abyss opening beside his chair, the supposed record of which, and of the act of self-dedication to which it led, was ever afterwards secretly worn by him stitched inside his clothes, where it was found after his death. This curious, and not too intelligible, paper was the amulet' which excited the sneers of Condorcet and Voltaire, and furnished the theme of M. Lélut's volume. It appears to record the very day and hour of his final resolve to give himself wholly to God, and breathes an ecstatic fervour characteristic of the critical moment when the struggle of his soul issued in triumph and joy. Let us remember that this document in a double form, the paper original being folded within a parchment copy, was worn on Pascal's breast day by day till the breath left his worn-out frame, and that, even while penning the very fragments on which the charge of scepticism has been founded, it was this that he was pressing to his heart, and we shall feel that without taking account of it no estimate of Pascal's religion would be complete. It is headed by a small cross, and is as follows:

The year of grace 1654. Monday, 23rd November, day of St. Clement, pope and martyr, and others in the martyrology. Eve of St. Chrysogone, martyr, and others. From about half-past ten in the evening to half-past twelve. Fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and savants. Assurance, Assurance. Feeling. Joy. Peace. God of Jesus Christ my God and your God. Thy God shall be my God. Forgetfulness of the world and of all but God. He is found only by the ways taught in the Gospel. Greatness of the human soul. Righteous Father, the world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee. Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy. I have separated myself from Him. They have forsaken Me the fountain of living water. My God, wilt Thou forsake me? Let me not be separated from Him eternally. This is life eternal that they know Thee the only true God and J. C. whom Thou hast sent. Jesus Christ Jesus Christ. I have separated myself from Him. I have fled from, renounced, crucified Him. Let me never be separated from Him. He is retained only by the ways taught in the Gospel. Renunciation total and sweet.'

In the spirit which evidently animates this extraordinary and incoherent document Pascal henceforth lived. Body and soul, he gave himself up to religion, and, whether consorting with his Jansenist friends at Port-Royal, or living as a recluse in his own house in Paris, whether contending against the Jesuits in the 'Provincial Letters' or corresponding in mystic strains with Madlle. de Roannez, or meditating his apologetic work, the entire remainder of his life was spent in the renunciation of the world, the practices of an ascetic devotion, and the consecration of all he was and all he had to the service of God.


Of Pascal's mental organization the most characteristic features, as revealed in his writings, may be described as an intense, audacious individuality, and a passionate love of reality and truth. No man's thoughts and sentiments were ever more emphatically his own. His voice was no echo of current opinions, but issued clear and sharp from the depths of his own being. What he had received from others he never gave back without having incorporated it with himself, shaped it in his own mould, and stamped it with his own mark. Conventionalities and masks of all kinds were hateful to him; to tear them away with a vehement contempt, and penetrate to the very core and naked reality of things, was like a fierce joy to his soul. Nothing was too daring for him to utter, if only it appeared to him to be true; of truth, whatever it was, he felt an imperious need, and to speak it forth, without compromise and without reserve, was his overmastering impulse. It was this frank conscientiousness, this ardour for the exact truth, which made his mode of expression, his literary style, so singularly real and pure, so accurately true to the thought; it could tolerate no superfluity, no circumlocution, no ambiguous vagueness; it was, as Faugère says, the thought itself, clothed like an antique statue with its own chaste nudity.' These characteristics point to a genius intense rather than broad, penetrating more than constructive; and, as we have already said, the illumination thrown by Pascal on the mystery of our being resembled the vivid but fitful flash of the lightning rather than the calm, steady light of day. We have ventured to differ from M. Cousin's estimate of his scepticism; but that eminent writer has our hearty concurrence when he says, 'the man in Pascal was profoundly original, but the creating mind had not been given him. He had more depth in sentiment than in thought, more force than breadth.' To the same effect is Mr. Beard's thoughtful estimate:

'This is the character of Pascal's originality. He does not construct systems of the universe, or mark an era in philosophical thought, or compass the whole sphere of human knowledge, like Descartes. He is not conversant with all the literature which it becomes a learned man to know, like Arnauld. He probably knew little Greek and no Hebrew; much of his classical learning came to him at second-hand from Montaigne; all the books with which his writings betray any acquaintance might be enumerated in half-a-dozen lines. What he knew and thought came almost wholly out of himself, and was the result of his independent thought, and bears in the completeness of its symmetry the impress of his nature.'

'Pascal,' says the Protestant Vinet, was born in the Roman sect, and in a sect of that sect, Jansenism; but without sepa

[ocr errors]

rating himself from the sect to which we may say he belonged, he rose superior to it; the substance to him was more than the form; the spirit ruled over the body. He was one of those who are united by the heart to the living principle of truth, but to their sect by the inferior parts alone of their intellect.' Notwithstanding his Jansenism, which placed him on the confines of Geneva, and his mortal defiance of the Jesuits, who were the real wire-pullers of the Vatican, his allegiance to his Church never wavered. 'I will never separate myself from her communion,' he wrote to Madlle. de Roannez after Arnauld had been condemned by the Sorbonne, and no provocation ever shook his resolve. However it may be now, the Roman Church then, especially to a French Catholic, was more than the Pope; and though, as Dreydorff remarks, Pascal saw and lamented that he was in a strait between God and the Pope, he never appears to have felt himself in a strait between God and the Church.' Hence, when the Jesuits accused him of making common cause with the heretics, he indignantly retorted, 'When have I been absent from mass, or scant of my duty to my parish church? What act of fellowship with heretics or of schism towards the Church can you lay to my charge? What Council have I contradicted, what Papal constitution have I transgressed?' The Church might be ruled by a corrupt faction, yet to him it was still the house of God and the appointed guide to salvation, and without a thought of separating himself from it, he was content to commit his cause to the Judge of all. The Pope might pronounce against him, and place his book in the Index, but Pascal could sustain himself with the thought, God does not perform miracles in the ordinary management of His Church; it would be a strange miracle if infallibility resided in a single person.... If my letters are condemned in Rome, what I condemn in them is condemned in heaven. To Thy tribunal, Lord Jesus, I make my appeal.'

It is impossible to clear the religion of Pascal's declining years from the taint of superstition. As his health grew feebler, he became increasingly subject to fits of depression, and had recourse to austerities which aggravated the physical mischief and shortened his days. It is inexpressibly touching to watch this fiery, yet loving spirit, burdened with its frail and morbid organism, striving to get nearer to God by a daily martyrdom of self. The spiked girdle on his bare flesh, the stern refusal of the commonest comforts, the recoil from a sister's affection and from a child's caress as dangerous to spirituality, the protest against an advantageous marriage for his niece, as if honest


wedlock were the most perilous and the basest of the conditions in which Christian people could live;' these in the author of the Pensées' furnished a melancholy illustration of his favourite theme,- Nothing is stranger in the nature of man than the contrarieties of all kinds which are found in it.' We rise from our study of him with the sad sense of a life uncompleted, a promise unfulfilled, a glorious possibility but half realized. Yet viewed in the light of Christian hope, there is more to cheer than to depress in this spectacle of mingled weakness and strength. For if even amidst the shadows of mortality, and under the burden of premature decay, man can be so great, of what height may he not be capable, when the burden is unbound from his shoulders, and mortality is swallowed up of life?

ART. II. The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London; comprising Biographical Sketches of all the eminent Physicians, whose names are recorded in the Annals, from the Foundation of the College in 1518 to its removal, in 1825, from Warwick Lane to Pall Mall East. By William Munk, M.D., F.S.A., Fellow of the College, &c. London: published by the College. 3 vols. 8vo.

ARLY in January this year, exactly two centuries from its inauguration, another of the old historic edifices of our metropolis disappeared, having perished through the same destructive agency by which its immediate predecessor had been destroyed, with so many other of our national monuments.

In Warwick Lane, a street running out of Newgate Street along the east side of the gloomy walls of the prison of that name, there was, till a few months ago, a stately but somewhat quaint edifice, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. From its situation it was probably known to comparatively few of our readers, though from its height and antique look it must often have been noticed by the bustling crowd constantly passing along the main thoroughfare from the city westwards; for even the wide arched gateway, forming the entrance to the building, was visible from Newgate Street, and its curiously constructed dome towered above all the surrounding buildings:

'A dome majestic to the sight,

And sumptuous arches bear its oval height;
A golden globe plac'd high with artful skill
Seems, to the distant sight, a gilded pill.'*

*Garth's 'Dispensary, canto i. On the title-page of the second volume of the Roll' there is an engraving of the quadrangle of the old College in Warwick Lane.

[ocr errors]

This edifice of late forming part of the extensive premises of Messrs. Tyler, the brassfounders, and recently burnt-was the old College of Physicians, the former place of meeting of the learned and venerable body, whose Roll' or Memoirs we now propose to notice. The building in Warwick Lane was not, however, the first College of Physicians. There had been a previous building in Amen Corner, where the three houses for the Canons Residentiary of St. Paul's now stand, which was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, as was also the residence of Linacre in Knight Rider Street, where the meetings of his associates were first held. Early in the present century, population and fashion having moved westward, and the immediate neighbourhood of Warwick Lane having greatly changed and deteriorated, the removal of the College became desirable. In 1825 this was accomplished, and the present handsome but somewhat sombre edifice, which forms the north-west angle of Trafalgar Square, was erected from the designs of Sir R. Smirke. Mainly through the influence of Sir Henry Halford a lease of the ground was obtained from the Crown, for a period of 99 years, which, by Act of Parliament in 1864, was extended to 999 years. The old College in Warwick Lane was sold for 90007., and the Radcliffe Trustees contributed 2000l. towards the new building; the remainder of the considerable sum required was supplied by the liberal contributions of the Fellows. The inauguration of the building took place in 1825, Sir H. Halford, as President, delivering an eloquent Latin oration to an audience such as, in respect of royalty, nobility, official station, and learning, had never before been collected in the College.' The volumes before us comprise biographical sketches of all the eminent physicians whose names are inscribed on the Roll of the College, from its foundation in 1518 till its removal in 1825 to its present site in Pall Mall East.

The Royal College of Physicians of London was founded by Henry VIII., in the tenth year of his reign, at the instigation mainly of one of his physicians, Thos. Linacre, and by the advice of his Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey. There are few names connected with the revival of letters at the beginning of the sixteenth century more distinguished than that of Linacre, and few to whom the medical profession in our country is more indebted. In the year 1518, when the letters-patent constituting the College were granted, the practice of medicine was scarcely elevated above that of the mechanical arts, nor was the majority of its practitioners among the laity better instructed than the mechanics by whom those arts were exercised.' Certain of the clergy, indeed, applied themselves to medicine, and those of


« VorigeDoorgaan »