Page images
PDF
EPUB

be extended, intercourse with all nations would be vastly and immediately increased; shipping, manufactures, commerce, and agriculture would all feel new life at once; and, what is better than all, and the grand result of all, the comforts of the great body of the people would be enormously increased; shopkeepers, retailers, traders of every kind would be benefited, and would find business much improved; while the whole aspect of the country would be changed beyond everything we can imagine. Since 1846, when a large impulse was given to trade in consequence of the repeal of the corn laws,—though it cannot perhaps be wholly laid to that change, there is no doubt that it was mainly owing to it,—the exports of this country have been more than doubled in twelve or thirteen years. Make the alteration I am proposing, and a change would be effected in the condition of the country generally, and the gratulation among the people would exceed, beyond the power of language to describe, that which has been experienced during the last twelve yoars.'

Brief Jutices.

MISCELLANIES. By Charles Kingsley. í how vehement they were ! The

2 vols. J. W. Parker and Son. 1859. ' “ North British” was sowing its We placed these two pleasant-looking

he wild oats then, and we were convolumes in the hands of a gentleman

founded by the daring and impetufrom whom we expected to receive a

osity in which its editor permatted

his staff to indulge. It has become careful estimate of Mr. Kingsley's power, and a brief analysis of the steady as a mill-horse or a lugzazegood and evil elements of his influ

train now, and on the whole the ence over the middle classes of our

change is for the better ; but the life English people. He has thought

and glow of its more erratic epoch proper to put his criticism in the

have departed. Whether Mr. Kings shape of a letter. His vivacity of

ley's fame will be heightened by the manner well compensates for the

re-publication of these impassioned de gravity of a review, .which we

clamations-criticisms they never were desiderate. At any rate, though he may be doubted. In the "Review.* assumes the egotism of the " l" his

of the his we rushed through them in hot haste, judgment is as reliable as if he were

I with all the enthusiasm with which masked in the infallible “We.”

Mr. Bright's audiences listen to his

wonderful speeches ; in these volames Editor of ECLECTIC.

we cannot help reading thein with

the quiet, critical humour with which “Mr. Editor,—You and I remember these same speeches are read by old very well the excitement with which we ! red-tape heroes in the Times Dex$ Ilsed to read some of the earlier of Mr. | morning. It would be easy to select Kingsley's articles in the “North passages which look very rough on British" how vivid, how hearty, close inspection, which, when read

hurriedly appeared to be miracles, of, for example—it would be uncandid literary beauty. Strange and almost and unjust to deny. Their excelincredible inconsistencies force them lences lie on the very surface, and it selves here and there upon one's is impossible for the most careless notice. But still the volumes are reader to miss them. His style is amazingly enjoyable. It would be rapid and free, beyond the rivalry of hardly possible to have pleasanter any contemporary author ; and his reading for those quiet hours which power of word-painting--whatever are necessary to make the kindest may be the rank and honour due to and most intelligent society com that faculty-is unsurpassed by any pletely delightful.

modern writer of prose, except "I wonder why Mr. Kingsley does Ruskin. His imagination, without not write his sermons in the same style being of the grandest order, sheds a as his reviews, his lectures, his novels, rich lustre over every page he writes ; and his speeches. How is it he does and his hearty love and hearty hatred not see that if he wants to do his give a throbbing pulse to every true work in the pulpit, he should use sentence, there all the manifold powers with “But the reading of these two which God has so richly endowed volumes has confirmed the impression him. If, instead of trying so des which I had formed long before, from perately hard to be simple, he a tolerably extensive acquaintance preached naturally, without thinking with Mr. Kingsley's more important for a moment whether he was under books—that he is destitute of some of stood or not, we pledge our word that the faculties which are most necessary the good people at Eversley would to a trustworthy and really beneficial listen to him with ten times more public teacher. I do not know interest, delight, and profit. And if whether it has ever struck your mind, our estimate of the bucolic mind is but I have often thought that one of false--if Mr. Kingsley's parishioners the most grievous and alarming chawould not comprehend their rector's racteristics of modern writing and free and unconstrained utterance of thinking is the utter and obvious all that is in him--we think Mr. inability of many of our most popular Kingsley should get another living. and powerful authors to judge of the We have no idea that a preacher evidence by which truth and falsecan be required permanently to hood are really to be discriminated. crucify half his nature that he may It is a joke against new-married folks * adapt” himself to his hearers. An that they often choose their house by artificial plainness of thought and the prettiness of the papers which style is only a little more respectable happen to be on the walls, without than an artificial ruin ; nothing but thinking at all about its substantial the motive protects it from contempt. and permanent conveniences; and For every Divinely - commissioned there are many well-known names preacher there are hearers who re which I could quote that seem quire the putting forth of every obvious to the same charge in the faculty God has given him ; and it formation of their opinions. If a should be every preacher's business theory stimulates the fancy--if it has to find, as soon as possible, where an air of freedom and magnanimity these hearers are.. Mr. Kingsley's --if it is easily thrown into a beautiwritings are far better sermons than he ful and noble form- they seem to be preaches in Eversley Church, unless abundantly well satisfied. In other his published sermons are the worst words, they choose their creed, not he has ever delivered.

for its truth but its beauty ; they do "That there are many fine and noble not ask whether it be founded on an elements in Mr. Kingsley's books-and eternal rock, and equal to all the in these two volumes of Miscellanies, 1 necessities of their mysterious being,

but whether it please the eye and, are trained to look with a clear and delight the taste.

almost infallible eye on the actual "I believe that this is the worst ele condition of things with which they ment of Mr. Kingsley's influence. Our have to deal. The faculty of governmental habits are moulded insensibly ing an imaginary commonwealth is a by the books which interest and delight very poor endowment. 'Facts are us most. Whatever may be our theory chiels that winna ding; the rough of logic, our practical logic will be material of human history will not derived from our favourite authors. be transformed into new shapes by And hence, although many of Mr. any enchantments of fancy; it must Kingsley's opinions are false and be accepted just as it is. The mischievous, his method is still more stern laws under which we live must injurious. His writings are likely to be honestly and reverently acknowruin the mental soundness of his ledged, or we can work no deliverance readers, to destroy the grave, seri for our race. ous, honest habit of refusing to " Mr. Kingsley's old misrepre receive anything, no matter how sentations of Evangelical religion ap fascinating, which does not bring pear, of course, in these · Miscel authoritative credentials, and receiv lanies,' altogether unmodified. He ing everything which is adequately knows as little about Evangelical demonstrated, no matter how anta Christians as he does about the ingonistic to all our tastes and sym habitants of Jupiter. pathies. Mr. Kingsley's theory of “That the religious world' have the Universe seems to us to labour too much neglected the claims under the unfortunate objection of of secular benevolence, is a fact being formed without any regard to which cannot be denied, but Mr. the facts which it ought to explain, or Kingsley's explanations of it are at any rate acknowledge. It is as equally uncharitable and fictitious. mere a dream as any of the Cosmo- | The true account of the matter, I gonies which have been driven to , believe, is this. Our English religieternal night by the doctrines of the | ous life is mainly the offspring of the Novum Organum. If right, it is by great religious revival of the last cenmere accident, and on some infinitely tury; and our theology and ethics, important matters it is grievously indeed all our traditions and habits, wrong. It is the creation of his own bear the stamp of our origin. Whutfancies, tastes, and wishes ; and is as field and Wesley were fired with a pure a work of fiction as any of his sublime passion for the salvation of novels

men ; they were under such an awful "If I mistake not, the next genera impression of the spiritual guilt and tion will suffer greatly in consequence misery in which the mass of their of the extent to which the licentious countrymen were plunged, that it was habit of dealing with the Moral Uni simply impossible for them to gire verse is being strengthened by our much heed to the transient sorrows of popular literature. Not to speak this life. There was one thing to be of the evil results of this habit on all done, and that was, to save men from theological thought, and ultimately rebellion against God in this world, on the purity of our social life, it and from hell in the next-nothing must impair, if not destroy, that was worthy of their thought or effort practical sagacity which, for cen which did not minister more or less turies, has been the greatest and to this great end. This grand convie inost conspicuous attribute of Eng tion gave to the whole movement lish statesmanship. An empire like which they originated its peculiar ours will always need at the head of characteristics. Worship was thought its affairs, and filling many of the || far less important than preaching for it subordinate otfices of state, men who is by the Word' that weare brought to

Christ. "Usefulness' meant success in converting the ungodly; the sanctification of those who already believed seemed a very inferior matter. The doctrines which must be constantly preached are those which are likely to startle the conscience of the sinner, and to lead in faith to Christ; to

leave the first principles of the Gospel of Christ, and to go on unto perfection,' was to be unfaithful to the first great duty of an Evangelical Preacher. A benevolent care for the temporal wants of men had been made too often a substitute for spiritual religion ; and, moreover, the greatest temporal miseries were utterly insignificant compared with men's spiritual necessities, and so all thought and effort were naturally devoted to work which was distinctly directed to the recovery of 'sinners from the error of their ways.

“But it may be most fairly urged that sicne, in these days, the most earnest members of his great party are not too absorbed in spiritual thought to care for their own physical bealth and comfort -- they have no right to claim absolution from the daty of promoting the physical health and comfort of others. If in their vehement zeal for the salvation of men they become indifferent to the splendour of their own houses, the abundance of their own tables, their perBonal ease and their personal health, we might admire and almost approve their too general indifference to the great charities which are intended to relieve the present sufferings of mankind. But now that they have become worldly enough to think of all that concerns their own temporal well-being, they must not say that they are too spiritual to think of the well-being of others. The traditions of a grander age are, however, governing them still; and it is not very easy for them to see that the change in the tempe. rature of their piety requires a change in the adjustment of their activities.

" Bat you must not imagine that I regard these volumes as wholly and universally evil. There is much in

them which I have read with great delight, and, I trust, with profit. Would to God that Charles Kingsley could live for six months with any one among half-a-dozen of the leaders of the Evangelical party which he so miserably misunderstands. I believe that though his habits of thought are now too firmly set to be wholly reconstructed, he would promptly and candidly acknowledge that up till now he has been wholly ignorant of the real spirit and principles of those whom he has so violently abused.

“I think you have never been into North Devon, and may not therefore enjoy as heartily as I have the paper from Fraser (1849) which appears in the second of these two volumes, but which I do not remember reading before, entitled “North Devon: A Prose Idyll.” But read it, and you will thirst for Lyemouth, Exmoor, and Clovelly. Did I tell you when we met a month or two ago that during my summer rambles I saw Charles Kingsley's early home? I believe that a day or two in that lovely region is one of the best possible commentaries on all the literary qualities of his writings. A strange, wild, beautiful place is Clovelly. It lies on the North Devon Coast, about eleven or twelve miles west of Bideford, and the whole country round is rich in association with the grandest periods of our national life. “Westward Ho" has made us all familiar with the adventurous spirit of the Bideford people in the old days; and it is a pleasant thing to wander about the streets of the good old town and lean over its famous bridge with thoughts of all that has sprung out of the spirit and daring of its ancient inhabitants. And here, not long ago, Froude and Kingsley worked together, the one at his history, and the other at the fiction which has shed such a glory on Bideford itself and all the good county of Devon. Not far from Bideford lies Torrington, where John Howe walked with God and held high converse with the spirits of just men made perfect in

the blessedness of the righteous. of the church for many years; and Murray's Guide, a capital book for some of the old fishermen remember most practical purposes, vouchsafes Master Charley very well, and told the following information about him : me he used to be a great hand at ‘John Howe, a Dissenting minister of going out with the boats. They some celebrity, (:) b. 1630, lived for seemed to cherish a very kindly several years at Torrington. Whilst remembrance of him, but had a very residing here, a curious coincidence oc faint idea of the greatness and fame curred. A fire broke out in his house, to which he has risen. but it was providentially extinguished “One had only to look round on by a sudden fall of rain. On the the magnificent cliff and ocean evening of the same day he received scenery, and to chat with the men a letter, which concluded with this that hung about the little pier, to remarkable prayer - May the dew discover the external influences which of heaven be upon your dwelling !'. have helped to give form and colour This is all that John Murray, of to Kingsley's mind. His enthusiAlbemarle-street, thought it neces astic admiration of natural scenerysary to say of John Howe, the prince his love of physical robustness and of English theologians. The author daring--his free, hearty way of thinkof the 'Living Temple' was “a Dis ing and talking - must have been senting minister of some celebrity.' greatly cherished by the queer, will We should rather think he was. life at C'lovelly. The passion he has We wonder whether Mr. Murray's for natural history came, I think, "Handbook for London' informs his from another quarter. If I mistake readers that at Apsley-house, there not, he was a pupil for some time of lived the Duke of Wellington, an Mr. Johns, of Helstone, whose adofficer in the English army who won mirable little book called . A Werk some reputation in the Peninsula and at the Lizard' is the best guide-book at Waterloo, and was remarkable for for that interesting district, and conthe shortness of his notes and the tains abundant evidence that it would length of his nose.

scarcely be possible for a bright, “The road from Bideford to Tor ardent boy to be with him even for a rington follows the Torridge (who has month without getting a wonderful forgotten the sweet Rose of Tor liking for birds, beasts, and fishes. ridge ?). The road to Clovelly runs

"I am, faithfully yours, near the sea.

"BERXARD." “ Clovelly itself, where Charles Kingsley spent his boyhood, is a fishing town-or, perhaps, I might True Womanood. Memorials of Elus call it a fishing village--rooted rather Hexel. By Jewhua Pritly. Bernd than built on precipitous rocks. Edition : Hamiton, Adams, and (x. Most luxuriant foliage gathers round We can promise our friends that they it from the top of the cliff down to will read this book through with the very water's edge, and it seems great interest. We hive her a Landaltogether a place for creatures with scape of beautiful real life whxh wings rather than common men and makes lasting memories on us as we women who have to go along upon a pass through it. pair of legs. The road is literally a The character of Miss Heuwel well pebbled flight of stairs, and the per- , illustrates the title which the author pendicular descent from the Holly to has chosen for his work. Heretufare the Pier can scarcely be less than 300 we have been wont to meet with feet. The houses, most of them, seem: "young ladies" who *finish their to have been built to stand a siege, education." What is meant by the walls are so thick and strong. i "education” in these cases it would Mr. Kingsley's father was incumbent be hand to tell. We have our own con

« PreviousContinue »