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though he had run to the opposite pole. a boy of attempting to write well, or to I shall endeavor to keep clear of con- form an elegant style. I think I never troversy; the situation, delineated as it have written for writing sake, but my was by the men themselves, out of one and single desire and aim has been which their final resolve issued, will to do what is so difficult, viz., to expoint the moral of many arguments. press clearly and exactly my meaning.”
And now to begin. We must say, Yes, he had a meaning, a conviction, with Hamlet, though not disparag, which would not let him rest until it ingly, “Look here upon this picture, was embodied in language; and literaand on this." See, amid the jostling ture as a display of talent, or a thing crowd of mediocrities, in an age given which could be sold in the market, he over to commerce, politics, money-mak- no more dreamt of dealing in than be ing, journalism, and vulgar enjoyment, would have dealt in any other commodthese two men of genius-one French, ity and article of commerce. Yet-or one English-who pass by the whole shall we not rather say, hence?-there scene of Vanity Fair as an
empty is a beauty and freedom of touch in all stage-delusion. They are nothing if that either of these men published, the not idealists-dreaming their dream, like of which no popular pen has to perchance, while the many feast show. It is art, indeed, but disintergood things; but a dream-in Newman ested, patient, and unconventional, contemplative, supernatural, in Renan addressing itself to those who can Hegelian, concerned only with the grasp its significance, not to the mulprocess of the world, and a divinitytitude. “I cannot make myself heard still latent-which neither would ex- when I speak to the many, nor do the change for all beside it. This uncon
many care to hear me. Paucorum querable passion was breathed into hominum sum,” wrote the great oratothem from the beginning by religion. rian. And Renan, in the preface to his They come down to literature as out of “Drames Philosophiques," has these a higher sphere. The intense purity proud words: “Besides the volume and clearness of style, the eloquence which is destined for the circulating 11flowing in a stream so limpid, whereby brary, there is the book of which the each is marked off from his fellows and triumph consists in its being held of is classic, they have arrived at by no price by some few hundred connoisinducement from, without, but in the seurs.” His own most cried-up volume .effort to understand themselves. Each had been read by tens of thousands, is alone, or regardless of his chance au- but still it was to the few and not the dience. Most instructive it is when many that he appealed. Renan describes himself as the least So frank a dismissal of the crowd literary of men, and marvels in his argues in the speaker that he does not roguish innocence at the French Aca- need them, nor has thought of them in demics, who can write though they the first place. He will teach, but only have nothing to say. From the first lie those that care to listen; his message was disdainful of the loud-tongued has certain undercurrents; it is esoteric, rhetoric which M. Dupanloup had set ironical, a winged word that flies over up as the very finest of the arts at St. common heads and pierces the heart at Nicholas du Chardonnet. But Renan, a distance. We can never be quite who has written such inimitable prose, sure that we have caught the prophet's would have no mention made of style deepest meaning; and he smiles outright in training French scholars; let them when we undertake to decide what he study things and the words will come, has been aiming at, or to refute a sughe declares again and again. Newman gestion which has glided across the wore himself out over his compositions; flow of his metaphors. Such peyet, at the age of sixty-nine, he could culiar and indefinable spirit will be at say with delightful simplicity, “I never once supremely truthful and as candid have been in the practice since I was as snow in sunshine. But who will
dare to criticise, or pretend to exhaust, Hume. Of the truths belonging to that a philosophy which never can be moral order he says, “they cannot be solved into another man's formulas? directly affirmed or denied;" they fall
The candor, the irony, the rare dis- into a sort of never-ending dialogue tinction, the transcendent egotism-I where every shade of opinion, surmise, quote Newman's own word-and all and dubitation has its own place. All this lighted up by an impersonal mo. things here below-in the world of phetive (by religion on the one hand, by nomena, which includes conscience science, or erudition, or philosophy, on are, according to the dreamer of Panthe other), which are thus held forth theistic dreams, but symbols and imas independent of the arts of rhetoric, agery. Yet, ere the pen drops from his and hostile, in a sense, to literature, hand, when he is finishing the last page cannot be denied to either of my he- of “Ma Sæur Henriette,” he too makes roes. Their writing is one long solilo- a confession such as we could hardly quy; I doubt if a second person is ever have expected from him. “I never much more to them than the mask of have had any doubt,” he tells us, “of the Athenian actor, the speaking the moral order; but I see now with evitrumpet through which they hear their dence that the whole logical system of own voice. I am struck with the por- the world would be undone, were such tentous solitude that each makes round lives," as that of his noble-hearted sisabout himself. Like the father of ter, "delusion and deceit." idealism, Berkeley, each must build The consent of these witnesses, Newthe universe anew, and out of his own man and Renan, in a point of capital feelings; he cannot take it for granted importance, is very astonishing, and by or receive it upon hearsay, or by tradi- no means to be overlooked. They may tion; it is a problem to be resolved, not differ as regards the method of proof; an axiom beyond discussion. This they are at one as to the fact. Nor everlasting note of interrogation, I need we suppose that there is less conthink it must be, which has led various viction than there is irony-a growing well-intentioned writers to charge Car disease with Renan as old age crept dinal Newman with scepticism; while upon him-in those words of power in Renan we find an unqualified eulogy which serve as an introduction to the of Descartes and his methodic doubt as “Prêtre de Némi;” “I believe with the. the beginning of wisdom. But let us Sibyl,” he cries out while reflecting on never be hasty in our judgments con- the melancholy fate of the priest Antiscerning these subtle minds. For it is tius, “that justice will reign, if not on the privilege of genius to name :ill this planet, still in the universe at things afresh and, like Adam, to inter- large; and that the virtuous man will pret creation with eyes enlightened but at length be found to have been the still untaught-the glances of a child well-inspired.” Abate, I say, the halfman in Paradise.
mocking smile; remember that there is. What an orthodox scepticism, for ex- a Gascon of the joyous type in Renan, ample, is that which impels Newman to who will have his joke at all costs; and say, “While a man holds the moral gov. interpret his true thoughts by the lanernance of God as existing in and guage he has dedicated as an epitaph through his conscience, it matters not upon his sister's tomb; shall we not recwhether he believes his senses or not. ognize here a great affirmation ? But For at least he will hold the external the lightness offends. It does, and with world as a divine intimation.” To such reason, There is a mortal difference a one the vital distinction
between the teachers which tells utHume and Berkeley turns upon this, terly, at last, to Newman's advantage. which of them denied, and which ac- We shall find ourselves returning to it knowledged, the fact of conscience ere we have done with them; and then, aboriginal and self-demonstrative. Re- indeed, if we absolve Renan from the nan would certainly have held with charge of scepticism, we cannot but
condemn in his declining years the Taine has called it, par excellence, the Aristippus, or sensual pleasure-monger, classic, and we may follow his examwhich he seems to have become. Mean- ple. Now of this ancient but surviving, while, let us ask, after the fashion of and among the modern French omnipmodern psychology, how much was otent, type Renan was the exact opgiven to either by inheritance or de posite. He did not believe in authorscent, and how much by education. It ity; law, routine, precedent—the stately is an enquiry of singular interest. and too often chilling architecture, so
We have not been told as yet nearly to term it, of a life which was governed so many particulars touching the his from without, not spontaneous or selftorical and family antecedents of New- inspired-spoke to him faintly and man, as the Breton peasant-genius re- were shadows, mere phantoms rising lates about himself.
up out of the past; they left him cold that, though London born, he came of when they did not stir him to rebel Huguenot blood; he was Calvinist on against them. The Celt is shy and resboth sides; intensely religious, or “very tive; he loves passionately and will folsuperstitious," as he says, by tempera- low to the death; but he cannot obey ment; and he had “a sense of the pres- the impersonal; he is too much of ence of the Supreme Being which poet to dwell at ease among
the abnever had been dimmed by even a pass- stractions and devices of the civil or ing shadow," which had dwelt in him the canon law. When the fisherman's ever since he recollected anything, and son is still wandering about the old which he could not imagine his losing streets of Tréguier, or prays and medThis direct apprehension, or “image of itates in that high mediæval shrine of an invisible being,”-the root of what St. Tudwal-itself a piece of fantasy, some call mysticism,-it
which soaring rather than solid-or when he gave “a deep meaning to the lessons of goes with his pious mother on pilgrimhis first teachers about the Will and age to chapels hidden among the aged Providence of God;" they were but trees, and framed about by the drawing out, as in the Socratic experi- clouds and storms of Brittany, ment with Meno's young slave, truths who could be more edifying more Cathimplicit but really existing within his olic? But his religion has in it somechildish consciousness. Nor did he thing antique-I had almost said, eleever cease to believe in them when once
mental; it goes beyond history and they were apprehended. His Calvin- dogma; it is Paganism, too, but exceedism fell away; that first vital intuition ingly primitive; and its wonder-worknot only survived all changes, but was ing saints have little in common with their motive power and their justifica- a purple-clad hierarchy, seated tion. He never lost his faith in “the thrones, judging the world by law, and reality of conversion, as cutting at the practised in the conquering
Roman root of doubt,” and “providing a chain state-craft. He is of the year 600, and between God and the soul with every that in wild Wales; for these ages upon link complete.” From earliest ages have passed like a winter's day, years “God's presence went up with not changing the Cymric folk, but him, and gave him rest."
throwing them back into their own Renan has left us his
Dar- thoughts, where, in a waking dream, winian formula, mockingly but as if he they can picture to themselves the laid stress upon it,—“Breton by the world as they would have it to be. father's side, Gascon by the mother, in Scatter them among strangers, send the remote distance, Lapp or Finnish.” them into the regiments on the frontier, One constituent was not to be found in to the seminary in Paris, and they fall him—the Roman, Latin, South-Eastern homesick and die. At least, they will French; we have no proper name for it be utterly reserved, silent, and meditain English, and our criticism, as well tive; no common life has the power to as our history, loses thereby; but M. absorb them; and like Merlin who be
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 adThat is the impression left on me by mirable forbearance, not pressing him Renan's account of his childhood and by so much as a hint of her own opinyouth; by the pathetic story of his sis- ions; he must obey his conscience, ana ter's life in those lonesome years of at all costs be true to himself; she is Paris; by the description of Issy and its but the physician noting his case, and studious painful solitude which friend- telling him what it requires, that is all. ship seems never to have sweetened; But in character she is more decided, by his desperate and yet speechless as Frenchwomen often are; she welwrestlings with the respectable, nar- comes every token of independence in row, conservative, Gallican orthodoxy him, nor will suffer the young untried of St. Sulpice; and by the letters which soul to go back and rest upon passed between himself and Henriette, thority; no, “the veil once rent,” she who was in heroic exile, fifteen hun- says, “cannot be restored;" his eyes are dred miles away, earning her bread as open, how can he shut them again? It a teacher in the palace of Prince Za. is manifest what momentum her moyski at Clemensow or Warsaw. It is words must have given at such a critithe record of a tragedy that went on cal time to the arguments which drore to its inevitable yet unforeseen conclu- her brother onward. She was the imsion, step by step, during eight years personation of private judgment, obligand a half, from the day when Ernest, ing him to trust in himself. And all a lad of fifteen, was admitted by M. this with a delicacy of speech, a considDupanloup into his fashionable semi- eration, a self-sacrifice, that lend to her nary of St. Nicholas, until he found writing the infinite tenderness of hiniself, a rebel rather than an outcast, mother dipping the pen, as it were, in lodging at M. Crouzet's, alone and her own heart's blood. Chateaubriand without resources except in Henriette's would have called her Velleda,
Druidess, not unworthily; for in all she Sincere, and infecting us with his did or said there was a glow of. fem. own trouble, as genius always will, Re-inine enthusiasm, and an utter disrenan little imagined that his passionate gard of self, as if in obedience to the epistles would be
thrown upon the ideals of a religion which, in its hishighway half a century later. But we torical shape no longer appealing to her can read them now side by side with reason, still nevertheless governed her those which the perplexed Oxford conduct. We may, perhaps, believe teacher was writing at that very time, that Ernest Renan would not have left as in the darkness of eclipse, to a sister the Roman Church had Henriette equally cherished. Newman's letters, thrown her influence into the orthodox between 1839 and 1845, show him mov- scale. At all events, she decided him ing on and on, but as one feeling his when he was yet wavering, and way, amid contending voices, and cured him a year of independence at through the Valley of the Shadow, the period which proved to be a turnuntil he has reached the heights from ing-point in his life as in his convicwhich Renan was descending. As we tions. might anticipate, their paths did not The English lady to whom she stands cross. And this difference must be in so remarkable a contrast-I added. Henriette Renan, who in ear- Jemima Newman-could not for many lier days had declined to enter a con- reasons exercise a similar influence. vent-her predestined home, as it might Ernest Renan's trial came when we was
not more than twenty; the vicar of St. been allotted to them. Fittingly do we Mary's was thirty-nine when the pos- read them in one volume with her sible truth of a system which he had brother's tremulous and eager words, long fought against flashed upon him which passing through argument, suddenly like an apparition, and filled postulation, and the bitterness of death him with strange forebodings. More- itself, invoked as a seal upon the testiover, he had passed through one great mony which he is bearing for spiritual revolution already. From an science's sake, rise at last into a realid Evangelical he had become an Anglican of light where all that is earthly dwinof the school of Laud; Jacobite Oxford dles and is seen no more. I cannot had shown him that Calvinism might quote from them; but surely they are, be plausible as a theory, but did not and will long remain, among the maspossess the key to human phenomena; terpieces of religious literature. and he had deliberately broken with
most easily follow the these inherited beliefs. He could not changes through which Renan arrived break with them a second time; that at his philosophy, by looking upon him experience, that change unique. as an innocent country lad who beNor did he feel as the lonely student at lieved all that he was told, and then St. Sulpice must have felt, that he was tried it according to the method of an going out into chaos. Rome was a vis- inductive, or, as he says, of an "achroible reality; the power that claimed his matic” reason. He had not in himself allegiance might almost be touched the witness of a spiritual experience with the hand; he had seen it during such as Newman had, which would rehis voyages up and down the Mediter- sist as life always does resist, the asranean, and was well aware of its char- saults of scepticism. At Issy the mystic acter and history. What could a sister and the average man shouldered who had simply followed him in his another; but Renan had already eaten Anglican ascent oppose to all this? Only of the tree of knowledge, and chose it her love for him and for the Church of before the tree of the supernatural life. England that he had so gloriously mag- Religion was to be tested by science, nified. But here is one of the most ad- without prejudice or prepossessions. mirable points in the comparison; that Would it endure a touchstone that took the English sister found within this from it all its enchantment, reducing its narrow space room to display qualities high and heavenly facts to a mere set no less rare and gracious than the of phenomena like any other? He beFrench-as fine a self-control under cir- gan to question it as impartially as he cumstances which were equally trying, would have cross-examined the Newa most sensitive conscience, a tender tonian system, not like a man who feels uprightness, and through all the dark the burden of sin and ignorance, and moments which preceded Newman's sighs to be delivered from them. When, secession a faith in him not to be at St. Sulpice, the evidences of Chrisshaken by rumors, misunderstandings, tianity were laid before him, still he or the ambiguity of change. In the employed the same process; antecedent great collection of his early correspond- probabilities did not exist, or must not ence, no letters seem to me so fault be regarded; and if the Bible on being lessly beautiful as those which he submitted to inspection failed to supwrote to his lady during the forlorn ply a consistent human narrative, how period when, having ceased to be an could we accept it as a teaching from Anglican, he was moving over deep and gh? These difficulties of the letstormy waters into the wished-for- ter, which have always been known to haven. And her replies, unpretending, Christians, but never have turned aside extempore, written to him alone, with any who were seeking for redemption, no eye upon a public that she cannot proved too much for the student of Hehave detected in the uncertain haze of brew and evidences. He would not the future, deserve the lace which has argue against the mysteries of the