Obrazy na stronie

(as we do) as a literal fact recorded by in- moral cohesion, the sensual and divided spired wisdom, as an instance of one of the prey of any race, however inferior in sciengreat root-laws of family life, and therefore tific knowledge, which has a clear and fixed of that national life which (as the Hebrew notion of its work and destiny. That many book so cunningly shews) is the organic de- of these signs are shewing themselves more velopment of the family life: or whether he and more ominously in our young men, from shall treat it (as we do not) as a mere apo- the fine gentleman who rides in Rotten Row, logue or myth, he must confess that it is to the boy-mechanic who listens enraptured equally grand in its simplicity, and singular to Mr. Holyoake's exposures of the absurdiin its unexpected result. The words of the ty of all human things save Mr. Holyoake's story, taken literally and simply, no more self

, is a fact which presses itself most on justify the notion that Canaan's slavery was those who have watched this age most careany magical consequence of the old patriarch's fully, and who (rightly or wrongly) attrianger, than they do the well-known theory, bute much of this miserable temper to the that it was the cause of the negro's black- way in which history has been written ness. Ham shews a low, foul, irreverent, among us for the last hundred years. unnatural temper toward his father. The Whether or not Mr. Froude would agree old man's shame is not a cause of shame to with these notions, he is more or less reshis son, but only of laughter. Noah pro- ponsible for them: for they have been sugphesies (in the fullest and deepest meaning gested by his “ History of England from of that word) that a curse will come upon the fall of Wolsey to the death of Elizabeth.” that son's son; that he will be a slave of It was impossible to read the book, without slaves; and reason and experience shew that feeling the contrast between its tone and that he spoke truth. Let the young but see that of every other account of the times which their fathers have no reverence for the gene- one had ever seen. Mr. Froude seems to ration before them, then will they in turn have set to work upon the principle, too have no reverence for their fathers. Let much ignored in judging of the past, that the them be taught that the sins of their ances- historian's success must depend on his drators involve their own honour so little, that matic faculty; and not merely on that conthey need not take any trouble to clear the structive element of the faculty in which Mr. blot off the scutcheon, but may safely sit Macaulay shews such astonishing power, but down and laugh over it, saying, “Very like on that higher and deeper critical element ly it is true. If so, it is very amusing, and which ought to precede the constructive proif not--what matter ?"—Then those young cess, and without which the constructive elepeople are being bred up in a habit of mind ment will merely enable a writer, as was which contains in itself all the capabilities of once bitterly but truly said, “to produce degradation and slavery, in self-conceit, hasty the greatest possible misrepresentation, with assertion, disbelief in nobleness, and all the the least possible distortion of fact.” That other “credulities of scepticism;" parted deeper dramatic faculty, the critical, is not from that past from which they take their logical merely, but moral, and depends on common origin, they are parted also from the moral health, the wideness and heartieach other, and become selfish, self-seeking, ness of his moral sympathies, by which he divided, and therefore weak; disbelieving can put himself, as Mr. Froude has attemptin the nobleness of those who have gone be- ed to do, and as we think successfully, into fore them, they learn more and more to dis- the place of each and every character, and believe in the nobleness of those around not merely feel for them, but feel with them. them, and by denying God's works of old, He does not merely describe their actions come, by a just and dreadful Nemesis, to be from the outside, attributing them arbitrariunable to see His works in the men of their ly to motives which are pretty sure to be own day, to suspect and impugn valour, the lowest possible, because it is easier to righteousness, disinterestedness in their con-conceive a low motive than a lofty one, and temporaries; to attribute low motives ; to to call a man a villain, than to unravel pride themselves on looking at men and patiently the tangled web of good and evil things as “men who know the world," so of which his thoughts are composed. He the young puppies style it; to be less and has attempted to conceive of his characters, less chivalrous to women, less and less re- as he would if they had been his own cospectful to old men, less and less ashamed temporaries and equals, acting, speaking in of boasting about their sensual appetites; his company; and he has, therefore, thought in a word, to shew all these symptoms himself bound to act toward them by those which, when fully developed, leave a gen-rules of charity and courtesy, common alike eration without fixed principles, without to Christian morals, English law, and decent strong faith, without self-restraint, without l'society; namely, to hold every man innocent

till he is proved guilty; where a doubt ex-serving those bonds. It has seemed to him ists, to give the prisoner at the bar the bene- even more paradoxical, that one reputed to fit of it; not to excite the minds of the pub- have been the most sanguinary tyrant who lic against him by those insinuative or vitu- ever disgraced the English throne, should perative epithets, which are but adders and have been not only endured, but loved and scorpions, and on the whole, to believe that regretted by a fierce and free-spoken people ; a man's death and burial is not the least and he, we suppose, could comprehend as reason for ceasing to behave to him like a little as we can the reasoning of such a pasgentleman and a Christian. We are not in. sage as the following, especially when it proclined to play with solemn things, or to copy ceeds from the pen of so wise and temperate Lucian and Quevedo in writing dialogues of a writer as Mr. Hallam. the dead: but what dialogues might some bold “A government administered with so frepen dash off, between the old sons of Anak, quent violations, not only of the chartered at whose coming Hades has long ago been privileges of Englishmen, but of those still moved, and to receive whom all the kings of more sacred rights which natural law has estathe nations have risen up, and the little blished, must have been regarded, one would scribblers who have fancied themselves able imagine, with just abhorrence, and earnest to fathom and describe characters to whom longings for a change. Yet contemporary they were but pigmies! Conceive a half- authorities by no means answer this expectahour's interview between Queen Elizabeth tion. Some mention Henry after his death and some popular lady.scribbler, who has in language of eulogy; (not only Elizabeth, been deluding herself into the fancy that be it remembered, but Cromwell always gossipping inventories of millinery are histo spoke of him with deepest respect; and ry. ... “You pretend to judge me, whose their language always found an echo in the labours, whose cares, whose fiery trials, English heart;) and if we except those whom were beside yours, as the heaving volcano attachment to the ancient religion had inbeside a boy's firework? You condemn my spired with hatred to his memory, few seem weaknesses? Know that they were strong- to have been aware that his name would deer than your strength! You impute mo- scend to posterity among those of the many tives for my sins? Know that till you are tyrants and oppressors of innocence, whom as great as I have been, for evil and for good, the wrath of heaven has raised up, and the you will be as little able to comprehend my servility of man endured." sins as my righteousness! Poor marsh. The names of even those few we should croaker, who wishest not merely to swell up be glad to have; for it seems to us, that to the bulk of the ox, but to embrace it in thy (with the exception of a few ultra-Protestlittle paws, know thine own size, and leave me ants, who could not forgive that persecution to be judged by Him who made me!"... of the reformers, which he certainly permitHow the poor soul would shrink back into ted if not encouraged during one period of nothing before that lion eye which saw and his reign,) no one adopted the modern view guided the destinies of the world, and all the of his character, till more than a hundred flunkey-nature if such a vice exist beyond years after his death, when belief in all nothe grave) come out in utter abjectness, as bleness and faith had died out among an igif the ass in the fable, on making his kick noble and faithless generation, and the scanat the dead lion, had discovered to his horror dalous gossip of such a light rogue as Os. that the lion was alive and well-Spirit borne was taken into the place of honest and of Quevedo! Finish for us the picture which respectful history. we cannot finish for ourselves.

To clear up such seeming paradoxes as In a very different spirit from such has these, by carefully examining the facts of Mr. Froude approached these times. Great the sixteenth century, has been Mr. Froude's and good deeds were done in them; and it work, and we have the results of his labour has therefore seemed probable to him that in two volumes, embracing only a period of there were great and good men there to do eleven years; but giving promise that the them. Thoroughly awake to the fact that the mysteries of the succeeding time will be Reformation was the new birth of the Brit- well cleared up for us in future volumes, ish nation, it has seemed to him a puzzling and that we shall find our forefathers to theory, which attributes its success to the have been, if no better, at least no worse lust of a tyrant, and the cupidity of his cour- men, than ourselves. He has brought to tiers. It has evidently seemed to him para- the task, known talents and learning, a masdoxical that a king who was reputed to have tery over English prose almost unequalled been a satyr, should have chosen to gratify in this generation, a spirit of most patient his passions by entering six times into the and good-tempered research, and that intistrict bonds of matrimony, religiously ob- mate knowledge of human motives and pas.

sions which his former books have shown, and rotting and dying Church, which had recovwhich we have a right to expect from any ered her power after the wars of the Roses, scholar who has really profited by Aris- over an exhausted nation, but in form only, totle's unrivalled Ethics. He has plainly not in life. Wolsey, with whom he has fair examined every contemporary document and understanding sympathy, he sketches as within his reach, and, as he informs us in the transition minister, “loving England the preface, he has been enabled through the well, but loving Rome better," who intends kindness of Sir Francis Palgrave, to consult a reform of the Church, but who, as the a great number of MSS. relating to the Re- Pope's commissioner for that very purpose, formation, hitherto all but unknown to the is liable to a præmunire, and therefore dare public, and referred to in his work as MSS. not appeal to Parliament to carry out his in the Rolls' House, where the originals are designs, even if he could have counted on easily accessible. These, he states, he in- the Parliament's assistance in any measures tends to publish, with additions from his designed to invigorate the Church. At last own reading, as soon as he has brought his arises in the divorce question, the accident history down to the end of Henry the which brings to an issue on its most vita! Eighth's reign.

point the question of Papal power in Eng. But Mr. Froude's chief text-book seems to land, and which finally draws down ruin have been State Papers and Acts of Parlia- upon Wolsey himself. ment. He has begun his work in the only This appears to have happened in the temper in which a man can write accurately winter of 1526-7. It was proposed to marry and well; in a temper of trust toward the the Princess Mary to a son of the French generation whom he describes. The only King. The Bishop of Tarbès, who conducttemper; for if a man has no affection for the ed the negotiations, advised himself (appacharacters of whom he reads, he will never rently by special instigation of the devil) to understand them; if he has no respect for raise a question as to her legitimacy. his subject, he will never take the trouble No more ingenious plan for convulsing to exhaust it. To such an author the Sta- England could have been devised. The tutes at large, as the deliberate expression marriage from which Mary sprang only of the nation's will and conscience, will ap- stood on a reluctant and doubtful dispensapear the most important of all sources of in- tion of the Pope's. Henry had entered into formation; the first to be consulted, the last it at the entreaty of his ministers, contrary to be contradicted; the Canon, which is not to a solemn promise given to his father, and to be checked and corrected by private let- in spite of the remonstrances of the Archters and flying pamphlets, but which is to bishop of Canterbury. No blessing seemed check and correct them. This seems Mr. to have rested on it. All his children had Froude's theory; and we are at no pains to died young save his one sickly girl: a sure confess, that if he be wrong, we see no hope note of divine displeasure in the eyes of that of arriving at truth. If these public docu- coarse-minded Church which has always dements are not to be admitted in evidence be- clared the chief, if not the only, purpose of fore all others, we see no hope for the faith- marriage to be the procreation of children. ful and earnest historian; he must give But more; to question Mary's legitimacy himself up to swim as he may on the frothy was to throw open the question of succession stream of private letters, anecdotes, and to a half-a-dozen ambitious competitors. It pamphlets, the puppet of the ignorance, cre- was, too, probably to involve England at dulity, peevishness, spite, of any and every Henry's death, in another civil war of the gossip and scribbler.

Roses, and in all the internecine horrors Beginning his history with the fall of Wol- which were still rankling in the memories of sey, Mr. Froude enters, of course, at his men, and probably, also, to bring down a first step into the vexed question of Henry's French or Scotch invasion. There was, divorce: an introductory chapter, on the then, too good reason, Mr. Froude shews at general state of England, we shall notice length, for Wolsey's assertion to John Cashereafter.

silis__"If his Holiness, which God forbid, A very short inspection of the method in shall shew himself unwilling to listen to the which he handles his divorce question, gives King's demands, to me assuredly it will be one at once confidence in his temper and but grief to live longer, for the innumerable judgment, and hope that one may at last evils which I foresee will follow. . . . No. come to some clearer understanding of it thing before us but universal and inevitable than the old law gives us, which we have ruin.” Too good reason there was for the already quoted, concerning the dog who confession of the Pope himself to Gardiner, went mad to serve his private ends. In a "What danger it was to the realm to have few masterly pages he sketches for us the this thing hang in suspense. . . . That with

out an heir-male, &c., the realm was like gentleman is bound to do,) does Mr. Froude to come to dissolution.” Too good reason touch on the sins of that hapless woman, for the bold assertion of the Cardinal-Gover- who played for Henry's crown, and paid for nor of Bologna, that he knew the guise of it with her life. With all mercy and courEngland as few men did, and that if the tesy, he gives us proof (for he thinks it his King should die without heirs-male, he was duty to do so) of the French mis-education, sure that it would cost two hundred thousand the petty cunning, the tendency to sensumen's lives; and that to avoid this mischief ality, the wilful indelicacy of her position in by a second marriage, he thought, would Henry's household as the rival of his queen, deserve heaven." Too good reason for the which made her last catastrophe at least assertion of Hall, that all indifferent and possible. Of the justice of her sentence he discreet persons judged it necessary for the has no doubt, any more than of her pre-enPope to grant Henry a divorce, and, by gagement to some one, as proved by a letter enabling him to marry again, give him the existing among Cromwell's papers. Poor hope of an undisputed heir-male." The thing, if she did that which was laid to her Pope had full power to do this; in fact, such charge, and more, she did nothing, after cases had been for centuries integral parts of all, but what she had been in the habit of his jurisdiction, as head of Christendom. seeing the queens and princesses of the He was at once too timid and too time-serv- French court do notoriously, and laugh over ing to exercise his acknowledged authority; shamelessly; while, as Mr Froude well and thus, just at the very moment when his says, “If we are to hold her entirely free spiritual power was being tried in the balance, from guilt, we place not only the King, but he chose ĥimself to expose his political power the Privy-Council, the Judges, the Lords to the same test. Both were equally found and Commons, and the two Houses of Conwanting. He had, it appeared, as little vocation, in a position fatal to their honour heart to do justice among kings and princes, and degrading to ordinary humanity:" (Mr. as he had to seek and to save the souls of Froude should have added Anne Boleyn's men; and the Reformation followed as a own uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and her inatter of course.

father, who were on the commission apThrough the tangled brakes of this di- pointed to try her lovers, and her cousin, vorce question, Mr. Froude leads us with Anthony St. Leger, a man of the very highease and grace, throwing light, and even est character and ability, who was on the beauty, into dark nooks where before all jury which found a true bill against her.) was mist, not merely by his intimate ac- " We cannot,” continues Mr. Froude, “acquaintance with the facts, but still more by quiesce without inquiry in so painful a conhis deep knowledge of human character, and clusion. The English nation, also, as well as of woman's even more than of man's. For she, deserves justice at our hands, and it canthe first time, the actors in this long tragedy not be thought uncharitable if we look with appear to us as no mere bodiless and soul- some scrutiny at the career of a person, less names, but as beings of like passions who, but for the catastrophe with which it with ourselves, comprehensible, coherent, closed, would not have so readily obtained organic, even in their inconsistencies. Cath- forgiveness for having admitted the aderine of Arragon is still the Catherine of dresses of the king, or for having received Shakspeare; but Mr. Froude has given us the homage of the court as its future sovethe key to many parts of her story which reign, while the king's wife, her mistress, as Shakspeare left unexplained, and delicately yet resided under the same roof.” Mr. enough has made us understand how Hen- Froude's conclusion is, after examining the ry's affections, if he ever had any for her facts, the same with the whole nation of faithfully as he had kept (with one excep- England, in Henry's reign: but no one can tion) to that loveless mariage de convenance, accuse him of want of sympathy with the -may have been gradually replaced by in- unhappy woman, who reads the eloquent difference and even dislike, long before the and affecting account of her trial and death, divorce was forced on him as a question not which ends his second volume. Our only only of duty to the nation, but of duty to fear is, that by having thus told the truth, Heaven. And that he did see it in this lat- he has, instead of justifying our ancestors, ter light, Mr. Froude brings proof from his only added one more to the list of people own words, from which we can escape only who are to be "given up” with a cynical by believing that the confessedly honest shrug and smile. We have heard already “ Bluff King Hal” had suddenly become a and among young ladies, too, who can be as consummate liar and a canting hypocrite. cynical as other people in these times, such

Delicately, too, as if speaking of a lady speeches as “Well, I suppose he has proved whom he had met in modern society (as a Anne Boleyn to be a bad creature; but that

[ocr errors]

does not make that horrid Henry any more deposing the Emperor, putting down the right in cutting off her head." Thus two German heresies, and driving back the people will be despised, where only one Turks beyond the pale of Christendom; his was before; and the fact still ignored, that pathetic confession to the Bishop of Bayonne, it is just as senseless to say that Henry cut that "if he could only see the divorce aroff Anne Boleyn's head, as that Queen Vic-ranged, the King re-married, the succession toria hanged Palmer. Death, and death of settled, and the laws and the Church rea far more horrible kind than that which formed, he would retire from the world, Anne Boleyn suffered, was the established and would serve God the remainder of his penalty of the offences of which she was con- days." victed; and which had in her case this fear Peace be with him! He was surely a ful aggravation, that they were offences not noble soul; misled it may be, (as who is against Henry merely, but against the whole not when his turn comes,) by the pride of English nation. She had been married in conscious power; and “though he loved order that there might be an undisputed heir England well, yet loving Rome better;" to the throne, and a fearful war avoided. but still it is a comfort to see, either in past To throw into dispute, by any conduct of or in present, one more brother whom we hers, the legitimacy of her own offspring, need not despise, even though he may have argues a levity or a hard-heartedness which wasted his energies on a dream. of itself deserved the severest punishment. And on a dream he did waste them, in

We will pass from this disagreeable topic, spite of all his cunning. As Mr. Froude, to Mr. Froude's life-like sketch of Pope Čle in a noble passage, says:ment, and the endless tracasseries into which his mingled weakness and cunning led him, " Extravagant as his hopes seem, the prospect and which, like most crooked dealings, ended of realizing them was, humanly speaking, neither by defeating their own object. Pages 125 chimerical, nor even improbable. He had but and sqq. of Vol. I. contain sketches of him, made the common mistake of men of the world, his thoughts and ways, as amusing as they who are the representatives of an old order of are historically important; but we have no He could not read the signs of the times; and

things, when that order is doomed and dying. space to quote from them. It will be well confounding the barreness of death with the barfor those to whom the Reformation is still a renness of winter, which might be followed by a matter of astonishment, to read those pages, new spring and summer, he believed that the old and consider what manner of man he was, life-tree of Catholicism, which in fact was but in spite of all pretended divine authority, cumbering the ground, might bloom again in its under whose rule the Romish system re

old beauty. The thing which he called heresy ceived its irrecoverable wound.

was the fire of Almighty God, which no politic

congregation of princes, no state machinery, But of all these figures, not excepting though it were never so active, could trample out; Henry's own, Wolsey stands out as the and as, in the early years of Christianity, the most grand and tragical; and Mr. Froude meanest slave who was thrown to the wild beasts has done good service to history, if only in for his presence at the forbidden mysteries of the making us understand at last the wondrous Gospel, saw deeper, in the divine power of his “butcher's son.” Shakspeare seems to have faith, into the future even of this earthly world felt (though he could explain the reason traer political prophet than Wolsey would have

than the sagest of bis imperial persecutors.---so a neither to his auditors, nor, perhaps, to him- been found in the most ignorant of those poor self) that Wolsey was, on the whole, a he-men, for whom his police was searching in the roical type of man. Mr. Froude shows at purlieus of London, who were risking death and once his strength and his weakness ; his torture in disseminating the pernicious volumes deep sense of the rottenness of the Church; of the English Testament.” his purpose to purge her from those abominations which were as well known, it seems, It will be seen from this magnificent pasto him, as they were afterwards to the whole sage that Mr. Froude is distinctly a Pro. people of England ; his vast schemes for ed- testant. He is one, to judge from his book ; ucation; his still vaster schemes for break- and all the better one, because he can syming the alliance with Spain, and uniting pathize with whatsoever nobleness, even France and England as fellow-servants of with whatsoever mere conservatism, existed the Pope, and twin-pillars of the sacred in the Catholic party. And therefore, befabric of the Church, which helped so much cause he has sympathies which are not toward his interest in Catherine's divorce, merely party ones, but human ones, he has as a “means" (these are his own words) "to given the world, in these two volumes, a bind my most excellent sovereign and this history of the early Reformation altogether glorious realm to the holy Roman See in unequalled. In this human sympathy, while faith and obedience for ever;" his hopes of it has enabled him to embalm in most.

« PoprzedniaDalej »