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it will be seen that his was the central figure of the combat, his hand raised the standard round which the foemen rallied. Two or three only of the poems are likely to survive the taste of the present day, and of these " Jenny" is far the most important, and will always stand as a statement, in singularly strong and beautiful words, of that problem of womanhood, for which, as yet, no one has found a solution. "The Last Confession" is, perhaps, the most complete of all the poems, but it touches on no such universal chord as that with which "Jenny'' is concerned, and is interesting chiefly as a study of morbid love and jealousy ; and all the other poems, beautiful as they are, will we f'enr be neglected in future years, if only because of their dependence upon a special phase of feeling whicli is not one with which most readers have any sympathy. They arc not too egoistic to last, but they are egoistic in too unusual a way, and the strangeness of their form, natural as it was to the man who wrote them, will probably seem in after years half affected and half incomprehensible. It is a crowning misfortune for a poet, when his chances of immortality are being considered, that men should read him less for what he says than for what may be called the atmosphere of his verse—when he pleases our senses without stirring our sympathies. This is to a certain extent the case with Rossetti. The young, the healthy, and the brave may delight in his writing for its music, and even find a half pleasure in its iteration of grief. But it is impossible that they should sympathize with the work as a whole; the cry of pain is too continuous, too long sustained, followed out into too many various directions. It comes across us as we read, that though the poet was sincere, his poetry is not; that these fancies, which, whenever they begin, end only in the grave, are not the realities of life and action, and have no true bearing thereon. And the consequence is that one grows into a habit of listening to him much as one does to the prattle of a child—glad when he says anything wise, witty, or beautiful, but attaching little or no importance to the thread of his discourse. And the place of his painting is even harder to determine. Many artists would tell us that it is not painting at all, and from one point of view they would be right. But is this really the question? Another age may deny that the modern French school are painters, or that there is any painting save that of Germany and the Low Countries; or it may erect some new standard, or return to some old one which is now forgotten. Who shall decide what is and what is not painting, if we once leave the broad track of beautiful colour applied to a canvas so as to produce a beautiful result? And if the decision can be made so as to exclude the work of which wc are talking, we should have to consider whether, if this be not painting, it is not something else than painting which we require. It is at all events—Art. There is no doubt of that; and in the best examples it possesses three qualities, which it is excessively rare to find in combination. It is at once passionate, poetical, and refined, and defies the spectator to associate it with ideas of manufacture. Such as it is, the work has evidently grown from its author's character, like a flower from the earth, and bears scarcely a trace of another's influence. Its hope of immortality lies in this feet. Copies die, but for originals, however imperfect, there is always hope. It is, I imagine, as unlikely that future generations will understand its meaning as it is that they will care to follow out the curious life and character of its author; but the qualities of imagination and passion, and the technical perfection of the colouring, will probably secure it a place in the history of art. For as poems in colour, the world has sceu nothing finer since the days of Titian.
I would apologize to the readers of the Contemporary Review for the desultory character of these notes, did I not feel, and feel most strongly, that the time has not yet come in which it is possible to estimate in any complete degree the scope and character of Dante Rossetti's work. Any endeavour to do so would inevitably trench upon personal matters, and give pain to many people. I have tried, probably with unsuccess, to steer a middle course, and to suggest the truth so far as it could be done without offeuce. As far is I can sum up that truth in a sentence, it seems to be this— that Rossetti's was a true artistic genius, wedded to a nature which was almost equally passionate and intellectual, an Italian rather than an English character, and that though the circumstances of his life thwarted his powers to an unusual extent, they did not alter in any essential respect the character of his work. Under no conceivable circumstances, I think, would the man's genius have driven him straight and fast along any given road: the seeds of contradiction were in himself as well as in his surroundings. His intellect and his senses were like two mill-stones, and would have ground each other to pieces had there been no interposing seed. In judging him we must not forget that he was an alien in race and more than alien in character; both his virtues and his rices were not such as we display. We can at least thank him for this, that he broke with one fierce wrench the bonds of artistic convention, and taught English artists that they might dare to paint their thoughts and feelings without regard to Mrs. Grundy or the dogmas of the Schools.
THE RELIGIOUS FUTURE OF THE WORLD.
Part The Second.
IN discussing the question of the religious future of the world in the last number of this Review, I observed that the issue before mankind really is between Christianity and a more or less highly sublimated form of Materialism whicli is aptly termed Naturalism; a system which rejects as antiquated the ideas of final causes, of Providence, of the soul and its immortality; which allows of no other realities than those of the physical order, and which makes of Nature man's highest ideal. And I contended that this issue is not in the least affected by deckiug out Naturalism in some borrowed garments of Spiritualism and calling it Natural Christianity, even although the travesty be made by hands so skilful as those of an admirable writer whose recently published work"' I examined at some length. It is not indeed to the phrase itself, but to this use of it, that 1 take exception. Tertullian speaks of Natural Christianity— "testimonium animse naturaliter Christians;" and we may safely agree with Theodore Parker: "So far as a man has real religion, so far has he Christianity." I say this without any wish to disparage the great non-Christian systems which have done, and are doing, so much to meet the religious wants of human nature. Far be it from me to speak slightingly of the Vedic or Rrahminical religion, of the religion of Zoroaster, of Gotama, of Confucius, of LAotze, of Mohammed. What Ozanam so well says of the creed of ancient Rome may fitly receive general application: "II faut etre juste, meme envers le paganisme. II ne faut pas croire que la societe pai'enue eut dure tant de siecles, si elle n'avait pas contenu quelques-unes de ces verites dont la conscience humaine ne se passe jamais." f Yes indeed. It is not by reason of what is false, but by reason of what is true in them, that the lower forms of religion have lasted for so many ages, and are with us unto this day. But it seems not temerarious to affirm that their vitality is almost exhausted, their part well-nigh played. Their power of development is spent, and, as soon as an idea ceases to develop, it begins to die. Few, I take it, would gravely argue that Buddhism or Mohammedanism—the only two religions besides Christianity which so much as claim universality— is likely seriously to dispute the future of the world with Christianity. But, as in the inquiry which I have undertaken it is of the utmost importance that I should be quite accurate and quite frank, it will be better for me, in what I am immediately about to write, to deal specially with that form of the Christian religion which the Catholic Church presents. In the first place Catholicity is a precise and definite term, which Christianity is not. As Auguste Comte remarks: "Every one knows what a Catholic is, whilst the best intellect dares not natter himself that he comprehends what a Christian is; for a Christian may belong indefinitely to'any one of the thousand incoherent shades which separate primitive Lutheranism from actual Deism."* I may be able—I think I am able—to give a reason for the hope that is in me as a Catholic. I could not offer myself with the same confidence to speak for the Lutheran or the Deist, much as I have, and rejoice to have, in common with both. Secondly, the real question before the world is, whether the Supernatural exists or not; exists objectively as a fact, and subjectively for us. The Materialism, the Naturalism of the day, calling itself, in the intellectual order, Science, and in the political order, Revolution, denies flatly that behind the forces of Nature there is anything, or anything which we can know. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is the system which most consistently, unflinchingly, and logically maintains the existence of an order of Grace, in a real, and not merely a notional sense. Of course, other forms of Christianity, in so far as they rest upon a supernatural foundation, and teach supernatural truth, are vitally interested in this great issue. But the Catholic Church is in the fore-front of the hottest battle. Nor need we ask, Quare fremuemnt gentes? The very pretensions she makes, as the Prophet of God, to supernatural power, to the "signs following," whereby she still claims to confirm her Divine infallible word, as she claimed two thousand years ago, when she first set out to teach all nations, earn for her a prophet's reward. It is her glory that among the multitudinous religions of men she is specially singled out by the anti-Christian movement as its irreconcilable foe. The fight between her and the Naturalism of the age, whether as expounded under the name of science byjrofessors, or as carried out in the public order by the politicians of Jacobinism, is a fight unto death.
* "Natural Religion," by the Author of "EcoeHomo." t "La Civilisation au Cincjuifeme Siecle," vol. i. p. 168.
And now as to the case against Christianity, as presented to the world in the creed of the Catholic Church. I suppose, in the estimation of the vastmajority of Englishmen,the impression prevails that this creed is too palpably absurd to be worth arguing against. Nor is such an impression confined to the ignorant, as the following story, which I have from a well-known Catholic ecclesiastic, may serve to show. Some years ago, the brother of a very distinguished luminary of the law embraced Catholicity, and went in fear and trembling to break the news to the great man. The only remark the tidings drew from him was: "Well, I daresay it's a good enough religion for such a damned fool as you.'' There are, of course, cases where this uncomplimentary view of those who hold the Catholic faith is obviously inadmissible. And, in such cases, the usual explanation—not a more flattering one indeed—is that of fear. Swift, in his brutal and blasphemous burlesque of one of the most august and heart-subduing of religious mysteries, represents an anathema as the only "thundering proof" offered by "Lord Peter" in support of the proposition that a slice from a twelve-penny loaf is excellent good mutton: "Look ye, gentlemen, cries Peter, in a rage, to convince you what a couple of blind, ignorant, positive wilful puppies you are, I shall use but this plain argument. By God, it is true, good, natural mutton, as any in Leadenhall Market, and, God confound you both eternally, if you offer to believe otherwise." Quite in accordance with this view is the statement so often made that Cardinal Newman confines his defence of his creed to " the threat and the consequent scare" that it is the only possible alternative to Atheism, a statement the utter erroneousness of which I took occasion, not very long ago, to point out.* Let me then say, once for all, that so far as I am concerned, I appeal in defence of my religious belief to reason, which, as Butler admirably observes, "is, indeed, the only faculty we have wherewith to judge concerning anything, even religion itself.'' If Christianity, if Catholicity, be irrational, if it can be received only upon condition of our shutting the eyes of the understanding, its doom is sealed. The question, therefore, whether in any intellectual province any fact has been established incompatible with the unique, the supreme claims of Jesus Christ as a teacher come from God, or of His Church as the divinely appointed oracle of religious truth, is most pertinent to the inquiry upon which I have entered. And upon that question I intend to express myself with entire candour. "It is fit things be stated and considered as they really are." "Things arc what they are, and the consequences of them will be what they will be; why, then, should we desire to be deceived?"
Now what is the way in which the objections to the Christian
* In a letter to the St. James's Gazette, dated the 18th Nov. 1880, which Cardinal Newman has done me the honour to adopt and to reprint in the new edition (the fifth) of his "Grammar of Assent" (p. 500).