« السابقةمتابعة »
exclusively classical course that had usually held in the schools, as to introduce the modern languages, mathematics, &c., and to encourage the reading of the sciences, that, from having been wholly averse, in his earlier teaching, to the prevailing exercises in writing Latin verse, he later declared himself more and more a convert to the belief in its desirableness. In what way the “means of gaining knowledge” are wrapped up in the dry, technical drudgery of Latin versification, it is hard to see; and as to development and strengthening of faculties, we must ask what faculties will remain unappealed to, when a pupil has rightly studied the grammars and authors usual in pursuing Latin, Greek, German, French, and English, the Mathematics, Geography, History, Physics, and Chemistry ? In addressing his teachings to his pupils, however, Arnold's aim and method must be commended. He was not satisfied with merely working through the lessons, but desired to awaken the intellect of every boy in the class. Hence, he questioned much, often rapidly, always pointedly and happily ; but the information he directly imparted was always brief ; it often failed to satisfy ; but the best result was secured, the anxiety of the pupils, to catch and treasure up what was given, was well sustained. But his instruction was simple, and honest, without display; he was ever ready to confess his own ignorance, or to thank a pupil for the suggestion of any new thought.
He strove to interest his older pupils in the vital questions, political and social, of the day, and in all things inculcated upon them the importance of forming their conclusions independently, and not taking them upon trust from himself or others. Here, as elsewhere, however, we must refer the reader, for details, to Mr. Stanley's “ Life,” and to his own works. As an indication of the sort of influence exerted by such a character and such instruction, we extract a few lines from an account, given by Mr. Price, of the school at Laleham:
“The most remarkable thing, which struck me at once on joining the Laleham circle, was the wonderful healthiness of tone and feeling that prevailed in it. Everything about me I immediately found to be most real; it was a place where a new comer at once felt that a great and earnest work was going forward.
[No pupil] felt that he was left out, or that, because he was not endowed with large powers of mind, there was no sphere open to him. * Each pupil felt assured of Arnold's sympathy in his own particular growth and character of talent.”
A few brief quotations may serve to make yet clearer the opinions held by this remarkable man, and his relations to mankind and society. Vindicating himself in one of his letters against the charge of holding erroneous opinions, he says:
“We know that what in one age has been called the spirit of rebellious reason, has in another been allowed by all good men to have .been nothing but a sound judgment exempt from superstition.”
In a letter from Rugby, in 1835, to a former pupil, he says:
“I suppose that Pococuranteism (excuse the word) is much the order of the day amongst young men. I observe symptoms of it here, and am always dreading its ascendency, though we have some who struggle nobly against it. I believe that 'Nil admirari' in this sense is the devil's favorite text; and he could not choose a better to introduce his pupils into the more esoteric parts of his doctrine. And therefore I have always looked upon a man, infected with this disorder of anti-romance, as on one who has lost the finest part of his nature, and his best protection against everything low and foolish. Such a man may well call me mad, but his party are not yet strong enough to get me fairly shut up,” &c.
Again, he writes :
“My abhorrence of Conservatism is not because it checks liberty; in an established democracy it would fayor liberty ; but because it checks the growth of mankind in wisdom, goodness, and happiness, by striving to maintain institutions which are of necessity temporary, and thus never hindering change, but often depriving the change of half its value.”
His position in relation to the Church may in part be drawn from this extract, taken from a letter dated December 14, 1836 :
“Suppose a young man, when he begins to think seriously upon life, resolving to turn to God, and studying the Scriptures to learn the wayit is clear that all this stuff about the true Church would never so much as come into his head. He would feel and see that the matter of his soul's salvation lay between God and Christ on the one hand, and himself on the other; and that his belonging to this or that Church had really no more to do with the matter than his being born in France or England, in Westmoreland or in Warwickshire. The scriptural notion of the Church is, that religious societies should help a man to become hiinself better and holier, just as civil society helps us in civilization.”
But he did not rest, though he knew that he was too generally misunderstood as so doing, in mere negations. In 1840, he writes :
“I am continūally vexed at being supposed to be a maintainer of negatives-an enemy to other systems or theories, with no positive end of my
I have told you how it wearies me to be merely opposing Newmanism, or this thing or that thing; we want an actual truth, and an actual good. * * Many more, I feel sure, would agree with me, if they saw that the truth was not destructive nor negative, but most constructive, most positive."
But a more true comprehension and appreciation of him came at last; and though too late to aid him very materially in his own work, or in advancing the large, liberal, and real views of life he so deeply cherished, yet not too late to cheer him with the assurance of a growing reconciliation between himself and other conscientious laborers for the good of man and society ; not too late to give him the only remaining proof needed, that he had been all along in the main right, and that the principles to which his life had been cheerfully devoted would have their influence upon and their ultimate triumph among his fellow men. The change in his position, his biographer lucidly sets forth in the opening of his tenth chapter:
“It was now the fourteenth year of Dr. Arnold's stay at Rugby. The popular prejudice against him, which for the last few years had been rapidly subsiding, now began actually to turn in his favor; his principles of education, which at one time had provoked so much outcry, inet with general acquiescence; the school, with each successive half year, rose in numbers beyond the limit within which he endeavored to confine it, and seemed likely to take a higher rank than it had ever assumed befere; the alarm which had once existed against him in the theological world was now directed to an opposite quarter [in the conflict against ‘Tractarian- •
and many, who had long hung back from him with suspicion and dislike, now seemed inclined to gather round him as their champion and leader.'
ism']; * *
But to the really earnest, vigorous, and untiringly active mind, one penalty-or, at the least, pain—is inevitable; Arnold did not escape this. By the time when men began to assent to his views, he had already so thoroughly agitated every aspect and bearing of those views in his own mind, that he still saw and accepted their truth in a manner in which even his new sympathizers could not. He had assiduously worked down through so much rubbish of details and conditions, that his now clearer vision placed him, yet alone, far in advance of those who could still accept the ultimately true and good only through some device of conventionality and forms. Thus he was now forced to entertain “ a grow
ing sense of his isolation from all parties.” He began “to regard the divisions of the Church as irreparable,” and “ to attach a new importance to the truths relating to a man's own individual convictions." “Do consider," he says in one of his sermons, about this time, “the immense strength of that single verse, 'Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.'” Thus, having detailed a little of the ultimate triumph that inured to him in the spirit of his mission and its results, and marked by it how the earnest mind and great heart had still outgrown the measure which his contemporaries could bring forward to estimate him and his purposes by, we may pass over the more formal and tangible, though no less real, triumph with which, on the memorable 2d of December, 1841, he was installed Professor of Modern History in his too long estranged but always cherished Oxford, to reach a place which had never ceased to be one among the objects of his ambition. The unwonted throng that on that occasion, and even at the few subsequent lectures he delivered, crowded the hall in which he spoke, constitute, in some degree, a fitting recognition of the real vitality of thought and of soul in the man; and the general enthusiasm and kindness must have gone far to repay the undeserved misconception and suspicion under which he had bravely toiled through so many years of a most nobly useful life.
The preparation and delivery of the lectures on History, added to the increasing demands of his growing school at Rugby, and the whole enforced by an ambition to realize in every pursuit nothing short of the highest excellence, steadily enhanced his labors, and intensified his activity and exhaustion of power.
was unfortunate that himself or some discerning friend could not have comprehended the danger inhering in such a course of life, could not have felt and urged upon him that, in such unusual exertions, there grows up a condition of factitious energy, too liable to be mistaken for genuine vigor, and which, while it unsuspectedly drains the life-forces to their last ebb, continually deceives by the very brilliancy of the flame that attends the fatal expenditure. From a brief attack of fever, in the summer of 1842, Arnold recovered so as to resume his duties ; indeed, the season being that of the yearly examinations and the close of the school for the summer, to enter upon the labors imposed on him with an earnestness and an absorbedness never before surpassed in his experience. His biography shows how, alike in work and in the keen enjoyment of nature and of the scenes he was passing through, the expression of his active life had reached įts climax. The flame had attained a brightness well nigh terrific; but he thought, doubtless, it was but the culmination of the energies of a robust system. He little suspected that the fire was being fed with oil, and that oil the very vitality of those physical structures through consumption of which, alone, in this state of being, can the noblest yearnings or the most intense life of self or soul be expressed. It was afterwards noticed, and we believe the circumstances were not fortuitous ones, how peculiarly earnest and tender became his religious feelings during this period, and how frequently, in all his employments and conversation, there entered allusions in respect to the uncertainty of life, and the probably near approach of death—dim but sure presentiments and questionings of the spirit concerning the change to which it was hurriedly approaching.
After an unusually active day, Saturday, June 11th, during which, while taking a bath, and afterward, he experienced some slight pains about the heart, he retired to rest; and near six o'clock on the following morning, he was awakened with a sharp pain, again in the left side of the chest, and soon extending to the left arm. From his physician, who was summoned, he learned the probably fatal nature of the attack; and continuing in the full possession of his mental faculties, and in a calm, cheerful, and hopeful frame of mind, he died shortly before eight, A. M., of spasm of the heart.
The imperfect endeavors we have already made to analyze the personality of this great and good man, his mental powers, his work and influence, render it unnecessary to add further reflections in this place. We need say only that every such life contains a wholesome rebuke to the spirit of mere conventionalism, too ready to merge into shams, dilettanteism, hypocrisy, and scoffing, and into a real infidelity to the highest truth and virtue, with which every cultivated age is endangered, and, perhaps, none ever more so than our own. But while genuine virtue must underlie all true success and happiness, let us rejoice that such lights as the soul of a Dr. Arnold do occasionally burst forth upon society; and let us cherish his memory, so that, if it may be, his positive manliness may become part of our own ideal, and of our achieved character !