Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

these timorous and misplaced precautions are not only useless, but pernicious ;-useless, inasmuch as a young child in its natural state is utterly unconscious of, and indifferent to, the class of subjects which are supposed by its elders (from their own lamentable self-knowledge) to have such dangerous attraction for it; and pernicious, because the whole force of that attraction, whatever it be, is thus reserved for the moment at which it is really felt, and consequently really dangerous. It will not be pretended that, as far as boys are concerned, it is possible by external precautions to defer free converse with books longer. The period of emancipation from the restraints of childhood must leave a young man to the guidance of his own taste, reason and conscience, in the choice of his reading; and woe to him if he has no better safeguard than the entire novelty of every coarse expression or equivocal allusion!

With regard to the other sex, the same impossibility does not exist. A careful mother may prolong indefinitely the vigilant surveillance of her daughter's reading, and we are assured that in France this is actually the case. Up to the time of their marriage, when this and other restrictions drop at once, young ladies not only read no novels (a privation upon which we sincerely congratulate them), but no books except those supposed to be expressly fitted for their age and sex. Whether the result is, on a comparison with the greater latitude allowed in this and other respects to English girls, unfavourable to the purity of mind and conduct of the latter, we leave it to our readers to determine. Without pretending to judge a question on which far too many hasty and unfair decisions are pronounced on every side, we shall only venture to express our conviction, that in simplicity and purity of heart and life, and in devotion to domestic duties, the women of England, especially those whose understandings have been early schooled and fortified by intercourse with the great and wise, are at least not inferior to any who have ever entered on the perplexing realities of life, from the walls of a convent, or encountered its temptations with the ignorance and inexperience of a babe.

It would seem superfluous to repeat that we mean, and can mean, no such absurdity as that all books are fit for children; but we know the unfairness with which opinions are distorted,

and we therefore say again, that we take for granted that the books open to their choice would be only such as have the tendency common to all the highest flights and exercises of human genius and human reason,-namely, to make us sensible of our position on earth and our kindred with heaven, and to excite in us the earnest purpose and the humble hope so to think, to feel and to live, as not to belic our high calling. With such aspirations, religion in its purest and sublimest form, the religion of him whose life was the clear and perfect manifestation of the Godlike,-naturally allies itself, and is indeed inseparable from them; for when the soul of man has reached its utmost strength and elevation, it can find employment and rest only in the Divine.

ARTICLE IV.

1. The Choral Service of the United Church of England and Ireland. By the Rev. JOHN JEBB, A.M., Rector of Peterstow, Herefordshire, late Prebendary of Limerick. London: J. W. Parker. 1843.

2. The Music of the Church, considered in its various branches, Congregational and Choral. By the Rev. J. A. LATROBE, M.A., Curate of St. Peter's, Hereford. London: Seeley and Sons.

1831.

3. An Apology for Cathedral Service. London: John Bohn.

1839.

4. On the Choral Service of the Anglo-Catholic Church. London: G. Bell. 1844.

It is time that the public attention be drawn to the subject of English Cathedral Music, which at present seems destined to be quietly thrust aside as a thing of nought, and, amidst all the din with which the Church of England now resounds, to be suffered to fade, and droop and die. If this is to be its fate, let it be known, proclaimed and sanctioned,―let us witness its decline and fall with our eyes open, with a full knowledge of its destined doom, and with a clear antici

pation of its approaching extinction. But we believe that such is not the expectation, still less the wish, of the people of England: we believe that so noble a bequest they will not willingly let die, and that they only require to be informed of its peril in order to bestir themselves in its defence. They have the richest collection of devotional music in the world; they have the amplest endowments for its efficient performance; while their Cathedrals, the depositories of this store of genius and learning, the inheritors of all these munificent bequests, exhibit at this moment too generally the most helpless decrepitude or the lowest vulgarity. Could the present feebleness of our Cathedral choirs be placed in plain and palpable contrast with their former strength,-could we on one day see all the stalls in St. Paul's Cathedral filled with welltrained singers, and hear" the service high and anthem clear" of past ages, and on the following day witness the "counterfeit presentment" of the present time,-the contrast would be too humiliating for quiet endurance: the public voice would speak in a tone too loud and too indignant to be disregarded. But the work of destruction has been slow, gradual and insidious; it has gone on from age to age, from generation to generation; it has proceeded step by step, until at length it approaches consummation.

Before that period arrives, we desire to invite the attention of our countrymen to the subject, and to tell them that it is high time to awake out of sleep. Numerous as are the theological periodicals of the present day, fierce as are the conflicts of those who profess to range themselves under the banners of the same Church, on the subject which now engages our consideration they are dumb. It may be from indifference, it may be from ignorance, it may be from conscious guilt:-they may care nothing about it, or they may be participes criminis,-no matter, they know what is going on and are silent. It is no party affair: Whigs or Tories have nothing to gain or to lose: there is no political game to fight, or prize to win, and they are accordingly quiet. It is a curious fact that a single newspaper only has noticed and denounced the deadly blow aimed by a recent act of parliament against Cathedral music. The Bishop of London was its

author, the Tory papers were mute; Lord John Russell acquiesced in it,-the Whig journals were dumb. The subject has excited some attention, but only from individuals; no recognized organ of any party, in Church or in State, has dared to touch it. The Quarterly Review' has had some articles on the subject of music as connected with the Church, not unworthy its reputation; but it has steered, with a degree of adroitness little understood by its general readers, clear of the point to which we mean to direct our course. The Cathedral Music of England,-what was it,-what is it,-what will it be?

To these questions perhaps few persons could give a satisfactory reply, either historically or experimentally, and fewer still prophetically. In the first place, Cathedral music is known to the multitude historically only through the writings of Burney and Hawkins, the former very scantily informed on the subject, the latter consulted like a dictionary, but never read. Practically, Cathedral music is only known to the inhabitants of cities, not towns; Ely, with its nine hundred inhabitants, knows more of it than Manchester with its population of three hundred thousand. Hence, when a bill for virtually abolishing the Cathedral service is brought into the House of Commons, the members for Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Bradford, and so on, beholding their Whig leader as its champion, conclude it to be a salutary measure of reform, and give it their tacit support. That leader himself, as able to understand its merits and its results as "to command the Channel fleet or rebuild St. Paul's," becomes the mere tool of a crafty priest; and, in order to vindicate his claim to know everything better than anybody else, takes this bill under his patronage. Its effect is only visible in part; the ruins of our Cathedral music remain to us; we can imagine their fair and rich details from the scanty outline that survives; but before another generation shall arise even this will be obliterated, and not a vestige will appear of the genius which reared the majestic and unrivalled fabric. It may be too late to speak to any purpose to drowsy or indolent legislators, but it is nevertheless right to disclose to the English public the extent and amount of their loss.

Cathedral music has never wanted individual advocates,

nor is it now destitute of them, but they are few. One section of the Clergy dislikes the Cathedral service,—another is deeply implicated in the continuance of existing abuses,-another hopes to be, (for deaneries and prebendal stalls would be less desirable "prizes" if the choirs had their due),—nearly all are ignorant of its history, character and requirements. Singing is a thing to be turned over to mechanics, the unfit associates for an aristocratic clergy. This is the doctrine of the present day; no wonder that the Choral (or Cathedral) service of our Church finds few able or zealous champions!

The three first works which stand at the head of this article are perhaps the best modern publications of their kind. The second is the least valuable, and has excited little attention; not so much indeed as it deserves, but it deals too much in declamation and too little with fact. We admit the difficulty of the position of a clergyman who, residing in a Cathedral town, volunteers a defence of Cathedral music; a full revelation of its history would be regarded by his capitular neighbours as an attack on their possessions; his position therefore leads him to generalize, to suppress, to soften.

The Apology for the Cathedral Service' is written by a man of whose class and character we did not think there was a living example. He has the feelings, the spirit, almost the language, of George Herbert, "who made, twice a week, a "thankful pilgrimage from Bemerton to Salisbury for the sake "of enjoying the Cathedral service, which when well and reve"rently performed,” adds the author of the 'Apology," "is one "of the purest feasts to be enjoyed on earth.... He enters 66 upon these musings with no hostile feelings towards any part "of the universal Church, but surely with especial love for that "branch of it which God's own right hand hath planted, and "which hath been watered with the dew of his blessing in this "most favoured kingdom." The author of this unpretending volume must surely dwell under the shadow of a Cathedral,— perhaps the quiet inmate of some library, for his knowledge of books is large and general. There is such a holy calm, such unaffected piety, such Christian zeal pervading the work, that no dignitary of the Church but might envy the spirit that could prompt and the taste that could utter language so pure and so eloquent. This work, like that of Mr.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »