« НазадПродовжити »
Art. IV.-1. Laneton Parsonage. By the Author of Amy Herbert.' 2. The Sketches. Three Tales. By the Author of · Amy Herbert,'
•The Old Man's Home,' and `Hawkstone.' 3. Margaret Percival. By the Author of 'Amy Herbert.' Edited
by the Rev. W. Sewell. 4. Rest in the Church. By the Author of • From Oxford to Rome.'
London : Longman and Co. TRULY, Dr. Pusey, who, in his anxiety to prove that heaven is undoubtedly on his side, has pointed to so many special providences,' attendant on the progress of tractarianism, has cause to exult in the providences' now at work to extend it. After periodicals of every form, and books of all sorts and sizes, have placed these principles before the eyes of the reading public, almost ad nauseam, an appeal, in especial, has been made to the young ladies of England; and marvellous has been the response. Aroused from their pleasant trifling in floss silk, and Berlin wool, wax flowers, and Poonah-work, by the pathetic lamentations of interesting young clergymen, over the woeful condition of holy mother churcb; struck, too, with that mother's sad history, as displayed in the veracious nouvelettes of the Rev. Messrs. Gresley and Neale, these fair ones have asked for further information; and forthwith, some half-dozen modern Mrs. Trimmers set about inditing 'sweetly pretty stories, indoctrinating the peculiar sanctity of altar and chancel, and above all, the divinity that doth hedge' the parish priest; and aunt Elinor' lays aside her knitting-needles, and mounts her spectacles, to lecture upon 'deeply recessed doorways,' 'crocketted pinnacles,' and lancet windows,' introducing a quiet word for the confessional; while, best of all, Miss Lambert, of tent-stitch celebrity, summons her fair readers to resume their stitchery,—not to work grim corsairs, or simpering shepherdesses, angular tulips, or quadrangular roses, for easy chairs and ottomans,—but to decorate altar cloths and pulpit hangings with right orthodox embroidery; to ply the needle with all the zeal, and about the same amount of intelligence, that king Ferdinand of pious memory displayed, when he set about the memorable task of embroidering the petticoat for the Virgin.
Marvellous of late has been the amount of fine needlework lavished on church ornaments,' and marvellous the amount of small talk about 'church matters,' while the fair needle-women were thus orthodoxly employed. But alas ! 'church matters' are of a very complex character, so it is not surprising that sad blunders should have been made : for, as one of the writers
herock etter tile celebrities Briangular
before us remarks, 'the claims of the English church can only be thoroughly understood by persons who have studied them, and that clergymen are the appointed teachers in such cases.' It is therefore not surprising, that the propriety of some little further instruction, just to keep these ladies out of harm's way, should be recognized, and this is liberally supplied, from the simple tale for childhood to the elaborate two or three volume novel. To some of these, which may be taken as specimens of a large class, we shall now direct the reader's attention.
The first on our list, although published under the imprimatur of the Rev. Wm. Sewell, can, however, scarcely be said to belong to the class we have been indicating. These little brochures, in brilliant dresses of red, blue, or green, and resplendent with gold-suitable Christmas gifts for good little girls, are generally very harmless, and very commonplace. Such is Laneton Parsonage,' which inculcates wholesome lessons of truth-telling, of kindness towards schoolfellows, respect to teachers, and calls for nothing of animadversion. It is in works intended for those who have passed beyond the rule of the school-mistress, and whose sponsors have resigned their office, that the fuller exposition of the church's teachings,' and of her children's duty, is reserved. "The Sketches' appears to us a well managed, initiatory little book for this purpose. The first story, keeping 'church matters' well nigh out of sight; the second-story, we cannot call it,-but a sort of prosing allegory on human life, abundant in quotations from Keble, and hints on the efficacy of church ministrations, leading the reader on to the un. disguised high churchism of the third,-a well-written, but painful story, of a purse-proud, haughty man, who accidentally causes the death of a lovely little child, his only heir; and which from thence is entitled “The Lost Inheritance. This is made to point the moral, that each member of the church is by holy baptism' put into possession of the heavenly inheritance, which if lost, is to be recovered again, only by a ceaseless round of prayers, and almsgiving, and above all, by a dutiful adherence to the doctrine and discipline of their holy mother. Some portions of this 'Lost Inheritance' are powerful; and in parts, too, especially in the character of old Richard, the fisherman, the writer seems so well acquainted with better teachings than those he has chosen to adopt, that we feel a strange surprise that the old man, whose bible is constantly open beside him, should have learnt no better than to confine himself to the Lord's prayer on all emergencies, and even to dictate it to a dying child.
The child having thus entered on his heavenly inheritance, the father sets about striving to regain his also; and to shew that he sets about it in an orthodox manner, we are told, that having intended to place an expensive monument over the grave of his little boy, his clerical friend asking him which would inost gratify his child, could he now look down on earth, 'a monument to his own glory, or a work for the glory of God, he at once saw the thing in its right light. He therefore gave up the idea of a monument, and 'proposed to devote a considerable sum to the restoration and improvement of the church,' a pious work, in which, we need scarcely add, he found his reward in 'soothing recollections, and still more soothing hopes.' 'And, we little know,' adds the writer, in conclusion ; how many minds among the wealthier classes, Almighty God, at this moment, in this hour of trial, and resuscitation in the English church, may be weaning by some dreadful blow, from dreams of vanity and pride, that they may offer to him, that sacrifice of their worldly goods, without which such works cannot be accomplished. Among these works, our author suggests, 'an orphanotrophium, which formed one of the regular ecclesiastical institutions of the early church,' a home for orphans, 'where they might be placed under the care and nurture of a little organised family of religious women,' with a superintending chaplain, and a body of rules to be approved by the bishop, and enforced by him. Suggest these thoughts, even when there is no apparent prospect of their being realized, for all around is working to one end,' says the writer, finally, all alike is a struggle to recover an inheritance we have lost. Has not the church of our fathers lost its inheritance also ? lost children from its arms, and sheep from its fold ? Shall we not all, and each of us, struggle with one united effort, with our purses, and our prayers, to recover what, by the blessing of heaven, may still be made our own ?
Such is the earnest conclusion of a mere story intended primarily to illustrate six tolerable sketches of scenes in the Isle of Wight; indeed, one of the characteristics of these drawing-room books, which has struck us most forcibly, is the evident purpose,-often very ingeniously concealed, until the reader is thoroughly engaged in his theme,—but which toward the end is strongly brought out, and by reiterated touches worked up to an imposing conclusion. Our own writers might take a blameless hint, in their light publications, from this.
‘Margaret Percival,' a closely printed tale in two thick volumes, demands a more extended notice; since it is written expressly to prove, that 'truth and happiness are to be found in the English church. This point, which we should have thought almost self-evident to her dutiful children, appears, according to the judgment of the fellow and tutor of Exeter College, Oxford,' to require nine hundred and fortyfive pages, for its full enunciation. But we should wrong the tact, both of the author, and her clerical editor, did we not state that a large portion of these pages is devoted to a moving story of an imaginative young lady, who, struck with the contrast between the white-washed walls, and high pews of her parish church, and the graceful architecture, the fairy lightness, and beauty of the celebrated church of St. Ouen: 'bothered' too,for after all, this is the only word that can adequately describe her bewildered inquiries;-about the Baptists, and Wesleyans, who like some strange outlandish animals, excite her surprise, that they should be allowed to break the unity of the holy catholic church, makes some very decided advances towards Rome, and is only rescued by the vehement efforts of her uncle, who tells her how very naughty it is to leave the communion in which she was born. As this is a tale especially for young ladies, we have no love in it. The deficiency is, however, tolerably made up, by the details of a most violent friendship formed between Margaret, and a Countess Novera, with oval face, full forehead, glossy, dark, chesnut hair, deep set, lustrous eyes,' etc. etc., in short as fascinating a personage as a novelist could choose, to make mischief enough to fill even three volumes. The countess is a decided Roman catholic, and with her confessor, Father Andrea, lays violent siege to poor Margaret's imagination and feelings, especially as to the unity and superior efficiency of the papal church. This is a portion of her uncle's arguments:
"You will be shocked at me, I know,' said Margaret; but there is scarcely any thing more vague to me than the idea of working for the church
"No,' replied Mr. Sutherland, 'I am not shocked: your feeling is that of many, and it has been the growth of years of neglect and false principles. But, Margaret, have you never felt the want of such an object--something visible to which to attach yourself?'
* Yes, indeed. Margaret spoke earnestly, for the question brought to her remembrance the floating dissatisfactions which she had lately been striving to banish. “But I fancied the wish was a wrong one,' she added ; that it arose from my own weakness; and that I ought to be contented with trying to do good to myself and to the persons immediately about me,-the children, for instance, and the poor.'
So far you were right, that we are all limited to a certain sphere of action, and must be contented with it; but do you not see the immense difference between working in that sphere, with the idea that it is part of a great whole, and working in it as an isolated individual ?
"We cannot really be isolated,' said Margaret, because all Chris. tiads form but one body—the Epistle to the Ephesians says so.'
"It says,' replied Mr. Sutherland, 'that we are to endeavour to keep • the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; because there is one body, and one spirit, and one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.' Now look at Unitarians, denying the divinity of our Lord, and calling themselves Christians; look at Baptists, enforcing adult bap. tism alone; look at Wesleyans, and Independents, and the countless sects of the present day, making both the sacraments mere signs, and all differing from each other and from the church in their forms of government; where can the one body' be found amongst them ?
"Spiritually they may be one,' said Margaret.
"Was it merely spiritually in the primitive ages, when the apostles appointed elders and rulers in every church ; when it was said that if one member suffered, all the members suffered with it; or, in later days, when strangers travelling to a foreign land, carried commendatory letters to the bishop, and were received at once as parts of the great Christian family? The unity of those days was a visible unity-the body was a visible body.
•Then, where are we to look, what are we to do?' exclaimed Margaret, quickly. •Facts are against you.'
"Nay, I beg your pardon ; facts are for me. The bishops of the English branch of the catholic church are regularly descended from the apostles ; the faith of the English church is the faith of the apostles; the prayers of the English church are the prayers, if not of the apostles, yet of their immediate successors; and, therefore, to work for the English church, is to work for one of the parts of that body, of which our Lord himself is the head.''-Vol. i. p. 187.
It is but fair to add, that in answer to the succeeding question of Margaret, 'And are all others to be excluded ?' the answer disclaims the presumption of confining the mercies of Christ within the strict limits of the visible church,'—a charitable remark, but one in which the ultra party do not choose to agree. The church principles of the author are, however, high enough. But the advantage of a fixed rule,' and the constant superintendence of the priest, still dwells on poor Margaret's mind, and she urges the inefficiency of the English church, as compared with the Romish.' To this her uncle replies, by pointing to the eighty-one feasts, and more important still, the hundred and twenty-three fast days, making altogether two hundred and four days, out of the three hundred and sixty-five, set apart for particular observances,' and which of necessity must be marvellously efficacious. But then,that which another writer has characterized as 'the great want of our times,'-confession,why, for this the English church has in measure provided, for
she allows, and even commands, in questions of conscience, a free communication between the clergyman and his spiritual charge.' Truly the church of England approximates very nearly to the venerable church of Rome.
Still, the great benefit of priestly superintendence dwells