« VorigeDoorgaan »
These hopes were not disappointed. From the very next halting-place the Prince despatched a letter to his father, soliciting relief for the prisoners. The Emperor Nicholas replied that for these gentlemen' the road back to Russia lay over the Caucasus, and immediately ordered that they should be enrolled as common soldiers in the army serving against the Circassians. Within a few days the little band was again dispersed on its way to this new destination, and in September Rosen and his family followed, but, as his lameness entirely disqualified him for active service, his participation in his new military duties was nominal. His parting words to Siberia are striking :
* As I left this land of exile I thought of my comrades who remained in it, and blessed them; I blessed also this land, which will one day cease to be an instrument of dread and torture, since it has (over a great extent at least) all that is essential to become a land of prosperity. Perhaps Providence has guided thither many of ourselves and of the exterminated Poles, to be the founders of a future and better Siberia. The pledges of that auspicious future are to be found in three facts. Siberia has no privileged classes; but few employés; and a people capable of self-government.' (P. 303.)
After another long and difficult journey of two months, the Rosens reached Tiflis, where their eldest son, now twelve years old, had been allowed to rejoin them. Rosen himself was attached, as an invalid, to a regiment of Mingrelian chasseurs, serving in the Caucasus, but as he was still incapable of service, he was shortly afterwards allowed to repair to the celebrated sulphur-baths of Pjätigorsk, which eventually restored him to. comparative health, and altogether restored him to intercourse with the world. At length, on the 18th of January, 1839, the Emperor consented to allow him to retire from the army, and to return to live at Revel, his native place, under the surveillance of the police.
We take our leave of Baron Rosen with regret, for his account of these agitated years of his life does equal credit to his heart and to his head. He has given us the most accurate account we possess of the incidents of the revolt of St. Petersburgh in December 1825, and of the subsequent judgment of the prisoners. He has also drawn an interesting but not exaggerated picture of life in Siberia. But throughout his narrative there is no trace of any bitter or vindictive spirit, and if he was guilty of an offence in preferring the cause of his country to the discipline of his colours, he at least expiated it like a gentleman.
Art. IV.-An Essay in aid of a Grammar of Assent. By
John Henry NEWMAN, D.D., of the Oratory. London:
1870. TI 'HERE is no religious writer of our day who attracts more
interest than Dr. Newman. Other names may be as well known and may represent more definite influences. The necessities of religious controversy or the accidents of official position may keep them more prominently before the public eye. But Dr. Newman enjoys an intellectual and literary prestige which is singular, and quite separates him even from the most distinguished theologians with whom he has been associated. Some of these will be chiefly remembered as partisans in an important crisis of the religious history of England. Dr. Newman has been always something more than a partisan. His strength was not designed, as he himself early saw, to lie in party organisation or party movements, deeply as he was at one time implicated in them. His has been a higher mood. As a preacher, as a writer-even as a theologian—he has risen above mere ecclesiastical instincts, when most faithfully obeying them. He has struck notes all his own even when repeating the voice of authority. The charm of a genuine intellectual audacity and freshness is in all his writings. And so it is, that while he remains officially unacknowledged as a religious leader, he is so widely interesting as a religious author. He is far more to the world of intellect and letters than all those with whom he is or has been ecclesiastically connected. The very philosophers whose liberal spirit he has denounced, since he first drew his literary breath, have been attracted by his mental and spiritual history. The newspapers teem with allusions to him; and, when a volume of unpromising title and highly technical structure appears from his pen, they grudge no space to exhibit its contents and commend its power, however doubtful of its principles and conclusions.
This intellectual distinction is partly if not mainly owing to rare gifts as a writer. It is impossible to open a page of Dr. Newman's works without being carried away by the delightfulness of their style-clear, easy, direct, expressive, felicitously executive in all its turns. It is this which makes his sermons pleasant reading, even when they no longer represent the author's thought, or the reader's sympathies. They stimulate the mental taste by their literary finish-a finish which evidently comes not from effort but from the natural play of a
mind that instinctively clothes itself in the happiest forms of expression, exactly fitting the thought and brightening it with the finest effects. A writer like Dr. Newman will always reach above the theological or ecclesiastical world in which he may move and take his place in the world of letters.
The intellectual substance of Dr. Newman's writings is less remarkable than their literary form, yet it is also quite distinct, and leaves at once an impression of power. His dialectic is subtle and masterly, fearing no difficulties, and cutting straight with keen edge through the hardest questions. He never seems to have a feeble or loose grasp of his subject, even when his real penetration and insight are most to be suspected. His hand is the hand of a workman, never needing to be ashamed-perfect of accomplishment within its range, and turning ingeniously the most untoward materials into elements of argumentative strength or shapes of illustrative beauty. His logical confidence—his literary hardihood-never fail. He runs a few ideas out into the most marvellous combinations with the display of an intellectual expert who takes pleasure in his own adroitness, and in its plenitude is quite unconscious that he may be imposing upon himself or his readers.
He has other and higher qualities. His imagination, if not rich or exuberant, impregnating his writing like his dialectic, is yet so active as to give to it a constant touch of living interest. In his most abstract discussions he never long forgets the world of reality. Glimpses of life-love of the sights and sounds of nature, and communion with the great common feelings which make the world kin-allusions to the literature and even the novels of the day-make us feel at home with him in the neighbourhood of the most difficult or solemn subjects; for neither the dialectic nor the theology of Dr. Newman has eaten out of him the sweetness of poetic instinct or that love of the concrete which is dear to the hearts of Englishmen. Brimful of human nature, and his lips alive with the fire of genius, he strikes chords which find a response in all bosoms. From the depth of his dialectic and the very narrowness of his religious comprehension there comes a natural human voice fraught with a meaning which all understand, and pathetic with wistful tones which have appealed with especial force to the agitated mind of our generation.
Withal, we think it doubtful whether Dr. Newman can be esteemed a really great writer, unless greatness in this direction be held compatible with limits which have hitherto proved fatal to it. For, notwithstanding all his gifts, Dr. Newman is deeply lacking in some of the higher impulses of thought which have made the chief distinction of our great English writers; which in theology, for example, separate men like Hooker and Jeremy Taylor and Butler from the common level, and place them in a rank by themselves. His genius, while true within its range, is singularly destitute of breadth and compass. Intense in the highest degree, it has no largeness and no rational elevation. Profound, ingenious, creative, it is seldom luminous in a philosophic sense, and never tolerant or appreciative. Speaking of Dr. Newman purely in reference to his works, he is the most intolerant of writers. He has absolutely no perception of the rights due to opinions other than his own. He has never had. And this not from any lack of personal sensibility (he is full of this), but from sheer incapacity of intellectual comprehension. No writer, and certainly no theologian, so entirely wanting in rational judgment and sympathy has as yet attained to the first place in English literature. Warburton, with all his logical dash and cleverness, we never think of as a great writer. And, much as Dr. Newman may excel Warburton in spiritual qualities, he certainly does not excel him in soundness of judgment or reasonableness of thought. While of all the Anglo-Catholic writers of the seventeenth century once so much admired by our author, there is only one who really occupies the front rank in literature, and is now read by any except theologians; and this for the very reason that he adds to his other gifts and peculiarities a noble and reasonable thoughtfulness. If Jeremy Taylor had never written • The
Liberty of Prophesying,' his writings would have comparatively sunk out of sight, and he himself would have held a far lower position in our literary history.
It is not only as a theologian, but as an historical critic and preacher, that Dr. Newman's genius is marred by intensity of dogmatism. Whatever may be the difficulties of his subject, or the perplexities of fact with which he has to deal, he never has any hesitations or reserves. Estimates of character and opinion are uniformly subordinated by him to dogmatic prepossession. He is as sure that the Eusebians were heretics in the fourth century as the Arians, and that as heretics they were • base-spirited and factious,' consistent only in one thingtheir hatred of the sacred mystery. To him the heretical
spirit is ever one and the same in its various forms.'t The great school of Antioch—the school of Chrysostom, of Theodore, and Theoderet—is as objectionable as the modern Liberal School. The Predestinarianism of Augustine is something very
* The Arians of the Fourth Century, p. 157.
† Ibid. p. 81.
different from the Predestinarianism of Calvin, because the former taught a Church doctrine which the latter denied. That the French Reformer frequently quotes the very words of the Catholic doctor is of no account. The Athanasian Creed-the puzzle and opprobrium of all rational theologians since its unhappy acceptance by the Western Church—is to him a hymn more simple and sublime than the Veni Creator or the Te Deum. And even so, German Protestantism is a mere syncretism of various opinions, which entirely denies the divine origin of Christianity. Neander and Strauss, Bunsen and Baur, are all
, one and the same to our Anglican dogmatist.
This astounding opinionativeness might in some other writers be attributed to ignorance or to other causes less creditable. In Dr. Newman it is pure intellectual onesidedness. He has no more doubt of his opinions than the ordinary Englishman has of his prejudices. The same insularity is, in fact, the cause of both-an insularity which is curiously conspicuous in him from the beginning to the end of his career. When abroad in 1832, before he had yet entered upon his polemical course, he tells us that England was solely in his thoughts; • The Bill for the • Suppression of the Irish Sees was in progress, and filled my * mind. I had fierce thoughts against the Liberals.'* France was hateful to him from its associations with modern Liberalism. When at Algiers, he would not look at the tricolor; and although obliged to wait in Paris twenty-four hours, he kept within the whole time. The beautiful city had no beauty to him. Dr. Newman has himself narrated these facts; and we recall them now, we need hardly say, not for their own sake, but because they are so characteristic of him as a writer. They mirror his mental attitude all along. He is constantly pursued by one or two thoughts. He repeats in his recent volumes the arguments of the common room of Oriel in 1833. He even attaches importance to them. The world may have moved since then, but this is nothing to him; for he has continued his habit of shutting himself within mental holes and corners from which he cannot see what offends his tastes or prejudices. He never allows or seems even to dream that there may be a world of experience different from his own, yet as good and religious as his own—that there
aspects of truth which he has never contemplated, which yet it would be well for him to regard. Particularly he never allows that it may be really difficult to ascertain the truth about certain matters, and that it is the part of a wise man, and particu
* History of my Religious Opinions, p. 33.