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though he had run to the opposite pole. I shall endeavor to keep clear of controversy; the situation, delineated as it was by the men themselves, out of which their final resolve issued, will point the moral of many arguments.
And now to begin. We must say, with Hamlet, though not disparagingly, "Look here upon this picture, and on this." See, amid the jostling crowd of mediocrities, in an age given over to commerce, politics, money-making, journalism, and vulgar enjoyment, these two men of genius-one French, one English-who pass by the whole scene of Vanity Fair as an empty stage-delusion. They are nothing if not idealists-dreaming their dream, perchance, while the many feast on good things; but a dream-in Newman contemplative, supernatural, in Renan Hegelian, concerned only with the process of the world, and a divinity still latent-which neither would exchange for all beside it. This unconquerable passion was breathed them from the beginning by religion. They come down to literature as out of a higher sphere. The intense purity and clearness of style, the eloquence flowing in a stream so limpid, whereby each is marked off from his fellows and is classic, they have arrived at by no inducement from, without, but in the effort to understand themselves. Each is alone, or regardless of his chance audience. Most instructive it is when Renan describes himself as the least literary of men, and marvels in his .roguish innocence at the French Academics, who can write though they have nothing to say. From the first he was disdainful of the loud-tongued rhetoric which M. Dupanloup had set up as the very finest of the arts at St. Nicholas du Chardonnet. But Renan, who has written such inimitable prose. would have no mention made of style in training French scholars; let them study things and the words will come, he declares again and again. Newman wore himself out over his compositions; yet, at the age of sixty-nine, he could say with delightful simplicity, "I never have been in the practice since I was
a boy of attempting to write well, or to form an elegant style. I think I never have written for writing sake, but my one and single desire and aim has been to do what is so difficult, viz., to express clearly and exactly my meaning." Yes, he had a meaning, a conviction, which would not let him rest until it was embodied in language; and literature as a display of talent, or a thing which could be sold in the market, he no more dreamt of dealing in than he would have dealt in any other commodity and article of commerce. Yet-or shall we not rather say, hence?-there is a beauty and freedom of touch in all that either of these men published, the like of which no popular pen has show. It is art, indeed, but disinterested, patient, and unconventional, addressing itself to those who can grasp its significance, not to the multitude. "I cannot make myself heard when I speak to the many, nor do the many care to hear me. Paucorum hominum sum," wrote the great oratorian. And Renan, in the preface to his “Drames Philosophiques," has these proud words: "Besides the volume which is destined for the circulating 11brary, there is the book of which the triumph consists in its being held of price by some few hundred connoisseurs." His own most cried-up volume had been read by tens of thousands, but still it was to the few and not the many that he appealed.
So frank a dismissal of the crowd argues in the speaker that he does not need them, nor has thought of them in the first place. He will teach, but only those that care to listen; his message has certain undercurrents; it is esoteric, ironical, a winged word that flies over common heads and pierces the heart at a distance. We can never be quite sure that we have caught the prophet's deepest meaning; and he smiles outright when we undertake to decide what he has been aiming at, or to refute a suggestion which has glided across the flow of his metaphors. Such a peculiar and indefinable spirit will be at once supremely truthful and as candid as snow in sunshine. But who will
moral order he says, "they cannot be directly affirmed or denied;" they fall into a sort of never-ending dialogue where every shade of opinion, surmise, and dubitation has its own place. A things here below-in the world of phenomena, which includes conscience are, according to the dreamer of Pantheistic dreams, but symbols and imagery. Yet, ere the pen drops from his hand, when he is finishing the last page of "Ma Sœur Henriette," he too makes a confession such as we could hardly have expected from him. "I never have had any doubt," he tells us, "of the moral order; but I see now with evidence that the whole logical system of the world would be undone, were such lives," as that of his noble-hearted sister, "delusion and deceit."
dare to criticise, or pretend to exhaust, Hume. Of the truths belonging to that a philosophy which never can be resolved into another man's formulas? The candor, the irony, the rare distinction, the transcendent egotism-I quote Newman's own word-and all this lighted up by an impersonal motive (by religion on the one hand, by science, or erudition, or philosophy, on the other), which are thus held forth as independent of the arts of rhetoric, and hostile, in a sense, to literature, cannot be denied to either of my heroes. Their writing is one long soliloquy; I doubt if a second person is ever much more to them than the mask of the Athenian actor, the speaking trumpet through which they hear their own voice. I am struck with the portentous solitude that each makes round about himself. Like the father of idealism, Berkeley, each must build the universe anew, and out of his own feelings; he cannot take it for granted or receive it upon hearsay, or by tradition; it is a problem to be resolved, not an axiom beyond discussion. This everlasting note of interrogation, I think it must be, which has led various well-intentioned writers to charge Cardinal Newman with scepticism; while in Renan we find an unqualified eulogy of Descartes and his methodic doubt as the beginning of wisdom. But let us never be hasty in our judgments concerning these subtle minds. For it is the privilege of genius to name all things afresh and, like Adam, to interpret creation with eyes enlightened but still untaught-the glances of a childman in Paradise.
What an orthodox scepticism, for example, is that which impels Newman to say, "While a man holds the moral governance of God as existing in and through his conscience, it matters not whether he believes his senses or not. For at least he will hold the external world as a divine intimation." To such a one the vital distinction between Hume and Berkeley turns upon this, which of them denied, and which acknowledged, the fact of conscience aboriginal and self-demonstrative. Renan would certainly have held with
The consent of these witnesses, Newman and Renan, in a point of capital importance, is very astonishing, and by no means to be overlooked. They may differ as regards the method of proof; they are at one as to the fact. Nor need we suppose that there is less conviction than there is irony-a growing disease with Renan as old age crept upon him-in those words of powerwhich serve as an introduction to the "Prêtre de Némi;" "I believe with the. Sibyl," he cries out while reflecting on the melancholy fate of the priest Antistius, "that justice will reign, if not on this planet, still in the universe at large; and that the virtuous man will at length be found to have been the well-inspired." Abate, I say, the halfmocking smile; remember that there is. a Gascon of the joyous type in Renan, who will have his joke at all costs; and interpret his true thoughts by the language he has dedicated as an epitaph upon his sister's tomb; shall we not recognize here a great affirmation? But the lightness offends. It does, and with reason. There is a mortal difference between the teachers which tells utterly, at last, to Newman's advantage. We shall find ourselves returning to it ere we have done with them; and then, indeed, if we absolve Renan from the charge of scepticism, we cannot but
Aristippus, or sensual pleasure-monger,
condemn in his declining years the Taine has called it, par excellence, the classic, and we may follow his example. Now of this ancient but surviving, and among the modern French omnipotent, type Renan was the exact posite. He did not believe in authority; law, routine, precedent-the stately and too often chilling architecture, so to term it, of a life which was governed from without, not spontaneous or selfinspired-spoke to him faintly and were shadows, mere phantoms rising up out of the past; they left him cold when they did not stir him to rebel against them. The Celt is shy and restive; he loves passionately and will follow to the death; but he cannot obey the impersonal; he is too much of a poet to dwell at ease among the abstractions and devices of the civil or the canon law. When the fisherman's son is still wandering about the old streets of Tréguier, or prays and meditates in that high mediæval shrine of St. Tudwal-itself a piece of fantasy, soaring rather than solid-or when he goes with his pious mother on pilgrimage to chapels hidden among the aged trees, and framed about by the clouds and storms of Brittany, who could be more edifying more Catholic? But his religion has in it something antique-I had almost said, elemental; it goes beyond history and dogma; it is Paganism, too, but exceedingly primitive; and its wonder-working saints have little in common with a purple-clad hierarchy, seated on thrones, judging the world by law, and practised in the conquering Roman state-craft. He is of the year 600, and that in wild Wales; for these ages upon ages have passed like a winter's day, not changing the Cymric folk, but throwing them back into their own thoughts, where, in a waking dream, they can picture to themselves the world as they would have it to be. Scatter them among strangers, send them into the regiments on the frontier, to the seminary in Paris, and they fall homesick and die. At least, they will be utterly reserved, silent, and meditative; no common life has the power to absorb them; and like Merlin who be
Renan has left us his own Darwinian formula, mockingly but as if he laid stress upon it,-"Breton by the father's side, Gascon by the mother, in the remote distance, Lapp or Finnish." One constituent was not to be found in him-the Roman, Latin, South-Eastern French; we have no proper name for it in English, and our criticism, as well as our history, loses thereby; but M.
That is the impression left on me by Renan's account of his childhood and youth; by the pathetic story of his sister's life in those lonesome years of Paris; by the description of Issy and its studious painful solitude which friendship seems never to have sweetened; by his desperate and yet speechless wrestlings with the respectable, narrow, conservative, Gallican orthodoxy of St. Sulpice; and by the letters which passed between himself and Henriette, who was in heroic exile, fifteen hundred miles away, earning her bread as a teacher in the palace of Prince Zamoyski at Clemensow or Warsaw. It is the record of a tragedy that went on to its inevitable yet unforeseen conclusion, step by step, during eight years and a half, from the day when Ernest, a lad of fifteen, was admitted by M. Dupanloup into his fashionable seminary of St. Nicholas, until he found himself, a rebel rather than an outcast, lodging at M. Crouzet's, alone and without resources except in Henriette's devotion.
holds the transparent walls of his appear-only from a sense of devotion prison on every side, in an enchanted to her father's, memory and because she loneliness, they put between them- alone could support their falling house, selves and the world a barrier which no Henriette, I say, had come into an ausforce can penetrate, no spell save the tere but heterodox Deism, and rejoiced traditional words of might can dis- when her brother seemed to be taking solve. the same path. She behaved with admirable forbearance, not pressing him by so much as a hint of her own opinions; he must obey his conscience, and at all costs be true to himself; she is but the physician noting his case, and telling him what it requires, that is all. But in character she is more decided, as Frenchwomen often are; she welcomes every token of independence in him, nor will suffer the young untried soul to go back and rest upon authority; no, "the veil once rent," she says, "cannot be restored;" his eyes are open, how can he shut them again? It is manifest what a momentum her words must have given at such a critical time to the arguments which drove her brother onward. She was the impersonation of private judgment, obliging him to trust in himself. And all this with a delicacy of speech, a consideration, a self-sacrifice, that lend to her writing the infinite tenderness of a mother dipping the pen, as it were, in her own heart's blood. Chateaubriand would have called her Velléda, the Druidess, not unworthily; for in all she did or said there was a glow of fem. inine enthusiasm, and an utter disregard of self, as if in obedience to the ideals of a religion which, in its historical shape no longer appealing to her reason, still nevertheless governed her conduct. We may, perhaps, believe that Ernest Renan would not have left the Roman Church had Henriette thrown her influence into the orthodox scale. At all events, she decided him when he was yet wavering, and secured him a year of independence at the period which proved to be a turning-point in his life as in his convictions.
Sincere, and infecting us with his own trouble, as genius always will, Renan little imagined that his passionate epistles would be thrown upon the highway half a century later. But we can read them now side by side with those which the perplexed Oxford teacher was writing at that very time, as in the darkness of eclipse, to a sister equally cherished. Newman's letters, between 1839 and 1845, show him moving on and on, but as one feeling his way, amid contending voices, and through the Valley of the Shadow, until he has reached the heights from which Renan was descending. As we might anticipate, their paths did not cross. And this difference must be added. Henriette Renan, who in ealier days had declined to enter a convent-her predestined home, as it might
The English lady to whom she stands in so remarkable a contrast-I mean Jemima Newman-could not for many reasons exercise a similar influence. Ernest Renan's trial came when he was
not more than twenty; the vicar of St. Mary's was thirty-nine when the possible truth of a system which he had long fought against flashed upon him suddenly like an apparition, and filled him with strange forebodings. Moreover, he had passed through one great spiritual revolution already. From an Evangelical he had become an Anglican of the school of Laud; Jacobite Oxford had shown him that Calvinism might be plausible as a theory, but did not possess the key to human phenomena; and he had deliberately broken with these inherited beliefs. He could not break with them a second time; that experience, that change was unique. Nor did he feel as the lonely student at St. Sulpice must have felt, that he was going out into chaos. Rome was a vis ible reality; the power that claimed his allegiance might almost be touched with the hand; he had seen it during his voyages up and down the Mediterranean, and was well aware of its character and history. What could a sister who had simply followed him in his Anglican ascent oppose to all this? Only her love for him and for the Church of England that he had so gloriously magnified. But here is one of the most admirable points in the comparison; that the English sister found within narrow space room to display qualities no less rare and gracious than the French-as fine a self-control under circumstances which were equally trying, a most sensitive conscience, a tender uprightness, and through all the dark moments which preceded Newman's secession a faith in him not to be shaken by rumors, misunderstandings, or the ambiguity of change. In the great collection of his early correspondence, no letters seem to me SO faultlessly beautiful as those which he wrote to his lady during the forlorn period when, having ceased to be an Anglican, he was moving over deep and stormy waters into the wished-forhaven. And her replies, unpretending, extempore, written to him alone, with no eye upon a public that she cannot have detected in the uncertain haze of the future, deserve the lace which has
been allotted to them. Fittingly do we read them in one volume with her brother's tremulous and eager words, which passing through argument, expostulation, and the bitterness of death itself, invoked as a seal upon the test!mony which he is bearing for conscience's sake, rise at last into a realm of light where all that is earthly dwindles and is seen no more. I cannot quote from them; but surely they are, and will long remain, among the masterpieces of religious literature.
We may most easily follow the changes through which Renan arrived at his philosophy, by looking upon him as an innocent country lad who believed all that he was told, and then tried it according to the method of an inductive, or, as he says, of an “achromatic" reason. He had not in himself the witness of a spiritual experience such as Newman had, which would resist as life always does resist, the assaults of scepticism. At Issy the mystic and the average man shouldered one another; but Renan had already eaten of the tree of knowledge, and chose it before the tree of the supernatural life. Religion was to be tested by science, without prejudice or prepossessions. Would it endure a touchstone that took from it all its enchantment, reducing its high and heavenly facts to a mere set of phenomena like any other? He began to question it as impartially as he would have cross-examined the Newtonian system, not like a man who feels the burden of sin and ignorance, and sighs to be delivered from them. When, at St. Sulpice, the evidences of Christianity were laid before him, still he employed the same process; antecedent probabilities did not exist, or must not be regarded; and if the Bible on being submitted to inspection failed to supply a consistent human narrative, how could we accept it as a teaching from on high? These difficulties of the letter, which have always been known to Christians, but never have turned aside any who were seeking for redemption, proved too much for the student of Hebrew and evidences. He would not argue against the mysteries of the