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ART. VI.-1. The Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold,
D. D., late Head Master of Rugby School, and Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford. By ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, M. A. London: B. Fellows, 1844. 2 vols. 8vo. (Reprinted; New-York: D. Appleton & Co. 1 vol.
small 8vo.] 2. The History of Rome. By THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D. London:
3 vols. 8vo. [Reprinted ; New-York : D. Appleton & Co.
2 vols. 8vo. 1846.) 3. Sermons, illustrative of the Interpretation of Scripture. By
Thomas ARNOLD, D.D. London: B. Fellows, 1845. 1 vol. 8vo. 4. Introductory Lectures on Modern History. By Thomas AR
NOLD, D. D. Edited, from the second London Edition, with a Preface and Notes, by Henry Reed, M. A., Professor of English Literature in the University of Pennsylvania. New-York: D.
Appleton & Co. 1846. 5. School Sermons, chiefly delivered in Rugby Chapel, By Tho
Mas Arnold, D.D. London: B. Fellows, 1844. [Reprinted; New-York: D. Appleton & Co. 1846.]
Though we have placed several works at the head of this article, we shall confine our remarks chiefly to the first,-the Life of Dr. Arnold.
One of the first copies of this book that reached this country was placed in our hands, and, fond as we are of biography, we were somewhat startled by two sizeable volumes about the life of a man of whom we knew so little. We had, indeed, heard of Dr. Arnold as the prince of English schoolmasters ; but the world is not used to reading two volumes of schoolmaster's biography. We knew that he had got out a tolerably good Thucydides, but that was no title to immortality. We were aware, too, of his labors in translating Niebuhr into a shape which Englishmen might be induced to look at: that he had fought the Oxford “malignants” long and well: and that he had made a most promising debut as lecturer on history in the ancient university: yet with all this he had never risen up, before our mind at least, into the dimensions of a great man; and we rather shrunk, as we have said, from the task of reading two octavos about his sayings and doings among men. Yet we took them, as in duty bound, determined at least to begin, if not to complete, their perusal. The oil of our evening lamp gave out before we laid the book aside ; the first work of the morning was to renew our delightful task, and with expanding thoughts, and
throbbing heart, and mournful self-condemnation, and joyous hopes of self-recovery, we traveled on with the great man, revealed to us as it were from heaven, until at last, with tears that would not be restrained, we stood beside his death-bed. Never before did a biography so stir our inmost being, so awaken us from dreams of worldliness and selfishness, so convince us that goodness is the truest, surest foundation of greatness, so assure us that the busiest and most earnest human life, a life filled to overflowing with human anxieties, affections, labors, and sympathies, may yet be a life “hid with Christ in God.” And not once only, but again and again have we read the book, with ever-fresh interest and ever-increasing advantage ; and so strong is our conviction of its intrinsic value, and especially of its adaptation to our own times and our own country, that we would gladly place it in the hands of every man and boy in the land. We now invite our readers to tarry with us awhile, in communion with this book and with the noble man whose spirit gives it life, hoping that the hour thus spent will induce not a few of them to commune more fully with the Life of Thomas Arnold, and with Christ, in whom Thomas Arnold lived and died.
Born at Cowes, in Westmoreland, in 1795, he received his academical training at Winchester, where he remained until 1811. He was remarkable at this period for a tendency to indolence, an infirmity, however, which could not be suspected from the restless activity of his after life. He was remarked, also, for his fondness for history and geography; and even at fourteen, he was discriminating and skeptical enough to be indignant “at the numerous boasts which are everywhere to be met with in the Latin writers." “I verily believe," he adds, “that half, at least, of the Roman history is, if not totally false, at least scandalously exaggerated.” In 1811 he was elected a scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; and in 1815, fellow of Oriel College. At Corpus Christi he was associated with Keble, the well-known author of the Christian Year, and with Mr. Justice Coleridge, for whom he maintained an unabated affection to the end of his life. In Oriel he found a circle of young men who have made more impression upon the English mind than any sons of Oxford have produced since Wesley's time; -Copleston, now the accomplished bishop of Llandaff; Whately, world-renowned for his honest adherence to Christian truth, and his clear insight into the cause of men's errors; and Hampden, so famous for the persecution which he endured in 1836 from his former friends, who conspired, with what we cannot but consider an atrocious malignity, to crush a strong man that stood in their way. Newman, too, the arch-heresiarch and apostate, and Pusey, his more cowardly and cunning coadjutor, connected themselves with Oriel just as Arnold left it,—the former, indeed, taking his vacant fellowship. But the mischief of these men was yet slumbering. Arnold attached himself closely to Whately, and, doubtless, owed many of his opinions to his intimacy with that eminent man. His principal studies were Aristotle, Thucydides, and Herodotus; and he retained his passion, especially for the former, in after years. Though full of life and frolic, (he was a boy, indeed, all his life long,) it was seen by his friends at Oxford, that there were in him the elements of a noble and powerful nature.
In 1818 Arnold was ordained deacon ; in 1819, settled at Laleham, in 1820 he was married. He remained nine years at Laleham, taking a few young men as private pupils in preparation for the universities. In more than one sense this was the great turning-point of his life. He seems at this period to have taken deeper and stronger views of duty than he had known before : to have considered well the life that lay before him, and to have marked out his course with the most complete self-command, and yet with the most complete self-abasement. His indolent habits were brushed away like cobwebs; the vague and ill-defined ambition which besets so many strong young men, and which seems to have possessed him during his younger years, was banished for ever: more than all, certain religious doubts, which had caused him much perplexity, were utterly put to flight,-not, indeed, by intellectual processes, but by what is far more effectual, the regimen of "holy living, prayer, and visiting the poor,” and by a living union of his heart with Christ, a union so deep, so intense, so absorbing, that, as his biographer remarks, "the impression on those around him was often as though he knew what others only believed, as though he had seen what others only talked about." His outward life at Laleham was calm and tranquil; but he was then preparing the weapons
which he was afterward to use on many a stormy battlefield, and forming himself, by a steadfast adherence to the line of every-day duty, for times of trial in which all his powers of nerve and endurance were to be called into requisition. His school-life here took the character which was afterward so splendidly developed in the larger sphere of Rugby: a character whose basis was laid in his thorough devotion to his work, as a work worthy the whole life and energies of a Christian minister. One of his pupils writes thus of his work at Laleham :
“ His hold on all his pupils perfectly astonished me. It was not so much an enthusiastic admiration for his genius, or learning, or eloquence, which stirred within them: it was a sympathetic thrill, caught from a spirit that was earnestly at work in the world—whose work was healthy, sustained, and constantly carried forward in the fear of Goda work that was founded in a deep sense of duty, and its value ; and was coupled with such a true humility, such an unaffected simplicity, that others could not help being invigorated by the same feeling, and with the belief that they, too, in their measure, could go and do likewise."-Life, vol. I, p. 41.
At Laleham, too, he first displayed the almost incredible industry which formed so marked a feature of his subsequent character. Lessons began at seven in the morning, and, with the interval of breakfast, lasted till nearly three; then he would walk or skirmish (as he called it) across the country, and dine at half-past five. “It was only in the drawing-room, after tea, with young men on all sides of him, that he would commence work for himself.” Yet with all his school engagements he found time to work at a Lexicon of Thucydides and at his edition of that author. In 1824 he studied the German language for the sake of reading Niebuhr's Rome, and then for the first time learned (what many others were still later in discovering) the depth and research of German literature. In 1825 he introduced Niebuhr to the English public in an article in the Quarterly Review, and by 1827 he had finished his able contributions to the Encyclopedia Metropolitana, on Roman History, from the time of the Gracchi to that of Trajan. He prepared, also, a sermon every week, a volume of which (the first of his series) was published in 1828. The following extracts from his letters in regard to this volume are so characteristic, that we must not omit them :
“ If the sermons are read, I do not care one farthing if the readers think me the most unclassical writer in the English language. I am not conscious of the ex cathedrå tone of my sermons—at least not beyond what is proper for the pulpit, where one does in a manner speak ex cathedrâ.”—Life, vol. i, p. 49.
In answer to a complaint, that the sermons “carried the standard so high as to unchristianize half the community," he says :
“I do not see how the standard can be carried any higher than Christ or his apostles carry it, and I do not think that we ought to put it lower. I am sure that the habitually fixing it so much lower, especially in all our institutions and public practice, has been most mischievous.”—Life, vol. i, p. 50.
In 1828 Dr. Arnold was placed in a more enlarged sphere of labor, as head master of Rugby School, and in the same year he was ordained priest, and took the degree of D. D. The situation was in many respects a desirable one for him, and yet he had some misgivings, in view of the greatness of the task that would be devolved upon him,-and of the fact that he should have to throw aside his old coats!
“If I do get it, I feel as if I could set to work very heartily, and with God's blessing, I should like to try whether my notions of school education are really impracticable, whether our system of public schools has not in it some noble elements, which, under the blessing of the Spirit of all holiness and wisdom, might produce fruit even to life eternal. But when I think of the perfect vileness which I must daily contemplate, the certainty that this at best can be only partially remedied, the irksomeness of fortemque Gyan fortemque Cloanthum,' and the greater form and publicity of the life which we should there lead, when I could no more bathe daily in the clear Thames, nor wear old coats and Russia duck-trowsers, nor hang on a gallows, nor climb a pole, I grieve to think of the possibility of a change.”—Life, vol. i, p. 79.
To Rugby he went, preceded by a high reputation, which was founded more upon the representations of the eminent men with whom he had formed connections at Oxford, than upon any public acts of his own. Dr. Hawkins had assured the trustees, that if " Arnold went to Rugby he would change the character of the public schools all over England," and Dr. Hawkins knew his man. Arnold threw his whole life and soul at once into the school work. With characteristic independence, he had secured the entire control of the school before finally accepting the charge, and on commencing his duties, determined to do his duty, at all hazards, to shrink from no responsibility,--but to admit no authority into the school except his own. In short, he was, and meant to be, a complete dictator: and power was never intrusted to worthier hands. The reform of a great English public school, especially at that period, was a greater task than we, in this country, can possibly imagine: abuses, hoary with age, had so interwoven their ivy branches with the very walls of the establishment, that the attempt to pluck them away seemed likely to bring the whole fabric to the ground. But Arnold was not the man to cherish abuses because of their antiquity. The manner of instruction at Rugby did not suit him,-he changed it: the subjects taught were not in accordance with his views,-he substituted others : the discipline of the school had got to such a pass that expulsion was almost unknown,-and he adopted the principle, that “it is the first, second, and third duty of a schoolmaster to get rid of unpromising subjects.” It was soon noised abroad that the head master of Rugby was a leveler and a destructive. The English country gentry had no other conception