페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

than once been appointed to the post of honour, and shown himself worthy of it. His trained intellect, great energy, and command of language, make him formidable, both in attack and in defence; and we presume that as there are few other achievements he has not accomplished, that we shall one day see him holding the Castle Dangerous of office. Mr. Gladstone is the most polished speaker in the House of Commons. His verbal resources are as remarkable as his management of them; and his manner is invariably that of a gentleman. He is charged with subtlety' by coarser minds, but we fancy that the English intellect, which is not distinguished for its analytical power, treats the subject in a somewhat jumbling fashion. Mr. Gladstone inclines to the Tractarian party-Tractarians are no better than Jesuits-Jesuits are proverbially subtle-and, therefore, when Mr. Gladstone is defining, very elaborately, the difference between long annuities and deferred annuities, he is talking Jesuitically. We believe that Mr. Gladstone would be a more popular orator if he would be less explicit ; but, while he exhausts the subject, he sometimes exhausts the listener. His refined and scholarly periods, the creation of the moment, but as elegantly balanced and as keenly pointed as if they had been written and studied-are always marvels of fluency, and often specimens of eloquence. Mr. Walpole's earnest, thoughtful, gentlemanly style, is. a model for young members; and, though a lawyer, he never metes out lawyer measure. His rising commands instant and respectful attention, and we never heard an unkind thing said by or to the late Home Secretary. Lord Stanley inherits his father's intellect, but not his declamatory power; he is, however, struggling successfully against a difficulty of delivery, and speaks so well, that no one grudges the trouble of following him. We incline to think he will achieve a distinguished position. Mr. Bright, notwithstanding the disadvantage of advocating opinions which are often extravagant, is among the very ablest speakers in the House. Though it is a general remark, that his tone during the present session has been less defiant than formerly, his worst defect is still the arrogance and intolerance of his language, insonuch that a friend is reported to have said of him that, had he not been a Quaker, he would have been a pugilist. On the other hand, he is extremely ready, and can both reason and declaim with unusual power. Mr. Cobden has a down look, and a manner which is neither masculine nor polished. He hammers away, with a narrow, niggling action of the fore-arm; and his arguments partake of the same small but continuous character; till at the close you find that, despite your dislike at being jolted onwards in such a fashion, he has proved his case from his premises. The ultra-montane champion, Mr. Lucas, has a disagreeable, vinegar

[blocks in formation]

voice; but his taste for superstition makes him so habitually wrathful with everything Protestant, that the voice is amusingly suitable to the themes he chiefly selects. He is one of the few smart agents of the priests; and his perverse oratory, which hurts nobody but himself and the Roman Catholic interests, is always a relief from the average dullness of the House. Mr. Bernal Osborne used to be a showy declaimer, and a capital hand at letting off prepared fireworks: but he has taken office; and whereas in that very 1850 debate, of which we have spoken before, he assailed Sir James Graham mercilessly, and ridiculed his career and consistency, calling him the successor to Mr. Urquhart, in 1854 he is Sir James's decorous First Secretary, and squibbeth no more. Sir James's own style of speaking is pretty well known. A perfect master of his subject and of himself, and by no means afraid to use a strong word upon occasion, he is among the most dangerous antagonists in the House. The steam-engine rapidity of Sir George Grey, whose concentrated energy of speech is a curiosity-the exuberant action of Lord Claude Hamilton, faintly imitated by Mr. Apsley Pellatt -the tears in the voice of Lord Bernard, the downright groan of Mr. Edward Ball, the continuous garrulity of Mr. Aglionby when once set going-the ill-rewarded efforts of Mr. Miall to speak effectively on a subject on which he has thought earnestly-the twelve or fourteen perorations of Mr. Hume to every speech the veteran delivers-may be matters of good-natured note, but they have, of course, little to do with oratory. There are some earnest men, chiefly young, who are coming up,' and will, we trust, do good service; for they speak as single-minded English gentlemen, who eschew quackery and cant. Lord Stanley, on one side, and Mr. Layard, the member for Nineveh,' on the other, are excellent types of a class to which we look with hopefulness, for the world is very weary both of Red Tape and of Cotton Twist.

We have frequently heard it asked whether there is much Wit in the House, and have never known any variation in the reply. Very seldom, indeed, is a good thing' said within these walls. Yet the House of Commons is an indulgent audience, where it likes the speaker; but it is here as elsewhere, the most senile anecdote, execrably told, will be endured from a favourite, while an unknown man will receive a groan in return for an epigram. The last deliberately-conceived neat thing within our recollection was said by the late Mr. Sheil, who, complimenting a noble lord who is ever active in the cause of Christian civilization, said that he had made Humanity one of Shaftesbury's Characteristics.' One jest delights the House very much; indeed, it never fails; and it must have been heard a good many thousand times. It is when a speaker confuses the name of the member

[ocr errors]

to

to whom he refers with that of the place for which that gentleman sits. Accidentally, or (such things are) by design, let a senator speak of the noble lord the member for Palmerston, or the honourable baronet the member for Molesworth, and the House goes off into a roar. It is a safe point, like Mr. Hardcastle's anecdote of Old Grouse in the gun-room: your worship must not tell that story, if we are not to laugh; I can't help laughing at that: we have laughed at it these twenty years.' Among the smaller recreations of the House is the raising a terrific cry when a member new to parliamentary manners accidentally walks between the Speaker and the member speaking. This unpardonable violation of etiquette brings from all sides the most indignant exclamations. The puzzled look of the criminal as he sits down: that what have I done?' is part of the sport; and we almost fear that by publishing the secret we shall be depriving the House of one of its innocent diversions.

We originally proposed to speak of the House of Commons only, and have endeavoured to restrict ourselves to that single topic-one which can never be otherwise than interesting to Englishmen. We have wished to treat the subject on the Trosve, Tyriusve principle, so unhesitatingly laid down by the father of gods and men in a case reported by a Latin author of eminence; and if we have deviated from impartiality it is because it is with opinions as with the rays of light, that the distortions produced by the medium through which they pass are not apparent to our perceptions. It is possible that our sketches may facilitate, with those who have not, like Ingenuus, paid a visit to the House, the future studies of

The grand debate,

The popular harangue, the tart reply.'

But, inasmuch as we have talked only of those who talk, we cannot find it in our hearts to conclude without a tribute to the invaluable men who do not talk, and who follow the advice of John Locke, given to his cousin, Mr. King:-'I would not have you speak in the House, but you can communicate your light and apprehensions to some honest speaker who may make use of it. For there have always been very able members who never speak, who yet, by their penetration and foresight, have this way done as much service as any within those walls.' These are truly excellent men, and would there were more of them. Let it not be forgotten that when the present universe is brought to the close predicted by the northern legends, a new system is to be established, of which the grand principle is to be Silence. If the new system includes a Parliament, we shall canvass the electors.

ART.

ART. II.-History of Latin Christianity; including that of the Popes to the Pontificate of Nicolas V. By Henry Hart Milman, D.D., Dean of St. Paul's. Vols. I., II., III. London, 1854.

IT

T is often a matter of complaint, sometimes gravely felt, sometimes loudly expressed, how little connexion seems to exist between the magnificence of our great ecclesiastical edifices and the life of the institutions which are sheltered beneath them. Yet this sense of disproportion is not the one which has always been called up by the sight of those stately edifices. Nor will it be awakened, if in the heart of our crowded cities, in the centre of the busiest stir of national life, we are reminded not only of the pastoral zeal which ministers to the wants of the present, but of the learning which recalls the past, and the wisdom which forecasts the future. The lofty tower which before the Great Fire looked down over the metropolis, was no unworthy memento of the enlightened learning of Colet, or of the genius of Donne. The majestic dome of Wren might not unfitly cast its shadow over the temporary home of Butler. And we confess that now, in like manner, it is not without a certain pleasing sense of congruity that we see the name of the Dean of St. Paul's on the title-page of what may fairly be called the most important work on ecclesiastical history that the English language has produced.

We do not forget the quaint wisdom of Fuller, or the fervour of Milner-we do not overlook the compendious and useful narratives which have been published by Dean Waddington, by Dr. Burton, and (to mention the best and latest work of the kind) by Mr. Robertson. But none of these can vie in the union of learning, and ability, and extent, with that which is now before us. With a poetic temperament, of which the first fire glowed in those striking passages of lyrical and dramatic poetry by which he won his earliest fame, Dean Milman has combined an amount of industry and experience, which he has steadily applied to the subject of which these three-we trust we may add without presumptuous anticipation-these six volumes are the crowning result. Beginning with the history of the Jewish nation, he has gradually worked on through the rise of Christianity under the Roman Empire' to the period which covers its settlement in the European nations, and includes almost the whole ground which ecclesiastical history has usually occupied.

We do not mean to assert that this history is in all points the model of what such a history should be. For such a work no one man, with powers however varied, will ever suffice. To some we doubt not that in this, as in his earlier works, there will

appear

appear to be a certain monotony of sentiment, if we may so express it, which hardly suits with the richness and variety of a field, over which all the lights and shades of character, human and divine, are for ever playing in the most complicated form— a tendency-probably induced by a natural recoil from the usual temper of ecclesiastical historians-to insist on the gentle and benevolent aspect of Christianity, sometimes almost to the exclusion of its sterner, and bolder expressions. There is also in many parts of these volumes an abruptness and carelessness of composition, which, whilst it sometimes presents an agreeable, oftener, perhaps, affords an unpleasing contrast to the polish and grace which characterized most of his former writings-sentences unconnected, repeated, broken-entangled with parenthesissometimes even facts, evidently from mere oversight, miswritten or omitted. Nor can we think that it was necessary (even for the sake of writing, according to his well-sustained purpose, a history, not a succession of dissertations on history') to give once again the details of obscure periods, or the summary-it can hardly be more than a summary-of the lives of Carlovingian princes and German popes, whose names we willingly forget as soon as read.

6

But in spite of these drawbacks-some of them, perhaps, the inevitable results of the pressure of materials-we repeat that no such work has appeared in English ecclesiastical literaturenone which combines such breadth of view with such depth of research-such high literary and artistic eminence with such patient and elaborate investigation-such appreciation of the various forms of greatness and goodness with such force of conception and execution-none which exhibits so large an amount of that fearlessness of results which is the necessary condition of impartial judgment and trustworthy statement. And in lesser points we cannot forbear to notice its abundant references (so far as we have had the means of judging) to the best sources, old and new; or again its happy art of questioning-that art which Bacon so well calls the half of knowledge-but which we never saw so frequently and aptly employed as in the long series of suggestive interrogatories which in these pages often take the place of what in other historians would be a collection of positive, but apocryphal, assertions.

Perhaps we shall render the fullest justice to our author and the best service to our readers, if we endeavour to answer the question-probably the first which many who open these volumes will ask-What is Latin Christianity?'-and that the more, because in so doing we shall, in fact, bring out what is the chief and peculiar excellence of the work.

« 이전계속 »