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An • Eastern Tale' shows that the boy had read “Rasselas with the avidity which seeks to imitate what it admires; and if the fortunes of Almurad had been told in the Rambler,' few readers, we think, would have detected the appearance of a new contributor, and still less have suspected that he was not yet in his teens. When the boy entered at the age of eleven on the perilous path of satire, having trained himself apparently, as we have said, on Pope and Dryden, the adventure was a bolder one. Yet even here the imitative power, as well as aim, is seen in no common measure. This, for example, is a picture of a lady who might have played her part in the School for Scandal: '-
• The fame of all, the good, the great, the wise,
And make a one-tongued chatterer complete.' The volume closes with a prophecy which, happily, perhaps, for the poet and his friends, was not fulfilled :
Such be my lot; however dull my lays,
To cheer my spirits and inspire my lay.' A writer whose literary career began thus prematurely and after this fashion might have been expected to develop into man of letters after the type of the earlier Georgian era ; writing satires, more or less embittered, translations from the classics, possibly becoming a clever advocate or a distinguished preacher. Fortunately the salutary, though it may be somewhat rough influences of English school and college life came to check the too luxuriant growth. In the playground of Charterhouse the boy-author was probably exposed to a fair share of good-humoured chaffing,' and his unquestioned powers were turned by Dr. Raine, the then head-master, to healthier and better work. No more flowers, real or artificial, were gathered on Parnassus, and Apollo placed his young votary under the care of the graver Muses that preside over history and philosophy. Though from time to time, in later life, he amused himself with jeux d'esprit in some or all of the
* Primitiæ, pp. 226-230.
numerous languages with which he was familiar, he never afterwards, so far as we know, wrote any serious poetry at all. We
pass rapidly over the period which to a biographer is at once the most interesting and often the most embarrassing, that in which character is forming and convictions ripening, and companionship with men like-minded, or it may be, quite other than like-minded, is telling upon both. It will be enough to glance at the school-life, the correspondence with school-fellows on subjects literary, political, philosophical, in French, and Latin, and English, and the friendship there formed, to last till the end of life, as the last page of this article will show, with an ever-deepening reverence and affection, with Julius Hare; at the years at Trinity with Hare and Whewell and Sedgwick, as companions at the Scholars' table; at the honours of the Craven and Bell Scholarships, and of the Chancellor's Medal, that attested the powers of the young student to whom the rigour of the Cambridge Examination system, then without the classical tripos, which was instituted in 1824, allowed no higher place than that of 22nd Senior Optime; at his election to a fellowship at Trinity in 1819. Of the influences that actually told upon the growth of mind and character we have as yet no definite information. There are no signs that he ever came in any measure under the influence of the great Evangelical leader who, in spite of many personal eccentricities and the want of any high intellectual gifts or culture, was for many a long year the prophet of his party at Cambridge. It was hardly likely, indeed, that a young man of Thirlwall's power, a power tending every year to a calm and self-possessed equilibrium, unemotional and unimpressible, should look to Charles Simeon as not a few men, even of high calibre, such as Henry Martyn, looked, as a guide into the regions of religious thought on which he was about to enter ; and the first utterance of his mature judgment as Bishop on the school of thought known as Evangelical, makes it probable that even then he discerned its manifold weaknesses. So far as we may judge by results, he was more attracted by the teaching of William Hey, Norrisian Professor of Divinity, who died just before he began his Cambridge life, but whose Lectures on the Articles, published 1796-8, were for many years among the text-books ordinarily studied by candidates for holy orders. They were the work of a writer who was the survivor of one school of liberalising churchmen and the precursor of another, namely that of Herbert Marsh, Bishop of Peterborough, who had been among the first to make the work of the scholars of Germany, such as Michaelis (whom Marsh translated), and Eichhorn, accessible to English students. The remarkable Introduction to the translation of Schleiermacher's • Essay on the Gospels of St. Luke,' of which we are about to speak, shows how largely the · Dissertation on the Origin of
the Gospels,' which Bishop Marsh had prefixed to his translation of Michaelis, had oceupied young Thirlwall's attention,
The Introduction to Schleiermacher's St. Luke was written, it must be remembered, before his ordination, when he was yet a young law student in the Temple. It shows, we think, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that his mind was then opening to the gravity of the questions to which the eyes of most English theologians were at that time closed, and that he was willing and prepared to face them without fear. To the future student of the history of belief in the English Church and among the English people, few subjects of thought will be more interesting than the fact that two men, afterwards taking 80 opposite a course, and recognised as leaders by parties so adverse, Bishop Thirlwall and Dr. Pusey, should at that time (circ. 1823-5) have been occupied with the same studies, and looking to their wider prosecution in England with hope and sympathy. When the Bampton Lecturer at Oxford (Dr. Conybeare) had blown his trumpet of alarm, almost echoing the devout wish of a former occupant of the university pulpit,* that all your German theology might be buried at the bottom of the German Ocean,' Thirlwall noted, with a characteristic irony, that it would almost seem as if at • Oxford the knowledge of German subjected a divine to the
same suspicion of heterodoxy which we know was attached 'some centuries back to the knowledge of Greek; as if it was thought there that a German theologian is dangerous enough when he writes in Latin, but that when he argues in his own language there can be no escaping his venom.' (Introd. p. ix.) When Cambridge, in its turn, heard the note of panic and of indignation in Hugh James Rose's · Discourses on German Protestantism,' the voice of the apologist was raised first from the common-room of Oriel, and afterwards from the Hebrew chair at Christ Church, reminding men that even the teach
ing of Kant might be a schoolmaster leading men to Christ;' asserting that there may be the same Christian feeling in very different forms of expression; or that the basis may exist, though the intellectual development of it may be impeded by the intricacies of an earlier admitted system of philosophy; and that in the sceptical struggle after truth, of
* Dr. Tatham, Rector of Lincoln.
many who are yet in doubt with regard either to the essential • doctrines of Christianity, or to Revelation itself, there may • be often more of the Christian spirit than in an unhesitating
traditionary belief.' * To Dr. Pusey it then seemed that the • faith of the Christian depends not upon the reception of the
one or the other book of Scripture; and it has been a supposition pregnant with mischief, that any doubt respecting an individual portion of the sacred volume necessarily implies a • diminished value for its whole contents, or a weakened reverence and gratitude towards its divine Giver.'† He looked forward with hope to the Evangelical Church of Germany being once again in religious as well as scientific depth, at
least amongst the fairest portions of the Universal Church of • the Redeemer.'
The failure of the hope thus expressed, the course of events political and religious in England, and the influence of John Henry Newman as the master-mind, for a time, of the great Anglican revival, have, we know, led Dr. Pusey to a formal recantation of the views that were thus expressed, and his language towards the more recent developments of German theology, or to their supposed representatives in England, has been that of unsparing condemnation. We have no wish to censure, though we may regret, the inconsistency which has been so frankly acknowledged, and for which there is so much to plead in extenuation. But it is a satisfaction to remember that the two friends, Julius Hare and Connop Thirlwall, who, though separate and apart from him, were yet fellow-students in the same region, remained faithful to their earlier convictions to the end. Even when the outcry against · Essays and • Reviews' and, it may be, the impressions left on Thirlwall's mind by his personal controversy with Dr. Rowland Williams, led him to attach his signature to the vague and therefore unwise censure of that volume, in the famous Episcopal Encyclical of 1861, he did not for a moment disavow his own earlier teaching. He would not refuse to others the licence which he had ever claimed for himself; would never consent to the narrow
ing, by a hair's breadth, that latitude of opinion which the • Church has hitherto conceded to her ministers.'s
The choice of Schleiermacher's • Essay on St. Luke'as that which seemed to him the most worthy, out of the rich stores of German theological literature, to be presented to the English
* Pusey's ' Historical Enquiry,' p. 165.
[ Ibid. p. 178.
student, is at first somewhat difficult to understand. For the essay, though ingenious and suggestive, is neither masterly, nor elaborate, nor exhaustive. It raises questions which it does not answer. It treats the history of the Nativity in St. Luke's Gospel as a little poetical work rather than a properly histori
cal narrative,' and St. Matthew's narrative of the arrival of the Magi as of a clearly symbolical character ;' and, though it rejects the special form in which the rationalism of Paulus sought to explain away all that was supernatural in the Gospel records, there is throughout, as it seems to us, an inadequate sense of the greatness of the subject with which he deals, and even of the nobleness and beauty of the human character of Jesus. We must remember, however, that the name of Schleiermacher stood out then with a prominence and brightness which are now fading away. To the students who had tracked their way, under his guidance, through the dialogues of Plato, and had found in it an insight for which they looked in vain elsewhere, or who had felt their hearts burn within them as they read his . Reden über die Religion,' he seemed almost as one who understood all mysteries and all knowledge. Hare, for example, speaks of him as the greatest master of irony ' since Plato,' as delighting in pouring out the boundless riches of his spirit to all who conversed with him.'*
The notes of the translator show a sufficiently wide range of reading among the works of the then leading critics and divines of Germany to make us feel sure that the selection was deliberate, and that it seemed to him that the method of investigation of which Schleiermacher's essay was an example, the inquiry as to the sources of each portion of the Gospel record, and the probable motives which may have guided the mind of the writer in recording it, was one likely (irrespective of the conclusions to which Schleiermacher had himself been led) to be fruitful for good. There seems no reason to believe that the views of the translator on the great question of Inspiration ever materially differed from those which he then maintained. On the one hand he rejected, as a doctrine so long abandoned ' that it would be a waste of time to attack it, the belief that the sacred writers were merely passive organs or instru
ments of the Holy Spirit. On the other he rejected also the theory which recognises some parts of each book of Scripture as written under a more immediate influence of the Holy
Spirit than others; and therefore draws a line of demarcation between the inspiration of the historical and dogmatic parts,
* "Guesses at Truth,' p. 254, ed. 1866.