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First Impressions of England and its People
Chapter XIII


Birmingham ; incessant Clamor of the Place. — Toy-shop of Britain ; Serious Character of the Games in which its Toys are chiefly employed. — Museum. — Liberality of the Scientific English. — Musical Genius of Birmingham. — Theory. — Controversy with the Yorkers. — Anecdote. — The English Language spoken very variously by the English ; in most cases spoken very ill. — English Type of Person. — Attend a Puseyite Chapel. — Puseyism a feeble Imitation of Popery. — Popish Cathedral. — Popery*the true Resting-place of the Puseyite. — Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Puseyite Principle ; its purposed Object not attained ; Hostility to Science. —English Funerals.

The sun had set ere I entered Birmingham through a long low suburb, in which all the houses seem to have been built during the last twenty years. Particularly tame-looking houses they are; and I had begun to lower my expectations to the level of a flat, mediocre, three-mile city of brick, — a sort of manufactory in general, with offices attached, — when the coach drove up through New-street, and I caught a glimpse of the Town Hall, a noble building of Anglesea marble, of which Athens in its best days might not have been ashamed. The whole street is a fine one. I saw the lamps lighting up under a stately new edifice, — the Grammar School of King Edward the Sixth, which, like most recent erections of any pretension, either in England or among ourselves, bears the mediaeval stamp: still further on I could descry, through the darkening twilight, a Roman-looking building that rises over the market-place; and so I inferred that the humble brick of Birmingham, singularly abundant, doubtless, and widely spread, represents merely the business necessities of the place; and that, when on any occasion its taste comes to be displayed, it proves to be a not worse taste than that shown by its neighbors. What first struck my ear as peculiar among the noises of a large town, — and their amount here is singularly great,— was what seemed to be somewhat irregular platoon-firing, carried on, volley after volley, with the most persistent deliberation. The sounds came, I was told, from the “ proofing-house,” — an iron-lined building, in which the gunsmith tests his mus-ket-barrels, by giving them a quadruple charge of powder and ball, and then, after ranging them in a row, firing them from outside the apartment by means of a train. Birmingham produces on the average a musket per minute, night and day, throughout the year: it, besides, furnishes the army with its swords, the navy with, its cutlasses and pistols, and the busy writers of the day with their steel pens by the hundredweight and the ton; and thus it labors to deserve its name of the “ Great Toy-shop of Britain,” by fashioning toys in abundance for the two most serious games of the day, — the game of war and the game of opinion-making.

On the morrow I visited several points of interest connected with the place and its vicinity. I found at the New Cemetery, on the north-western side of the town, where a party of Irish laborers were engaged in cutting deep into the hill-side, a good section, for about forty feet, of the Lower New Red Sandstone; but its only organisms — carbonized leaves and stems, by much too obscure for recognition — told no distinct story; and so incoherent is the enclosing sandstone matrix, that the laborers dug into it with their mattocks as if it were a bank of clay. I glanced over the Geological Museum attached to the Birmingham Philosophical Institution, and found it, though small, beautifully kept and scientifically arranged. It has its few specimens of New Red Sandstone fossils, chiefly from the upper sandstone band which overlies the saliferous marls; but their presence in a middle place here between the numerous fossils of the Carboniferous and Oolotic systems serves but to show the great poverty in organic remains of the intermediate system, as developed in England. Though of course wholly a stranger, I found free admission to both the Dudley and Birmingham Museums, and experienced, with but few exceptions, a similar liberality in my visits to all the other local collections of England which fell in my way. We have still great room for improvement in this respect in Scotland. We are far behind at least the laymen of England, — its liberal mechanicians and manufacturers, and its cultivators of science and the arts, — in the generosity with which they throw open their collections; and resemble rather that portion of the English clergy who make good livings better by exhibiting their consecrated places, — not too holy, it would seem, to be converted into show-boxes, — for paltry twopences and groats. I know not a museum in Edinburgh or Glasgow, save that of the Highland Society, to which a stranger can get access at once so readily and so free as that which I obtained, in the course of my tour, to the Newcastle, Dudley, Birmingham and British Museums.

Almost all the larger towns of England manifest some one leading taste or other. Some are peculiarly literary, some decidedly scientific; and the taste paramount in Birmingham seems to be a taste for music. In no town in the world are the mechanical arts more noisy: hammer rings incessantly on anvil; there is an unending clang of metal, an unceasing clank of engines; flame rushes, water hisses, steam roars, and from time to time, hoarse and hollow over all, rises the thunder of the proofing-house. The people live in an atmosphere continually vibrating with clamor; and it would seem as if their amusements had caught the general tone, and become noisy, like their avocations. The man who for years has slept soundly night after night in the neighborhood of a foundery, awakens disturbed, if by some accident the hammering ceases: the imprisoned linnet or thrush is excited to emulation by even the screeching of a knife-grinder’s wheel, or the din of a coppersmith’s shop, and pours out its soul in music. It seems not very improbable that the two principles on which these phenomena hinge — principles as diverse as the phenomena themselves — may have been influential in inducing the peculiar characteristic of Birmingham; that the noises of the place, grown a part of customary existence to its people, — inwrought, as it were, into the very staple of their lives, — exert over them some such unmarked influence as that exerted on the sleeper by the foundery; and that, when they relax from their labors, they seek to fill up the void by modulated noises, first caught up, like the song of the bird beside the cutler’s wheel or coppersmith’s shop, in unconscious rivalry of the clang of their hammers and engines. Be the truth of the theory what it may, there can be little doubt regarding the fact on which it hinges. No town of its size in the empire spends more time and money in concerts and musical festivals than Birmingham; no small proportion of its people are amateur performers; almost all are musical critics; and the organ in its great Hall, the property of the town, is, with scarce the exception of that of York, the largest in the empire, and the finest, it is said, without any exception. But on this last point there hangs a keen controversy.

The Yorkers contend that their organ is both the greater and the finer organ of the two; whereas the Birminghamers assert, on the contrary, that theirs, though it may not measure more, plays vastly better. “It is impossible,” retort the Yorkers, “that it can play even equally well; nay, were it even as large and as fine an organ, — which it is not, — it would be inferior by a half and more, unless to an instrument such as ours you could add a Minster such as ours also.” — “ Ah,” rejoin the Birminghamers, “fair play! organ to organ: you are coming Yorkshire over us now: the building is not in the case at issue. You are surely conscious your instrument, single-handed, is no match for ours, or you would never deem it necessary to back it in this style by so imposing an auxiliary.” But the argument of the York controversialists I must give in their own words : — “It is worse than idle in the Birmingham people,” say the authors of the “Guide to York Minster,” “to boast of their organ being unrivalled: we will by and by show how much it falls short of the York organ in actual size. But even were their instrument afac simile of ours, it would not avail in a comparison; for it would still lack the building, which, in the case of our magnificent cathedral, is the better half of the organ, after all. In this, old Ebor stands unrivalled among all competitors in this kingdom. Even in the noble cathedrals that are dispersed through the country, no equal can be found to York Minster in dimensions, general proportions, grandeur of effect to the eye, and the sublimity and mellowness which it imparts to sound. It is true, indeed, that such a building requires an instrument of vast power to fill it with sound; but when it is filled, as with its magnificent organ it now is, the effect is grand and affecting in the highest degree; and yet there are in this organ many solo stops of such beautifully vocal, soft, and varied qualities of tone, as actually to require (as they fascinatingly claim) the closest attention of the listener. We beg it to be clearly understood, that we have not the slightest intention of depreciating the real merits of the Birmingham organ, as it is confessedly a very complete and splendid instrument; but when we notice such unscrupulous violations of truth as have been so widely disseminated, we deem it a duty incumbent upon us to set the public right.” That I might be the better able to take an intelligent part in so interesting a controversy, — a controversy in which, considering the importance of the point at issue, it is really no wonder though people should lose temper, — I attended a musical meeting in the Town Hall, and heard the great organ. The room — a very large one — was well filled, and yet the organ was the sole performer; for so musical is the community, that night after night, though the instrument must have long since ceased to be a novelty, it continues to draw together large audiences, who sit listening to it for hours. I have unluckily a dull ear, and, in order to enjoy music, must be placed in circumstances in which I can draw largely on the associative faculty ; I must have airs that breathe forth old recollections, and set me a dreaming; and so, though neither Yorker nor Bir-minghamer, I may be deemed no competent authority in the organ controversy. I may, however, at least venture to say, that the Birmingham instrument makes a considerably louder noise in its own limited sphere than that of York in the huge Minster; and that I much preferred its fine old Scotch melodies,— though a country maiden might perhaps bring them out more feelingly in a green holm at a “great Psalm-tune ” of its rival. When listening, somewhat awearied, to alternations of scientific music and the enthusiastic plaudits of the audience, I bethought me of a Birmingham musical meeting which held rather more than a century ago, and of the especial plaudit through which its memory has been embalmed in an anecdote. One of the pieces performed on the occasion was the “II Penseroso” of Milton set to music; but it went on heavily, till the well-known couplet ending 

“Iron tears down Pluto’s cheek ”

at once electrified the meeting. “Iron tears! ” “Iron tears!”

Could there be anything finer or more original? Tears made of iron were the only kind of iron articles not manufactured in Birmingham.

I visited the Botanic Gardens in the neighborhood, but found them greatly inferior to those of Edinburgh; and made several short excursions into the surrounding country, merely to ascertain, as it proved, that unless one extends one’s walk some ten or twelve miles into the Dudley, Hagley, Droitwich, or Hales Owen districts, there is not a great deal worth seeing to be seen. Still, it was something to get the eye familiarized with the externals of English life, and to throw one’s self in the way of those chance opportunities of conversation with the common people, which loiterings by the lanes and road-sides present. My ear was now gradually becoming acquainted with the several varieties of the English dialect, and my eye with the peculiarities of the English form and countenance. How comes it that in Great Britain, and, I suppose, everywhere else, every six or eight square miles of area, nay, every little town or village, has its own distinguishing intonations, phrases, modes of pronunciation, in short, its own style of speaking the general language, almost always sufficiently characteristic to mark its inhabitants ? There are not two towns or counties in Scotland that speak Scotch after exactly the same fashion; and I now found, in the sister country, varieties of English quite as marked, parcelled out into geographical patches as minute. In workmen’s barracks, where parties of mechanics, gathered from all parts of the country, spend the greater part of a twelvemonth together at a time, I have, if I mistake not, marked these colloquial peculiarities in the forming. There are few men who have not their set phrases and forms of speech, acquired inadvertently, in most cases at an early period, when the habit of giving expression to their ideas is in the forming, — phrases and set forms which they learn to use a good deal oftener than the necessities of their thinking require; and I have seen, in the course of a few months, the peculiarities of this kind of some one or two of the more intelligent and influential mechanics of a party, caught all unwittingly by almost all its members, and thus converted, to a considerable extent, into peculiarities of the party itself; and peculiar tones, inflections, modes of pronunciation, at first, mayhap, chance-derived, seem at least equally catching. A single stuttering boy has been known to infect a whole class; and no young person, with the imitative faculty active within him, ever spent a few months in a locality distant from his home, without bringing back with him, on his return, a sensible twang of its prevalent intonations and idioms. Of course, when the language of a town or district differs greatly from that of the general standard of the country, or very nearly approximates to it, there must have been some original cause of the peculiarity, which imparted aim and object to the imitative faculty. For instance, the Scotch spoken in Aberdeen differs more from the pure English standard than that of any other town in Scotland; whereas the Scotch spoken in Inverness, if Scotch it may be called, most nearly approximates to it; and we may detect a producing cause in both cases. The common dialect of Inverness, though now acquired by the ear, was originally, and that at no very remote period, the book-taught English of an educated Celtic people, to whom Gaelic was the mother tongue; while in Aberdeen — one of the old seats of learning in the country, and which seems to have been brought, in comparatively an early age, under the influence of tne ancient Scotch literature — the language of Barbour* and Dunbar got a firm lodgment among the educated classes, which, from the remoteness of the place, the after influence of the English court served but tardily to affect. Obviously, in some other cases, the local peculiarity, when it involves a marked departure from the existing standard, has to be traced, not to literature, but to the want of it. But at least the great secondary cause of all such peculiarities — the invariable, ever-operative causer in its own subordinate place — seems to be that faculty of unconscious imitation universally developed in the species, which the philosophic Hume deemed so actively operative in the formation of national character, and one of whose special vocations it is to transfer personal traits and characteristics from leading, influential individuals, to septs and communities. Next to the degree of surprise that a stranger feels in England that the language should be spoken so variously, by the people, is that of wonder that it should in most cases be spoken so ill. Lord Nugent, in remarking, in his “ Lands Classical and Sacred,” that “ the English language is the one which in the present state of the habitable globe—what with America, India, and Australia — is spoken by the greatest number of people,” guards his statement by a sly proviso; that is, he adds, if we recognize as English “ what usually passes for such in most parts of Scotland and the United States.” Really, his lordship might not have been so particular. If the rude dialects of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Northumberland, stand muster as part and parcel of the language written by Swift and Addison, and spoken by Burke and Bolingbroke, that of Old Machar and Kentucky may be well suffered to pass.

I had entered a considerable way into England ere I was struck by the peculiarities of the English face and figure. There is no such palpable difference between the borderers of Northumberland and those of Roxburghshire as one sometimes marks in the inhabitants of contiguous counties in Scotland itself; no such difference, for instance, as obtains between the Celtic population of Sutherland, located on the southern side of the Ord Hill, and the Scandinavian population of Caithness, located on its northern side. But, as the traveller advances on the midland counties, the English cast of person and countenance becomes very apparent. The harder frame and thinner face of the northern tribes disappear shortly after one leaves Newcastle ; and one meets, instead, with ruddy, fleshy, compactly-built Englishmen, of the true national type. There is a smaller development of bone; and the race, on the average, seem less tall: but the shoulders are square and broad, the arms muscular, and the chest full; and if the lower part of the figure be not always in keeping with the upper, its inferiority is perhaps rather an effect of the high state of civilization at which the country has arrived, and the consequent general pursuit of mechanical arts that have a tendency to develop the arms and chest, and to leave the legs and thighs undeveloped, than an original peculiarity of the English as a race. The English type of face and person seems peculiarly well adapted to the female countenance and figure; and the proportion of pretty women to the population — women with clear, fair complexions, well-turned arms, soft features, and fine busts — seems very great. Even the not very feminine employment of the naileresses of Hales Owen, though hereditary in their families for generations, has failed to render their features coarse or their forms masculine. To my eye, however, my countrymen — and I have now seen them in almost every district of Scotland— present an appearance of rugged strength, which the English, though they take their place among the more robust European nations, do not exhibit; and I find the carefully-constructed tables of Professor Forbes, based on a large amount of actual experiment, corroborative of the impression. As tested by the dynamometer, the average strength of the full-grown Scot exceeds that of the full-grown Englishman by about one-twentieth,— to be sure, no very great difference, but quite enough, in a prolonged contest, hand to hand, and man to man, with equal skill and courage on both sides, decidedly to turn the scale. The result of the conflict at Bannockburn, where, according to Barbour, steel rung upon armor in hot, close fight for hours, and at Otterbum, where, according to Froissart, the English fought with the most obstinate bravery, may have a good deal hinged on this purely physical difference.

I attended public worship on the Sabbath, in a handsome chapel in connection with the Establishment, which rises in an outer suburb of the town. There were many conversions taking place at the time from Puseyism to Popery: almost every newspaper had its new list; and as I had learned that the clergyman of the chapel was a high Puseyite, I went to acquaint myself, at first hand, with the sort of transition faith that was precipitating so much of the altered Episcopacy of England upon Rome. The clergyman was, I was told, a charitable, benevolent man, who gave the poor proportionally much out of his little, — for his living was a small one, — and who was exceedingly diligent in the duties of his office; but his congregation, it was added, had sadly fallen away. The high Protestant part of it had gone off when he first became decidedly a Puseyite; and latterly, not a few of his warmer friends had left him for the Popish cathedral on the other side of the town. The hive ecclesiastical had cast off its two swarms, — its best Protestants and its best Puseyites. I saw the clergyman go through the service of the day, and deemed his various Puseyistic emendations rather poor things in a pictorial point of view. They reminded me — for the surrounding atmosphere was by much too clear — of the candle-light decorations of a theatre, when submitted to the blaze of day, in all the palpable rawness of size and serge, ill-jointed carpentry, and ill-ground ochre. They seemed sadly mistimed, too, in coming into being in an age such as the present; and reminded one of maggots developed into flies by artificial heat amid the chills of winter. The altar stood in the east end of the building ; there was a golden crucifix inwrought in the cloth which covered it; and directly over, a painting of one of our Saviour’s miracles, and a stained window. But the ensemble was by no means striking; it was merely fine enough to make one miss something finer. The clergyman prayed with his back to the people; but there was nothing grand in the exhibition of a back where a face should be. He preached in a surplice, too; but a surplice is a poor enough thing in itself, and in no degree improves a monotonous discourse. And the appearance of the congregation was as little imposing as that of the service : the great bulk of the people seemed drowsily inattentive. The place, like a bed of residuary cabbage-plants twice divested of its more promising embryos, had been twice thinned of its earnestness, — first of its Protestant earnestness, which had flowed over to the meeting-house and elsewhere, — next of its Puseyite earnestness, which had dribbled out into the cathedral; and there had been little else left to it than a community of what I shall venture to term otf-Christians, — people whose attachments united them, not to the clergyman or his doctrines, but simply, like those of the domestic cat, to the walls of the building. The chapel contained the desk from which their banns had been proclaimed, and the font in which their children had been baptized : and the corner in which they had sat for so many years was the only corner anywhere in England in which they could fairly deem themselves “at church.” And so there were they to be found, Sabbath after Sabbath, regardless of the new face of doctrine that flared upon them from the pulpit. The sermon, though by no means striking as a piece of composition or argument, was fraught with its important lesson. It inscribed the “ Do this and live ” of the abrogated covenant, so congenial to the proud confidence of the unsubdued human heart, on a substratum of that lurking fear of unforgiving trespass, not less natural to man, which suggests the mediation of the merely human priest, the merit of penance, and the necessity of the confessional. It represented man as free to will and work out his own salvation; but exhibited him also as a very slave, because he had failed to will and to work it. It spoke of a glorious privilege, in which all present had shared, — the privilege of being converted through baptism; but left every one in doubt whether, in his individual case, the benefit had not been greatly more than neutralized by transgression since committed, and whether he were not now in an immensely more perilous state of reprobation than if he had never been converted. Such always is the vaulting liberty of a false theology, when held in sincerity. Its liberty invariably “overleaps itself, and falls on the other side.” It is a liberty which, “gendereth to bondage.”

I next visited the Popish cathedral, and there I found in perfection all that Puseyism so palpably wanted. What perhaps first struck was the air of real belief — of credulity all awake and earnest — which characterized the congregation. The mind, as certainly as the body, seemed engaged in the kneel-ings, the bowings, the responses, the crossings of the person, and the dippings of the finger-tip in the holy water. It was the harvest season, and the passages of the building were crowded with Irish reapers, — a ragged and many-patched assemblage. Of the corresponding class in England and Scotland, Protestantism has no hold, — they have broken loose from her control ; but Popery in Ireland has been greatly more fortunate : she is peculiarly strong in the ignorant and the reckless, and formidable in their possession. In the services of the cathedral everything seemed in keeping. The altar, removed from the congregation by an architectural screen, and enveloped in a dim obscurity, gave evidence, in its picturesque solemnity, — its twinkling lights and its circling incense, — that the church to which it belonged had fully mastered the principles of effect. The musically modulated prayer, sounding in the distance from within the screen, — the imposing procession, — the mysterious genuflections and frequent kneelings, — the sudden music, rising into paroxysms of melody in the crises of the passing ceremony, — the waving of the smoking censer, — the tolling of the great bell at the elevation of the host, — all spoke of the accumulative art of more than a thousand years. The trick of scenic devotion had been well caught, — the theatric religion that man makes for himself had been skilfully made. The rites of Puseyism seem but poor shadows in comparison, —mere rudimentary efforts in the way of design, that but serve to beget a taste for the higher style of art. I did not wonder that such of the Puseyites of the chapel as were genuine admirers of the picturesque in religion should have found their way to the cathedral.

In doctrine, however, as certainly as in form and ceremony, the Romish church constitutes the proper resting-place of the Puseyite. The ancient Christianity, as it exists in the Anglican Church, is a mere inclined slide, to let him down into it. It furnishes him with no doctrinal resting-place of its own. In every form of Christianity in which men are earnest there must exist an infallibility somewhere. By the Episcopalian Protestant, as by the Presbyterian, that infallibility is recognized as resting in the Scriptures; and by the consistent Papist that infallibility is recognized as resting in the Church. But where does the infallibility of the Puseyite rest? Not in the Scriptures; for, repudiating the right of private judgment, he is necessarily ignorant of what the Scriptures truly teach. Not in tradition; for he has no trustworthy guide to show him where tradition is right, or where wrong. Not in his Church; for his Church has no voice; or, what amounts to exactly the same thing, her voice is a conflicting gabble of antagonist sounds. Now one bishop speaks after one fashion, — now another bishop speaks after another, — and anon the queen speaks, through the ecclesiastical courts, in tones differing from them all. Hence the emphatic complaint of Mr. Ward, in the published letter in which he assigns his reasons for entering the communion of Rome: — “He can find,” he says, “no teaching” in the English Church; and repudiating, as he does, the right of private judgment, there is logic in his objection. “If we reverence,” he argues, “ the fact of the apostolicity of creeds on the authority of the English Church, so far as we do not believe the English Church to be infallibly directed, exactly so far we do not believe the creeds to be infallibly true.” Consistent Puseyism can find its desiderated infallibility in Rome only.

The rise and progress of this corruption in the Church of England promises to form a curious episode in the ecclesiastical history of the age. It is now rather more than ten years since Whigism, yielding to the pressure of rei’nvigorated Popery, suppressed the ten Irish bishoprics, and a body of politic churchmen met to deliberate how best, in the future, such deadly aggressions on their Church might be warded off. They saw her unwieldy bulk lying in a state of syncope before the spoiler; and concluded that the only way to save was to rouse and animate her, by breathing into her some spirit of life. Unless they succeeded in stirring her up to defend herself, they found defence would be impracticable: it was essential to the protection of her goods and chattels that she should become a living soul, too formidable to be despoiled; and, in taking up their line of policy, they seem to have set themselves as coolly to determine respecting the nature and kind of spirit which they should breathe into her, as if they were a conclave of chemists deliberating regarding the sort of gas with which a balloon was to be inflated. They saw two elements of strength in the contemporary Churches, and but two only, — the Puritanic and the Popish element; and making their choice between them, they selected the Popish one as that with which the Church of England should be animated. On some such principle, it would seem, as that through which the human body is enabled to resist, by means of the portion of the atmospheric air within, the enormous pressure of the atmospheric air without, strength was sought in an internal Popery, from the pressure of the aggressive Popery outside. An extensive and multifarious machinery was set in motion, in consequence of the determination, with the scarce concealed design, of “un-protestantizing the English Church.” Ceremonies less imposing than idle were introduced into her services; altars displaced at the Reformation were again removed to their prescribed site in the east; candles were lighted at noon-day; crucifixes erected; the clergyman, after praying with his back to the people, ascended the pulpit in his surplice to expatiate on the advantages of the confessional, and the real presence in the sacrament; enticing pictures were held up to the suffering poor, of the comforts and enjoyments of their class in the middle ages; and the pew-battle was fought for them, that they might be brought under the influence of the revived doctrines. To the aristocracy hopes were extended of a return to the old state of implicit obedience on the part of the people, and of absolute authority on the part of the people’s lords : the whole artillery of the press was set in requisition, — from the novelette and poem for the young lady, and the tale for the child, to the high-priced review for the curious theologian, and the elaborate “Tract for the Times.” Nay, the first journal in the world was for a season engaged in advocating the designs of the party. And the exertions thus made were by no means fruitless. The unprotestantizing leaven introduced into the mass of the English Establishment began to ferment, and many of the clergy, and not a few of the laity, were infected.

But there was a danger in thus animating with the Popish spirit the framework of the English Church, on which the originators of the scheme could not have fully calculated. It has been long held in Scotland as one of the popular superstitions of the country, that it is a matter of extreme danger to simulate death, or personate the dead. There is a story told in the far north of a young fellow, who, going out one night, wrapped in a winding-sheet, to frighten his neighbors, was met, when passing through the parish churchyard, by a real ghost, that insisted, as their vocation was the same, on their walking together; and so terrible, says the story, was the shock which the young fellow received, that in a very few days he had become a real ghost too. There is another somewhat similar story told of a lad who had, at a lyke wake, taken the place of the corpse, with the intention of rising in the middle of the night to terrify the watchers, and was found, when a brother wag gave the agreed signal, deaf to time; for in the interval he had become as true a corpse as the one whose stretching board he had usurped. Now, the original Puseyites, in dressing out their clerical brethren in the cerements of Popery, and setting them a-walking, could hardly have foreseen that many of them were to become the actual ghosts which they had decked them to simulate. They did not know that the old Scotch superstition, in at least its relation to them, was not an idle fancy, but a sober fact; and that these personators of the dead were themselves in imminent danger of death. Some suspicion of the kind, however, does seem to have crossed them. Much that is peculiar in the ethics of the party appears to have been framed with an eye to the uneasinesses of consciences not quite seared, when bound down by the requirements of their position to profess beliefs of one kind, and by the policy of their party to promulgate beliefs of another, — to be ostensibly Protestant, and yet to be instant in season and out of season in subverting Protestantism; in short, in the language of Mr. Ward, “ to be Anglican clergymen, and yet hold Roman Catholic doctrine.” But the moral sense in earnest Puseyism is proving itself a too tender and sensitive thing to bear with the morality which politic Puseyism, ere it gathered heat and life, had prepared for its use. It finds that the English Church is not the Church of Rome, — that the Convocation is not the Vatican, nor Victoria the Pope, — that it is not honest to subvert Protestantism under cloak of the Protestant name, nor to muster in its ranks, and eat its bread, when in the service of the enemy. And so Puseyism, in its more vital scions, is fast ceasing to be Puseyism. The newspapers still bear their lists of conversions to Rome; and thus the means so invidiously resorted to of strengthening the English Establishment against Popery is fast developing itself into a means of strengthening Popery at the expense of the English Establishment.

The influence on science of this mediaeval Christianity, so strangely revived, forms by no means the least curious part of its history. It would appear as if the doctrine of authority, as taught by Puseyism and Popery, — the doctrine of a human infallibility in religious matters, whether vested in Popes, Councils, or Churches, — cannot coexist in its integrity, as a real belief, with the inductive philosophy. It seems an antagonist force; for, wherever the doctrine predominates, the philosophy is sure to decline. The true theologic counterpart to the inductive scheme of Bacon is that Protestant right of private judgment, which, dealing by the word of God as the inductive philosophy deals by the works of God, involves as its principle what may be termed the inductive philosophy of theology. There is certainly nothing more striking in the history of the resuscitation of the mediaeval faith within the English Church, than its marked hostility to scientific truth, as exhibited in the great educational institutions of England. Every product of a sound philosophy seems disappearing under its influence, like the fruits and flowers of the earth when the chilling frosts of winter set in. But it is impossible to state the fact more strongly than it has been already stated by Mr. Lyell, in his lately published “Travels in America.” “After the year 1839,” he says, “we may consider three-fourths of the sciences still nominally taught at Oxford to have been virtually exiled from the university. The class-rooms of the professors were some of them entirely, others nearly deserted.

Chemistry and botany attracted, between the years 1840 and 1844, from three to seven students; geometry, astronomy, and experimental philosophy, scarcely more; mineralogy and geology, still taught by the same professor who, fifteen years before, had attracted crowded audiences, from ten to twelve; political economy, still fewer; even ancient history and poetry scarcely commanded an audience; and, strange to say, in a country with whose destinies those of India are so closely bound up, the first of Asiatic scholars gave lectures to one or two pupils, and these might have been absent, had not the cherished hope of a Boden scholarship for Sanscrit induced them to attend.” I may state, in addition, on the best authority, that the geological professor here referred to, — Dr. Buck-land, — not only one of the most eminent masters of his science, but also one of the most popular of its exponents, — lectured, during his last course, to a class of three. Well may it be asked whether the prophecy of Pope is not at length on the eve of fulfilment: —

"She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold,
Of Night primeval and of Chaos old,
As, one by one, at dread Medea’s strain,
The sickening stars fade off the ethereal plain, —
As Argus’ eyes, by Hermes’ wand oppressed,
Close one by one in everlasting rest.
Thus, at her felt approach and secret might,
Art after art goes out, and all is night.”

The anti-scientific influences of the principle have, however, not been restricted to the cloisters of the university. They have been creeping of late over the surface of English society, as that sulphurous fog into which the arch-fiend in Milton transformed himself when he sought to dash creation into chaos crept of old over the surface of Eden. The singularly extended front of opposition presented last autumn by the newspaper press of England to the British Association, when holding its sittings at Southampton, and the sort of running fire kept up for weeks after on its more distinguished members, — men such as Sir Roderick Murchison, Dr. Buckland, and Mr. Lyell, — seem to have been an indirect consequence of a growing influence in the country on the part of the revived superstition. One of the earliest assaults made on the Association, as hostile in its nature and tendencies to religion, appeared several years ago in the leading organ of Tractarianism, the “British Critic;” but the “Critic” in those days stood much alone. Now, however, though no longer in the field, it has got not a few successors in the work, and its party many an active ally. The mediaeval miasma, originated in the bogs and fens of Oxford, has been blown aslant over the face of the country; and not only religious, but scientific truth, is to experience, it would seem, the influence of its poisonous blights and rotting mildews.

It is not difficult to conceive how the revived superstition of the middle ages should bear no good will to science or its institutions. Their influences are naturally antagonistic. The inductive scheme of interrogating nature, that takes nothing for granted, and the deferential, submissive scheme, that, in ecclesiastical matters, yields wholly to authority, and is content though nothing should be proved, cannot well coexist in one and the same mind. “I believe because it is impossible,” says the devout Medievalist; “I believe because it is demonstrable,” says the solid Baconian. And it is scarce in the nature of things that one and the same individual should be a Baconian in one portion of his mind and a Medievalist in another, — that in whatever relates to the spiritual and ecclesiastical, he should take all on trust, and in whatever relates to the visible and material, believe nothing without evidence.

The Baconian state of mind is decidedly anti-mediseval; and hence the avowed Puseyite design of unprotestantizing the English Church finds a scarce more determined enemy in the truth elicited by the enlightened and well-directed study of the word of God, than in the habit of mind induced by the enlightened and well-directed study of the works of God. Nor is it in any degree matter of wonder that modern Tractarianism should on this principle be an especial enemy of the British Association, — an institution rendered peculiarly provoking by its peripatetic propensities. It takes up the empire piecemeal, by districts and squares, and works its special efforts on the national mind much in the way that an agriculturist of the modern school, by making his sheepfold-walk bit by bit over the area of an entire moor, imparts such fertility to the soil, that the dry unproductive heaths and mosses wear out and disappear, and the succulent grasses spring up instead. A similar association located in London or Edinburgh would be, to borrow from Dr. Chalmers, a scientific institute on merely the attractive scheme : men in whom the love of science had been already excited would seek it out, and derive profit and pleasure in that communion of congenial thought and feeling which it created; but it could not be regarded as a great intellectual machine for the production of men of science, and the general formation of habits of scientific inquiry. But the peripatetic character of the Association constitutes it a scientific institute on the aggressive system. It sets itself down every year in a new locality; excites attention; awakens curiosity; furnishes the provincial student with an opportunity of comparing the fruits of his researches with those of labors previously directed by resembling minds to similar walks of exploration; enables him to test the value of his discoveries, and ascertain their exact degrees of originality; above all, brings hundreds around him to experience an interest they never felt before, in questions of science; imparts facts to them never to be forgotten, and habits of observation not to be relinquished; in short, communicates to all its members a disposition of mind exactly the reverse of that indolent and passive quiescence of mood which Puseyism so strongly inculcates by homily and novelette, on at least its lay adherents,. Truly, it is by no means strange that the revived principle, and those organs of the public press which it influences, should be determined enemies of the British Association. It is, however, but just to add, that Tractarianism and its myrmidons have not been the only assailants. Tractarianism first raised the fog, but not a few good simple people of the opposite party have since got bewildered in it; and, through the confusion incident on losing their way, they have fallen in the quarrel into the ranks of their antagonists, and have been doing battle in their behalf.* On quitting the Puseyite chapel, I met a funeral, the first I had seen in England. It was apparently that of a person in the middle walks, and I was a good deal struck with its dissimilarity, in various points, to our Scotch funerals of the same class. The coffin of planed elm, finished off with all the care usually bestowed on pieces of household furniture made of the commoner forest hardwood, was left uncolored, save on the edges, which, like those of a mourning card, were belted with black. There was no pall covering it; and, instead of being borne on staves, or on the shoulders, it was carried, basketlike, by the handles. An official, bearing a gilded baton, marched in front; some six or eight gentlemen in black paced slowly beside the bearers; a gentleman and lady, in deep mourning, walked arm-in-arm at the coffin-head; and a boy and girl, also arm-in-arm, and in mourning, came up behind them. Such was the English funeral, — one of those things which, from their familiarity, are not described by the people of the country to which they belong, and which prove unfamiliar, in consequence, to the people of other countries. On the following Monday I took an outside seat on a stage-coach, for Stratford-on-Avon.


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