صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

The promotion of Dr Hook from a this department of history, so far as laborious town parish to the com- extensive learning or research is parative leisure of a deanery will concerned ; probably he would not have been without its public bimself be the last to claim any fruits, if it does nothing more than such superiority : the praise which furnish us with a good readable he deserves—and it is really praise History of the English Church. It is that of being eminently readwas much wanted ; for drier food able. If the student will not have than was usually presented to the learned much which could not have reader under that title can hardly been gained elsewhere, he will find be imagined Much painstaking the facts put together in a clear and research, a very conscientious bal- pleasant narrative. With the miraancing of authorities, and a large culous element, that sore stumblingamount of out-of-the-way learning, block to all who have to deal with has been employed upon several of the old ecclesiastical authorities, Dr our modern Church Histories. But, Hook deals manfully and summarhowever these may meet the wants ily; he rejects it altogether. “It of the student, they are for the is inconsistent,” he says, “with the most part sadly unattractive to the principles of our holy religion to general reader. The old monkish expect the performance of miracles writers, with all their marvellous under the Christian dispensation.” stories unpruned, were much more (We presume that we are meant to entertaining; for when the super understand, since the days of the natural items, which are the anec- Apostles). “ Such miracles would dotes of medieval history, come to not have been permitted to take be explained away, the residuum place if not absolutely necessary, may be very innocent and unobjec- and miracles cannot be necessary tionable, but it is often terribly in a church which professes a cominsipid.

pleted Bible.” Such a canon is at The Dean of Chichester is not to least a very simple one, and facibe placed above his predecessors in litates the study of early ecclesias

Lices of the Archbishops of Conterbury. By W. F. Hook, D.D., Dean of Chichestur. Vol. i.-Anglo-Saxon Period. London: Bentley, 1860.

VOL XC. —NO DXLIX.

A

tical history considerably; and it these days, the ordinary Christian, is convenient for the reader to have taught to use the world without it laid down thus dogmatically at abusing it to blend the duties of the outset. Whether it has not its a contemplative with those of an weak side, we shall not here stop to active life ; to distinguish between inquire. It was not always part of the self-discipline and asceticism ; to author's own creed, as he honestly aim at practical usefulness instead reminds us ; he has adopted it only of a theoretical, unattainable perafter mature consideration ; we do fection-is superior to the greatest

1 not mean to say it is the less to be saints of the middle age, to whom respected on that account. But at the same time we tender the when it comes to be applied practi- homage of a charitable respect.”cally to each particular case, it is (P. 38.) We hope we shall not incur beset with the difficulties which ac- the charge of undue reverence for company all scepticism, theological medieval Christianity, if we venture or historical. To deny the miracu- to think that some of its “ greatest lous is a very easy process ; but saints” were really not inferior to when you come to philosophise the “ordinary Christians” even of this fact into the prose of ordinary life, century. We think we shall be able the explanation commonly demands to show, from Dr Hook's own as much faith as the miracle. It is pages, that there were occasions on so with the juggler's sleight-of-hand: which, though they asserted no when he gives you back your watch miraculous powers, their life and safe and sound, you feel satisfied it death were notes of sanctity better is not the same which you saw than a miracle. hammered to pieces a minute ago ; We are not by any means going to and you are right in your conclu- assert that every Archbishop of Cansion; but if you are not content terbury in the volume before us was a without proceeding to explain to a saint, in any sense of the word. Such friend your own notion of the real an assertion could hardly be made, process, it is most likely that you without some limitation, even of will be unintelligible, and pretty St Palmerston's modern episcopate. certain that you will be wrong. Nothing is more patent, in most Surely the simpler way of dealing cases of bishops and archbishops, with these old chronicles is to tell than their humanity. There were the tale as the monkish historian as many varieties of the episcopal told it ; but to separate the fact type in the Church's early days as from the fiction will continue to be in our own. The material which the temptation of the historian. the royal prerogative worked up

When Dr Hook goes so far as to into a bishop-for royal prerogative say that “it is only in modern times it always was in the Anglo-Saxon that we bave learnt to distinguish Church—was various in its texture, between credulity and faith," we then as now. There was the schoolthink many readers besides our- master bishop, Theodorus, and selves, having a vivid recollection of armed with an actual power of what men profess to believe and to flogging his refractory canons, which disbelieve, in the year of grace 1861, one hopes was exercised with modewill be somewhat slow to follow ration, but which would be very him. But it is a strong feature in terrible in the hands of some school. the historian of the Archbishops master bishops of modern date; that he claims for himself, bravely the dilettante primate, Nothelm, and honestly, to be a man of the busy with his illuminations, in age. He wastes nothing in regrets which he was no mean proficient, for the past or dreams of the future. and which were to him all that The religion of this nineteenth Archäological Institutes and Aruncentury he considers (apparently) del Societies are to modern ecclesithe model of Christianity. “In astics ; pious and learned divines, like Bregwin the German, loth to ceeding reign. It is true that the Archquit his studies, and protesting an bishop of Canterbury could never be honest nolo episcopari against his said to represent the Church as the elevation ; Latin verse-makers, like king did the realm of England; but Tatwine, before whom a false quan- he serves as a centre-point none the tity would hardly have reckoned as less, and helps to localise in the a venial sin, who wrote classical reader's memory facts which, in enigmas in rather enigmatical Latin, themselves, are not so readily rememand, in other respects, “passed his bered as the more stirring events life in the quiet routine of episco- in the life of camps and courts. pal duty.” There were men who The one point in which the successeemed to have mistaken their voca- sion of archbishops fails to answer tion : Odo, the Dane, who was this purpose as conveniently as that three times on the field of battle of the kings has been found to do, after his consecration, and saved is this,—that as the latter usually King Athelstane's life from the succeed either by hereditary deNorthmen in the great fight of scentorby conquest, most of the needBrunanburgh, whose combative ful particulars of the early life of each spirit, Dr Hook thinks, would in before his accession will have been these days have found its natural naturally comprised in the reign of vent in the House of Lords, in his predecessor; whilst an archsome trenchant onslaught upon the bishop, succeeding to the primacy opponents of orthodoxy (possibly at a much later period of life than the Liberation Society, or the Essays the king to the throne, and having and Reviews); and statesmen like a previous personal history to be Dunstan, who would have found in told, quite distinct, in many cases, any vocation the road to power. We from that of his predecessor, obliges are seldom able to trace with much both author and reader continually certainty the motives which led to to retrace their steps in point of their election in each particular time, in a manner which to the case, but probably these were as latter is sometimes rather bewildervarious as the men. Their appoint- ing, and which is the only inconment rested, as we have said, entirely venient feature in Dr Hook's prewith the king; their confirmation sent arrangement. by the clergy of the chapter seems The Lives of the Archbishops of to have followed as a matter of Canterbury, then, is nothing more course. The pallium conferred by or less than a History of the Anglothe Pope was as yet rather a token of Saxon Church from the mission of honour than an investiture of office; Augustine into Kent. The annals and though the Roman See assumed of the early British, or rather Celtic, the right of arbitration in appeals, Church, are merely glanced at in an its pretensions were set at nought Introduction. The form which the whenever they were inconvenient. author has chosen for his work ne

It was a happy thought to com- cessarily precluded any fuller noprise a History of the English Church tice; for there were no British archin a series of biographies of its bishops of Canterbury. And the primates. Dr Hook very fairly difficulties which beset the eccleobserves, that it is quite as natural siastical historian, in any attempt to an arrangement as that to which sift truth out of the pious fabulists we are all so well accustomed in who have enlarged upon the first secular histories of our own and planting of Christianity in Britain, other countries—the making the are certainly so formidable, that even king the central figure, grouping Dean Hook's courageous spirit may the contemporary facts round him, be excused for declining to grapple and dividing the history into those with them. The Welsh writersarbitrary but convenient periods always strong in genealogies, tempowhich begin and close with each suc- ral or spiritual—make out amongst them that a majority of the apostles what proportion of Saxon blood he were in one way or another con- has in his veins ? No people seem cerned in the evangelisation of their to have cared less about pedigree. island. One almost wonders that when the present David Jones traces they do not insist upon some at least his descent in a long series of aps of that body having been Welshmen up to King Arthur, although the by birth or descent. But probably historic truth is not conclusive, the Dean Hook's natural sympathies principle is intelligible; or when a have had something to do, even man tells us that his ancestor came though unconsciously, with this li- over with the Conqueror, and points mitation of his ground. If there is to his name on the roll of Battle one thing upon which he honestly Abbey, there is a certain amount of prides himself, it is that he is an probability in the claim, whatever it Anglo-Saxon. He evidently thinks may be worth, and there is room for much more of it than of being Dean a charitable hope that the Norman of Chichester. “That indomitable rider, when the fighting was over, spirit of independence which, in- brought his wife across seas, and herited from our Saxon ancestors, is lived a decent and respectable life the glory and the characteristic of afterwards; but a true-born Anglothe English race.” Such are the Saxon is a genealogical absurdity. concluding words of this volume, and It is very well for a poet like Mr their spirit

may be traced throughout. Kingsley, when he sings his song of We confess that our Celtic feelings the North-East Windwe hope, by are slightly ruffled by the constant the way, that he has had the “Vikreiteration, by modern writers, of ing's blood within ” him stirred these Anglo-Saxon pretensions. The sufficiently during this last spring old national self-glorification (always —it is very well for him to tell us pretty strong in the little island) that his forefathers came used to content itself with the term

“ Conquering from the eastward, Britons, which has grown quite old- Lords by land and sea.' fashioned and obsolete. It is the We have not the Kingsley geneaAnglo-Saxons who are to go every- logy before us, but it is quite as where, and do everything, in these likely that a proportion of all our days.' There is no particular objec- forefathers were the conquered intion to a man calling himself an Anglo-Saxon, if he is so disposed; the language of his parodist,

stead of the conquerors, or came, in but the precise ground of this form

" Blasting, blighting, burning, of family pride is rather difficult to

Out of Normandie." understand. At the best, AngloSaxon blood is but a successful cross. So far as the “great Anglo-Saxon The modern Englishman who insists race," as it is now the fashion to call upon the title is quite as likely to it, has gone forth to rule or civilise be a combination of Celt and Dane. the world, east or west, the Celt has The Dean of Chichester's surname, gone with it, and has not been the no doubt, is of anything but Celtic last in the adventure, whether it derivation; but if we had his family were peace or war. tree drawn out from Woden down- But although Dr Hook precludes wards, we have little doubt but that himself, by the very title of his his excellent moral and intellectual book, from dealing with the early qualities would be found to be the history of Christianity in the Bri. result of a continued “natural se- tish Islands, he does justice to the lection” from the various national claims of the Celtic Church, in constocks which have peopled the island tradistinction to the Italian mission in succession, from Albion the sea- of Pope Gregory, to be the fathers giant and Brut the Trojan down of the Gospel. He admits in his Into the latest Flemish inmigration. troduction what is undeniably true, How can any man tell, in these days, that these claims “have been under

« السابقةمتابعة »