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need not mention their very good scoring against Rossall and ourselves, but, defeating Devizes with ease, they made 275 (155 at 200, 120 at 500), a score which has never been equalled by any

of the preceding Elevens in their matches with other schools. There is a person called 'Elijah Jones,' who in No. 53 inveighs against a garment called a stable-jacket': he calls it an evil that jackets and stable-jackets of an illegally light hue are wonderfully numerous.' It appears that a 'stable-jacket' is also called a 'round coat': some of our readers may understand one term or the other; it may be a hideous thing, but we are bold to say that if it is any coat with which we are acquainted, it cannot be so monstrous an abortion as the thing called 'an Eton jacket,' which Mr. “Elijah Jones' advocates: this gentleman wants to make the latter garment compulsory for the smaller boys. We forbear comment. We ought to say that 'Elijah Jones's' two productions are letters, not editorial. The decisions of the Debating Society have been as follows:Sept. 14.–Of all the heroes of Greek Mythology, Ulysses (?) is

most deserving of our admiration and esteem.'

Ayes 4; Noes 23.
Sept. 21.– The character of Oliver Cromwell is not worthy of our

high admiration.' Ayes 16; Noes 12.
Oct. 5.—The epithet dark, -as applied to the Middle Ages, is

unjust and untrue, even when considered with respect
to our present state of civilisation.' One spoke for,

five against ; but the debate was unfinished.
Oct. 19.-— The game of football is barbarous.' Ayes 2; Noes 31.,

Theatricals seem to be the great outlet for the energy and talent of Wykehamists, and certainly there is room for much energy and illustrious talent in the acting of 'Macbeth,' • The Merchant of Venice,' Hamlet,' and 'King Lear,' which have been the last four performances given at Winchester. But if it is hard it is also profitable—there is real education in learning ‘Hamlet.' We learn from the Wykehamist that the Debating Society settled by 15 to 3, that the political character of Mr. Bright deserves approbation racher than censure.' The captain of the Eleven for 1869 is H. Theobald.

The Cheltonian.

DECEMBER, 1868.

The Religious Poetry of England.*

E

NGLAND may fairly claim to be the true home of modern

Christian poetry. In the first eight or nine centuries after Christ, each church seems to have abounded in hymns expressive of the faith or of the devotion of Christians: but so soon as the western churches were united under the Papal sway, they ceased to produce any, at least any that could live. Nor has religious poetry ever so revived in any Roman Catholic country, as to constitute a noticeable portion of its literature, with the one grand exception of Dante; and he must be regarded as the precursor of the Reformation, and by no means as an adherent of the Papal power. It would seem as though that freedom of religious thought which proceeds from the free possession of the Bible in Protestant countries, were more favourable to the poetical imagination of religious truth and emotion, than is the far richer store of religious legends, imagery, and symbolism possessed by Roman Catholics; since it is only in Protestant Germany, in England and in Scotland, that Christian poetry can be said to live in the minds and hearts of the people, or to form an important part of their worship and of their literature. The devotional hymns of Germany are at least as numerous as our own, whilst they are certainly equal to ours in their importance to the people, and perhaps more than equal in fervour and in simplicity : but whilst Klopstock's 'Messiah' continues to be their best equivalent for the ‘Paradise Lost,' English religious poetry will still hold the first rank. If even here it has not as yet equalled our secular poetry, in force, in depth, or in manysidedness, we must remember, that Christian poetry can never be as adequate to express

* We have very kindly been allowed to print this Essay, which was one of those sent in to Prof. Nichol during the course of the Lectures to Ladies on English Literature, which he has recently delivered at Cheltenham.

No. 28.-Vol. III.

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the vast range of its subject-can never therefore be as perfect as secular poetry may be. No prophet has sounded the whole compass of Christian feeling, nor comprehended the whole harmony of Christian doctrine: neither has eye seen, nor heart yet fully conceived the heights and depths which are in Christ. Even apart from its inspiration, the poetry of the Jewish Church

much more adequate and more noble than that of the Christian Church has ever been, as the thoughts it had to express and the emotions it sought to arouse were—though not less sublime-yet far simpler in form, and less various in compass.

The religious poetry of England properly begins with the Reformation. It is hard to find any before that time. Chaucer's ‘Country Parson' (1400), a few short pieces by Henryson, in Scotland (1500), and by Tussen (1550), are almost all that are not forgotten. But in Elizabeth's reign the difficulty is to select the best, out of the many who contributed to swell the rising tide of spiritual song. Sir P. Sydney's version of some of the Psalms; Spenser's hymns on 'Heavenly Love' and 'Heavenly Beauty;' Christ's Triumph over Death,' by his more than imitator, Giles Fletcher; and some of Sir Henry Wotton's pieces, rise above the rest. In all these, which seem to note the first burst of a free religious life rather than its full development, the elements of all our religious thought are to be found, as yet mixed and undistinguished into schools. George Herbert crowned and closed this period with a fuller strain : his poems combine both the personality of Puritan, and the reverence of Anglican devotion, expressed with a quaintness of fancy and of language belonging to his age, and with a sweetness of music and purity of feeling peculiarly his own, Henry Vaughan re-echoed him.

The next epoch is stamped, as it was created, by Milton. . Too great to be of any school, he did for our religious poetry what the Puritans did for our religious life and theology, when they restored to the Christian Church her heritage in the Old Testament revelation, which had so long fallen into abeyance; but he also widened its range of ideas, and enriched its stores of imagery, by pressing into the service of the Christian intellect all the fruits of his classical learning. Milton's poetry is not often devotional—when it is, it is the adoration of the intellect, not of the emotions; it is not distinctively Christian in its doctrine: it breathes the spirit, and all but equals the majesty of the Hebrew poetry. His description of what poetry should do, is the best description of what that Hebrew poetry was, and of what his own nearly is. “To celebrate in glorious and lofty hymns the "throne and equipage of God's Almightiness; and

what He works, and what He suffers to be wrought with high Providence in His Church: to sing victorious agonies of saints and martyrs; and the deeds of just and pious nations doing valiantly through faith, against Christ's enemies: to deplore the general relapses of kingdoms and states from justice and God's true worship.' His aim is to show God's sovereign will as the determining cause of man's history; and it is only when, turning aside from this, he employs his unrivalled powers of verse to inculcate the dogmas of his own belief, that he falls from his true height, and instead of justifying the ways of God to man,' begins to invent for God, ways that neither man nor angels could justify. Waller's Divine poems were imitations of Milton. Young, Pollok, and R. Montgomery have followed him with increasing failure.

Our true religious poets did not make the vain attempt to follow him. What the nation needed from them, in addition to that which Milton had given, was devotional poetry; and this has naturally fallen into two schools, respectively expressing the ruling faith and prevailing emotions of our two great schools of Christian thought. Baxter (1615) may be considered as the father (not the chief) of our puritanical and evangelical poetry, the tendency of which is to express the believer's feelings towards God; his hopes and fears, his repentance and faith in the atonement, his prayers and praises for grace, and the personal experience of his religious life. Its hymns, of which Toplady's 'Rock of ages, cleft for me' may be taken as the type, are generally spoken in the first person singular. A host of writers belong to this school, which has never, so far, wanted a succession; but it has, perhaps, few who can rank in the second, and none in the first class of poets. Watts, the two Wesleys, Cowper, Toplady, and James Montgomery are among the best. Its fault is that it too often aims at teaching doctrine; its beauty is its frankness, fervour, and earnestness.

Jeremy Taylor (1667) heads a succession of poets of the Church school, far less numerous, but on the whole of higher rank. These are more occupied with the thought of God Himself, and of His relations to men: they love to dwell on the mystery of the Trinity, the love of the Father, the life, both past and present, of the Saviour, on the awfulness and beauty of holiness, and on the symbolism of the sacraments. When they speak of human life and feeling, they speak as members of one community; 'we' not 'l' is their pronoun: they express, less individually and less personally than do the Puritan poets, praise, holy resolutions, and self-abasement. These form the main subjects of Bishop Kenn's Hymns (1710). He dwells on them with that serious reticence, self-control, and resolute subordi

nation of personal feeling to Christian order, which marks this whole school, and forms a strong contrast to the unreserved expression of Cowper's every mood. From his death till Keble published the Christian Year,' (1827) this kind of religious poetry had hardly a poet. For, full of reverence for religion and full of lofty moral teaching as are the poems of Wordsworth—we know that he, with a very few exceptions, deliberately paused at the threshhold of distinctively religious doctrine and feeling, considering that it was not fitting for poetry to penetrate further.

But though the succession was broken, Keble, as Prof. Shairpe tells us, was brought up in the opinions, traditions, and piety of the nonjuring Kenn; and he did not create, he revived-under the altered circumstances of modern history and in forms adapted to the altered phrase of modern thought—the spirit of our old church school. He awoke it again, infused into it new life and vigour, and enlisted into its service all that is truest and most refined in human affection. His poetry is more exclusively Christian than Milton's; more free and natural than Kenn's; less morbid than Cowper's; and less moulded on doctrine than that of the evangelical school; but its humanity is pure, tender and refined, rather than robust and manly; it is never sublime though often lovely; it is the music of Christiantherefore of governed—feeling, penetrating daily life, church services, nature itself; and seeing in all, the tokens of Christ's presence, and the symbols of Christian love. It is old, in its reverence, its submissive spirit, and its reserve : it is new, 'in dropping Scriptural phraseology, and expressing Christian thoughts in modern language; in its more intense humanity, and in its fuller expression of a personal friendship and devotion to Christ.'* A host of writers have followed him: Heber, Newman, Trench, Williams, Aubrey de Vere, Milman, and Sir R. Grant are all, more or less, of this school, to which we owe so much, that one feels the more jealous of its tendency in some hands to become conventional, by attempting to regulate devotional feeling by the ecclesiastical calendar.

The latest school of our religious poetry, which has sprung into life fully grown in the 'In Memoriam,' is wholly distinct from any of them. Like Milton's in being intellectual and not devotional, it is wholly distinct from him, in being destitute of any Hebrew or classical element: it has little that is directly drawn from the New Testament, and it certainly knows nothing of Church system and doctrines. It is the poetry of a purely human, intellectual religion, yet such as could never have been dreamed of till ages of Christianity had

* Shairpe's Essay on Keble. North British Review,

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