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faith in the unseen to be in earnes. But pungent wit of later humorists, a spurious whichsoever it be, the symptom is a dangerous compound, half levity and half slang, betrayone, and threatens to give us, instead of the ing a decadence in graver things than squibs learned satire of the Scriblerus Club and the land weightier than parodies.
Sabbath day. We went accordingly, and with some difficulty procured standing-foom in the gallery of a small chapel in an obscure and very dirty close. It was not he! The lofty, once black, but now blanched head, did not appear over the throng, like the white plume WE have often asked, and have often, too, of a chieftain over the surge of battle. Anoof late, the question asked us, Why have we ther came-(good Mr. Tait, who had left the no life of Edward Irving? Why no full or sweet moorland solitudes of Tealing, and reauthentic record of that short, eccentric, but signed his living to follow Irving)—and we most brilliant and instructive career? What lost the first and last opportunity we ever had has become of his papers, which, we believe, of seeing and hearing the giant of pulpit orawere numerous of his sermons, private let-tory. In the close of that year he died in ters, and journal? (if such a thing as a jour- Glasgow, a weary, worn, gray-headed, and nal he ever kept-think of the journal of a broken-hearted man of forty-two. comet!) Why have none of his surviving What a life his had been! Short, if years friends been invited to overlook these, and are the only measurement of time; but long, construct from them a life-like image of the if time be computed by the motion of the man? Or, failing them, why has not some higher stars of thoughts, feelings, and sorrows! literary man of eminence-even although not | His life, too, was a strangely blended one. It imbued with all Irving's peculiar opinions, yet, was made up of violent contrasts, contradicif possessing a general and genial sympathy tions, and vicissitudes. At college his career with him-been employed on the task? We was triumphant; he carried all easily before know that many think this arises from the im- him. Then, after he obtained license, came pression that Irving died under a cloud, being two great reverses-unpopularity as a preachfelt by his admirers to be general. But does er, and, if general report be credited, a lovenot the silence of his relatives and friends disappointment. He was discouraged by these serve to deepen this impression? We have to the extent of preparing to leave his native heard it hinted, on the other hand, that the land, and undertake the duties of a missionreal reason is connected with the peculiar views ary to the heathen. In this case he would of Irving, some imagining that no man can probably have perished early, and his fame write his life well, if not what is called an Irv- had been confined to the corner of an obituingite, and that no Irvingite has the literary ary in a missionary magazine. Then in a moqualifications. These statements, however, we ment-whether fortunate or unfortunate, how do not believe. Some of the Irvingites are shall we decide?-Chalmers heard him preach, men of very considerable talent, and why- and got him appointed as his colleague in although most of his very eminent literary Glasgow. Then London rose up to welcome friends be either dead or have departed farther him, as one man, and his pulpit became a and farther from his point of view-although throne of power, reminding you of what Knox's Chalmers be gone, De Quincy nearly shelved, was in Edinburgh in the sixteenth century Thomas Carlyle become a proclaimed Panthe- Not since that lion-hearted man of God had ist, and Thomas Erskine, of Linlathen, ceased thundered to nobles and maids of honor, to to lay much if any stress on the personal reign, senators and queens, had any preacher in Bri and forsaken other Irvingite peculiarities-tain such an audience to command and such does not some one of his own party attempt a power to command it as Irving. It was like a biography of this eagle-winged man? Mean-Noah preaching to an assembly of primeval while, we propose to give what we know to be giants. There were princes of the blood, laan honest and believe to be a true outline of dies high in honor and place, ministers of his character and peculiar genius. state, celebrated senators, orators, and philoso
We have not a few disappointments in our phers, poets, critics, and distinguished memcareer, but none in one small department-bers of the bar and of the church, all jostled that of sight-seeing and hero-hearing-equal together into one motley and magnificent mass, to that which befel us in Edinburgh, in the less to listen and criticise than to prostrate year 1834. We were told that Edward Irv- themselves before the one heroic and victoing was to hold forth in Mr. Tait's chapel, rious man; for it seemed rather a hero of Canongate, on the forenoon of a February chivalry than a divine who came forward Sab
From the Eclectic Review.
For the Oracles of God. Four Orations.
bath after Sabbath to uplift the buckler of [eager eyes, dark closely cropped hair and trefaith and to wield the sword of the Spirit. The mulous nervous aspect; it is the first of living speaker was made for the audience, the man for critics, William Hazlitt, who had "forgot what the hour. In Glasgow he was an eagle in a the inside of a church was like," but who has cage; men saw strength, but strength imprison- been fairly dragged out of his den by the ated and embarrassed. In London, he found a traction of Irving's eloquence. At the door, free atmosphere, and eyes worthy of behold- and standing, you see a young, short, stout ing his highest flight, and he did-"ye stars! person, carrying his head high, with round how he did soar." It was a flight prompted face large eyes, and careless schoolboy bearby enthusiasm, sustained by sympathy, accele-ing; it is Macaulay on furlough from Camrated by ambition and consecrated by Chris- bridge, where he is as yet a student, but hopes tian earnestness. There might be indeed a soon to be equal with the proudest in all that slight or even a strong tinge of vanity min-crowded Caledonian Chapel. And in a corgled with his appearances, but it was not the ner of the church, Coleridge-the mighty wivanity of a fribble, it was rather that of a zard, with more knowledge and more genius child. It was but skin deep, and did not affect under that one white head than is to be found the simplicity, enthusiasm, and love of truth in the whole of that bright assembly-looks which were the bases of his character and of with dim nebulous eyes upon the scene, which his eloquence. His auditors felt that this was seems to him rather a swimming vision than a no mouthing, ranting, strutting actor, but a solid reality. And then besides there are great good man speaking from a full intel- belted earls, and feathered duchesses, and lect and a warm heart; and that if he had bishops not a few, and one or two of the and knew that he had a strange and striking Guelphic race included in a throng which has personal presence, and a fine deep voice thor- not been equalled for brilliance in London oughly under his management, and which he since Burke, Fox, and Sheridan stood up in wielded with all the skill of an artist, that Westminster Hall, as the three accusing spiI was not his fault. These natural and ac- rits of Warren Hastings. quired advantages he could not resign, he could not but be aware of, he must use, and he did consecrate. What less and what more could he have done?
For nearly half an hour the audience has been fully assembled, and has maintained, on the whole, a decent gravity and composure. Eleven o'clock strikes and an official appears, We have heard him so often c'escribed by bearing the Bible in his hands, and thus aneye-witnesses, not to speak of the written pic-nouncing the approach of the preacher. Lutures of the period, that we may venture on a dicrous as might, in other circumstances, seem sketch of a Sabbath, during his palmy days, the disparity between the forerunner and the in the Caledonian Chapel. You go a full coming MAN, his appearance is welcomed by hour before eleven, and find that you are not the rustle and commotion which pass through the too early. Having forced your way with dif-assembly, as if by a unanimous cheer—a rustle ficulty into the interior, you find yourself in a which is instantly succeeded by deep silence, nest of celebrities. The chapel is small, but as, slowly and majestically, Edward Irving adalmost every person of note or notoriety in vances, mounts not with the quick, hasty London has squeezed him or herself into one step of Chalmers, but with a measured and part or another of it. There shine the fine dignified pace, as if to some solemn music open glossy brow and speaking face of Can- heard by his ear alone - the stairs of the pulning. There you see the small shrimp-like pit, and lifting the psalm-book, calmly conform of Wilberforce, the Dusky visage of fronts that splendid multitude. The expres Denman, the high Roman nose of Peel, and sion of his bearing while he does this is very the stern forehead of Plunket. There Brough- peculiar; it is not that of fear, not that of am sits coiled up in his critical might, his nose deference, still less is it that of impertinence, twitching, his chin resting on his hand, his anger, or contempt. It is simply the look of a eyes retired under the dark lids, his whole man who says internally: "I am equal to this bearing denoting eager but somewhat curious occasion and to this assembly, in the dignity and sinister expectation. Yonder you see an and power of my own intellect and nature, old venerable man with mild placid face and and MORE than equal to it, in the might of my long gray hair; it is Jeremy Bentham, com- Master, and in the grandeur and truth of my ing, in the plenitude of his bonhommie, to hear message." Ere he proceeds to open the psalmhis own system abused as with the tongue of book, mark his stature and his face! He is a thunder. Near him, note that thin spiritual- son of Anak in height, and his symmetry and looking little old individual, with quiet philo- apparent strength are worthy of his stature. sophic countenance and large brow: it is Wil- His complexion is iron-gray, his hair is parted liam Godwin, the author of "Caleb Wil- at the foretop, and hangs in sable masses down liams." In a seat behind him sits a yet more his temples, his eye has a squint, which rather meagre skeleton of man, with a pale face, adds to than detracts from the general effect,
and his whole aspect is spiritual, earnest, Tita- | Nay, waxing bolder and eyeing the peers and nic; yea, that of a Titan among Titans-a the peeresses, the orator denounces the "wickBoanerges among the sons of thunder. He edness in high places" which abounds, and his gives out the psalm—perhaps it is his favorite voice swells into its deepest thunder and his psalm, the twenty-ninth and as he reads it eye assumes its most portentous glare as he his voice seems the echo of the "Lord's voice characterizes the falsehood of courtiers, the upon the waters, so deep and far-rolling are hypocrisy of statesmen, the hollowness, licenthe crashes of its sound. It sinks too, ever tiousness, and levity of fashionable life, singand anon, into soft and solemn cadences, so ling out an individual notoriety of the species, that you hear in it alike the moan and the roar, who happens to be in more immediate sight, and feel both the pathos and the majesty of the and concentrating the terrors of his beak, the thunder-storm. Then he reads a portion of lightnings of his eye, upon her till she blushes Scripture, selecting probably, from a fine, in- through the rouge, and every feather in her stinctive sense of contrast, the twenty-third head-dress palpitates in reply to her rotten psalm, or some other of the sweeter of the He- and quaking heart. It is Isaiah or Ezekiel brew hymns, to give relief to the grandeurs over again, uttering their stern yet musical that have passed or that are at hand. Then he and poetic burdens. The language is worthy says: "Let us pray," not as a mere formal of the message it conveys: not polished indeed, preliminary, but because he really wishes to or smooth, rather rough and diffuse withal, but gather up all the devotional feeling of his vehement, figurative, and bedropped with terhearers along with his own, and to present it rible or tender extracts from the Bible. The as a whole burnt-offering to Heaven. Then manner is as graceful as may well co-exist his voice, "like a stream of rich distilled per- with deep impetuous force, and as solemn as fumes," rises to God, and you feel as if God may evade the charge of cant. The voice had blotted out the church around and the seems meant for an "orator of the human race," universe above, that that voice might obtain and fitted to fill vaster buildings than earth immediate entrance to his ear. You at least contains, and to plead in mightier causes and are conscious of nothing for a time save the controversies than can even be conceived of in voice and the auditor. It is a great being con- our degenerate days. It is the "many-folded versing with God. "Reverence and lowly shell" of Prometheus," including in its compass prostration are most striking," it has been said, "soft and soul-like sounds," as well as foud "when paid by a lofty intellect, and you are and victorious peals. The audience feel in reminded of the trees of the forest clapping contact with a demoniac force rather than a their hands unto God." The prayer over, he mere orator, and retire saying that if that man announces his text, and enters on his theme. be not mad he must be inspired. The sermon is upon the days of the Puritans and the Covenanters, and his blood boils as he describes the earnest spirit of their times. He fights over again the battles of Drumclog and Bothwell; he paints the dark muirlands, whither the "Woman of the Church" retired for a season to be nourished with blood, and few critical cavils and sarcasms, as drawbacks you seem to be listening to that wild eloquence from his estimate. De Quincy called him once which pealed through the wilderness and to us a "very demon of power," and uniformly shook the throne of Charles II. Then he turns in his writings speaks with wonder, not unminto the contrast between that earnest period gled with terror, of the fierce, untamed, fire-fed and what he thinks our light, empty, and pro- energy which ran in the blood and spoke in fane era, and opens with fearless hand the vials the talk and public oratory of Edward Irving. of apocalyptic vengeance against it. He denounces our "political expediencies," and Canning smiles across to Peel. He speaks of our godless systems of ethics and economics," and Bentham and Godwin shrug their shoulders in unison. He attacks the poetry and the criticism of the age, inserting a fierce diatribe against the patrician Byron in the heart of an apology for the hapless ploughman Burns; knocking Southey down into the same kennel into which he had plunged Byron; and striking next at the very heart of Cobbett; and Hazlitt bends his brow into a frown, and you see a sarcasm (to be inserted in the next "Liberal") crossing the dusky disk of his face.
That this sketch is not exaggerated we have abundant testimony. Canning repeatedly declared that Edward Irving was the most powerful orator, in or out of the pulpit, he ever heard. Hazlitt has written panegyric after panegyric upon him, annexing indeed, not a
Yet there can be little doubt that these splendid exhibitions, while exciting general admiration in London, were not productive of commensurate good. They rather dazzled and stupefied than convinced or converted. They sent men away wondering at the power of the orator, not mourning over their own evils, and striving after amendment. They served, to say the most, only as a preface, paving the way for a volume of instruction and edification, which was never published; as an introduction, to secure the attention and gain the ear of the public, for a sermon, and an application thereof of practical power, which was never preached.
Irving, indeed, left himself no choice. He might dance; now he "mourned" to them his had so fiercely and unsparingly assaulted the wild prophetic wail, that they might lament. All modes of thought and styles of preaching varieties of character he met with and sought to which prevailed in the church, that he was gain-all places he visited-all varieties of treatcompelled, in consistency and self-defence, to ment and experience he encountered and tried aim at a novel and original plan of promulgat- to turn to high spiritual account. We see him ing the old doctrines. By and by, intercourse now preaching among the wildernesses of Galwith Coleridge, added to his own restless loway, and seeming a Renwick Redivivus, spirit of speculation, began to shake his confi- and now, Samson-like, overthrowing the dence in many parts of our ancient creeds. A church of Kirkaldy, by the mere pressure pronew system, of colossal proportions, founded duced by his popularity. Now he is seen by indeed on the basis of Scripture, but ascend- Hazlitt laying his limbs on a bench in the lobing till its summits were lost in mist, began to by of the Black Bull, Edinburgh; and now, at rise under his Babylonian hand. He saw, too, five in the morning, in the same city, ere the for the first time, the mountain-ranges of sun has climbed the back of the couchant lion prophecy lowering before him, dark and cloud- of Arthur's Seat, or turned the flag floating girt for the most part, but with strange gleams over the castle into fire, he is addressing thoushining here and there upon their tops, and sands in the West Church on the glorious and with pale and shadowy hands beckoning him dreadful advent of a brighter Sun from heaven. onwards into their midst. These were to him Now we see him (as our informant did) sitting the Delectable Mountains, and to gain the sum- at his own hospitable morning board, surmit of Mount Clear became henceforth the rounded by a score of disciples, holding a child object of his burning and life-long ambition. on his knee, a tea-pot in his hand, and, with He toiled up these hills for many a weary hour head and shoulders towering over the rest, and with many a heavy groan, but his strong pouring out the while the strong element of his faith and sanguine genius supported him; in conversation. Now we watch him shaking the evening of each laborious day he fancied farewell hands with Carlyle, his early friend, he saw, on the unreached pinnacle, whom he has in vain sought to convert to his views, and saying with a sigh: "I must go up this Hill Difficulty; thou art in danger of reaching a certain wide field, full of dark mountains, where thou mayst stumble and fall, and rise no more." Now he pleads his cause before the judicatories of the church of Scotland, where he is sisted for error, but pleads it in vain; and in the afternoon of the day on which he has been cast out from her pale, stands up with tears in his eyes and preaches the gospel in his own native Annan to weeping
Hope enchanted smile, and wave her golden hair; and each new morning found him as alert as ever, climbing the mountains towards the city. Again and again, he imagined that he had reached the far-seen and far-commanding summit, and certainly the exaltation of his language and the fervor of his spirit, seemed sometimes those of one who was beholding a "little of the glory of the place;" but, alas! the clouds were perpetually gathering again, crowds. Now he prevents the dawning to and many maintained that the shepherds translate Ben Ezra into English and to prefix Watchful and Experience (whatever Sincere to it that noble apology for the Personal Admight have done), had not bid him "welcome vent, which a Milton's ink might have written to the Delectable Mountains," and that he had and a martyr's blood sealed. Now he appears, mistaken Mount Clear for Mount Error, which after years of estrangement, before the view hangs over a steep precipice, and whence of his ancient ally, Carlyle, suddenly as an apmany strong men have been hurled headlong parition, in one of the parks, gray-haired with and dashed to pieces at the bottom. anguish, pale and thin as a spectre, blasted,
It was certainly a rapid, a strange, a fearful but blasted with celestial fire, and they renew "progress," that of our great-hearted pilgrim friendly intercourse for one solemn hour, and during the ten last years of his life. What then part for ever. And now he expires in giants he wrestled with and subdued-what Glasgow, panting to keep some dream-made defiles of fear and danger he passed-what appointment in Edinburgh, whither he was hills of difficulty as well as a of delight he sur- bound, but saying at last, with child-like resigmounted- what temptations he resisted and nation: "Living or dying, I am the Lord's." defied what by-paths, alas! too, at times, he was led to explore! All subjects passed before him, like the animals coming to be named of Adam, and were scanned and classified if not exhausted; all methods of "concluding" men into the obedience of his form of the faith able than this-the vastly greater amount of were tried; -now he "piped" his Pan's pipe good literature produced by the former. They to the mighty London, that its inhabitants were not, to be sure, so much engrossed with
From his life, thus cursorily outlined, we pass to say a few words about his works, and genius, and purpose. In comparing the divines of the seventeenth century with those of our own day, there is nothing more remark
soirées, Exeter Hall meetings, and visits, as verse for its display. Hence, even his best the present race; but their pulpit prepara- writings, when compared to theirs, have a tions were far more laborious, and yet they certain stiff, imitative, and convulsive air. found time for works of solid worth and colos- There is nothing false in any of them, but sal size. Our divines, too, are determined to there is something forced in most. You feel print, but what flimsy productions theirs in always how much better Irving's noble, genegeneral are, in comparison with the writings rous thoughts would have looked had he exof Howe, Charnock, Barrow, and Taylor! pressed them in the language of his own day. There is more matter in ten of Charnock's Burke had as big a heart, a far subtler intelmassive folio pages than in all that Dr. Cum- lect, and richer imagination than Irving, and ming has hitherto published. Chalmers and yet how few innovations, and fewer archaIrving, of course, are writers of a higher or-isms, has he ventured to introduce into his der, but even their works cannot be named style. Hall and Foster, too, are as pure writbeside those of our elder theologians, whether ers as they are powerful thinkers. Thus, too, in learning, in genius, in power, in practi- felt the public, and hence the boundless popucal effect, or even in polish. In proof of larity of the man was not transferred to his our statement, we invite comparison between books. His two best productions are, unquesChalmers's" Astronomical Discourses" or Ir- tionably, his Prefaces to "Horne on the ving's "Orations" and the "Christian Life" Psalms," and to "Ben Ezra." Nothing can by old John Scott; and, waiving the question be finer than his defence of David, and his as to which of the three possesses the greatest panegyric-itself a lyric-on his psalms in intellectual power and eloquence, we chal- the former, and the apostolic dignity, depth, lenge superiority on behalf of the elder, even and earnestness, which distinguish the latter. in respect of correctness, grace, and every Why are these, and some of his other smaller minor merit of style. Vain to say that the works, not reprinted? works of Chalmers and Irving were written The genius of Irving was not of the purely in the intervals of varied and harassing occu- poetical sort, it was rather of that lofty degree pations. So were those of the old divines. of the oratorical which verges on the poetical. Vain to say that in the Scottish schools and In other words, it was more intense than colleges at the beginning of this century lit- wide. His mind was deeper than that of tle attention was paid to composition-in the Chalmers, but not so broad or so genial-it schools and colleges of the seventeenth cen- was in some departments more powerful, but tury we believe there was still less. The true not so practical. Many of his ideas, he rereasons are to be found in the simple fact joiced to see, as he said, "looming through a that these olden men were men of a still mist." Even the poetry that was in him was higher order of intellect-that, besides, they rather of the lyrical than of the epic or drahad more thoroughly trained themselves, and matic sort. The lyrical poet does not look that a still loftier earnestness in their hearts abroad upon universality-he looks straight was strengthened and inflamed by the influ- up from his lyre-some intense idea at once ences of a sterner age. As Milton to Bayley insulates and inflames him, and his poetry and Tennyson, do Howe and Barrow stand arises bright, keen, and narrow, as a tongue to Chalmers and Irving. of fire from the altar of a sacrifice. It was so Yet we mean not to deny that some of Ir- with the prose of Irving; his flights were ving's productions are worthy, not only of his lofty, perpendicular, and short-lived. He has floating reputation, but of that gift in him lost very few of those long, swelling, sustainwhich was never fully developed, or at least ed, and victorious passages which characterize never completely displayed. In all his writ- the very highest of our religious authors, nor, ings you see a man of the present wearing on the other hand, are his pages thick with the armor of the past; but it is a proof of his sudden and memorable felicities of thought. power that, although he wears it awkwardly, They are chiefly valuable for those brief he never sinks under the load. It is not a patches of beauty, and bursts of personal feelDavid clad in a Goliath's arms, and over-ing and passion, which recal most forcibly to whelmed by them, it is the shepherd-giant, those who heard him the remarkable appearEliab, David's brother, not yet at home in a ance and unequalled elocution of the man. panoply which is not too large for his limbs, For, emphatically, he himself was "the Episbut for wearing which a peaceful profession tle." We admit most frankly, even though and period had not prepared him. Irving, in the admission should have the effect of pronative power, was only, we think, a little low-ducing distrust in our own capacity of criticier than the men of the Elizabethan period sing one whom we never saw, that to know and of the next two regions. He was origin- his genius fully it was necessary to have seen ally of a similar order of genius, but he had and heard him-only those who did so, are, given that genius a less severe and laborious we believe, able to appreciate the whole power culture, and he had fallen upon an age ad- that was condensed in that most marvellous
LIVING AGE. VOL. VI. 23