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drawn not from any customary or conventional authority, but from the depths of human nature, was needed alike for those who hailed and those who abhorred the change. Men long accustomed to float on the placid waters of a river, within sight and reach of safe and smiling shores, found themselves suddenly driven out upon a stormy and shoreless sea; and, in their peril, some were earnestly gazing for a beacon-light from the lost coast, others were idly gazing at the flashing fires that crest the dark billows of the deep, and a few were looking upward hopefully for Some star in the clouded sky. The agitation of the times carried some minds into the delusions of sophistry and irreverence, but it also led others into deeper moods of thought and larger sympathies. Superficial precepts, whether in government, philosophy, or literature, were not enough ; but there was needed what should deal with human nature with a deeper and truer wisdom. This influence, either direct or indirect, extended over all departments of thought and action, and thus made its impression on European literature, on English literature, for the perturbation of the times stirred the mind of England, though it did not shake her ancient constitution. When I speak of the agitation consequent on the French Revolution, I include all that forms the historic era, the revolution itself, the wars of the republic, and the wars of the French Empire; in short, the quarter of a century of tumult and war which closed in 1815 with the battle of Waterloo. It has been followed by the thirty years' peace, the longest period of tranquillity in modern history —perhaps I may say, in the world's history. The increased activity and independence of thought that attended the
political convulsions of Europe, and even then found ex
pression in literature, continued, and indeed expanded still further, in the more genial years of peace that followed.* This half century, in which our lot has been cast, has been unquestionably one of great and varied intellectual activity, distinguished by achievements in the two chief departments of thought and inquiry, science and literature. Never perhaps have they been cultivated in truer proportion, and they have moved forward with harmonious progress, giving to mankind the various elements of civilization and improvement which are respectively in the gift of science and literature. In this connection, one cannot but feel how fortunate, how providential it was that the wonderful results of physical science which this century has witnessed were not accomplished in the last century, at a time when a low state of religious opinion was prevailing, when skepticism was dominant in literature; for at such a time the victories of science over the powers of the material universe, instead of raising our sense of the Creator's power, and inspiring that humility which true science ever cherishes, the more deeply at every advance it makes—instead of this, an age of unbelief, whose literature had divorced itself from revelation, would have been ready to use the results of science to decoy men into that insidious atheism which substitutes Nature for God, and would have entangled our spiritual nature in the meshes of materialism. The truest culti
* Since these words were written, peace, European peace, is no more, and new names of bloody mote are adding to the catalogue of modern battles. Alma and Inkermann are the last and bloodiest. And who, in reading these lectures on the Poetry and Literature of OUR language, can hesitate to give his sympathy to those who are fighting the battle of civilization ? W. B. R.
vation of science and the truest cultivation of literature in our day have shown this harmony, that alike for the scientific and the literary study of man and nature—for the naturalist, for instance, and the poet—there is needed the same spirit of humble, willing, dutiful inquiry, a power of recipiency as well as of search. The man of science, and the poet equally, will miss the truth, if either the one or the other be such as has been described as the man who “grows to deal boldly with nature, instead of reverently following her guidance; who seals his heart against her secret influences; who has a theory to maintain, a solution which shall not be disturbed; and once possessed of this false cipher, he reads amiss all the golden letters round him.” - The intellectual activity of the nineteenth century has been displayed in a very extended and various literature, in prose and poetry, and in literature on each side of the Atlantic. With no disposition to magnify the present at the expense of the past, it may, I believe, be safely said, in an estimate of the literature of this century, that in some departments it has excelled that of the previous centuries. This is especially the case in historic literature, for never heretofore in English letters has there been so true a conception of an historian's duties, so deep a sense of the difficulties of his story, and at the same time such hopefulness of its powers. It is far better understood now than heretofore, that in order to reconstruct the testimonies of the past, so as to make not only a record but a picture of the men that lived in the past
# The marginal reference in pencil here is to Bishop Wilberforce, but I am unable to verify it. W. B. R.
and the events that belong to it, the historian must possess some of the knowledge of the statesman and of the powers of the poet and philosopher. In no respect has historical literature been more improved than in the thorough and laborious processes of research which are now demanded at the historian’s hands. Thus various tracts in the world's history, known formerly with a sort of careless familiarity, have been admirably reclaimed by the better cultivation, which is rewarded with the recovery of abundant materials neglected by an indolent generation. It is such dutiful and laborious research, united with other high qualifications, which has placed our countryman, Mr. Prescott, among the best historians in our times. Nor is it only by more accurate methods of research that this department of literature is now distinguished. A deeper philosophy of history has entered into it. The historic sagacity of Niebuhr may be considered as having led the way in those processes which give him almost the fame of a discoverer, and which have been followed out in the history of antiquity by English as well as French historians; so that it may be said, that within the last twenty years the whole history of Greece and Rome has been not only reconstructed, but fashioned into a more life-like reality. Hannibal's campaign in Italy, in the posthumous volume of Arnold's History of Rome, is as vivid a narrative as could be given of one of Napoleon's or Wellington's campaigns. It is in these particulars, laborious and accurate research and use of historical materials, and in a better science of history, that the later writers have entitled themselves to a reputation so much worthier than that of the best-known historians in the last century. Of those historians, Gib
bon is the only one whose history preserves to this day its authority, on the score of such extensive research and deep learning as were required by his large theme. With regard to Hume and Robertson, the two most popular historians, the labours of later students of history have demonstrated that their works are of that indolent and superficial character which destroys their authority as trustworthy chroniclers. I do not suppose that any careful and conscientious inquirer after historic truth would at the present day consider a question of history determined by a statement in the histories of either Hume or Robertson.*
Another and a very high merit may be claimed for history in the English literature of our times: I mean the religious element which has been developed in it, and most of all by Arnold. This is a noble contrast to the aggressive infidelity, and the low and false views attendant on it, which vitiates the histories of Gibbon and Hume, corrupting the learning of the former, and coupling a positive
* As this volume is passing through the press, my eye has been attracted by two contemporary criticisms, though from very different sources, on Gibbon and Hume ; the one by Lord John Russell, in a recent speech at Bristol, the other by Landor in a poetical contribution to the Examiner. The first I have not space to quote or to refer to, further than to say it is precisely in accord with Mr. Reed's criticism. Of the other, I can cite but a few lines. Of Gibbon the poet well says:
“There are who blame them for too stately step,
And words resounding from inflated cheek.
And he concludes:
“History hath beheld no pile ascend
So lofty, large, symmetrical as thine.” W. B. R.