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Lord Burghersh kept a pack of harriers, and hunted thrice a-week. There was a Jockey Club and a good racing subscription; and what with riding-parties, whist, dancing, ecarté, and flirting, it was wonderful how rapidly time flew over, and how grave our faces grew when the calls of Parliament and the demands of the London season came to throw their shadows over the glorious spring-time in the Cascine. I am certain it is not the mere spirit of the laudator temporis acti that prompts me to speak of these things in such eulogy. I can acknowledge how in many ways the world of the present day has gained on the world of my boyhood. One travels better and faster; one dines better at small cost; the newspapers are more interesting, more varied, better written, and in a tone more congenial to the best spirit of society. Intercourse, generally, is safer than it used to be; we have some Bores, but few Bullies; butI say it advisedly-society has not now, as it had then, that marvellous flavour of high-hearted pleasure, that racy enjoyment of people who were not too languid to be brilliant, nor too lackadaisical to be witty. The salt of the cleverest men and the most engaging women seasoned all intercourse; and the effort was to keep up to the level of the pleasantest, and not, as we see it now, to bring all down to the uniform dulness of those Lord Dundrearies, who, except in their clever satirist, are the heaviest social infliction ever an age was cursed with.
The Haw-haw tone of those creatures, whose whiskers are so familiar to us in 'Punch,' did not exist in those days. It was the fashion for men to be manly and for women to be feminine. I will not say that, morally speaking, there was much to the advantage of the period. It was not better, though assuredly not worse, than our present day; and in all that regards externals-in fitting deference to ladies, in the distinctive
reverence due to those of station, as separated from others of neither station nor character-the past has much to boast over the present.
It was a fatal mistake for women to suffer the present free-and-easy tone in their salons. In losing the especial prestige that belonged to them as ladies, they surrendered much that divided them from a class who, in mere looks and toilette, can always be their rivals: and I will say it, that he who had attempted the lounging impertinence, the self-sufficient indifference to others, and the blank vacuity in all that regards agreeability, in the times I speak of, would have as certainly found himself excluded from society as the knave or the blackleg.
A certain amount of bad morals has always passed muster in the world; but the ingredient never did real mischief till it was associated with bad manners. It was a poison, but it was a poison in a well-stoppered phial. Now, the custom is not only to uncork the bottle, but, like the Swedish Prince with his scent flacon, to sprinkle the company!
It is certainly a great day—a grand eraa-for the stupid people! none so dull that he cannot be insolent, none so stolid but he can smoke. We have taken the level of the lowest capacities as our social standard, and voted as vulgar all capacities above the dreary insufficiency of our dullest! Make the most of it, ye ensigns and small civil servants. It can't last for ever-no more than the Whig Government, nor the shoddy aristocracy in America.
Now they have it certainly all their own way; and I'd back Gumsley of the 109th, with his green complexion and his cat's mustaches, for a social success against Brinsley Sheridan, if you could bring him back, with all the wit of 'The Rivals' and all the fun of 'The Critic.' I suspect in our taste for tobacco we have grown to be Turkified, and place our El
To tell the really pleasant people of the world to take their tone from such as these, is like ordering a regiment to take their time from a corps of cripples, and to march with a shuffle to suit the step of the lame. But the thing is done, and we see it, and there is no help for it; and now, to come back to this poor city, of which I am tempted to say, as the Emperor did on his return from Elba, Qu'avez vous fait de cette (Florence) que je vous ai laissér si belle ?"
The passion for making large States may conduce to that pleasant Utopia called the Balance of Power, though I have grave doubts of it; but assuredly it does not conduce to the happiness of mankind.
If so humble an object as happiness could occupy the lofty intelligences of statesmen, it might be worth while to consider for a moment whether small States had not, from the very fact of their unambitious position and narrow limits, immense advantages in this respect. Saxe-Weimar and Tuscany, as I knew them some thirty years ago, are the witnesses I should like to put in the box.
Weimar was of course very in ferior in all claims to wealth, luxury, or refinement. It was a small village-like capital, with a miniature palace, a miniature theatre, a quaint old park, and a quaint old Platz.
The Court dined at four o'clock, and, rising at six, went out to stroll, grand duke and duchess and all, in the park. Dear me! what a strange medley of simplicity and formality, rural enjoyment and etiquette, cowslips and curtsies, many selected compliments and tobaccosmoke! but very soothing and tranquillising withal. If you sat down to whist with the Hoch-Wohl-Geboren, Herr Geheimerath, or the Staats Secretär, you could scarcely be ruined at groschen points any more than you would be driven to suicide by an unhappy passion for his yellow daughter. Then life had
nothing startling, nothing sensational. There was a nice soft drowsy dulness that aided digestion, and never conduced to dreams.
In the evening the "society" rendezvoused in a sombre old house, with narrow windows in front and a small somewhat gloomy-looking garden behind, where lived a large old white-haired man with his niece. Though a man of grand presence and imposing mien, with much dignity in his address, he was very fond of mixing with the young people of the company, and especially with a number of young Englishmen who at that period resided at Weimar for the advantages of military education. At the time I tell of, there was amongst them one who is now a duke, with one of the greatest historic names in Europe. With these generally this old gentleman frequently conversed, or, more frequently still, discoursed, telling of his travels in Italy, the objects which had held the chief place in his memory, the galleries he had seen, the society he had frequented, the distinguished men whose acquaintance he had made; and all these with occasional touches of picturesque description, traits of humour, and now and then a deep feeling which held his little auditory in rapt astonishment that he could hold them there entranced, while they could not, when he had done, recall any of the magic by which he worked his spell. I say this because I myself remember to have tried to repeat a story he told, and once, more hazardous still, to convey some impression of how he talked; and with what lamentable failure let my present confession atone for. The task would have tried a better man, for him whom I essayed to represent was Goethe.
It was only a few years before that very time I speak of, that the choice society of Florence was wont to assemble each evening at a large palace on the Arno. It is the third as you pass down from the Ponte St Trinita. There a royal personage, albeit she had de
flected from her bright sphere, received, and all that was great and noble and brilliant, or, better still, beautiful, came to talk or to listen, be flattered or be worshipped, or, what I am half given to believe is nearly as good, to flatter and worship-not doing the thing grudgingly, or in any fashion of constraint, as in our prudish England we should do it, but "going in" with a will, and giving to those liquid vowels of the soft south all the ring and resonance of a deep-felt sentiment. It was a good type, that same society, of the mingled passion and weakness, the apathy, the earnestness, the vigorous energy, and the voluptuous indolence of Italian life. One talker, a tall, dark-complexioned, stern-looking man, with closely - set black eyes, pre-eminent above all for that sort of brilliant discursive talk which has its charm at times for the veriest trifler and the deepest
thinker. He was witty, but with a scathing, withering, blasting wit that burned where it fell: he disliked England, but with a sense of reverence for her great qualities. As to France, he hated and despised her. In her influence over his own country, Italy, he foresaw nothing but misfortune, and declared that to consummate Italian degeneracy no more was wanting than infuse into the national character the scoffing incredulity and the degenerate levity of the Gaul. This man was Alfieri!
It was no mean era when Germany and Italy were so represented. And now-shall I go on to mark the contrast? No, I prefer holding the defendants over till next month, when the weather may possibly be somewhat cooler, and my sentence be more merciful than if pronounced with the mercury near 100°, and my brains at the temperature that makes paraffine explosive.
REV. CHARLES KINGSLEY AND DR NEWMAN.
A DUEL in dialectics between Dr Newman and Mr Charles Kingsley is not in any sense of the term an agreeable spectacle. Both are, indeed, men of some note, each in his own way. Both have endeavoured, not without a certain measure of success, to give a bias through their writings to public opinion; and each has his own circle of admirers, who will, doubtless, be ready to accept and to applaud whatever their favourite champion may affirm. But impartial judges see the matter in a different point of view. They regret, for very many reasons, that such a collision should have occurred. They perceive that truth, which is or ought to be the end of all controversy, can never be elicited from such a war of words as this. They therefore blame Mr Kingsley for involving himself in a dispute which, from the constitution of his mind, he was ill able to carry
through. And they much lament that, owing to his lack of judgment, higher interests than the personal reputation of a rash man should be endangered. For Mr Kingsley is entirely and wantonly the aggressor in this dispute. Without any provocation given, he went out of his way to fling against Dr Newman a charge to which no gentleman can patiently submit; and then, instead of retracting or apologising for what never ought to have been written, he aggravated the offence by trying to account for it. The circumstances of the case are briefly these:
fault with him on that account. It is a portion of his idiosyncrasy to talk big on every possible occasion of English independence of thought and English chivalry; and Protestantism in particular, especially English Protestantism, has, in his mind, a very extended signification. Mr Froude, for example, the author whom he is reviewing the author likewise of the 'Nemesis of Faith'-is "intensely Protestant." His Protestantism takes, however, a far more generous aspect than that of his reviewer. He whitewashes Henry VIII.; he purges Mary from the stains which have heretofore rested on her character, and 'justifies Protestantism (to his readers) not by onesided and unjust fanaticism, but by fairly seeing and setting forth, from a human point of view, the faith, the struggles of conscience, the martyrdoms of the heroes of the old faith, of More, of Fisher, of the poor monks of the Charterhouse. This is at all events generous. We say nothing of its justice, so far as Henry and his daughter are concerned; but of its generosity in dealing with the professors of a faith not Protestant there can be no doubt. How comes it that Mr Kingsley, who can applaud such conduct in another, is yet unable himself to pursue it? Is he afraid to avow a Protestantism so extended as that of which his author may be taken to be the representative? Or does the circumstance arise out of that strange confusion of ideas from which, let him discuss what topic he may, Mr Kingsley seems incapable of extricating himself? The latter we suspect to be the true cause of the phenomenon, otherwise he would have scarcely spoken as he does of the manner in which Mr Froude deals with his own great favourite, Queen Elizabeth. What! has it come to this? Must we accept, after all, as proven, the many charges which Mr Froude brings against the virgin queen, of falsehood, avarice, cruelty, and other dark crimes,
and then look about for excuses wherewith to account for them? Surely there were great excuses for her shrinking from throwing good money after bad, whether into Scotland or into the Netherlands." "She had," it seems, a vast and unexampled part to play in an age in which all that was old was rocking to its ruin, and all that was new was unformed and untried." "As for her falsehoods, they brought their own punishment, so swiftly and so often, that they cured themselves." Let our readers mark this in reference to what is to follow. It is admitted that Elizabeth was guilty of falsehood; but forasmuch as her punishment was prompt and frequent, falsehood on her part changed in some degree its character. It became venial, if not praiseworthy. Moreover, we must remember the morality of the time was low. If it had not been low, the Reformation would not have been needed." For "the Roman religion had for some time back been making men not better but worse.'
"And the worst of it was that, when the moral canon of the Pope's will was gone, there was for a while no canon of morality left. The average morality of Elizabeth's reign was not so much low as capricious, self-willed, fortuitous
magnificent one day in virtue, terrible the next day in vice. It was not till more than one generation had grown up and died with the Bible in their hands, that Englishmen and Germans began to understand what Frenchmen and Italians did not understand, that they were to be judged by the everlasting laws of a God who is no respecter of persons.
We must confess that, so far as Mr Kingsley is concerned, we find ourselves pretty much in the condition of the Frenchmen and the Italians. We certainly do not understand what our author is aiming at. The morality of Elizabeth's time was either low, or it was not low; we can't exactly see how it could be "magnificent in virtue one day, and terrible in vice the next." But let that pass. From Elizabeth to the accession of the
first George we count not fewer than six generations. They were generations which had grown up and died with the Bible in their hands, if by that expression be meant-which had lived and died under the sway of a Protestant Government. We should be glad to know which canon of morals Mr Kingsley prefers-that which sent More to the scaffold, when, by a little allowable lying, he might have saved his own life, and served the interests of his Church; or that which converted the Protestant Palace of St James's into a stew, and taught all classes of English society to laugh at chastity, sobriety, and truth, even among the clergy. But Mr Kingsley is not content to stop here. 'So again," he observes, "with the virtue of truth: truth for its own sake had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not, and on the whole ought not; that cunning is the weapon which heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute main force of the wicked world, which marries and is given in marriage. Whether his notion be doctrinally correct or not, it is at least historically so."
For some years previously to the appearance of this not very delicate rebuke, Father Newman had withdrawn himself, as it would appear tenderly, from the strife of tongues. Rumour was of course busy about him, and tales were told of bitter dissatisfaction with the past, and something like an eclipse of hope in reference to the future. Mr Kingsley has not lived for the last four or five years out of the world, so that probably the stories which circulated elsewhere may have reached him. They were groundless stories, it is true. Dr Newman, in the remarkable volume which we shall presently endeavour to analyse, has shown clearly enough that, whatever may have been the amount of his sufferings while travelling up to a great result, with the result itself he is en
tirely satisfied. But this fact, as it could not be known to Mr Kingsley at the time, so it forms no excuse for the course which he judged it expedient to follow.
Mr Kingsley's attack upon Dr Newman was not only cruel, it was injudicious. He could scarcely expect that it would fail to provoke retort; and self-conceit must be in him even stronger than we take it to be, if he ever for a moment anticipated other issue than defeat from a controversy entered into so rashly and on such grounds. Be this, however, as it may, controversy came, and with it not merely the exposure of considerable ignorance and much presumption on the part of the challenger, but on the other side one of the most deeply interesting dissections which has ever been submitted to public gaze, of a mind enthusiastic, sensitive, not always happy in discriminating between reason and imagination, but earnest in its search after light, and sadly missing it at the last. No one, after reading 'Apologia pro Vita sua,' will pretend to say that Dr Newman was at any time influenced by unworthy motives. That he has attained to what he sought—the truth-we, as honest and sincere Protestants, cannot for a moment admit; but if man ever made himself a martyr in the cause of what he believed to be the truth, Dr Newman is that man. Let us return, however, to the case before us.
Mr Kingsley had struck a rude blow at one who gave him no provocation. He was courteously requested either to retract and apologise, or to justify by proof the assertion which had been hazarded. He preferred the latter course, and made reference in general terms to a sermon On Wisdom and Innocence,' which Dr Newman had preached so long ago as 1844 from the pulpit of St Mary's Church in Oxford. The correspondence which followed has all been printed, and may be consulted by such as are curious in details; but, for our pre