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suits the Northern Powers to regard it as an important political move on the part of England, which they will use when they please to justify some countermove of their own. In dealing with so difficult a question, and in disposing of so large a sum of money, within a few days or hours, we think the Government rashly took on themselves a perilous responsibility, and in not forthwith communicating all the particulars of the transaction to Parliament they appear to us to have laid themselves open to severe animadversion. In a few days, however, Parliament will meet, and there are those in both Houses who will fully vindicate their right to discuss the grounds and consequences of this important measure. Parliament may be of opinion that no course now remains open to us but to ratify a contract to which Ministers have attached the name and honour of the country. We do not doubt the strength and power of the Government to complete the transaction ; but we desire to be equally satisfied of its wisdom and its prudence. These are the qualities by which the measure must eventually be judged, and we trust that the results may eventually conduce to the security and welfare of the British Empire.
* A doubt is expressed at p. 262 as to the payment of interest in cash on the shares held till now by the Khedive, but we have now ascertained that the coupons on these shares having been cut off and sold they are presented for payment when due, and paid with the other coupons.
No. CCXCII. will be published in April.
Art. I.— Charges delivered by Connop Thirlwall, D.D., Bishop
of St. David's. London : 1842 to 1872. THE The name of Connop Thirlwall is so closely bound up
with the history of the scholarship and theology of the last half-century, that it may well claim more than the short obituary notice that for the most part chronicles the departure of divines and men of letters. To have been the last survivor of a generation whom we and our fathers knew and reverenced, but whose names are becoming less familiar and less authoritative with those who are now rising up around us, the companion and friend of Hare, and Whewell
, and Sedgwick; to have been the first who, in his translation of Schleiermacher, made English students familiar with the bolder methods of critical exegesis which were beginning to gain ground in Germany, and in that of Niebuhr introduced them to the new line of historical scholarship which he had been the first to open; to have written the first history of Greece that rose above the level of a school-book, or was untainted by the animus of party-this, if this had been all, would justify the attempt to weigh the work which he had done, and the influence which he had exercised on the intellectual life of the age in which we live. But this was emphatically not all. For thirty-four years the late Bishop of St. David's occupied a commanding and almost unique
position in relation to the theological movements which have affected, for good or evil, the mind of the present generation. The commencement of his episcopate coincided, if not with the origin, yet with the earlier stages of the growth and influence of the great Anglican revival. It witnessed the partial break-up of that revival in the secession to the Church of Rome of those who had been among its foremost VOL. CXLIII. NO. CCXCII.
leaders, the gradual change in its character, so far as it remained within the limits of the Church in which it had its birth, into a deliberate attempt to Romanise, or, if the disclaimer of the authority of Rome should be pleaded against that term—to medievalise the Church of England. Synchronising with that attempt there was the inevitable reaction which led men of another school of thought and trained in other methods of inquiry to push their questionings into regions that had previously been to most students of theology an untrodden ground, and to maintain as teachers of the Church of England doctrines which, at least to the minds of the timid and devout, seemed almost or altogether incompatible with a belief in historical Christianity as a revelation of the Divine Will. The great Tractarian controversy, and that which opened with the publication of the · Essays
and Reviews,'could not fail to engage the thoughts of one who, both by the duties of his office and by the special bent of his character, was led to inquire into the tenableness of the positions taken up by the disputants on either side, and their probable effect in the future, not only on the fortunes of the Church of England, but on the Christian life of the English people. And his position in relation to those controversies was, as we have said, unique. He was in no sense an advocate or a partisan. More than any theologian of his own time, more perhaps than any English theologian of the past, hardly excepting even the judge-like Hooker, or the profoundly thoughtful Butler, or the many-sided Taylor, he held the balances of judgment in an even hand, and apportioned with an unbiassed and fearless boldness the praise, the tolerance, or the censure which seemed to him to meet the merits of each case that came before him. The impression made by his long career on those who witnessed its close, many of whom were enlisted in the ranks on either side of the two great disputes, was shown in the acknowledgment, even amid the strife of tongues in the debates of Convocation, that to him belonged of right the praise of the nuda veritas, incorrupta fides,' which was claimed for him by a warm-hearted friend.
We purpose, accordingly, entering on a survey of the character and work of one whose influence was at once so remarkable and so exceptional. The outward events of the life of such a man fall comparatively into the background, and it is no part of our purpose to attempt anything in the nature of a biography. We will content ourselves with noting the more salient facts, so far as they affected the growth of his character or were significant as indications of the character when formed,
and with expressing the hope that the gaps thus left may before long be filled up by hands better qualified than our own. It would be a real loss to the intellectual life of England, if the memory of such a man were to fade away, as that of too many of his illustrious contemporaries seems likely to fade, without a record, more or less adequate, of what he was, and how he spoke and wrote, while the lives of inferior men are exhibited and related with a wearisome prolixity.
The early life of Connop Thirlwall (born January 11, 1797) may be cited with that of another great thinker of our time as an instance that precocity of intellectual power is not always followed by a premature decline. The account which John Stuart Mill gives in his · Autobiography of the studies and attainments of his childhood at an age when most boys are hardly out of their primer, and are engrossed with hoops and marbles, finds its parallel in the boyhood of the future Bishop of St. David's. At the age of three he was taught Latin ; at four “ he read Greek,' so his father reports, with an ease and *fluency which astonished all who heard him.' At seven he began to write sermons, and continued the exercise of his powers in that direction for three or four years. Verse in various forms, based for the most part on a study of Dryden and Pope, filled up the intervals of leisure. A family tradition relates that when he was about eight he accosted a bishop (probably the Bishop of Dromore,* to whom the volume which his father published under the title of · Primitiæ' was dedicated, but the story halts as to the name) with the announcement, • My Lord, I can read Greek,' and on being tested gave such proof of his proficiency that the prelate thus addressed became his friend and teacher.
In some respects this early development of power was more remarkable in Thirlwall than in Mill. The latter was the son of a father of great energy and indomitable will, who from his child's earliest infancy set himself to mould his character, as an educational experiment, with an impulsive force and
an almost relentless rigour. The former—though his father, the Reverend Thomas Thirlwall, was a man of some
* It is at least interesting to remember that the See of Dromore was then filled by Thomas Percy, who, as the editor of the well-known ' Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,' prepared the way for the revival of a truer school of poetry than that of which Dryden and Pope were the acknowledged masters. There is no trace, however, even in the ‘Primitiæ ' that the Percy collection exercised any influence on the taste of the future bishop.
attainments, who had passed creditably through the usual clerical career of curacies, lectureships, and livings, and published sermons and pamphlets—was left more to himself, and astonished his parents with the spontaneous productions on which they could but gaze in wonder as novas frondes et non
sua poma.' Indeed the publication of the volume which has been just named indicates parental weakness rather than the judgment which could have done much in fashioning a boy's character. His mother, a woman of some culture and considerable energy and power, may perhaps have taken a larger share in his home education, and his first literary efforts. A copy of these · Primitiæ ' now lies before us. We look at the portrait of the youthful author and trace there the characteristie features of the aged bishop, the grand forehead, then, perhaps, disproportionately developed; the questioning eye, the lips parted as if released from habitual compression and yielding to a latent sense of humour. We turn over the pages, written, as the preface tells us, with hardly a single correction by either author or editor, and we note, if not any great depth of thought, a singular maturity of style. The boy's sermons, like those of most other homiletic children, were probably reproductions of his father's, but they might be preached by many young curates, and leave on their congregations the impression that they had been taking lessons in composition, and had profited by the discipline. At times there is an amusing assumption of the gravity of a mature experience, and the boldness of a prophet witnessing against surrounding evils. Thus, in a discourse on “The Abuse and Profanation of the Sabbath,' the boy-preacher writes :
We once boasted, and perhaps truly, of the virtue and simplicity of the British nation; but alas, our vices and immorality have now rendered the boast absurd and ridiculous. And I confess when I look upon
the present and past state of our public morals, and when I contrast our present luxury, dissipation, and depravity, with past frugality and virtue, I feel not merely a sensation of regret, but also of terror, for the result of the change. . . . When particularly amongst the higher ranks, it (the observance of the Lord's day) is still more criminally abused and neglected, when an assembly is held by a lady of the first distinction, and resorted to by the princes and nobles of the land, not to offer up prayers and thanksgivings to the Almighty, not for the purpose of devout conversation, not, in short, for any religious or useful purpose, but to discourse on that most absurd, ridiculous, and unimportant subject which can engage the attention of man : I mean, upon fashion.'*
* Primitiæ, p. 168.