« PreviousContinue »
chain of iron, which binds you down to think of the future and the remote by recalling the claims and feelings of the peremptory present. But why should I say retire? The habits of active life and daily intercourse with the stir of the world will tend to give you such self-command, that the presence of your family will be no interruption. Nay, the social silence, or undisturbing voices of a wife or sister will be like a restorative atmosphere, or soft niusic which moulds a dream without becoming its object. If facts are required to prove the possibility of combining weighty performances in literature with full and independent employment, the works of Cicero and Xenophon among the ancients; of Sir Thomas More, Bacon, Baxter, or to refer at once to later and contemporary instances, Darwin and Roscoe, are at once decisive of the question.
But all men may not dare promise themselves a sufficiency of self-control for the imitation of those examples ; though strict scrutiny should always be made, whether indolence, restlessness, or a vanity impatient for immediate gratification, have not tampered with the judgment and assumed 'the vizard of humility for the purposes of self-delusion. Still the Church presents to every man of learning and genius a profession, in which he may cherish a rational hope of being able to unite the wideșt schemes of literary utility with the strictest performance of professional duties." Among the numerous blessings of Christianity, the introduction of an established Church makes an especial claim on the gratitude of scholars and philosophers; in England, at least, where the principles of Protestantism have conspired with the freedom of the government to double all its salutary powers by the removal of its abuses.
That not only the maxims, but the grounds of a pure morality, the mere fragments of which
the lofty grave tragedians taught
In brief sententious precepts ;5 * [All that follows, as far as “expected to withhold five” in the foiluw. ing paragraph, with but very little difference, is to be found in the Church and State, pp. 77–80. 3d edit. S. C.1
Paradisc Regained. Book iv., 1.2")
and that the sublime truths of the divine unity and attributes, which a Plato found most hard to learn, and deemed it still more difficult to reveal; that these should have become the almost hereditary property of childhood and poverty, of the hovel and the workshop; that even to the unlettered they sound as common. place, is a phenomenon, which must withhold all but minds of the most vulgar cast from undervaluing the services even of the pul. pit and the reading.desk. Yet those, who confine the efficiency of an established Church to its public offices, can hardly be placed in a much higher rank of intellect. That to every parish throughout the kingdom there is transplanted a germ of civilization ; that in the remotest villages there is a nucleus, round which the capabilities of the place may crystallize and brighten; a model sufficiently superior to excite, yet sufficiently near to encourage and facilitate, imitation; this, the unobtrusive, continuous agency of a Protestant church establishment, this it is which the patriot and the philanthropist, who would fain unite the love of peace with the faith in the progressive melioration of mankind, cannot estimate at - too high a price. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls ; for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The clergyman is with his parishioners and among them; he is neithe. in the cloistered cell, nor in the wilderness, but a neighbor and a family-man, whose education and rank admit him to the mansion of the rich landholder, while his duties make him the frequent visitor of the farm-house and the cottage. He is, or he may become, connected with the families of his parish or its vicinity by marriage. And among the instances of the blindness, or at best of the shortsightedness, which it is the nature of cupidity to inflict, I know few more striking than the clamors of the farmers against Church property. Whatever was not paid to the clergyman would inevitably at the next lease be paid to the landholder; while, as the case at present stands, the revenues of the Church are in some sort the reversionary property of every family that may have a member educated for the Church, or a daughter that may
* [Job xxviii., 16, 18. S. C.]
marry a clergyman. Instead of being foreclosed and immov. able, it is, in fact, the only species of landed property that is essentially moving and circulative. That there exist no inconveniences, who will pretend to assert? But I have yet to expect the proof, that the inconveniences are greater in this than in any other species ; or that either the farmers or the clergy would be benefited by forcing the latter to become either Trullibers or salaried placemen. Nay, I do not hesitate to declare my firm persuasion, that whatever reason of discontent the farmers may assign, the true cause is this—that they may cheat the parson, but cannot cheat the steward; and that they are disappointed if they should have been able to withhold only two pounds less than the legal claim, having expected to withhold five. At all events, considered relatively to the encouragement of learning and genius, the establishment presents a patronage at once so effec. tive and unburdensome, that it would be impossible to afford the like or equal in any but a Christian and Protestant country. There is scarce a department of human knowledge without some bearing on the various critical, historical, philosophical, and moral truths, in which the scholar must be interested as a clergy. man ;. no one pursuit, worthy of a man of genius, which may not be followed without incongruity. To give the history of the Bible as a book, would be little less than to relate the origin or first excitement of all the literature and science that we now possess. The very decorum, which the profession imposes, is favorable to the best purposes of genius, and tends to counteract its most frequent defects. Finally, that man must be deficient in sensibility who would not find an incentive to emulation in the great and burning lights which, in a long series, have illustrated the church of England; who would not hear from within an echo to the voice from their sacred shrines, .
Et Pater Æneas et avunculus excitat Hector 1
But, whatever be the profession or trade chosen, the advantages are many and important, compared with the state of a mere lite. rary man, who, in any degree, depends on the sale of his works
(Æneid iii., 343. S. C.]
for the necessaries and comforts of life. In the former, a man lives in sympathy with the world in which he lives. At least, he acquires a better and quicker tact for the knowledge of that with which men in general can sympathize. He learns to manage his genius more prudently and efficaciously. His powers and acquirements gain him likewise more real admiration, for they surpass the legitimate expectations of others.
He is some thing besides an author, and is not, therefore, considered merely as an author. The hearts of men are open to him as to one of their own class; and, whether he exerts himself or not in the conversational circles of his acquaintance, his silence is not attributed to pride, nor his communicativeness to vanity. To these advantages, I will venture to add a superior chance of happiness in domestic life, were it only that it is as natural for the man to be out of the circle of his household during the day, as it is meritorious for the woman to remain for the most part within it. But this subject involves points of consideration so numerou3 and so delicate, and would not only permit, but require, such ample documents from the biography of literary men, that I now merely allude to it in transitu. When the same circumstance has occurred at very different times to very different persons, all of whom have some one thing in common, there is reason
& [These lines in The Danger of writing Verse, by Whitehead, describe the trials of the professed and noted author from the intensity with which the gaze of others is fixed upon him:
“ His acts, his words, his thoughts, no more his own,
to suppose that such circumstance is not merely attributable to the persons concerned, but is, in some measure, occasioned by the one point in common to them all. Instead of the vehement and almost slanderous dehortation from marriage, which the Misogyne, Boccaccio,' addresses to literary men, I would substi. tute the simple advice : be not merely a man of letters. Let literature be an honorable augmentation to your arms; but not constitute the coat, or fill the escutcheon !
To objections from conscience I can of course answer in no other way, than by requesting the youthful objector (as I have already done on a former occasion) to ascertain with strict selfexamination, whether other influences may not be at work ; whether spirits," not of health,” and with whispers “not from heaven,” may not be walking in the twilight of his consciousness. Let him catalogue his scruples, and reduce them to a distinct intelligible form ; let him be certain, that he has read with a docile mind and favorable dispositions the best and most fundamental works on the subject ; that he has had both mind and heart opened to the great and illustrious qualities of the many renowned characters, who had doubted like himself, and whose researches had ended in the clear conviction, that their doubts had been groundless, or at least in no proportion to the counterweight. Happy will it be for such a man, if
his contemporaries elder than himself he should meet with one, who, with similar powers and feelings as acute as his own, had entertained the same scruples; had acted upon them; and who by after-research (when the step was, alas ! irretrievable, but for that very reason his research undeniably disinterested) had discovered himself to have quarrelled with received opinions only to embrace errors, to have left the direction tracked out for bim on the high road of honorable exertion, only to deviate into a labyrinth, where when he had wandered till his head was giddy, his best good fortune was finally to have found his way out again, too late for prudence though not too late for conscience or for truth! Time spent in such delay is time won : for manhood in the meantime is advancing, and with it increase of knowledge,
• Vita e Costumi di Dante. (See Appendix, note M. S. C.)