« FöregåendeFortsätt »
not as incomplete or requiring supplement or modification, but as radically bad. I have not the slightest thought that the good men who maintain the thesis which is insinuated rather than set forth in this pamphlet, would venture to say that the Church had all along been mistaken in the matter ; but for my own part, if I thought as they do, I should not know how to avoid the conclusion.” (pp. 295–6.)
Here however we must interpose a comment of our own. In one particular--and that precisely the most relevant of allthe present times are radically different from those of the Tridentine Council. This indeed is the very circumstance on which stress is laid by the Bishop of Aquila, who is prominent among those who deprecate the present amount of classical study. We will here quote the analysis which we gave of his argument on a former occasion, and our own remarks inci. dentally mixed up with that analysis.
The essential foundation of the bishop's argument must be adınitted as true, by all Catholic thinkers not totally destitute of candour; whatever difference of opinion there may be on his conclusion. Society, he says, is now alienated in a far greater degree from Catholic Christianity, than it has been at any previous period since Constantine submitted to the Church. "Faith, assailed by so many attacks, loses daily its influence over the Christian multitudes” (p. 13). “Literature and art are separated more and more from Christian ideas ; history drops all allusion to the intervention of Providence ; natural morality and probity are exalted to the disparagement of the evangelical prescriptions ; politics and social science make abstraction of the facts (and principles] declared by revelation. ... This principle of separation insinuates itself little by little even in Christian families, and into all the domestic and civil relations of Catholic countries. Thence it results that religion graduallg withdraws itself from the practices, habits, language, both public and private, of baptized nations." (p. 14.)
Under these miserable circumstances, since there is no longer (p. 56) Christian atmosphere” diffused throughout society, imbuing the mind unconsciously with Catholic doctrine and principle--but emphatically the very reverse—it is far more necessary than at any earlier period, to introduce prominently a Catholic element into the education of every class. “It is no longer sufficient to make young people learn a little catechism by heart, and give them, as it were, a tincture of religion which is too speedily effaced. There is need of a religious instruction, solid, extenderl, substantial ; capable of making a profound impression on the mind and heart of youth, of protecting them against the numerous and inevitable assaults of unbelief, and of developing vigorously within them the Christian sentiment.” (1). 57.)
So far, we really cannot understand the existence of a second opinion, among sincere and thoughtful Catholics. But the Bishop is confident that this end cannot be achieved, without giving a far lower place to heathen classics than that now commonly assigned them. On this we hold our opinion in suspense.
What we earnestly entreat of those who are for
keeping heathen literature in its present pre-eminence is, that they will steadily contemplate the great object before us--the object of saturating the youthful mind with Christian doctrine and principle ; and that they will express in detail their own programme for accomplishing this object. We are not aware that any of them have yet attempted this. (Dublin REVIEW, July, 1865, pp. 259, 260.)
For ourselves, after the best consideration we can give the matter, we are confident that a very thorough classical education may be given, without at all interfering with "a religious instruction,” which shall be “solid, extended, substantial, capable of vigorously developing within youth the Christian sentiment.” Nay we do not see how there can be anything worthy to be called by the name of “higher education," which shall not include very careful classical culture. Still we do not think that the Bishop of Aquila's doctrine can truly be called disrespectful to the Church. An enormous preponderance of classical study may have been quite safe, at a time when the youth's mind was “saturated with Christian doctrine and principle” by the “Christian atmosphere ” which he breathed throughout the day; and it may nevertheless be true that, even much less predominance thereof may be full of deadly peril, at a time when such "Christian atmosphere" has ceased to exist. A certain food may be even largely taken without evil consequence. in a thoroughly healthy climate; while a much smaller portion of the same food may produce deadly results, where the air is noxious. It cannot therefore be at all inferred that such study is harmless now, merely because the Church implied that it was harmless then. This however by the way. Our direct purpose is to show our readers, how much the “ Month” is prepared to admit. Father Miles speaks as follows; and we italicise one or two sentences, to which we would draw especial attention :
“I am not at all sure that it may not be very much to our advantage, that attention should be directed to anything likeó ultra classicism.' You see here,” he said, turning to a place near the end of the volume, “ the writer quotes a man whom we all have in a certain amount of veneration, the Père Grou, who complained of the education of his own day as being 'toute païenne.' If this was true, it was a great and pernicious mistake, and contrary to the spirit of the Church. He quotes another writer, also a Jesuit, who says, ' Dans les collèges, pépinières de l'Etat, on leur fait lire et étudier tout, eccepté les auteurs chrétiens '-and the writer subjoins in a note, Comme on le fait encore aujourd'hui dans les petits séminaires et dans les collèges catholiques.' As to this, I can only say that I hope it is not true. I think there must be great exaggeration. ... But if there are any places of Christian education, where, as this writer asserts-going beyond the Jesuit whom he is quoting
the pupils are made to read and study everything, except Christian authors, and where, as this assertion scems to imply, there is no counterbalancing teaching of Christian morality or Christian truth as such, then it must be confessed that those places of education need reformation. But this is a very different thing from what is recommended in the pamphlet I hold in my hand. Again, I will say that it may be worth while for us to consider, whether some Christian writers should not be put into the hands of the young ; for there are many beautiful works of St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and others still later than these Fathers, which might very well enter into any course of higher education. This might be done, and, above all, we might aim at interpreting and commenting on the classics in the way in which we are told Father Pierre Lefevre's teacher commented on them, of whom he used to say that he had a way of making the profane authors whom he taught speak the language of the Gospel.' What we do at present may not be wrongindeed, it cannot be declared to be absolutely wrong, without condemuing the Church of at least supine negligence in the vital point of education and yet there may be something even which we ought to do, or which it may be very useful for us to attempt to do.” (pp. 293-1.)
We think there is here offered large ground for a concordat; and we hope in an early number to make some little essay towards its attainment. This however seems to us peculiarly a question, on which it is desirable that every shade of Catholic opinion shall be duly considered and taken into account. We will not therefore content ourselves with setting forth those views which to us may appear the more probable; but we shall have great pleasure in giving publicity to opinions more or less different from our own, if able and thoughtful Catholics will give us the opportunity.
ART. VI.-THE NOVELS OF MR. ANTHONY
The Mac Dermots of Ballycloran. Chapman & Hall.
the manners of his own day, and to draw portraits of the people among whom he lives or whom he has opportunities of observing, those who, in fact, regard the novel as a product essentially distinct from the romance, will probably be disposed to agree with us in our estimate of Mr. Anthony Trollope as the first master of his craft now in existence. The name of George Eliot will rise to the lips of some in denial or remonstrance, but there is no contradiction in the opinion which awards to the wearer of that name a higher intellectual status than that of Mr. Trollope, but refuses to her precedence of him, in the class which they both elevate and adorn. The author of that series of close and philosophical studies of human nature, of which “Scenes of Clerical Life" was the first, is much more than a novelist, as tested by the theory just indicated; and in so far as she is more, she is disqualified for competition with a writer who is not more, nor other. Some of the salient qualities of the works of Mr. Trollope are, like their aims, entirely out of the track of George Eliot; but those are precisely the qualities which are beside and above the needs of the novelist. A serious social revolution in England might render Mr. Trollope's books dull and difficult, if not unintelligible, to another generation of English people, as many novels which were excellent in their day have become dull and difficult to us; but “Silas Marner’and “The Mill on the Floss," “Adam Bede," “Romola,” and “ Middlemarch,” will be as much and as little
to the taste and the comprehension of the coming as of the present race. In so far as Mr. Trollope's level is that of all decently educated and commonly thoughtful people, every one of whom can perceive and estimate the degree of perfection with which he does his work, while George Eliot's level is a much higher one, Mr. Trollope is a more complete type of the thoroughly successful and popular novelist. We do not think any other competitor for the very first rank in the crowded craft which, in our time, counts its ephemeral members by scores, could be proposed in a spirit of serious criticism, and the distance by which he surpasses those among his fellows who have achieved distinction tends to increase. No writer of note has written a novel of late which will bear comparison with those which won for him early distinction, as “ T'he Eustace Diamonds” will bear comparison with the first works of its author. The chronicler of Barsetshire is a veteran writer; but how hale, how hearty, how untired and vigorous, in comparison with others who have not done anything like the quantity of work he has accomplished ! If, to take two of the prominent novelists whose books critics at all events are bound to remember, we compare him with Mr. Wilkie Collins or Major Whyte Melville, how striking is the difference! What a falling off is “Poor Miss Finch ” from “The Woman in White," or even its greatly inferior successor, “ No Name”! In the ignoble pages of “N or M” where shall we find any trace of the chivalry or the tenderness of “The White Rose” and “The Queen's Maries”; in the stiff and tawdry dulness, the stalking pomposity of “ Sarchedon,” how shall we be reminded of the scholarly grace, the fire, the feeling, and the depth of “The Gladiators"! A considerable share in this remarkable difference is to be assigned to the fact that Mr. Trollope is a thoroughly consistent workman. He sticks to his last. He never strayed from the novel to the romance, as his brethren have strayed from the romance to the novel, thereby laying themselves open to having their attempts in the one direction judged by their achievements in the other. He has none of the versatility, none of the vagaries so commonly imputed to artists; he is a first-rate plodder; he has never mistaken the order or range of his powers, or been led by the suggestion of vanity to believe that because he can do certain things immeasurably better than any one else can do them, he must necessarily do other and opposite things well. He is in one sense the most serious of writers; though in another, that of solemnity or tragicalness, he is not serious at all beyond that seriousness necessary to the life-likeness of his fictions.
His seriousness consists in his air and tone of