« PrécédentContinuer »
Betwixt a people and their ancient throne;
I have said so much on the substance of Mr. Tennyson's poetry, that
space is hardly left to glance at its form. The finish, grace, and tenderness of the passages cited must speak for themselves. One remark only must be hazarded. Our poet is the greatest living master of the resources of the English language. If asked what single book I could point as containing our own noble tongue in its perfection as an instrument of thought, I should mention without hesitation the "Idylls of the King. And be it observed, too, this excellence is attained in part by simplicity. Tennyson is subtle in thought, and at times this makes him difficult to follow;
but there is no haze of language. He is the most truly English of modern writers. Professor Marsh, of America, has shown, by laborious investigation, that Tennyson is as Saxon as Shakespeare, and only less 80 than Chaucer and the English Bible. The average proportion of Saxon words to others in common literary use, is 3:2 out of 40; the
proportion in Tennyson is 36 out of 40.* It may teach a useful lesson to all writers to find that it is by the aid of such simplicity of speech, that the chief poet of our day attains a delicacy and precision of expression quite unparalleled, and a melody surely incomparable.
We might illustrate this point largely from Mr. Tennyson's blank verse ; for example, from the story of Godiva. In his hands the sturdy English measure loses all its ruggedness, but not a jot of its strength; while the variety of its pause and cadence more than supplies the lack of rhyme. But we select in preference three separate brief lyrics from the 'Idylls of the King,' and leave our readers to judge whether to admire most the Saxon simplicity, the musical flow, the adaptation of the melody to the sentiment, or the way in which the repetition of the same phrase, which in less skilful bands would have become an upgraceful tautology, is made the chief beauty of the strain.
*Turn, fortune, turn thy wheel, and lower the proud ;
* See Dr. Angus's ‘Handbook of the English Tongue,' p. 13. The exact figures are as follows:
Saxon words in every 40. Robert of Gloucester, 10 pp.
38 New Testament, 13 chapters
37 Chaucer, two tales
37 Sir T. Moore, 7 folio pp.
34 Shakespeare, 3 acts
36 Milton, L'Allegro
36 Do. Paradise Lost
32 Pope, Essay on Man
32 Macaulay, Essay on Bacon
30 Cobbett, Essay on Indian Corn, c. 11
sive laughter at the thought of voluntaries striving to coax them
too late! ye cannot enter now.
No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now.
THE CHURCH PROPERTY QUESTION. It is a misfortune that the State-Church question is, to so great an extent
, a money question. The millions which are at stake work a double mischief. They not only corrupt and carnalize the endowed Establishment, but secure adhesion to it so long as it can possibly be kept in existence. They tempt men into the clerical
ranks, and then hold them bound by the heaviest recognizances. A sanguine
once sought to disturb a bishop's faitli in episcopacy. "I listened to him," said the prelate to a confidante, but laughed in my sleeve at the idea of his reasoning me out of five thousand a year. And so, now, . Church Defence advocates indulge in deri
into the belief, that the abandonment of immense pecuniary resources, held by a secure tenure, can possibly conduce to the prosperity of the Church.
The social supremacy now enjoyed by Episcopalians is, no doubt, highly valued. It is gratifying to their pride to have a monarch as their supreme head; to see bishops rear their mitred fronts in courts and parliaments;' to have a Prayer Book stamped with the imprimatur of national authority, and to be treated by gorernment and the legislature with the deference belonging only to a privileged
But these advantages would be held in comparatively light esteem were they not enjoyed in conjunction with others of a more solid sort. Archbishoprics and bishoprics, endowed with annual incomes of from £2,000 to £15,000 a-year; deaneries with £2,000, and benefices which are a fortune for life to those who secure them, and can be held on the easiest terms, and with only a nominal responsibility--these are the things which make the work of dis-estabsishment so difficult as to lead many to associate it with the idea of impossibility, or of revolution.
Not that all the upholders of the Establishment are actuated by sordid motives in resolutely defending it. Many of them believe, and will admit, that religion in this country, and even the Church of England itself, would exist and flourish notwithstanding the loss of this splendid dowry. But then we must accuse them of that which, in our judgment, is worse. We believe that men like Canon Stowell, and Mr. Bardsley, really owe but little to the State-endowment, seeing that they are maintained by the voluntaryism of their flocks. They, however, are not above availing themselves of any weapon likely to damage their ecclesiastical opponents, and so they join in the cry of Robbery,' Spoliation, Confiscation,' . Sacrilege' raised by others who have a deep personal interest in the rich preserves of the Establishment. They know, or they ought to know, that those who are labouring to free religion from state-controul, and to rescue it from the corrupting influence of state support, are not seeking to enrich themselves at the cost of Episcopalianism. They sometimes taunt them with the reticence hitherto displayed in relation to this part of the anti-state-church programme, as though this ‘ulterior aim' were one that had been carefully concealed, as too audacious to be promulgated, until its realization became more feasible. They, however, also know that in a country where the rights of property are so jealously guarded as in England, and where honesty is maiutained by public feeling, as much as by public law, there is no surer way of prejudicing a party, or an individual, than that of stigmatizing the one or the other as designing to inflict a pecuniary wrong, or to establish principles fatal to the sure possession of that which men, or bodies of men, hold as rightfully their own. It is so much easier to call a voluntary a
would-be thief, than to show convincingly by facts and logic that an Establishment is a scriptural and public institution, that the temptation to try and silence the 'Liberation Society,' by putting it into the Hue and Cry,' has proved too great to be resisted.
The temptation is all the greater because popular ignorance ou the subject is, at present, an inexhaustible bank on which to draw. This ignorance is not confined to one class. The majority of the clergy believe that the property in the hands of the Church is ‘as much the property of the Church as the acres of the squire are the property of the squire,' as firmly as they believe in the creeds and articles —some of them a great deal more. The laity are too ill-informed in the matter to dispute the dictum, and a larger number would be sorry to think that it were otherwise. Neither can we omit to add, that even Nonconformists too frequently share in the prevalent delusion. They ridicule the idea of church rates being the property of churchmen, but to touch tithes,—that is quite another matter. To secularize that portion of Church property would, they allow, indeed be confiscation, and dissenting endowments would be jeopardized if Church endowments were disturbed. Hence there are two classes of aggressive dissenters—those who would dis-establish the Church, but let the bondmen go forth laden with the spoils of Egypt, and others who contend, that the property in the hands of the Church is, to a large extent, the creation of public law, and the possession, not of any one religious community, but of the people at large.
This being the case, it is evident that the question involved in the origin and ownership of Church property must be fully argued, as preliminary to the discussion of what is really a question precedent. The prejudice and passion excited by misconceptions on this pecuDiary point, act as a barrier to the dispassionate consideration of principles which demand attention apart from all financial issues. As long as the friends of free religion ‘are treated as would-be spoliators
, greedy of what belongs to others, and tenacious of what they claim as their own, the combat will remain simply one of power, not of reason por of faith.' The lower ground of debate must, therefore, be entered upon, as necessary to an elevation to a higher region. The advocates of religious equality must clear themselves from the reproach of dishonesty, if it be only that they may gain a hearing for truths which are of greater value than all the revenues of the world's richest church. We rejoice to find that the first serious effort in this direction has
put forth by one who, of all others, is most responsible for that progress of opinion which has made the Church property question an issue of such grave importance. It was fitting that EDWARD MIALL, the originator of the 'Nonconformist,' should be the author of "The Title Deeds of the Church of England to her Parochial