whose duty was to see that no one professed a trade to which he had not been educated, to determine the price at which
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every article ought to be sold, to take care that every one bought what he supposed himself to be buying. Into the details of this system, and the statutes which illustrate it, I can hardly follow him; I will bring this uninteresting abstract, or rather enumeration of particulars, to a close by very briefly referring to two other points.
Every man was trained as a soldier; when the bow became the peculiar weapon of the English, regular practice was ordered:—“Every hamlet had its pair of butts, and on Sundays and holidays all able-bodied men were required to appear in the field, to employ their leisure hours as valyant Englishmen ought to do;” a statute re-enacted by Henry VIII., himself the best rider, the best lancer, the best archer in England, with the proviso that “every man being the King’s subject, not lame, decrepit, or maimed, being within the age of sixty years, except spiritual men, justices of the one bench and of the other, justices of the assize, and barons of the exchequer, do use and exercise shooting in long bows, and also do have a bow and arrows ready continually in his house, to use himself in shooting.” This, then, was the principal amusement of the English, but they were moreover an especially dramatic people; plays and pageants, and allegorical devices of fantastic splendour, fill up a large portion of the pages of the contemporary historians.
Where hospitality is so general, vagrancy must be guarded against; and accordingly we find many very severe acts against “valiant and sturdy beggars;” two, especially, in Henry VIII.’s reign. Indeed, from the time of Richard II. there had been a series of poor-laws, indicating plainly enough that pauperism was no result of the dissolution of the monasteries, as one hears every day from weak and vain opponents of the measure. The Act of 1531 provided that justices of peace

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should make strict search in their several parishes and districts for all aged and impotent persons, living necessarily on alms, and appoint to each certain limits within which they shall beg (under penalty of being whipped), furnishing them with letters authorizing them to beg; that if any person or persons, “being whole and mighty in body,” be found begging, or be not able to give account of himself, he should be arrested and brought to the next market town, and there tied to the cart’s-tail, and whipped “till his body be bloody by reason of such whipping,” and then be enjoined on oath to return to his parish and put himself to labour “like a true man ought to do;” that scholars of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge that go about begging without due license from the chancellor or other authority, shipmen pretending loss of their ships, proctors, pardoners, and all other idle persons, using various games and plays, or feigning knowledge in “physick, physnamye, and palmistry,” should be punished in the same way; and on the second offence be scourged two days, put in the pillory for two hours, and lose one ear, the other being mercifully reserved for the event of a third transgression. The Act of 1536 was yet more severe; the increasing evil required a stringent remedy; and now the sturdy vagabond found a third time offending, and thus proving himself to be of no use on the earth, but only living thereon to the harm of the commonwealth, was punished with death. This law was formally and deliberately repassed under Elizabeth, and it was thus shown to be the express conviction of the English nation that it was “better for a man not to live at all, than to live a profitless and worthless life.”
The English were a stern people; their intense hatred of evil brooked no sentimentalities. Between the passing of these two Acts, a dreadful crime—the crime of poisoning, unknown in
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England before, was punished (for the first and last time) by a most dreadful death; the convicted criminal was boiled alive. Such things happened in London three hundred and thirty years ago. Even the martyr-fires of Smithfield were far less an evidence of recklessness or cruelty, than of a stern determination to oppose to the very uttermost all that was repugnant to God’s law. Right opinion, to the people of that day, seemed most intimately and closely connected with right action; the heretic was an enemy to the commonweal; an enemy to man and God.
I have been thus disproportionately lengthy in my analysis of the first chapter of Froude, because it is the most important in his book. To correct errors in the popular belief about individual characters and particular actions, such as the execution of Anne Boleyn, is indeed well; but it is surely a greater work to chastise and refute a false belief about a whole period, a gratuitous and ungenerous assumption that we are better and better off than they, without whose labour and unselfishness we should not have been even what we are, should scarcely have been a nation at all.
Such wholesome arrangements as we have been considering go right to the mark; they were helped by the national spirit. The course which public opinion and parliamentary tradition necessitates in any parallel case, now seems bungling and inoperative beside them. Take an instance from the adulteration of saleable articles, especially articles of food: as long as the organization of trade-guilds, which Mr. Froude describes worked well, and for a long time it did work well, there was very little fear of such adulteration; the main safeguard, being the public spirit and sense of duty among the tradesmen themselves. This cannot be too much insisted on as a feature of the time; all knowledge we can anywhere obtain about the inner life

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of that age confirms the obvious inference from the statute book. We, on the other hand, have bartered the moral power of preventing such abuses for the scientific power of detecting them. Instead of public virtue, in the least as in the greatest, we have Dr. Harsall and his microscope, and a Parliamentary Committee sitting from day to day, Mr. Scholefield in the chair. One fears they will have to sit a long time before Devilsdust, the miller, and Cocculus, the brewer, and Chalk, Alum, and Co. the bakers, are, as they ought to be, utterly and thoroughly expunged from among the types of English society. Legislation can only utter a feeble protest against the tone of public morals on all such points; it can take but half or quarter measures where it can interfere at all. We must look far deeper for the possible source of a change in the spirit of the commercial classes. Such a change, one may hope, God is even now preparing for us. At all events, many things which have happened lately, instances of self-devotion and public feeling which we were hardly prepared to see, as well as the roused indignation of the people against the perpetrators of some more than usually startling frauds, combine to assure us that there is manly and English feeling left among us, of such sort and in such degree, as to give us the best and highest hope for the future.
Turning now to the narrative part of this history, I shall run very rapidly through the great drama that is nearly played out within these two volumes, itself most rapid, action succeeding action, with a swiftness that takes away the breath. And yet the English Parliament knew full well what they were about; they saw that revolution was inevitable; they went on with bold hearts and steady faces, little recking of the future, but only of the present, and their duty that lay therein: and like every great work which the people of England have ever achieved, this
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work was done soberly and peacefully, without loss of temper or
  • “The random heat,
  • And blind hysterics of the Celt.”
The devout world of England at the time of the death of Wolsey was still for the most part Romanist. There was great excitement among the people; they had begun to see very clearly that the priesthood were not labouring for their benefit, but for their own, and to suspect that the broad distinction which the Church had laboured to draw between the religious and secular world (like the analogous distinction among modern Protestants), was by no means coincident with, but rather traversed almost at right angles, the broader distinction which God’s word and men’s consciences drew, between those who did right and those who did wrong. They saw priests committing with impunity, or under peril of a small pecuniary mulct, sins, for which if amenable to a secular tribunal, they would have suffered most severely; while a layman, if brought under the power of the ecclesiastical courts by even the slightest suspicion of heresy, was kept in prison at the pleasure of the ordinary, and suffered all sorts of inconvenience, without the slightest hope of compensation. Naturally, the priests were most unpopular, and if a clergyman was knocked down into the kennel, as often happened, the presumption is not that the offender was a Wickliffite or a “Lutheran,” but rather that he was not. These were waiting in silence the course of events, enrolling themselves in the Association of Christian Brothers in London, meeting stealthily in little companies at one another’s rooms at Oxford, or gathering round Tyndal at Antwerp; poor, few, and unknown; armed only with the truth. Listen to what Froude says of the principle which carried them to victory; his words are worth pondering.

“They had returned to the essential fountain of life; they re-asserted the principle which has lain at the root of

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all religions, whatever their name or outward form, which once burnt with divine lustre in that Catholicism which was now to pass away; the fundamental axiom of all real life, that the service which man owes to God is not the service of words or magic forms, or ceremonies or opinions; but the service of holiness, of purity, of obedience to the everlasting laws of duty.

“When I look through the writings of Latimer, the apostle of the English Reformation, when I read the depositions against the martyrs, and the lists of their crimes against the established faith, I find no opposite schemes of doctrine, no plans of ‘salvation,’ no positive system of theology which it was held a duty to believe; these things were of later growth, when it became again necessary to clothe the living spirit in a perishable body. I find only an effort to express again the old exhortation of the wise man—‘Will you hear the beginning and the end of the whole matter? Fear God and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of man.’

“This, as I understand it, was the position of the early Protestants. They found the service of God buried in a system where obedience was dissipated into superstition; where sin was expiated by the vicarious virtues of other men: where, instead of leading a holy life, men were taught that their souls might be saved through masses said for them, at a money rate, by priests whose licentiousness disgraced the nation which endured it; a system in which, amidst all the trickery of the pardons, pilgrimages, indulgences—double-faced as these inventions are—wearing one meaning in the apologies of theologians, and quite another to the multitude who live and suffer under their influence—one plain fact at least is visible. The people substantially learnt that all evils which could touch either their spirits or their bodies, might be escaped by means which resolved themselves, scarcely disguised, into the payment of moneys.

“The superstition had lingered long: the time had come when it was to pass away. Those in whom some craving lingered for a Christian life turned to the heart of the matter, to the book which told them who Christ was, and what he was. And finding there that holy example for which they longed, they flung aside, in one noble burst of enthusiastic passion, the disguise which had concealed it from them. They believed in Christ, not in the bowing rood,

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or the pretended wood of the cross on which he suffered; and when that saintly figure had once been seen—the object of all love, the pattern of all imitation—thenceforward neither form nor ceremony should stand between them and their God.”

Wolsey was not a persecutor; he had nothing harsh about his nature; he never punished where he could silence; and his conduct in this respect stands in strange contrast to that of his successor Sir Thomas More. This is one of the cases in which, if we could look back at the men of old, we should be very prone to reverse our judgments as hastily as we formed them. We should see with surprise the spotless saint, sending innocent men to the stake for having in their possession an English Testament, or keeping them imprisoned in his own house in defiance of the law, and we should see the unscrupulous Cardinal refusing to hear accusations, or if he must needs takes cognizance of them, taking the utmost pains, and braving the opposition of his brother Churchmen, to save the lives of the transgressors.
There is a curious narrative by one Dalaber, an Oxford undergraduate, which I wish I could give in full, so well it illustrates the difficulties with which seekers after truth had to contend in those days, and so close it brings us to the life of three centuries ago. Wolsey founded, as we all know, a college at Oxford, called St. Frideswide, or Cardinal College (now Christ Church); he introduced some promising students from Cambridge, courting talent, as he always did, instead of crushing it. Frith, the martyr, was among them, and John Clark, who used to read St. Paul’s epistles to a select circle of young men; these formed themselves into a secret society, and a certain Thomas Garret, a fellow of Magdalen, and “Christian Brother” of London, coming up to Oxford with a whole library of Testaments and tracts, took the lead among them. The

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alarm is taken; the proctors are out after Garret: Dalaber of Alban Hall, whose brother in Dorsetshire wants a curate, sends Garret thither, that he may “convey himself some whither” over the sea. Dalaber then for his own safety, migrates to Gloucester (where now stands Worcester College), on the Thursday, and, having by Saturday afternoon arranged his furniture and books in his new chamber, (all but the heretical books, which he kept in a secret place at his old rooms,) determines “to spend that whole afternoon, until evensong at St. Frideswide College, at my book in mine own study; and so shut my chamber door unto me, and my study door also, and took into my head to read Francis Lambert upon the gospel of St. Luke, which book only I had then within there. And so, as I was diligently reading in the said book of Lambert upon Luke, suddenly one knocked at my chamber-door very hard, which made me astonished, and yet I sat still, and would not speak; then he knocked again more hard, and yet I held my peace; and straightway he knocked again yet more fiercely; and then I thought this: peradventure it is somebody that hath need of me; and therefore I thought myself bound to do as I would be done unto; and so, laying my book aside, I came to the door and opened it, and there was Master Garret, as a man amazed, whom I thought to have been with my brother, and one with him.” Garret, it seems, had lost heart, returned, been taken by the proctors, been locked up in the rector’s house at Lincoln, escaped while the rector was at chapel, and found his way to Dalaber: but the servant who had directed him to his friend’s rooms slipped off suspiciously, and they felt by no means secure. After they had prayed together, with much weeping, and consulted what was to be done, Dalaber packs him off again, in disguise,
Sig. VOL. I. C C
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into Wales; returns to his study, and “with many a deep sigh and salt tear did with much deliberation read over the tenth chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel.” Then he went to Frideswide to find Master Clark; they were almost at Magnificat before he came thither. He stood at the choir door; he ought to have been among the singers, but now his singing and music was turned into sighing and musing. As he stood there, he saw the Commissary (the Rector of Lincoln) come hurrying in, “bareheaded, as pale as ashes (I knew his grief well enough), and to the dean he goeth in his stall, and talked with him very sorrowfully. Then they two came away; and about the middle of the church met them, Dr. London, puffing, blustering, and blowing, like a hungry and greedy lion seeking his prey. They talked together awhile; but the commissary was much blamed by them, in so much that he wept for sorrow.” Dalaber consults “the brethren” at Corpus Christi, stops the night at his old lodging at Alban Hall, and rising at five hastens through the storm to his rooms at Gloucester College. He arrives there all over mud; the gates are not opened till seven, and he paces about, full of care, under the walls for two hours. He finds that the proctors have visited his chamber, thrown his books and clothes into disorder, probed the very bedstraw with bills and swords. He is sent for by the “prior of the students,” replies to his questionings with an ingenious lie, to the effect that Garret had gone to Woodstock for a piece of venison promised him by one of the keepers; is summoned before the Commissary, the Dean and Dr. London (Warden of New); after a long and unsatisfactory cross-questioning, is set in the stocks, and meditates there of many and godly things which he had heard from Master John Clark; about noontide the commissary visits him, and finding him

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obstinate, offers him some dinner. Here the narrative abruptly closes and the world will never know whether or no Dalaber obtained the promised dinner. We only know that he confessed nothing, except his own heresy, and was sent to Bocardo; that “the Commissary being in extreme pensiveness, knew no other remedy but this extraordinary, and caused a figure to be made by one expert in astronomy—and his judgment doth continually persist upon this, that he fled in a tawny coat, south-east-ward, and is in the middle of London, and will shortly to the seaside,” and that, by less doubtful means, he was, after all, discovered at Bristol, conducted to Wolsey, and persuaded to abjure. It is rather a relief to know that he died afterwards for the truth which for once he surrendered. Clark too was imprisoned, and died in confinement, and of the rest, some abjured, and all were dispersed. So died out heresy in Oxford.
The most powerful auxiliary of Protestant doctrine was Papal corruption. The enormous abuses of the Ecclesiastical courts, the mortuaries and the Peter’s pence, the profligacy and the non-residence of the clergy, weighed far more heavily on the people than any question of mass or purgatory. The clerical system was felt to be utterly out of place in this industrious England—a blot upon the land. The priests and monks had, like all other classes, a great work which God had given them to do—to develop religion and intellect in all men, to help the poor and infirm, to try all state policy, all private transactions, by the highest motives—a grander work than anything in these days will help us to conceive. They had become unfaithful and unconscientious, the only idle class in the realm. There was but one bishop in all England, Latimer said, hard at work in his diocese, namely, the Devil. He so busy, and they so idle, what would have become
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of public morals, but that God had taught the English people a better lesson than their clergy could teach them?—and in the strength of that lesson they saw that, come what might, the Church must be reformed. Wolsey saw it too: he set to work earnestly, but it was not to be done his way; he would have reformed the Church without relaxing the connection with Rome, or leaving room for doctrinal innovation. He would have purged the monasteries, not suppressed them; and when the English succession was settled, and the alliance with France was established, he would have joined the victorious arms of the two countries in a holy crusade against German heresy and Moslem infidelity, and Europe should once more have been one fold, under one shepherd. But it was not to be: though it was only what we call a combination of circumstances which put an end to his scheming.
King Henry had set his heart on the divorce. We know nothing of the private influences, the stirrings behind the scenes, which perhaps had originated, or, at all events, confirmed his resolve. Henry’s genial and impetuous temperament, and Catharine’s stern severity, were not likely to coincide well. We only know that it cannot have been unbridled passion in the first instance for another woman which led him to seek for the divorce. He had never seen Anne Boleyn; he was not a man—and this must distinctly be borne in mind—of licentious habits, he had passed the flower of his youth without blemish; and yet his determination was fixed so that no power on earth could shake it. It were far nearer the truth to say that he desired a separation for public reasons. At all events, for public reasons it was most desirable; and so the people felt. There was no hope of settling the succession while Catharine was queen; Henry had looked in vain for a son; Mary was weak and delicate, and whether she survived so long or no,

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her father’s death would be the signal for civil war. The question of succession was most doubtful; the country was only now taking breath after a long and very calamitous war which a similar doubt had originated. James of Scotland, the next heir, was hated by the people, yet he would have rejoiced to force himself upon them, and France would have backed his claims. A White Rose agitation was fermenting in secret, and Poles and Nevilles and Courtenays were rallying round the heiress of the king-maker. We must not, led away by pity for a loving and suffering woman, refuse to give considerations like these their due weight. Moreover, we have no right to assume that the moral scruples which Henry repeatedly put forth did not exist. He was no hypocrite, more than we all are. Every one’s conscience is more sensitive when its dictates coincide with inclination, and have expediency to back them; and the legitimacy of his connexion with Catharine was certainly open to the gravest doubt. The main obstacles to an agreement were Catharine’s resolute and stern purpose, which would admit of no compromise, and the chivalrous ardour of her nephew, Charles the Fifth, in her favour.
European affairs were, at this crisis, curiously complicated. An army of Charles’s Lutheran subjects, under Bourbon, had sacked Rome, and imprisoned and insulted the Pope. Henry, on the other hand, seemed the Pope’s mainstay. Even Wolsey was misled into believing that the Emperor was the enemy of the Papacy, and though England and Spain were bound together by long and close alliance, by the personal popularity of Charles, and by the intimate commercial connexion between the English and the Flemish merchants, he determined on a rupture; preferring, in opposition to the instincts and genius of the nation, a French alliance. It was a desperate throw, and he staked everything upon
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it. A league was formed with Francis to drive the imperialist troops from Italy, and, if possible, depose the Emperor. Meanwhile, a long and dreary course of negociations had been opened at Rome on the divorce—negociations which had but one result, to disgust the English king and people with a tribunal which could only support its claim to infallibility by chicanery and vacillation. This was just one of those cases for which the Pope’s dispensing power had been conferred on him: if he could not meet the case openly, prudently, and courageously, men would naturally suspect the authority by which he held the power. They were beginning to feel that the ecclesiastical jurisdiction was on its trial, that it must stand or fall by Clement’s conduct on this occasion. He was a poor weak old man, with no convictions of any sort, but always swayed by what he had last heard. He inclines at first to support Henry; but will the alliance shield him from the Emperor’s wrath? He sobs, and sighs, and shuffles, and twists and untwists his handkerchief, and waits, as weak men wait, for “something to happen.” Wolsey assures him that there is nothing but “universal and inevitable ruin” before him if he does not comply. Gardiner taunts him with a dilemma:—if he will not decide, where is his justice? If he cannot, God must have taken from him the key of knowledge. “True,” said Clement, “the canon law says that the Pope has all laws locked up in the writing-case of his breast ( in scrinio pectoris), but God forgot to give him the key to open that lock.” Meanwhile the French are defeated and driven out of Italy by the imperialists, and things become more gloomy for Wolsey day by day. The loudest discontent is expressed against a course of policy which tends to starve out the Flemish trade, so essential to the commercial prosperity of England; and as Campeggio, who has now arrived,

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shows quite clearly that his object and his master’s is simply procrastination, Wolsey feels that his credit is gone. That was a strange utterance of his, for an infirm old man of sixty, that “if he could only see the divorce arranged, the king re-married, the succession settled, and the laws and the church reformed, he would retire from the world, and would serve God the remainder of his days.” But what with imperial intrigues, and Flemish traders, and Papal dissimulation, and a whole country roused against him, he could not stand even to see the beginning of these things, and so fell: a man of comprehensive views, of courageous heart, of princely habits, true to himself, true to his country, true to his order; whom would that men would judge, not as they have judged him hitherto, but as they would be judged themselves.
This, then, is the position of affairs at the beginning of the autumn of 1529. Campeggio has urged Catharine to a compromise, and she has refused: the Pope has, by means of various legal subtleties (including a forged brief), escaped from his promise not to recall the Commission, thus virtually transferring the cause to Rome; Wolsey has, in the King’s name, defied him to transfer it, but, finding his fall inevitable, has resigned the seals to Sir Thomas More; writs have been issued for a Parliament; Henry has established Anne Boleyn at the palace at Greenwich, and publicly acknowledged her as his intended wife.
And now, before the curtain rises, and the drama fairly begins, let us glance for a moment at Mr. Froude’s estimate of the chief actor, his greatness, and his vices; and let us mark it well as a specimen of the loving human way in which he looks on every one whom he deals with.

“If Henry VIII. had died previous to the first agitation of the divorce, his

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loss would have been deplored as one of the heaviest misfortunes which had ever befallen the country; and he would have left a name which would have taken its place in history by the side of that of the Black Prince or of the conqueror of Agincourt. Left at the most trying age, with his character unformed, with the means at his disposal of gratifying every inclination, and married by his ministers when a boy to an unattractive woman far his senior, he had lived for thirty-six years almost without blame, and bore through England the reputation of an upright and virtuous King. Nature had been prodigal to him of her rarest gifts. In person he is said to have resembled his grandfather, Edward IV. who was the handsomest man in Europe. His form and bearing were princely; and amidst the easy freedom of his address, his manner remained majestic. No knight in England could match him in the tournament, except the Duke of Suffolk; he drew with ease as strong a bow as was borne by any yeoman of his guard; and these powers were sustained in unfailing vigour by a temperate habit and by constant exercise. Of his intellectual ability we are not left to judge from the suspicious panegyrics of his contemporaries. His State papers and letters may be placed by the side of those of Wolsey or of Cromwell, and they lose nothing in the comparison. Though they are broadly different, the perception is equally clear, the expression equally powerful, and they breathe throughout an irresistible vigour of purpose. In addition to this, he had a fine musical taste, carefully cultivated; he spoke and wrote in four languages; and his knowledge of a multitude of other subjects with which his versatile ability made him conversant, would have formed the reputation of any ordinary man. He was among the best physicians of his age; he was his own engineer, inventing improvements in artillery and new constructions in ship-building; and this not with the condescending incapacity of a royal amateur, but with thorough workman-like understanding. His reading was vast, especially in theology, which has been ridiculously ascribed by Lord Herbert to his father’s intention of educating him for the Archbishopric of Canterbury; as if the scientific mastery of such a subject could have been acquired by a boy of twelve years of age, for he was no more when he became Prince of Wales. He must have studied theology with the full maturity of his understanding;

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and he had a fixed and perhaps unfortunate interest in the subject itself.

“In all directions of human activity Henry displayed natural powers of the highest order, at the highest stretch of industrious culture. He was ‘attentive,’ as it is called, ’to his religious duties,’ being present at the services in chapel two or three times a day with unfailing regularity, and showing to outward appearance a real sense of religious obligation in the energy and purity of his life. In private he was good-humoured and good-natured. His letters to his secretaries, though never undignified, are simple, easy, and unrestrained; and the letters written by them to him are similarly plain and business-like, as if the writers knew that the person whom they were addressing disliked compliments, and chose to be treated as a man. Again, from their correspondence with one another, when they describe interviews with him, we gather the same pleasant impression. He seems to have been always kind, always considerate; inquiring into their private concerns with genuine interest, and winning, as a consequence, their warm and unaffected attachment.

We must allow him the benefit of his past career, and be careful to remember it, when interpreting his later actions. Not many men would have borne themselves through the same trials with the same integrity, but the circumstances of those trials had not tested the true defects in his moral constitution. Like all princes of the Plantagenet blood, he was a person of a most intense and imperious will. His impulses, in general nobly directed, had never known contradiction; and late in life, when his character was formed, he was forced into collision with difficulties with which the experience of discipline had not fitted him to contend. Education had done much for him, but his nature required more correction than his position had permitted, whilst unbroken prosperity and early independence of control had been his most serious misfortune. He had capacity, if his training had been equal to it, to be one of the greatest of men. With all his faults about him, he was still, perhaps, the greatest of his contemporaries; and the man best able of all living Englishmen to govern England, had been set to do it by the conditions of his birth.”

On the third of November the Parliament met,—that Parliament which
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was to achieve so grand a result. It knew that its task was to superintend a revolution: the country knew it too, and watched its proceedings with the silence of suspense. What was the Church they had to reform? What were the Consistory Courts, the pride and stay of that Church? An institution founded and built up for the noblest ends had degenerated into a mere machine for making money. For a hundred misdemeanours of a class so trivial and vague as to include promise-breaking, impatience, absence from church, and the like, for the nonpayment of probate and legacy duties, and especially for complaints against the constitution of the Courts (which savoured of heresy), men might be summoned to the court of the Archbishop, miles and miles away from home; if they did not attend, they were excommunicated, and had to pay for their release; if they attended, they were delayed, perhaps for weeks, before the cause was heard, and if then the accusation could not be proved, (though in case of heresy proof was made purposely as easy as possible,) they had no means of recovering costs. Nor was all this a mere latent power in the hands of the Church; it was daily exercised in innumerable cases, in a manner most oppressive and exorbitant; and when men saw what the clergy were, (and the most unfavourable statements which have been made against them are fully borne out by the extant records of the Courts,) they refused to accept as arbiters of their morals those who showed so little care for their own.
The first proceeding of this Parliament, was an “act of accusation” against the Clergy, drawn up before the session, and presented to the king at the very commencement of it, in the name of the Commons of England. They complained therein of “discord, variance, and debate,” ensuing as well “through new fantastical and erroneous opinions, grown by occasion of

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frantic seditious books compiled, imprinted, published, and made in the English tongue, contrary and against the very true Catholic and Christian faith; as also by the extreme and uncharitable behaviour and dealing of divers ordinaries, their commissaries and sumners, which have heretofore had, and yet have, the examination in and upon the said errors and heretical opinions;” and they specify, in no very accurate order, a series of grievances:—the laws made in convocation, without the assent of the king or any lay subjects, and yet binding the laity as much as the clergy; the paucity of proctors in the courts, so that no layman “can ne in nowise may have indifferent counsel;” the causeless and frequent summons before the ordinaries, and costs consequent thereon; the exorbitant fees taken in the courts; the refusal of the sacraments, unless money be paid for them; the enormous sums levied as probate duties; the fees to the ordinary on the induction into a benefice; the frequent presentation by the ordinaries of “sundry benefices unto certain young folks,” called, ex euphemismo, their nephews or kinsfolk; the great number of holidays, fostering vice and idleness, and in harvest-time found very inconvenient; the illegal imprisonments by bishops, and their secret tribunals; the impossibility of recovering costs after a false accusation; the nature of the examination for heresy, questions being put purposely to “trap a simple unlearned, or yet a well-witted layman without learning,” and two witnesses of any or no character being deemed sufficient to establish a charge. The king requests Parliament to draw up enactments meeting the several cases, and submits the petition to the bishops, who are soon ready with an answer, showing most significantly their blindness to the signs of the times, and their confidence in the sanctity of their own office. Among other things they require that, as their
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power of making laws is vested in them by Scripture and the Church, the king may, “if there appear cause why, with the assent of his people, temper his laws accordingly; whereby shall ensue a most sure and hearty conjunction and agreement, God being lapis angularis;” and assert, that no heretic suffers but by his own subtlety, and that “no man has been damaged or prejudiced by spiritual jurisdiction in this behalf, neither in this realm nor in any other, but only by his own deserts.”
To this extraordinary document the House pays little attention; but goes on with its work, curtailing probate duties, legacy-duties, and mortuaries, inhibiting the Clergy from secular employment, enforcing residence, and limiting the number of pluralities, which, with some smart skirmishing with the Upper House and the bench of bishops, is work enough for one session; and in the middle of December Parliament is prorogued; and “viands and interludes” become the order of the day.
Meanwhile, the cause of the divorce has been advoked to Rome; and the Pope, now quite under the influence of the Emperor, has threatened Henry with spiritual censures if he take any further steps. Henry, by Cranmer’s suggestion, as we generally hear, has put the question on a new ground altogether,—Had Pope Julius power at all to permit a man to marry his brother’s widow? Was not the dispensation ipso facto void? Only general consent, expressed in a council or otherwise, could settle this: the Pope was not the authority to fix the limits of his own power. So the opinions of Universities and learned men are collected; the king’s agents generally doing more than simply requesting a judgment. About this time the Emperor is to be crowned at Bologna, in the miserable Italy which he has wasted, by the hands of a Pope whom he has insulted and imprisoned: who yet, France being schismatically inclined,

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and England so remote, has to look to him for protection and succour. To Bologna repairs the Earl of Wiltshire, with three ecclesiastics, on a mission from Henry, promising pecuniary and other satisfaction for the unfortunate, yet necessary arrangements, with regard to Catharine; or if this be not accepted, threatening, that Henry if he could not do what he would, would do what he could, and fear God rather than man. Charles simply refuses to deal with Anne Boleyn’s father, as an interested party; and so the matter ends, and there is no other attempt made to conciliate the Emperor. Clement vacillates, as usual, and tries to please both sides, succeeding, as he deserves, in not pleasing either. What can he do? He cannot afford to lose either Germany or England. By this time the opinions of Universities begin to come in; gained, one scarcely dare guess by what means. Craft is met by craft; Spanish and English agents try to outwit one another in Italy; and whoever bids highest, gets a decision in his favour. In Germany we can only see that the Lutheran party is clear against Henry; in France, subtle motives of policy attach the king to the English side, and he orders the University to decide in Henry’s favour; a strange way of getting at the truth on an abstract question of theology. All that Mr. Froude, or any one else can say, is, that intrigue, intimidation, and bribery, were used indiscriminately on both sides, and that the discussion was universally understood to be a competition of skill in those arts. How was it with Oxford and Cambridge? precisely as “their later characters would have led us respectively to expect from them.” So says Mr. Froude, who knows something, certainly, of Oxford, and is not very likely to be biassed in its favour. “The heads of houses, and the senior doctors and masters, submitted their consciences to state dictation without opposition, and, as it seemed, without reluctance. . . . But there was
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a class of residents which appears to be perennial in that University, composed out of the younger masters; a class which, defective alike in age, in wisdom, or in knowledge, was distinguished by a species of theoretic High Church fanaticism; and which, until it received its natural correction from advancing years, required from time to time to be protected against its own extravagance by some form of external pressure. These were the persons whom the king was addressing in his more severe language, and it was not without reason that he had recourse to it.” A committee is suggested, consisting of the heads of houses, the proctors, and the graduates in divinity and law; the recalcitrant masters demur, and demand full convocation, where they are sure of a majority; the king interferes with a letter, rebuking the contentious and factious conduct of the “youth” of that University, and reminding them that “ non est bonum irritare crabrones ;” the “youth” of course submit, and the University seal is affixed to a document declaring in favour of Henry. Cambridge, “being distinguished,” says Mr. Froude, “by greater openness and largeness of mind, on this as on the other momentous subjects of the day, than the sister University, was able to preserve a more manly bearing, and escape direct humiliation.” Cambridge had just now a great name. A Cambridge man, Cranmer, had written the best book in favour of the divorce; another Cambridge man, Latimer, had just been made, in defiance of the orthodox, who hated him, a select preacher in the royal chapel. This was a man who was very displeasing to the faithful, because, though he preached most excellent things about “sin, and godliness, and virtue,” he was clearly opposed to “candles,” and always ranting and raving about Holy Scripture. So much for Cranmer’s expedient; it helped Henry’s cause on the whole, but considering what it involved, one would

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rather the young Cambridge man had been of a less ingenious turn.
I suppose it was a similar ingenuity which discovered about this time, that Wolsey’s assumption of legatine power, and its acknowledgment by the body of the clergy, entitled him and them to the penalties of a præmunire; entitled, in fact, the king and the nation to those penalties; but the clergy having sinned in many ways, it is deemed expedient that this guilt shall rest on them alone. Especially have they sinned in the extortion of money; and by the surrendering of money they shall be punished. Only on payment of £118,000 can they escape the full penalties to which their guilt, general and special, has rendered them liable; 100,000 (call it 1,000,000), for the province of Canterbury, and the rest for York. But this is not all; they are to designate the king “Protector and only supreme Head of the Church,” and swallow that if they can. It is a hard morsel; with shuffling, and prevarication, and final ungracious yielding, the work is done.
Second session of the House: no very important business, excepting the boiling alive, which I have referred to, of the Bishop of Rochester’s cook, who had poisoned two or three persons in the attempt to poison his master. Poor Fisher! aged as you are, saved from this danger as you have been, no peaceful grave waits you; be strong, old man; strong as you have hitherto been weak, if you would gain for yourself a name among men. One other act of this session deserves mentioning: the act “for the banishment out of the country of divers outlandish and vagabond people called Egyptians;” remarkable as a symptom of the fanatic fears and superstitious cravings of the times. Old faiths were shaken, and new fancies rife; every one was looking for change; the faithless generation of monks and priests sought for a sign. A sign was given them such as they deserved. A somnambulist servant girl, by name Elizabeth
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Barton, speaking “very godly certain things concerning the seven deadly sins and the ten commandments,” and therefore plainly inspired of heaven, becomes a centre of attraction to the clergy of Kent, and even the archbishop; and, presuming on the reverence with which she is listened to, and profiting by the instructions of certain ingenious fathers, establishes herself as a great religious oracle, famous through England, pronouncing distinctly against the House of Commons and the divorce, and imposing by her pretended inspiration, on every one excepting the king: even the sinking Wolsey believes; and the whole hierarchy accept with gladness the evident token that their cause is of God. On the other hand, the Houses of Parliament, having a strength in themselves which no supernaturalism can support or subvert, issue an address to the Pope, putting before him, in a manly and straightforward way, the feelings of the nation with regard to the divorce, and the necessity that existed on the Pope’s part to respect those feelings.
What of Catharine, meanwhile, roused into jealousy by the court that is paid to Anne, Queen elect, under the very palace roof? See, in the hot June, a deputation wending their way to her Greenwich residence. Will she withdraw her appeal? No, truly; “for the king’s conscience, I pray God send his Grace good quiet therein, and tell him I say I am his lawful wife, and to him lawfully married; and on that point I will abide till the court of Rome, which was privy to the beginning, hath made thereof a determination and a final ending.” Little hope in that quarter; only, she must not stay at Greenwich. They fix her finally at Ampthill, with her own friends and servants about her; there she may gather whom she will around her, correspond with whom she will, be the nucleus if she will of an insurrectionary party, with her imperial nephew, and the nun of Kent, and the Poles and

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Nevilles to support her; a party that shall never leave the court free from constant suspicion, and occasional armed interference, till the headsman’s axe at Fotheringay shall crush its last straggling hopes. Yes, we forget many things when we accuse Henry of arbitrary and summary action. “With despatches before his eyes, in which Charles V. was offering James of Scotland the hand of the Princess Mary, with the title for himself of Prince of England and Duke of York; —with Ireland, as we shall speedily see it, in flame from end to end, and Dublin Castle, the one spot left within the island on which the banner of St. George still floated, with a corps of friars in hairshirts and chains, who are also soon to be introduced to us, and an inspired prophetess at their head preaching rebellion in the name of God;—with his daughter and his daughter’s mother in league against him, some 40,000 clergy to be coerced into honest dealing, and the succession to the crown floating in uncertainty; finally, with excommunication hanging over himself, and, at length falling, and his deposition pronounced; Henry, we may be sure, had no easy time of it, and no common work to accomplish; and all these things ought to be present before our minds, as they were present before his mind, if we would see him as he was, and judge him as we would be judged ourselves.”
Now comes the third session of Parliament (January 15, 1531-2), convocation meeting the same day, and determining to exhume and burn one Tracy, who has died, bequeathing his soul to God through Christ’s mercies, and declining masses and saintly intercession. They want to burn Latimer, too, but are interrupted in that good work by pressing matters on the side of Parliament. The Commons are waking up; they go on from strength to strength. Why should the clergy be exempt at all from secular jurisdiction?
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Why should a villain who could write his name escape any more easily than a scoundrel who could not write his name? They began by enacting that no person under the degree of subdeacon, if guilty of felony, should be entitled to plead his clergy,—that is, to escape with a mere fine, where another would suffer death. Then they reformed the Arches Court, and limited the evasion of the Mortmain Act; dealing with each of these points in a temper wonderfully moderate; changing as little as they fairly could, and yet by every change they made greatly relieving the people of England. At this point comes a strange proceeding, the commencement of the threatened breach with Rome. Bishops and Archbishops, on preferment, transmitted to the Pope from old time the first year’s income of their sees, as “annates,” or first-fruits, a most grievous impost, both to the individuals and their families, and to the state, carrying yearly so much bullion out of the country. The houses of convocation petition the king for the abolition of this impost, and all others which impoverished the Church of England for the benefit of the Church of Rome, and, strangely enough, propose that in case the Pope will not comply, the obedience of the people be withdrawn from that see. Gardiner had invented by this time what Mr. Froude calls the Anglican solecism—the notion of an independent and self-governed English church, adhering without variation to Catholic orthodoxy, and the theory had grown into sudden popularity. The Commons, more equitable and moderate than the clergy, in passing the bill, leave scope for composition with Rome, if such should be possible; and then proceed to the question of the rights of convocation, which the bishops finally surrender; and thus the session ends, not satisfactorily for Sir Thomas More, who resigns the seals in suspicion and dread of such sweeping charges, nor for old Archbishop Warham,

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who draws up a formal protest against any legislation to the detriment of the church; and then lays himself down and dies; but satisfactorily enough, we may be sure, for king and people.
Threatening signs appear: Cromwell receives hourly information of seditious language and seditious acts in all parts of England: a clerical revolt seems ripe; every pulpit rings with the polemics of the divorce. Without, a tangled web of diplomacy is weaving; Henry, Francis, and Charles, in turn, bully and menace the Pope; and he soothes each in turn by promises. The Turk is pressing on the Emperor, and Germany seething with sedition; England and France refuse to help, and form between themselves a league offensive and defensive, to be ratified by a meeting between the sovereigns at Boulogne. Francis promises Henry all possible support, moral and material, more than he afterwards chooses to remember; and advises him to make Anne Boleyn his wife at once. The Pope, about this time, does not see why Henry should not have two wives; professes to Bonner and Bennet, and other agents, that he has nearly reduced the Emperor to submission; and at last suggests the alternative of a general council, or a relegation of the cause to an “indifferent place.” Henry suspects him, fortunately for English independence, and cuts the knot, by marrying Mistress Anne, “somewhere about St. Paul’s day,” 1532-3. After all, the great fault in this transaction is a want of delicacy in dealing with Catharine, and a blindness to the want of delicacy in Anne Boleyn. That this lady should have consented to occupy the position she did for so long before her marriage, is a strong presumption against her; her “honour,” in the technical sense of the term, had not been endangered; the king was too scrupulous for that; but the least regard for the feelings of Catharine would have been incompatible with an assumption
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of queenly state before her marriage. Her antecedents are most suspicious; her childhood at Paris; her reputed engagement with Lord Percy, and the certain engagement with some person unknown, which she confessed before the Archbishop afterwards, and which is confirmed by a curious document found among Cromwell’s papers, all tend to fix the charge of levity on her character, and to throw doubt on the legitimacy of her marriage with Henry. Indeed, this precontract, which seems not to have been known till much later, according to the laws of that day, rendered the marriage null and void from the first. She was undoubtedly very beautiful: “her portraits, though all by Holbein, or copied from pictures by him, are singularly unlike each other. The profile in the picture which is best known is pretty, innocent, and piquant, though rather insignificant: there are other pictures, however, in which we see a face more powerful, though less prepossessing. In these the features are full and languid. The eyes are large; but the expression, though remarkable, is not pleasing, and indicates cunning more than thought, and passion more than feeling; while the lips and mouth wear a look of sensuality which is not to be mistaken.” Now, at length, she is married, and only waiting to be happy, till the divorce be legally pronounced, and she crowned Queen of England. Meanwhile, more complications at Rome are brought before us; a pastoral letter from Clement, appealing to Henry’s generosity; a postscript, in a very different spirit, bearing the same date, but not issued till two months afterwards, declaring Henry ipso facto excommunicate, if he did not at once restore Catharine to her former position and rights. Then come waverings on the part of Francis and secret treaties with the Emperor, and a retirement from the scheme of schism which he and Henry had contemplated

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together; a sad mesh of intrigue and insincerity, from which it is pleasant to turn to the bold and hopeful aspect of the English Parliament. They meet, February 4; in that terrible crisis, forgetting the impending excommunication, they settle down quietly to pass Act after Act against social evil, frauds in trade, dishonesty among shoemakers, and so on; a fraction of the great work which the parliaments of those days set themselves, and which ran parallel all the way with the more remarkable exploits of the Ecclesiastical Reformation. “And to have beaten back, or even to have fought against and stemmed in ever so small a degree those besetting basenesses of human nature, now held so invincible that the influences of them are assumed as the fundamental axioms of economic science; this appears to me a greater victory than Agincourt, a grander triumph of wisdom, and faith, and courage, than even the English constitution or the English liturgy.” The last act of the session is that famous “Act of Appeals,” the first bold and distinct defiance of papal authority and tradition, commencing with a declaration that “this realm of England is an empire,” complete within itself in its two “terms of spiritualty and temporalty,” and finally laying down, not as a new statute, but as an assertion of the old law of the realm, that all ecclesiastical causes, testamentary and matrimonial, and all suits for tithes, &c, shall henceforth be adjudged in the spiritual and temporal courts within the realm, “without regard to any process of foreign jurisdiction, or any inhibition, excommunication, or interdict;” and persons procuring processes, inhibitions, appeals, or citations, from the court of Rome, their “fautors, comforters, counsellors, aiders, and abettors, all and every of them, shall incur the penalties of præmunire;” while to meet Catharine’s special case, and do away with
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the seeming injustice of the retrospective law, there was a special clause introduced, permitting an appeal, in cases then pending, from the Arches Court to the Upper House of Convocation.
Convocation, now the chief authority, decides against the lawfulness of Henry’s marriage with Catharine; and Cranmer straightway opens a court at Dunstable to try the case, and by May 23, closes the whole long litigation by deciding, finally, that the marriage was null and void from the beginning. This was no arbitrary proceeding in the sense we attach to the words; the trial was conducted as fairly as possible, the only dissentient in convocation being associated with Cranmer and three other bishops to try the case; and the king, whatever he may be thought to have assumed in right of his new position as head of the Church, had certainly no thought of setting himself above the law of the land. We have not the least right to suppose that he was not sincere in his belief of the justice of his cause, and in his determination to bring it to an issue in the fairest and most open way possible.
Now nothing remains but the coronation of Anne; the splendours of that last day of May, 1533, have never been eclipsed by a grander pageant; the cloth of gold which blazed along Cheapside, the scarlet and crimson of Cornhill, the long and brilliant procession, closing with the cynosure of all eyes, the very star of the scene, the lovely Queen of England; then the pomps and allegorical devices, and “pretty conceits,” satiated the gaze and filled the heart; so that there was scarcely more thought of the sad, stern mourner at Ampthill, than of the yet sadder, but less noble victim—victim to her own follies and sins—who was destined to be gazed at by that crowd, three years later, in a far different spirit.
Then comes the painful necessity of a proclamation that the Lady Catharine of Spain, heretofore called Queen of

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England, was not to be called by that title any more, but to be called “Princess Dowager.” We read of her indignant protestations, of her brave bearing to the last, of her resolute determination not to yield one jot of her right before God and man; altogether the saddest domestic tragedy you have ever read of.
The king had been cited to appear at Rome. He expected no less. The Pope is resolute, now that he has detached Francis from Henry. A meeting between Francis and Clement is arranged. Henry appeals to a general council. When the news of the Dunstable divorce becomes known at Rome, the Pope is furious. He issues a brief, commanding Henry to cancel the process, or, if he fail in doing so before the end of September, the censures of excommunication, which he had already incurred, would fall. Henry expostulates with Francis, to prevent his meeting the Pope; a meeting which he knows bodes no good. When his remonstrance fails, and there seems a prospect of the Pope, the emperor, and the king, uniting as a Catholic triumvirate against him, he strives, though in vain, to gain supporters among the German Protestant powers. He must stand or fall alone, it seems. He recks little, though, of external politics, now that guns and bells, and Te Deums are announcing to earth and heaven that Elizabeth is born; born, who can guess to how great a future? born to be
  • “A pattern to all princes living with her,
  • And all that shall succeed: Saba was never
  • More covetous of wisdom, and fair virtue,
  • Than this pure soul shall be: all princely graces,
  • That mould up such a mighty piece as this is,
  • With all the virtues that attend the good,
  • Shall still be doubled on her: truth shall nurse her,
  • Holy and heavenly thoughts still counsel her:
  • She shall be loved and feared. Her own shall bless her:
  • 10Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn,
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  • And hang their heads with sorrow. Good grows with her:
  • In her days, every man shall eat in safety
  • Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
  • The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours:
  • God shall be truly known; and those about her
  • From her shall read the perfect ways of honour,
  • And by those claim their greatness, not by blood.”
Happy poet, who could write so about his sovereign; and so truly!
The next scene is at Marseilles. The meeting of the Pope and Francis; and there, amid gay French and gay Italians, and the fair Catherine de Medici, the Pope’s gift to France (a gift, the value of which future years would prove, all too terribly) appears a strange figure, a rough, coarse, vuar Englishman. Men call him Bonner. The Pope had threatened him with boiling lead before this. But he fears nothing, makes his way up to Clement, and informs him of Henry’s appeal to a general council. “And herewithal,” says he, “I drew out the said writing, showing his said Holiness that I brought the same in proof of the premises, and that his Holiness might see and perceive all the same. The Pope having this for a breakfast, only pulled down his head to his shoulders, after the Italian fashion, and said, that because he was as then fully ready to go unto the consistory, he would not tarry to hear or see the said writings, but willed me to come at afternoon.” Afternoon came, and Bonner. After much general discussion on the merits of the question, Bonner hands him the king’s appeal. The datary reads. When he comes to the words, “to the next general council which shall be lawfully held in place convenient,” his Holiness falls “in a marvellous great choler and rage,” “continually folding up and unwinding of his handkerchief, which he never doth but when he is tickled to the very heart with great choler.”

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After three days, being calmer, he sends for Bonner, rejects Henry’s appeal, as “frivolous, forbidden, and unlawful;” and promises that he will do his best that the council may meet. New shufflings; new attempts at compromise. Henry is the only one of the potentates who sees clearly what he is about. It is a question of simple right or wrong, and he will have an unconditional answer, or none at all.
His suspicions just now are roused at home. England and Ireland are both on the verge of insurrection. No one can tell how deeply the danger has taken root. The Princess Mary, now sixteen years old, refuses to surrender her title—refuses haughtily and unconditionally. Government begins to suspect that there is some secret influence from abroad at work. Two suspicious friars are arrested at Bugden; and it all at once becomes evident that there is a large insurrectionary party in the country, headed by the queen and princess, who believe, on the authority of the Nun of Kent, that the king has forfeited the crown, that he will die before many days have elapsed, or, at all events, that a revolution is imminent, which will place the princess on the throne. The Nun had declared that Henry would not live a month—certainly not six after his marriage with Anne. He married. The “one month passed; the six months passed; eight—nine months. His child was born and was baptized, and no divine thunder had interposed; only a mere harmless verbal thunder, from a poor old man at Rome. The illusion, as he imagined, had been lived down, and had expired of its own vanity.” Not so. The king was like Saul, a king in the eyes of the world, but no king to God. This was treason; and the Friars Mendicant, her emissaries all England through, were but missionaries of sedition and treason. Fisher and More, the queen and princess, the marchioness of Salisbury (heiress of the White Rose), had
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all tampered with the Nun. A large and simultaneous arrest was made. The Nun and the five friars, her chosen apostles, made public confession of the course of guilt and imposture, for which, perhaps, they were more responsible than she. Among other of the nobility, Lord Latimer’s brothers, Sir William and Sir George Neville, are arrested and examined. Greater suspicion rested on them, as being so closely connected with the Salisbury family. Sir William makes confession, to the effect that, having consulted a wizard at Cirencester, about some silver spoons, he was recommended by him to visit a brother wizard, more learned than himself, whose name was Jones, of Oxford. This wizard, among his stillatories, alembics, serpent-skins, and rings of gold, to obtain favour of great men, declared that he had seen in a vision a certain room in a tower, and a spirit therein delivering the same to Sir W. Neville. These proved to be the Warwick Arms, and the room a chamber in Warwick castle. He further said, that the realm should be long without a king; that there would be spoliation of abbeys and rich men; and if Sir William chose to retire into his castle, divers persons would resort unto him. Moreover, that none of Cad-Wallader’s blood should reign more than twenty-four years; with much else of the kind. The Nevilles succeed in clearing themselves; but their confession betrays the wild fantastical beliefs and visions of change which floated, through these years in men’s minds.
The time has run, and the King, the Queen, and the Archbishop are declared to have incurred the threatened censures. Henry immediately renews his overtures with the Protestant States of Germany, without tangible success. Parliament meets again; Cromwell, as usual, the only man who sees his way clearly, the only man who understands what is impending, and shapes his course and the

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course of the Parliament accordingly. “Very few men actively adhered to him. To him belonged the rare privilege of genius, to see what other men could not see: and therefore he was condemned to rule a generation which hated him, to do the will of God, and to perish in his success.” This Parliament appoints a commission to revise the Canon law, reforms the law for the prosecution of heretics (prohibiting especially the power of arbitrary imprisonment, which gave rise to Marshalsea tragedies, more piteous, in their truth, than anything Mr. Dickens can tell us); re-adjusts the method of electing Bishops, repeals all those named and unnamed exactions by which English money was made to flow perennially into the Pope’s exchequer.—“Pensions, Censes, Peter’s Pence, Procurations, Fruits, Suits for Provision, Delegacies and Rescripts in causes of Contention and Appeals, Jurisdictions legatine, Dispensations, Licences, Faculties, Grants, Relaxations, Writs called Perinde Valere, Rehabilitations, Abolitions, infinite sorts of Rules, Briefs, and instruments of sundry natures, names, and kinds.” Then the Bill of Attainder is presented in the case of the Nun and her accomplices. The Nun and the five friars are declared guilty of treason: Fisher and More of misprision of treason. More sensibly and honestly explains the circumstances of his intercourse with the Nun, and requests forgiveness, which is immediately granted. Fisher attempts to vindicate himself unworthily and absurdly. He will acknowledge no fault: he is sentenced to forfeiture of goods and imprisonment, but the sentence is never executed. The session closes with the Act of Succession, establishing the invalidity of the late, and the validity of the present, marriage, settling the succession on the heirs of Queen Anne, first the sons, then the daughters, and resolving that “whosoever should do anything by
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writing, printing, or other external act or deed, to the peril of the King, or to the prejudice of his marriage with Queen Anne, or to the derogation of the issue of that marriage, should be held guilty of high treason: and whosoever should speak against that marriage, should be held guilty of misprision of treason,”—any doubt or even discussion of the subject, being evidently most dangerous. A commission consisting of Cranmer, the Chancellor, and the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, was appointed to administer an Oath of Allegiance, framed in accordance with this statute. A week after Parliament rises, news comes from Rome that all is over; the cause is decided, and decided against the King. The Bishop of Paris has been at Rome, a dernier ressort, has offered some terms, which the Pope professes to be ready to accept, and Henry accepts too. But, taking advantage of the delay of a courier for six days, Clement hurriedly pronounces final sentence against the King, declares the original marriage to have been valid, and Henry to be excommunicated, and to have forfeited the allegiance of his subjects. Thus the game is played; the news reaches Henry, together with the news of an impending Imperial invasion. He meets defiance by defiance; Convocation declares that the Pope has no more authority in England than any other bishop; and in the apprehension of Flemish invasion and the reality of Irish insurrection and Papal excommunication, those in power see that it is very necessary to try the allegiance of the people. Almost every one having any name, or holding any office, swears, except Fisher and More. More is very resolute: Cranmer and Cromwell entreat him, but in vain; he resigns himself to the Tower and the headsman. He had fairly laid himself open to suspicion, and he could not complain that the oath was administered to him; Fisher and he are left

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to comfort one another in the Tower. Meanwhile, orders are given that sermons shall be preached in every church, and by a bishop every Sunday at Paul’s Cross, on the Pope’s usurpation. In all houses, at all tables, this is to be the subject of conversation, and every father of a family, every employer, every master is to teach his children, labourers, and servants, how wrongly the Pope has acted and how rightly the King: and “all manner of prayers, rubrics, Canons of Mass-books, and all other books in the churches, wherein the Bishop of Rome was named, or his presumptuous and proud pomp and authority preferred, should utterly be abolished, eradicated, and rased out, and his name and memory should be never more, except to his contumely and reproach, remembered; but perpetually be suppressed and obscured.”
We may not suppose that all this was very pleasing to the clergy; indeed they must have been stupified and blinded at first by the suddenness of the change. Gradually they waken, and waken to distrust and sedition; numerous cases are brought before government of clergymen who have abused the confessional to inculcate opposition to government measures, and to recommend mental reservation, such as they confess to have exercised themselves. Here is one; the confessor of Sion Monastery, has professed extreme loyalty; one John Staunton, being suspicious thereof, and not over scrupulous in his ways of getting to the truth, goes to him to be shriven, confessing “the seven deadly sins particularly, and next the misspending of his five wits” in various ways, and among others, in heresy. “Sir,” he said, “there is one thing in my stomach which grieveth my conscience very sore,” namely, a sermon of Latimer’s, which has convinced him that the Pope has no power to forgive sins; and that, in consequence, his shrift will be of none effect.
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The priest answered: “That Latimer is a false knave. . . . I say the Pope’s pardon is as good as ever it was, and he is the head of the Universal Church, and so will I take him; and as for oaths, an oath loosely made may be loosely broken,” with more of the like; which John Staunton duly reports to the authorities. The result of all this is sad enough, but as far as one can see, inevitable; an act of supremacy is passed to bring things to a point, and an act of treason, denouncing the extreme penalties of the law against all recusants; following close on this come the sad tragedies of the Charterhouse Monks, and of Fisher and More. The historian would say little about these scenes, but that silence is abused; if he close his mouth for pity, men will aver that he dare not speak for shame. To Mr. Froude, and to all who read history as Mr. Froude does, the execution of Sir Thomas More “appears most piteous and most inevitable.” In halcyon days, it is hopeless and needless to attempt to judge too closely the actions of those whom God has placed at the head of a revolution. Ordinary morality, ordinary humanity, are acknowledged to be suspended on the battle-field; why not, when the battle covers a larger area, and occupies a longer period, and is woven into the daily doings of the world? If More had died by Cromwell’s hand in fair fight, where would have been Cromwell’s blame? Revolutions ever establish themselves thus; even in later days, in the manhood, as in the youth, of the world, Nature’s evil star has forced men
  • To follow flying steps of truth
  • Across the brazen bridge of war.
  • And new and old, disastrous feud,
  • Must ever shock like armed foes,
  • And this is true till time shall close,
  • That principles are rain’d in blood.
The effect upon Europe was instantaneous and electrical. At last it was evident that Henry was in earnest. The famous bull of Paul III. was prepared, to be issued three years later; the feud

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was complete, and the English Church henceforth, with a very brief reaction, went joyfully along her own way.
One part of the story remains; a terrible domestic retribution. Catharine died, dictating with her last breath a letter to Henry, in which she vowed, “that her eyes desire him above all things.” Four months afterwards, a secret committee of the privy council is engaged in receiving evidence which implicates the queen in adultery: when they consider their task complete, Parliament is suddenly summoned, the queen and her suspected paramours are arrested, and lodged in the Tower. She confesses only this, that both Norris and Weston had made their love known to her. “Let us feel our very utmost commiseration for this poor queen; if she was guilty, it is the more reason that we should pity her; but I am obliged to say, that conversations of this kind, admitted by herself, disentitle her to plead her character in answer to the charges against her. Young men do not speak of love to young and beautiful married women, still less to ladies of so high rank, unless something more than levity has encouraged them; and although to have permitted such language is no proof of guilt, yet it is a proof of the absence of innocence.” I will make another extract. “Her spirits had something rallied, though still violently fluctuating. ‘One hour,’ wrote Kingston, ‘she is determined to die, and the next hour much contrary to that.’ Sometimes she talked in a wild wandering way, wondering whether any one made the prisoners’ beds, with other of those light trifles which women’s minds dwell upon so strangely, when strained beyond their strength. ‘There would be no rain,’ she said, ‘till she was out of the Tower; and if she died, they would see the greatest punishment for her that ever came to England.’ ‘And then,’ she added, ‘I shall be a saint in
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heaven, for I have done many good deeds in my days; but I think it much unkindness in the king to put such about me as I never loved.’ Kingston was a hard chronicler, too convinced of the queen’s guilt to feel compassion for her; and yet these rambling fancies are as touching as Ophelia’s; and, unlike hers, are no creations of a poet’s imagination, but words once truly uttered by a poor human being in her hour of agony. Yet they prove nothing. And if her wanderings seem to breathe of innocence, they are yet compatible with the absence of it. We must remind ourselves, that two of the prisoners had already confessed both their own guilt and hers.”
She and they were tried, Froude says, with a scrupulousness without a parallel in the criminal records of the time. He gives the names of all that were engaged on the trials;—the special commission, the grand juries of Middlesex and Kent, the peers who were summoned to try the queen and her brother. The result of it all is, that if she was innocent, the Lord Chancellor, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Wiltshire, her father; Cromwell, to whom, above all men, we owe our Protestant Church, Sir W. Fitzwilliam, the old admiral, whose career had been so brilliant, Paulet the treasurer, all the judges, and all the highest nobility and gentry in England, the very pride and flower of our own ancestors, the noblest men of the noblest nation in the world, were guilty of subserviency and baseness to which no history can possibly find a parallel. “If there was evidence, it must have been close, elaborate, and minute; if there was none, these judges, these juries, and noblemen, were the accomplices of the king in a murder, perhaps the most revolting which was ever committed. Though we stretch our belief in the complacency of statesmen to the furthest limit of credulity, can

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we believe that Cromwell would have invented that dark indictment,—Cromwell who was, and who remained till his death, the dearest friend of Latimer? Or the Duke of Norfolk, the veteran who won his spurs at Flodden? Or the Duke of Suffolk and Sir William Fitzwilliam, the Wellington and the Nelson of the sixteenth century? Scarcely among the picked scoundrels of Newgate could men be found for such work; and shall we believe it of men like these? It is to me impossible. Yet, if it was done at all, it was done by these four ministers.” It is not pleasant to write of such things, yet the truth is worth telling; if haply the shame of noble names may be saved.
I have brought this abstract to a close. It has been long; it may have been dull. I have omitted all reference to several very interesting episodes, the Irish Rebellion, for instance, and the dissolution of the minor monasteries; and have kept, as closely as I could to the main action. If by its means I shall have induced any to read Froude, well: if I shall have disposed any to think more highly than they have been in the habit of thinking about the work of the Reformation and the men who accomplished that work, better. It is a strange thing that we who glory in being Englishmen, yet take a pleasure in ascribing the meanest and most degrading character to those who made Englishmen and England what they are: that we, who boast of our Shakespeare and our Milton, take so little pride in our Henry and our Elizabeth. Many will say, I feel sure, that this book of Mr. Froude’s is an indication of that Quixotic chivalry so rampant in our times which seeks by some strange impulse the most inglorious and unseemly objects that it may adorn and trick them out with the flowers and fillets of its own blind admiration; another development of that spirit which has made Carlyle idolize Cromwell, and
Sig. VOL. I. D D
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Grote speak out boldly for the sophists and demagogues of Athens, which has led Congreve to extol the despotism of the Roman Empire, and Merivale to find, if not heroes, yet comparatively ordinary and innocent mortals in Tiberius and Caligula. Some of these attempts have been thoroughly successful, some not: I hail them all as indications of a more truthful spirit at length beginning to prevail among historians; of a determination to look upon these and all men as they were, not as after ages have succeeded in drawing them. Of them all perhaps we owe most admiration to this first sustained effort of Mr. Froude’s to show

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us, in the history of the Tudor times, what were the secrets of the greatness of the English character, and the success of the English rule; to show us in one of its highest developments that power which has since produced Shakespeare and Cromwell, Blenheim and Trafaar, a Puritan Revolt and an American Federation. All thanks to him for doing such a work, and doing it so well; not with tricky rhetoric and tinsel ornament, but with the pure eloquence of feeling and of truth, with the sustained strength of an honest heart, with faith in God and in his fellow men shining out in every page.
Editorial Note (page ornament): Initial A is ornamental.
Note: Though the rest of the periodical is printed in two columns, poems are printed in a single column, centered.
  • A poet came to an ancient town,
  • And sang a song that was strange and wild;
  • And all thronged round him with open ear;
  • But a little while, and the many smiled,
  • And said, he sings we know not what,
  • Fantastic fancies together stringing.
  • But he heeded them not, and chaunted on,
  • For his heart was in his singing.
  • And a few still linger’d, scarce knowing why,
  • 10 And listen’d with heedful and earnest ears,
  • And faces were flush’d, and hearts beat fast,
  • And cheeks were wet with unwonted tears.
  • For the song he sang was thick with thoughts
  • That all had felt, but could utter never,
  • That shot through the spirit strange and faint
  • A moment, then past for ever.
  • And to one, it seem’d the voice of a child,
  • That had left him long, and was far away;
  • And on some it fell with a mother’s tone,
  • 20A mother dead full many a day.
  • It was strange indeed how the graves gave up
  • Their dead as that voice sang low and mournful,
  • And it brought the changed as they once had been,
  • The fickle and false and scornful.
  • And still, as he chaunted, the crowd pressed round,
  • And many that heard at the first, and jeer’d,
  • Came back, and listen’d intent and awed,
  • Though the melody still was as wild and weird;
  • For he changed it never to charm the throng,
  • 30 But sang as his inner spirit moved him;
  • And all, that he seemed to heed them not,
  • But honour’d the more and loved him.
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