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grand providential order of human development; and aiding alike the virtue and happiness of individuals and the progress of the species, will be recognized as divine, from the principles to which it appeals, from the spirit which it has diffused, and from the works which it perpetuates. A church, embodying the great idea of human brotherhood, dissolving the bitterness of our sectarian distinctions in its fervid spirit of comprehensive love, uniting the most diversified forms of speculative belief and intellectual activity in the sympathies of a common trust and hope, and in joint efforts of earnest self-sacrifice for the common weal-a church such as good men in all quarters of the Christian world are now eagerly looking forward to, that would make Christianity a work rather than an idea, and translate a tradition of the past into a present fact—will prove, we have not a doubt, in the generations which are to come, a perpetual and unerring witness to the true divinity that was in Christ, setting in their true light the history and the doctrine associated with his name, which have hitherto been the subject of such conflicting criticism and so many divergent opinions. All who contribute, by the earnest truthfulness of their writings and teachings, to accelerate this blessed issue of present controversy, we regard as real benefactors of mankind; and in this number, notwithstanding our dissent from him on some not unimportant points, we cannot hesitate to place the distinguished author of the work before us.
ART. V. THE NOVELS AND POEMS OF THE
The Saint's Tragedy; or, The True Story of Elizabeth of Hungary, Landgravine of Thuringia, Saint of the Romish Calendar. London: J. W. Parker.
Yeast a Problem. Reprinted, with corrections and additions,
N all ages of civilization the most thoughtful men must have deemed their own generation the best worth studying, if only as the latest phase of the world familiar to them. And if such men had in all ages left the most conspicuous impress on the records of their time, those records would, we conceive, have manifested this in their form and character. At every epoch these thinkers must have felt
The human beings about them were the inheritors of all the legacies left by those that had gone before, in face and form, character, manners, and beliefs. The institutions which these beings formed, and were formed by, whether social, political, or religious, were the latest outcome of the mutual relations of man, the universe, and the power that created and controls it. The doubts and difficulties suggested by the contemplation of these institutions and their working, were the doubts most pressing for resolution, the difficulties most important to grapple with. Before them was the riddle to be read, and the society of which they formed units was the Edipus to solve that riddle, or fall a sacrifice to the Sphinx that propounded it.
But if this be admitted as probable in conception, it is evident enough that this tendency is very unequally exemplified in such utterances of representative men as have come down
Some periods have left no trace whatever of any need felt to read the world's riddle. Their marking minds are neither. metaphysicians, nor poets, nor theologians, but artists-reflectors and reproducers of the strength, beauty, and harmony of the outward creation that surrounded them. In other ages, not less artistically creative, the representation of man, his passions, his achievements, and his fortunes-dramatically or epically set forth-has occupied the most active and enduring intelligences. Some epochs of singular force and various fertility, have combined the artistic with the poetic power, and these again with the speculative or metaphysical. But whatever may have been the ways in which the ages have recorded themselves for the world's education, it is difficult, if not impossible, to believe that by the side of the sculptor and the painter, the epic poet and the dramatist, there has not always existed the curious speculator on all that afforded subjectmatter for statue or picture, for epic or for drama.
But while time has spared so many of the noblest works of ancient sculpture to grace our museums and galleries, and to be joys for ever to hundreds and thousands-while Homer and Virgil and Dante, Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides furnish the best part of the intellectual feast for all times that follow them, the works of the speculators have, many of them, perished utterly; others have come to us meagrely and shadow-wise in compilations, or have to be painfully recomposed from quotations and allusions; not a few survive in mouldy crypts, or on dusty shelves, in mildewed vellum, or between worm-riddled oaken boards, not read, nor like to be, but seldom wholly unworthy the reading, if life were long enough for looking back. With Plato and Aristotle, indeed, most educated men profess, and many have, considerable familiarity. But the latter, in this country at least, owes such study as he receives mainly to the stubborn adherence of Oxford to the old ways; and as to the former, how many that have got up the regular tale of dialogues for a Cambridge classical tripos, ever reopen the "Phædrus," or the "Protagoras," the "Apology," or the "Republic," after leaving the University?
Ancient history would furnish abundant illustration of the comparatively narrow space in the world's records filled by speculators, but for our immediate purpose it will be enough to refer to modern times and our own country. With relation to the subject of this article, there is indeed a special reason
why we should confine our view to Christian and English history. For if the writer, on whose works we propose to comment, have one distinction, it is that in all he has written the Christian and the Englishman are uppermost. The pictures he paints are eminently English; or, if foreign, chosen for their significance to Englishmen and our own times;-the problems he propounds are problems for men claiming to be Christian, and such solutions as he hints at, or enounces, are derived from the Christian creed, and based on the Christian conception of duty.
Limiting our view, therefore, to England, we shall find speculation on man, his relations to the present, and his destinies in the future, subordinated, at all marking epochs, to some form of action upon things or men, or some representation of them. At least, the names that symbolize the working intellect of such epochs are the names, not of speculators or questioners, but of kings and legislators, of captains and poets. If philosophers are remembered, it is as workers on nature, or investigators of her laws, rather than as speculators or inquirers about man's relations to her, and the power that guides him and her alike. Roger Bacon is little more than a name to the most learned of us. To vulgar apprehension he is neither more nor less than a conjuror. But thousands who only know him in connection with his brazen head are familiar with the bright and living word-pictures of the fourteenth century which Chaucer has left us. With him, indeed, begins, for most of us, all distinct impression of the past of England. Chronologies of reigns, and records of battles, and even collections of statutes, help common minds a marvellous little way towards the conception of manners or comprehension of institutions. But the poet comes; and not an intelligent artizan nowa-days but can ride with him and his four-and-twenty in a company from the Southwark Tabard, that bright May morning, on their pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket. Open his pages, and there, called up in the magic mirror by the gramarye of his quick spirit and vivid pencil, defiles before us the pageant of the fourteenth century in England-every class depicted, in habit, as it lived, talking, jesting, eating, drinking, story-telling-real men and women, with whom English pulses may beat in tune for ever.
There were speculators, and no common ones, in England at that time, and Chaucer was no stranger to them or their speculations. With Wiclif and his "Poor Priests," he had probably been in intimate relation. With the physical and metaphysical studies of his time, his great poem shews him to have been familiar. Witness his immortal pictures of the "Poore
Persone," and the " Clerk of Oxenforde." Even the wild doctrines and hap-hazard experiments of the Alchemists had evidently occupied his attention. But he insinuates the doctrines. of the Lollards in a character, and puts his alchemical knowledge in a tale. The tale of Melibeus is a moral essay, and the Persone's tale is a sermon; but with these two exceptions, Chaucer paints instead of preaching. Travelling down the stream of history, from Edward the Third to Elizabeth, the field of literature is barren to popular apprehensions; nor do we light on really familiar names till Spenser and Shakspere sum up the epic and dramatic power of our most remarkable intellectual era. But what do we know of the voluminous tomes of the Neo-Platonizers, their contemporaries, or of the successors who continued the work of those patient and scholarly men down to the times of the Commonwealth? Francis Bacon towers, alone, among the speculative minds of the seventeenth century. But he, if he did not impress a positive change in the direction of the intellect in physical enquiry, at least indicated the route it was henceforth to follow, and must be regarded less as a speculator than as a guide in positive science.
But besides the speculation which presents itself professedly as such, there is the speculation which disguises itself in the poem, the drama, or the story. Of this we find little trace in the writers under the Tudors and the Stuarts. Creative imagination in the Elizabethan times, found its chief employment in writing for the stage. Shakspere deals with humanity in its broadest characteristics, not with the humanity of his own time. If his successors deviated from his example in this, it was but to paint the manners of their own day. There is no trace in any of them of a deep consciousness of the problems presented by contemporary society, or an overmastering impulse to attempt their solution. The novel, throughout those times, never rose beyond the scale and pretensions of the brief tale, translated or imitated from the Italian. Defoe was the first who used the novel as the vehicle for elaborate delineations of individual character and broad pictures of social life. In his "Colonel Jack," his "Roxana," and his "Moll Flanders," he did for his day what Dickens has done for ours. These remarkable fictions embody the experiences of a shrewd and close observer, profoundly conscious of social evils, and working with a deliberate design of awakening attention to those evils, with a view to their remedy. From his time England has never wanted novelists, who have followed in the same track. Fielding and Richardson, Smollett and Goldsmith, worked from the life, with the object of correcting evils and abuses, as well as of interesting and amusing their readers.