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THE promotion of Dr. Hook from a this department of history, so far as laborious town parish to the com- extensive learning or research is parative leisure of a deanery will concerned; probably he would not have been without its public himself be the last to claim any fruits, if it does nothing more than such superiority: the praise which farnish us with a good readable he deserves-and it is really praise History of the English Church. It is that of being eminently readwas much wanted; for drier food able. If the student will not have than was usually presented to the learned much which could not have reader under that title can hardly been gained elsewhere, he will fi be imagined. Much painstaking the facts put together in a clear and research, a very conscientious bal- pleasant narrative. With the miraancing of authorities, and a large culous element, that sore stumbling-amount of out-of-the-way learning, block to all who have to deal with has been employed upon several of the old ecclesiastical authorities, Dr. our modern Church Histories. But, Hook deals manfully and summarhowever these may meet the wants ily; he rejects it altogether. "It of the student, they are for the is inconsistent," he says, "with the most part sadly unattractive to the principles of our holy religion to general reader. The old monkish expect the performance of miracles writers, with all their marvellous under the Christian dispensation." stories unpruned, were much more (We presume that we are meant to entertaining; for when the super- understand, since the days of the natural items, which are the anec- Apostles). "Such miracles would dotes of medieval history, come to not have been permitted to take be explained away, the residuum place if not absolutely necessary, may be very innocent and unobjec- and miracles cannot be necessary tionable, but it is often terribly in a church which professes a cominsipid. pleted Bible." Such a canon is at The Dean of Chichester is not to least a very simple one, and facibe placed above his predecessors in litates the study of early ecclesias
Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. By W. F. Hook, D.D., Dean of Chichester. Vol. i.-Anglo-Saxon Period. London: Bentley, 1860.
these days, the ordinary Christian, taught to use the world without abusing it-to blend the duties of a contemplative with those of an active life; to distinguish between self-discipline and asceticism; to aim at practical usefulness instead of a theoretical, unattainable perfection-is superior to the greatest saints of the middle age, to whom at the same time we tender the homage of a charitable respect."(P. 38.) We hope we shall not incur the charge of undue reverence for medieval Christianity, if we venture to think that some of its "greatest saints" were really not inferior to "ordinary Christians" even of this century. We think we shall be able to show, from Dr. Hook's own pages, that there were occasions on which, though they asserted no miraculous powers, their life and death were notes of sanctity better than a miracle.
tical history considerably; and it is covenient for the reader to have it laid down thus dogmatically at the outset. Whether it has not its weak side, we shall not here stop to inquire. It was not always part of the author's own creed, as be honestly reminds us; he has adopted it only after mature consideration; we do not mean to say it is the less to be respected on that account. But when it comes to be applied practically to each particular case, it is beset with the difficulties which accompany all skepticism, theological or historical. To deny the miraculous is a very easy process; but when you come to philosophise the fact into the prose of ordinary life, the explanation commonly demands as much faith as the miracle. It is so with the juggler's sleight-of hand: when he gives you back your watch safe and sound, you feel satisfied it is not the same which you saw hammered to pieces a minute ago; and you are right in your conclusion; but if you are not content without proceeding to explain to a friend your own notion of the real process, it is most likely that you will be unintelligible, and pretty certain that you will be wrong. Surely the simpler way of dealing with these old chronicles is to tell the tale as the monkish historian told it; but to separate the fact from the fiction will continue to be the temptation of the historian.
We are not by any means going to assert that every Archbishop of Canterbury in the volume before us was a saint, in any sense of the word. Such an assertion could hardly be made, without some limitation, even of St. Palmerston's modern episcopate. Nothing is more patent, in most cases of bishops and archbishops, than their humanity. There were as many varieties of the episcopal type in the Church's early days as in our own. The material which the royal prerogative worked up When Dr. Hook goes so far as to into a bishop-for royal prerogative say that "it is only in modern times it always was in the Anglo-Saxon that we have learnt to distinguish Church-was various in its texture, between credulity and faith," we then as now. There was the schoolthink many readers besides our- master bishop, Theodorus, and selves, having a vivid recollection of armed with an actual power of what men profess to believe and to flogging his refractory canons, which disbelieve in the year of grace 1861, one hopes was exercised with modewill be somewhat slow to follow ration, but which would be very him. But it is a strong feature in terrible in the hands of some schoolthe historian of the Archbishops master bishops of modern date; that he claims for himself, bravely the dillettante primate, Northelm, and honestly, to be a man of the busy with his illuminations, in age. He wastes nothing in regrets which he was no mean proficient, for the past or dreams of the future. and which were to him all that The religion of this nineteenth Archæological Institutes and Arundel century he considers (apparently) Societies are to modern ecclesithe model of Christianity. "In astics; pious and learned divines
like Bregwin the German, loth to ceeding reign. It is true that the Archquit his studies, and protesting an bishop of Canterbury could never be honest nolo episcopari against his said to represent the Church as the elevation; Latin verse-makers, like king did the realm of England; but Tatwine, before whom a false quan- he serves as a centre-point none the tity would hardly have reckoned as less, and helps to localise in the a venial sin, who wrote classical reader's memory facts which, in enigmas in rather enigmatical Latin, themselves, are not so readily rememand, in other respects, "passed his bered as the more stirring events life in the quiet routine of episco- in the life of camps and courts. pal duty." There were men who The one point in which the successeemed to have mistaken their voca- sion of archbishops fails to answer tion: Odo, the Dane, who was this purpose as conveniently as that three times on the field of battle of the kings has been found to do, after his consecration, and saved is this, that as the latter usually King Athelstane's life from the succeed either by hereditary descent Northmen in the great fight of or by conquest, most of the needful Brunanburgh, whose combative spirit, Dr. Hook thinks, would in these days have found its natural vent in the House of Lords, in some trenchant onslaught upon the opponents of orthodoxy (possibly the Liberation Society, or the Essays and Reviews); and statesmen like Dunstan, who would have found in any vocation the road to power. We are seldom able to trace with much certainty the motives which led to their election in each particular case, but probably these were as various as the men. Their appointment rested, as we have said, entirely with the king; their confirmation by the clergy of the chapter seems to have followed as a matter of 'course. The pallium conferred by the Pope was as yet rather a token of honour than an investiture of office; and though the Roman See assumed the right of arbitration in appeals, its pretensions were set at naught whenever they were inconvenient.
particulars of the early life of each
The Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, then, is nothing more or less than a History of the AngloSaxon Church from the mission of Augustine into Kent. The annals of the early British, or rather Celtic, Church, are merely glanced at in an Introduction. The form which the author has chosen for his work neIt was a happy thought to com- cessarily precluded any further noprise a History of the English Church tice; for there were no British archin a series of biographies of its bishops of Canterbury. And the primates. Dr. Hook very fairly difficulties which beset the eccleobserves, that it is quite as natural siastical historian, in any attempt to an arrangement as that to which sift truth out of the pious fabulists we are all so well accustomed in who have enlarged upon the first secular histories of our own and planting of Christianity in Britain, other countries-the making the are certainly so formidable, that even king the central figure, grouping Dean Hook's courageous spirit may the contemporary facts round him, be excused for declining to grapple and dividing the history into those with them. The Welsh writersarbitrary but convenient periods always strong in genealogies, tempowhich begin and close with each suc- ral or spiritual-make out amongst
them that a majority of the apostles what proportion of Saxon blood be were in one way or another con- has in his veins ? No people seem cerned in the evangelisation of their to have cared less about pedigree. island. One almost wonders that When the present David Jones traces they do not insist upon some at least his descent in a long series of aps of that body having been Welshmen up to King Arthur, although the by birth or descent. But probably historic truth is not conclusive, the Dean Hook's natural sympathies principle is intelligible; or when a have had something to do, even man tells us that his ancestor came though unconsciously, with this li- over with the Conqueror, and points mitation of his ground. If there is to his name on the roll of Battle one thing upon which he honestly Abbey, there is a certain amount of prides himself, it is that he is an probability in the claim, whatever it Anglo-Saxon. He evidently thinks may be worth, and there is room for much more of it than of being Dean a charitable hope that the Norman of Chichester. "That indomitable rider, when the fighting was over, spirit of independence which, in- brought his wife across seas, and herited from our Saxon ancestors, is lived a decent and respectable life the glory and the characteristic of afterwards; but a true-born Anglothe English race." Such are the Saxon is a genealogical absurdity. concluding words of this volume, and It is very well for a poet like Mr. their spirit may be traced throughout. Kingsley, when he sings his song of We confess that our Celtic feelings the North-East Wind-we hope, by are slightly ruffled by the constant the way, that he has had the "Vikreiteration, by modern writers, of ing's blood within" him stirred these Anglo-Saxon pretensions. The sufficiently during this last spring-t old national self-glorification (always is very well for him to tell us that his pretty strong in the little island) forefathers came used to content itself with the term Britons, which has grown quite oldfashioned and obsolete. It is the Anglo-Saxons who are to go every where, and do everything, in these days. There is no particular objection to a man calling himself an Anglo-Saxon, if he is so disposed; but the precise ground of this form of family pride is rather difficult to understand. At the best, AngloSaxon blood is but a successful cross. The modern Englishman who insists upon the title is quite as likely to be a combination of Celt and Dane. The Dean of Chichester's surname, no doubt, is of anything but Celtic derivation; but if we had his family tree drawn out from Woden downwards, we have little doubt but that his excellent moral and intellectual qualities would be found to be the result of a continued "natural selection" from the various national stocks which have peopled the island in succession, from Albion the seagiant and Brut the Trojan down to the latest Flemish immigration. How can any man tell, in these days,
"Conquering from the eastward,
We have not the Kingsley genea-
"Blasting, blighting, burning,
So far as the "great Anglo-Saxon
But although Dr. Hook precludes himself, by the very title of his book, from dealing with the early history of Christianity in the British Islands, he does justice to the claims of the Celtic Church, in contradistinction to the Italian mission of Pope Gregory, to be the fathers of the Gospel. He admits in his Introduction what is undeniably true, that these claims "have been under