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sympathy so feelingly expressed by Evelyn. I recollect also hearing a traveller of poetical temperament, expressing the kind of horror which he felt on beholding, on the banks of the Missouri, an oak of prodigious size which had been, in a manner, overpowered by an enormous wild grape-vine. The vine had clasped its huge folds round the trunk, and from thence had wound about every branch and twig, until the mighty tree had withered in its embrace. It seemed like a Laocoon struggling ineffectually in the hideous coils of the monster Python. It was the lion of trees perishing in the embraces of a vegetable boa.
I am fond of listening to the conversation of English gentlemen on rural concerns, and of noticing with what taste and discrimination, and what strong unaffected interest they will discuss topics, which in other countries are abandoned to mere woodmen, or rustic cultivators. I have heard a noble earl descant on park and forest scenery with the science and feeling of a painter. He dwelt on the shape and beauty of particular trees on his estate, with as much pride and technical precision as though he had been discussing the merits of statues in his collection. I found that he had even gone considerable distances to examine trees which were celebrated among rural amateurs ; for it seems that trees, like horses, have their established points of excellence ; and that there are some in England which enjoy very extensive celebrity among tree fanciers, from being perfect in their kind.
There is something nobly simple and pure in such a taste : it argues, I think, a sweet and generous nature, to have this strong relish for the beauties of vegetation, and this friendship for the hardy and glorious sons of the forest. There is a grandeur of thought connected with this part of rural economy. It is, if I may be allowed the figure, the heroic line of husbandry. It is worthy of liberal, and free-born, and aspiring men. He who plants an oak looks forward for future ages, and plants for posterity. Nothing can be less selfish than this. He cannot expect to sit in its shade, nor enjoy its shelter ; but he exults in the idea hat the acorn which he has buried in the earth shall grow up into a lofty pile, and shall keep on flourishing, and increasing, and benefiting mankind, long after he shall have ceased to tread his paternal fields. Indeed it is the nature of such occupations to lift the thoughts above mere worldliness. As the leaves of trees are said to absorb all noxious qualities of the air, and to breathe forth a purer atmosphere, so it seems to me as if they drew from us all sordid and angry passions, and breathed forth peace and philanthropy. There is a serene and settled majesty in woodland scenery, that enters into the soul, and dilates and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations. The ancient and hereditary groves, too, that embower this island, are most of them full of story. They are haunted by the recollections of great spirits of past ages, who have sought for relaxation among them from the tumult of arms, or the toils of state, or have wooed the muse beneath their shade. Who can walk, with soul unmoved, among the stately groves of Penshurst, where Sidney passed his boyhood ; or can look without fondness upon the tree that is said to have been planted on his birthday ; or can ramble among the classic bowers of Hagley ; or can pause among the solitudes of Windsor Forest, and look at the oaks around, huge, grey, and time-worn, like the old castle towers, and not feel as if he were surrounded by so many monuments of long-enduring glory? It is, when viewed in this light, that planted groves, and stately avenues, and cultivated parks, have an advantage over the more luxuriant beauties of unassisted nature. It is that they teem with moral associations, and keep up the ever interesting story of human existence.
It is incumbent, then, on the high and generous spirits of an ancient nation, to cherish these sacred groves that surround their ancestral mansions, and to perpetuate them to their descendants. Republican as I am by birth, and brought up as I have been in republican principles and habits, I can feel nothing of the servile reverence for titled rank, merely because it is titled ; but I trust that I am neither churl nor bigot in my creed. I can both see and feel how hereditary distinction, when it falls to the lot of a generous mind, may elevate that mind into true nobility. It is one of the effects of hereditary rank, when it falls thus happily, that it multiplies the duties, and, as it were, extends the existence of the possessor. He does not feel himself a mere individual link in creation, responsible only for his own brief term of being. He carries back his existence in proud recollection, and he extends it forward in honourable anticipation. He lives with his ancestry, and he lives with his posterity. To both does he consider himself involved in deep responsibilities. As he has received much from those that have gone before, so he feels bound to transmit much to those who are to come after him. His domestic undertakings
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seem to imply a longer existence than those of ordinary men; none are so apt to build and plant for future centuries, as noblespirited men, who have received their heritages from foregone ages.
I cannot but applaud, therefore, the fondness and pride with which I have noticed English gentlemen, of generous temperaments and high aristocratic feelings, contemplating those magnificent trees, which rise, like towers and pyramids, from the midst of their paternal lands. There is an affinity between all great natures, animate and inanimate : the oak, in the pride and lustihood of its growth, seems to me to take its range with the lion and the eagle, and to assimilate, in the grandeur of its attributes, to heroic and intellectual man. With its mighty pillar rising straight and direct towards heaven, bearing up its leafy honours from the impurities of earth, and supporting them aloft in free air and glorious sunshine, it is an emblem of what a true nobleman should be; a refuge for the weak, a shelter for the oppressed, a defence for the defenceless ; warding off from them the peltings of the storm, or the scorching rays of arbitrary power. He who is this, is an ornament and a blessing to his native land. He who is otherwise, abuses his eminent advantages ; abuses the grandeur and prosperity which he has drawn from the bosom of his country. Should tempests arise, and he be laid prostrate by the storm, who should mourn over his fall ? Should he be borne down by the oppressive hand of power, who would murmur at his fate? “Why cumbereth he the ground ?”
THE ENGLISH UNIVERSITIES AND RELIGIOUS
GOLDWIN SMITH. The religious tests that practically limit the benefits of the English Universities to the members of the Anglican Church, are the vestiges, the last lingering vestiges, of an age of religious tyranny and oppression of conscience—an age when the best of Christians and of citizens, guilty of no offence but that of loving the truth, and desiring to impart it to their brethren, were treated as felons, harassed, fined, thrust into noisome dungeons, and kept there till they died, at the instigation of ecclesiastics who dishonoured the Christian name, and by the hands of politicians who equally dishonoured it, and who in many cases had no convictions whatever of their own—when the eucharist itself, the bond of Christian love, was prostituted to the purposes of political hatred with the approbation of a so-called Christian clergy, though with a profanity worse, because deeper in its nature, and polluting holier things, than the impieties of the ignorant heathen—when, in Scotland, many a peasant, merely for worshipping God in the way he thought the best, was shot down by a godless soldiery, hounded on by bishops styling themselves the successors of the Apostles-when Ireland was oppressed by a penal code which bribed the child to apostasy by enabling him, as a rew
eward, to strip his father of his property ; and not only of his inherited property, but of that which he might himself acquire—when immorality and infidelity went hand in hand with spiritual slavery ; and, while Baxter and Calamy lay in prison for their convictions, obscene plays were being acted in the harem of a Defender of the Faith, who lived a careless infidel, mocking at morality and God, and who died a craven infidel, calling in his panic for the viaticum of superstition. Is not that age, with all that belonged it, numbered with the past ? Are not its practices disclaimed even by those who have not yet eradicated its sentiments from their hearts? Have not all men capable of profiting by any experience whatever, profited by the experience which, recorded in characters more terrible than those of blood, tells us that conscience cannot be forced, that God will accept none but a free allegiance; and that reason, and reason alone, is our appointed instrument for bringing each other to the truth? Can any one imagine that the suppression of differences of opinion, which the great powers of the earth, seated on its most ancient and awful thrones, failed to effect with their united force, will be effected by a party born but yesterday, and still unsettled in its own opinions, with so miserable a fragment of that force as an academical test ? Why should we, the great body of the English people, who have no interests to serve but those of truth and sincere religion, any longer oppress, vex, and harass the consciences of each other? Why should we thus aggravate the religious perplexities and distresses which are gathering fast enough around us all ? If it is for a political object that we do this, how can true policy be divorced from justice ? If it is for a religious object, how can religion consist with depravation of conscience ?
THE ENGLISH UNIVERSITIES AND RELIGIOUS TESTS.
If it is for the sake of the clergy, will not a desire to see them really influential, and truly useful as spiritual guides, lead us at once to take out of their hands these instruments of self-degradation, by the use of which they are alienating from themselves the moral sense as well as the intellects of men ?
The spiritual strictness of a church, indeed, is likely to be rather in inverse than in direct proportion to the stringency of its political tests, and to the degree of support which it receives generally from political power. For such support is, and must be, purchased by corresponding concessions to the powers of the world : not only by making the Church a political tool in their hands, but by allowing them to use it as a cloak for their moral and spiritual license, so long as they promote its apparent interests by oppressing and persecuting its opponents. It may safely be said that no Christian Church,—we might almost say no heathen association,—which made any pretension to a bond of religious union, has ever been so loose with regard to spiritual requirements and terms of communion, as the Church of England was in the reign of Charles II., when, supported by the full power of a tyrannical government, she was allowed to multiply political tests in supreme scorn of conscience, and held Nonconformist ministers imprisoned in every gaol. To the period of intolerance and persecution, naturally succeeded a period of general scepticism. During this period, was the eucharist, as a qualification for office, refused to scoffers at Christianity? And can we imagine a more deplorable, or a more instructive union of political tyranny with spiritual laxity, than the administration of the eucharist to an unbeliever, as a qualification for office, would afford ? Bolingbroke, at once an infidel and a persecutor of Nonconformists, was, in fact, the lay head of the Church in his day, and might have communicated, if he deigned to communicate, on any terms he pleased ; and, generally speaking, any one who will look over the history of an established church, will see that she has seldom been independent enough to ask what were the religious convictions, or what was the character of her political chief. The same thing may be said, with at least equal force, of the churches established by the State in Roman Catholic countries. The Church of the Dragonades was the Church of Dubois ; and it formed at once the terror of sincere Nonconformity, and the decent veil of royal and aristocratic lust. Men of the world, in fact, have found by