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holds the transparent walls of his appear-only from a sense of devotion prison on every side, in an enchanted loneliness, they put between themselves and the world a barrier which no force can penetrate, no spell save the traditional words of might can dissolve.

That is the impression left on me by Renan's account of his childhood and youth; by the pathetic story of his sister's life in those lonesome years of Paris; by the description of Issy and its studious painful solitude which friendship seems never to have sweetened; by his desperate and yet speechless wrestlings with the respectable, narrow, conservative, Gallican orthodoxy of St. Sulpice; and by the letters which passed between himself and Henriette, who was in heroic exile, fifteen hundred miles away, earning her bread as a teacher in the palace of Prince Za moyski at Clemensow or Warsaw. It is the record of a tragedy that went on to its inevitable yet unforeseen conclusion, step by step, during eight years and a half, from the day when Ernest, a lad of fifteen, was admitted by M. Dupanloup into his fashionable seminary of St. Nicholas, until he found himself, a rebel rather than an outcast, lodging at M. Crouzet's, alone and without resources except in Henriette's devotion.

to her father's memory and because she alone could support their falling house, Henriette, I say, had come into an austere but heterodox Deism, and rejoiced when her brother seemed to be taking the same path. She behaved with admirable forbearance, not pressing him by so much as a hint of her own opinions; he must obey his conscience, and at all costs be true to himself; she is but the physician noting his case, and telling him what it requires, that is all. But in character she is more decided, as French women often are; she welcomes every token of independence in him, nor will suffer the young untried soul to go back and rest upon authority; no, "the veil once rent," she says, "cannot be restored;" his eyes are open, how can he shut them again? It is manifest what a momentum her words must have given at such a critical time to the arguments which drove her brother onward. She was the impersonation of private judgment, obliging him to trust in himself. And all this with a delicacy of speech, a consideration, a self-sacrifice, that lend to her writing the infinite tenderness of a mother dipping the pen, as it were, in her own heart's blood. Chateaubriand would have called her Velléda, the Druidess, not unworthily; for in all she did or said there was a glow of feminine enthusiasm, and an utter disregard of self, as if in obedience to the ideals of a religion which, in its historical shape no longer appealing to her reason, still nevertheless governed her conduct. We may, perhaps, believe that Ernest Renan would not have left the Roman Church had Henriette thrown her influence into the orthodox scale. At all events, she decided him when he was yet wavering, and secured him a year of independence at the period which proved to be a turning-point in his life as in his convictions.

Sincere, and infecting us with his own trouble, as genius always will, Renan little imagined that his passionate epistles would be thrown upon the highway half a century later. But we can read them now side by side with those which the perplexed Oxford teacher was writing at that very time, as in the darkness of eclipse, to a sister equally cherished. Newman's letters, between 1839 and 1845, show him moving on and on, but as one feeling his way, amid contending voices, and through the Valley of the Shadow, until he has reached the heights from which Renan was descending. As we might anticipate, their paths did not The English lady to whom she stands cross. And this difference must be in so remarkable a contrast-I mean added. Henriette Renan, who in ea- Jemima Newman-could not for many lier days had declined to enter a con- reasons exercise a similar influence. vent-her predestined home, as it might Ernest Renan's trial came when he was


not more than twenty; the vicar of St. Mary's was thirty-nine when the possible truth of a system which he had long fought against flashed upon suddenly like an apparition, and filled him with strange forebodings. Moreover, he had passed through one great spiritual revolution already. From an Evangelical he had become an Anglican of the school of Laud; Jacobite Oxford had shown him that Calvinism might be plausible as a theory, but did not possess the key to human phenomena; and he had deliberately broken with these inherited beliefs. He could not break with them a second time; that experience, that change was unique. Nor did he feel as the lonely student at St. Sulpice must have felt, that he was going out into chaos. Rome was a vis ible reality; the power that claimed his allegiance might almost be touched with the hand; he had seen it during his voyages up and down the Mediterranean, and was well aware of its character and history. What could a sister who had simply followed him in his Anglican ascent oppose to all this? Only her love for him and for the Church of England that he had so gloriously magnified. But here is one of the most admirable points in the comparison; that the English sister found within this narrow space room to display qualities no less rare and gracious than the French-as fine a self-control under circumstances which were equally trying, a most sensitive conscience, a tender uprightness, and through all the dark moments which preceded Newman's secession a faith in him not to be shaken by rumors, misunderstandings, or the ambiguity of change. In the great collection of his early correspondence, no letters seem to me SO faultlessly beautiful as those which he wrote to his lady during the forlorn period when, having ceased to be an Anglican, he was moving over deep and stormy waters into the wished-forhaven. And her replies, unpretending, extempore, written to him alone, with no eye upon a public that she cannot have detected in the uncertain haze of the future, deserve the lace which has

been allotted to them. Fittingly do we read them in one volume with her brother's tremulous and eager words, which passing through argument, expostulation, and the bitterness of death itself, invoked as a seal upon the test!mony which he is bearing for conscience's sake, rise at last into a realin of light where all that is earthly dwindles and is seen no more. I cannot quote from them; but surely they are, and will long remain, among the masterpieces of religious literature.

We may most easily follow the changes through which Renan arrived at his philosophy, by looking upon him as an innocent country lad who believed all that he was told, and then tried it according to the method of an inductive, or, as he says, of an "achromatic" reason. He had not in himself the witness of a spiritual experience such as Newman had, which would resist as life always does resist, the assaults of scepticism. At Issy the mystic and the average man shouldered one another; but Renan had already eaten of the tree of knowledge, and chose it before the tree of the supernatural life. Religion was to be tested by science, without prejudice or prepossessions. Would it endure a touchstone that took from it all its enchantment, reducing its high and heavenly facts to a mere set of phenomena like any other? He began to question it as impartially as he would have cross-examined the Newtonian system, not like a man who feels the burden of sin and ignorance, and sighs to be delivered from them. When, at St. Sulpice, the evidences of Christianity were laid before him, still he employed the same process; antecedent probabilities did not exist, or must not be regarded; and if the Bible on being submitted to inspection failed to supply a consistent human narrative, how could we accept it as a teaching from on high? These difficulties of the letter, which have always been known to Christians, but never have turned aside any who were seeking for redemption, proved too much for the student of Hebrew and evidences. He would not argue against the mysteries of the

had found in Tacitus

creed; they were confessedly beyond "Sin? Ma foi, I suppress it, gentlereason, and must be taken on authority; men!" In language more suitable to but he required-and, as it seemed to the argument, he has discovered that him, he did not find-the same sort of man cannot fall; there is no height in proof, or the unblemished accuracy of creation and no depth; it is a plane surstatement, in the four Gospels which he face, or a painted sheet, and never had or Thucydides. a spiritual meaning. Here is an experiWith the truth of Scripture vanished ment on this man's part, which for eyes the infallibility of the Church,-but first with any power of vision is evidence inthe Bible was wrecked upon this induc- deed; a proof by actual touch and trial tion. If the Bible could have survived, that the wrong method must needs isCatholicism might have held him; now, sue in passing by, as though it never all was of human growth; no divine in- had existed, the heart and essence of terposition had ever taken place; de- the problem. For how shall we fear f velopment under fixed laws must ex- guilt is an idle name? yet Primos in plain the world historically; Jesus of orbe deos fecit timor; we cannot deny it; Nazareth was but the noblest of men; and that fear was a moral fear, a the Gospels were a poem; religion had shrinking from judgment, or it speedily sunk down to myths and fables; and became so. Get rid of our belief in Renan might have summed up his be- Revelation, founded upon man's need lief as well as his criticism in those of forgiveness, and history too will amazing words of Shakespeare, apply- change into an enigma, of which deluing them to Oxford, St. Sulpice, and sion is the necessary key. Thus, at Tübingen in their several points, length, the method of the philosopher "They say, miracles are past; and [yet] and the facts of the past have fallen we have our philosophical persons to into hopeless contradiction. make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless. Hence it is that we make trifles of terrors; sconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear."



An unknown fear! Abyssus abyssum invocat; take away Revelation and what serious mind will deem this word too much? But the young critic, confident in his methods and his demonstrations, was of a sanguine temper,-as we now talk, an optimist. Life-and the Christian life, that world of deep experience!-he grasped with hand, laying it on the marble slab of an empirical laboratory, and dissecting it, if not into materialism, yet into a psychology beneath or behind which there was no God. For had the living Infinite been present there, how could any process, logical or biological, pretend to be exhaustive? The result, not at once discernible, yet assured from the beginning,-since his method was false, we have witnessed in our philosopher's latest writings. "What do you make of sin?" he is asked; nay, he asks himself. And he answers with a laugh,


Newman, undoubtedly, would have said that nothing better was to be anticipated; and the spectacle of a professing Christian who had no prejudices in favor of God, conscience, or immortality, who was indifferent to Church and Bible, and assimilated Evangelist to a Greek or Roman historian, would have filled him with horror. There is, he would say, a divine method of recognizing divine things. On this vital subject he wrote, and preached, and argued incessantly, knowing that here was the punctum saliens, the very germ and substance of what Christians understand by faith. His whole doctrine is strikingly pressed in a dated March 8th, 1843. "Religious truth," he tells his correspondent, "is reached, not by reasoning, but by an inward perception. Any one can reason; only disciplined, educated, formed minds cair perceive. Nothing, then, is more important to you than habits of selfcommand. You are overflowing with feeling and impulse; all these must be restrained, ruled, brought under, converted into principles and habits. or


is letter which

elements of character. Consider that you have this great work to do, to change yourself."

Character is, then, what Newman requires in a seeker after God; and it must be religious character, not the sceptic's cold impartiality. But in Renan at twenty-three, character had ceased to be religious; or, his religiou, at any rate, was little more than a seutiment. No experience led him to cultivate these higher qualities in himself as the years went by. Yet surely it is a law of the mind which he would have granted, that between the faculty apprehending and the object apprehended there must be a certain agreement. If so, religion cannot be learned simply as though it were a branch of impersonal science. Nor has it ever made converts by colorless, achromatic reasoning. It is worship and communion, the atmosphere of which is prayer, and its vital principle grace; a power, not an argument in mood and figure. We may go so far as to allege that reasoning is the pencil which draws this outline upon the mind; but the artist is none other than the living spirit, enamoured of that ideal which it has beheld in the man Christ Jesus. So that a mystical and divine operation will be the only adequate cause of belief, and all things else are but means and instruments. This alone is the true account of Christianity as a fact in the world's progress. The letter killeth; and a frozen glance at the story of the Gospel, or even a dilettante beautifying of its pages and turning them into soft, sentimental French, will take their meaning out of them as efectually as if they were translated into an unknown tongue.

Who can wonder that pilgrims starting from such opposed points as these should be carried on to different conclusions? One is intent upon the human element, busy about evidence which would tell in a court of law, lynx-eyed to seize upon discrepancies in detail, minute, punctilious, microscopic; and thus he is sure that the truth may be ascertained, or not at all. To Oriental narratives, written with child-like good

faith and unsuspecting simplicity, our critic, just because not critic enough to know the deepest principles of his art or science, applies a cast-iron rule which not even Western writers, though literal and exact, have always obeyed. If he takes into account the supernatural, it is only that by means of it he may dash the story in pieces; an inspired volume must be perfect as a dictionary of dates, or a biographical memoir, drawn up with a view to the require ments of Gibbon or Voltaire. The first and last question is not moral, religious, personal; nor has it any concern with conscience, except on the score of veracity. Criticism, though always complicated and often abstrusenay, though little better in the end than a "petty conjectural science,"-need not bow to the jurisdiction of what Aristotle would have called an architectonic, and Newman an illative faculty, the judgment of which, founded upon the whole case for revelation, and dealing with particulars by a cumulative process, should be final and supreme. No, it is by analysis destitute of perior principles, and quite indifferent as to the result, that Renan searches the Scriptures; and they fall into his hands like a heap of fragments, or the dust of a dead body suddenly exposed to light and air. Dry, desiccating science has ground them to powder.


How much more in accordance with the laws of life is Newman's proceeding? He does not look for this perfect and obvious agreement in writers so variously endowed, so little dependent upon one another, whose minds were dazzled with the great illumination. and possessed and overcome by the recent memory, of their unparalleled Master. The tone of prophecy is abrupt; its words are dark sayings; it is a collection of sibylline leaves, not rhetoric unfolding a theme to our leisurely comprehension. And the plainest seeming tale or narrative in the Bible must, from the nature of the case. be prophetic; "Thoughts beyond their thoughts to those high bards were given." We are at Nazareth or Jerusalem, not on the Hill of Mars, or walk


ing with Socrates on the road to Piræus. If we allow, for argument's sake, that a more divine spirit than man's is breathing its accent into these stories, we cannot imagine their first aim or motive ever to have been a bare literal accuracy, though accurate they will surely turn out to be when we have understood them as they were meant. For instance, let us take Hume's celebrated piece of reasoning a priori against miracles, and complete or strengthen it by the contention of Littré, which Huxley and Renan have made their own, namely, that no evidence equal to the facts alleged ever has been forthcoming. What will Newman say in answer? He has written on the whole subject as follows:

I will accept the general proposition, but I resist its application. priori, of course the acts of men are not so trustworthy as the order of Nature, and the pretence of miracles is in fact more common than the occurrence. But the question is not about miracles in general, or men in general, but definitely, whether these particular miracles, ascribed to the particular Peter, James, and John, are more likely to have been or not; whether they are unlikely, supposing that there is a Power, external to the world, who can bring them about; supposing they are only means by which He can reveal Himself to those who need a revelation; supposing He is likely to reveal himself; that He has a great end in doing so; that the professed miracles in question are like His natural works, and such as He is likely to work, in case He wrought miracles; that great effects, otherwise unaccountable, in the event followed upon the acts said to be miraculous; that they were from the first accepted as true by large numbers of men against their natural interests; that the reception of them as true has left its mark upon the world, as no other event ever did; that viewed in their effects, they have-that is, the belief of them has-served to raise human nature to a high moral standard, otherwise unattainable: these and the like considerations are parts of a great complex argument, which so far can be put into propositions, but which, even between, and around, and behind these, still is implicit and secret, and cannot by any ingenuity be imprisoned in a formula, and packed into a nutshell.1


I can imagine M. Renan, had fallen in with this characteristic passage, shaking his head doubtfully, but re peating to the light-minded French infidel what he had told him before, that very few men have a right to disbelieve in the Christian religion. Did he, when he was on the point of leaving St. Sulpice, weigh and consider this "implicit secret, complex argument," so wide in its outlook, reaching from end to end so mightily, climbing to such heights of Providence, and so unwilling to admit a world-encompassing delusion that should "raise human nature to a moral standard, otherwise unattainable?" I discover no traces of this mature wisdom in his correspondence. Writing to a fellow-student, M. Cognat, who was endeavoring to bring him back out of the wilderness, this is what he says: "I ask you for proof; there is my strong point. But you have not a single proof that will hold good against criticism, whether in psychology or history. Jesus alone abides. But he belongs to me as much as to you. If I wish to be a Platonist, must I adore Plato and put faith in his very words?"

The event, if we look forward to aramatic teachings such as "L'Eau de Jouvence" and "L'Abbesse de Jouarre," will furnish a commentary of the most decisive kind on this pretension. Renan gave up the spirit as well as the letter of Christianity; gave it up in all that was held by it to be pure and sacred; nor shrank from the worship of physical and feminine beauty as a law unto itself, exalted above every motive but its own pleasure. Even the accommodating Parisian shrugged his shoulders at what he was tempted to call the "obsession," or monomania, of certain ideas which clouded this declining imagination. The ideal had been quished by Imperia and her sisters; Prospero himself, that loftiest of Shakepearian creations, underwent a change too horrible and desecrating for me to enlarge upon it; the faith was no longer "wrapped in the purple shroud where the dead gods sleep;" it had become merely an artistic background, sombre


1 Essay on Assent, vi. edit., p. 306.

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