3 NOVEMBER 1866, Page 14



Thou who knew the late Archbishop of Dublin only by his pub- lished works, will gain a very much higher impression of him in every way than they were likely in that manner to have formed, by this admirable selection from his correspondence and this simple narrative of his laborious life. There is a letter in which Dr. Whately mentions contemptuously some silly review of Dr. Arnold's life in which the reviewer compared Dr. Arnold to Dr. Johnson,--calling him a mixture of Hume and Johnson, as if Hume and Johnson could have been mixed without effervescing like a saline draught. There was, however, in Dr. Whately's own nature something of the mingled ruggedness and tenderness so characteristic of Johnson, not a little of that powerful and vivid grasp of the logic of a limited subject which enabled both of them to clinch an argument with a knock-down illustration no less re- markable for wit than force, and all that tenacity of personal prepossession which made both alike impatient of an uncongenial intellectual presence, and gave them the impulse to rid themselves of the buzz of irritating thoughts by the rude flap of a masculine understanding. It is true, indeed, as Dr. Whately remarks in the passage we have alluded to, that Dr. Johnson was a vehe- ment Tory, and that in conversation he too often talked as if discussion was a game of chess, in which victory, and not truth, was the object to be sought for. But Johnson's Toryism, though it made him as much the opponent as Whately was the champion of Liberal ideas, was scarcely less strongly characterized by manly candour than Whately's own opposite prepossessions in favour of Liberal views. Again and again Dr. Johnson would admit that he had silenced an opponent unfairly by epigram, not argument ; and at bottom there is evident enough in Johnson's mind a very profound belief in truth and passionate desire to reach it, which Dr. Whately ignores in him, only because the early training of Johnson's mind had furnished his intellect with a host of false premisses and prejudices which effectually embarrassed and obstructed him in the search. If Johnson had been without his intense venera- tion for the past, his passionately loyal spirit towards established powers, and could be conceived beginning life, like Whately, from the Aristotle-Paley principles of philosophy and religion, we should imagine him running much the same career; brow-beating unintentionally those who differed from him, supporting by strong, tightly linked arguments, conclusions dear to his heart for reasons very different from those which took hold of his lerstanding, making much of his own circle of friends, pound- ing away resorutentii- labetieebtal enemies, •eagoer for tatol- lectual sympathy and despising himself for wanting it, quite unable to give it beyond the range of his own special interests, domineer- ing and yet tender, contemptuous towards anything like mysticism or intellectual vagueness, indomitable in purpose when once he had set his shoulder to any wheel, and curiously combining a love of physical marvel and liking for materialistic wonders with a strong impatience of sentimental credulity. No doubt Dr. Whately was a statesman of some ability, which Dr. Johnson, with his bundle of early prejudices, could never have become. But there is really much of striking resemblance in those strong positive intellects, the rough wit, the "bottom of good sense," the terse thought, the warm personal affections, the insuperable reserve, the eager humanity, the intense concentrativeness, the mixed credulity and shrewdness of the two men ; and if Whately were far more of a statesman and a general reasoner, Johnson, of course, was far the greater in the power of stamping his personal character on occa- sional observations and remarks. Yet what did Johnson ever say pinch better than Whately's criticism,—as usual, one-sided enough, —on the demand made for gratitude towards Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington for granting Catholic Emancipation and Free Trade, after resisting them to the very last practicable moment, as measures of necessity? "Who could suppose them [the Irish]," said Whately, "such fools as to be grateful to those who granted what they lacked power to refuse, and who never even attempted to make a virtue of necessity, but always proclaimed that it was by force and against their will? One might as well be grateful to an ox for a beef-steak. But to O'Connell, whom they regarded as the butcher that felled the ox, the Irish have always been even over-grateful." Or take this, of the Rmlical's de- structive attitude towards the Irish Protestant Church, and the worldly attitude of purely political Protestants towards it. "As 'Life and Correspondence of Richard Whately, D.D., rate Archbishop of Dublin. By E. J. Whately. 2 yols. London : Longman&

for these last, I regard them and the Radicals as only two different kin& of enemies to the Protestant Church ; they are like the Asiatic and African hunters of the elephant ; the latter wish to kill the animal for his ivory and as much flesh as they can carry off, leaving the rest of his carcase as a scramble for hyenas and vultures ; the others wish to catch and keep him for a drudge." It is in these kinds of clinching illustrations, at once argument and wit, that Whately's great concentrativeness of intelligence and vivid- ness of logic seem at once most brilliant and most Johnsonian. But there is something in the rough and almost dumb tenderness of the Archbishop, in the careworn, deeply furrowed face, in the piety of his instincts, so far beyond what seems warranted by the rigid and narrow boundaries of his precisely outlined thought, that we feel a resemblance of even a deeper kind. Yet, of course, the men were different enough, being indeed in external circumstances, profession, creed, and education, as wide as possible asunder.

It seems to us very unfortunate for the Archbishop's reputation that his profession and his writings have brought him before the world in great measure as a theologian. There never was a man less fitted for the study of theology proper ; indeed all his most successful writings on theology were ingenious devices to resist and evade the claims of theology proper. He has been charged, as everybody knows, with being a Sabellian, that is, with believing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are only three aspects of the same personal Essence ; and to this, of course, his note in the Logic on the word persona, pointing out that it and the Greek word from which it is translated had nothing of the meaning which we now assign to the word "person," directly tends. But we believe that he was quite honest,—indeed, he was never even in the least degree dishonest,—in repudiating this interpretation, and maintaining, on the contrary, that he wished not to explain, but to •avoid explaining, or even speculating upon, the inner nature of God, and the mode in which the three distinct manifes- tations of Him in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be reconciled and united in one. Thus he says in a letter to a friend :—

" lst. There are, properly speaking, two distinct doctrines, each called the doctrine of the Trinity, and thence often confused together: the one speculative, concerning the distinctions in the Divine essence ; the other practical, concerning the manifestations of God to man. They are as different as a certain opinion respecting the sun, from an opinion respecting the sunshine. A peasant has need to know the effects of sunshine in ripening corn, &c., &c. which he may do without forming any notion of the magnitude of distance of the sun, or of the theories of Ptolemy and Copernicus. The former is what I understand to have in view; and I agree that, as it relates to a matter confessedly incomprehensible, it is better not to be dwelt on, lest we be bewildered and Inisled ; it is one of the secret things that belong unto the Lord our God.' The other is what I have had all along in view, and which I hold to be among the things that belong to us, that we may do,' &c. Unfortunately, by being confounded with the other, it is in general swept away from people's thoughts, as a speculative mystery better kept in the background; whereas it is the corner-stone of the Christian faith (the doctrine into which we are baptized) and of Christian prac- tice' since, if God stands in three relations to us, we are bound to act and feel suitably to the three relations in which we stand to Him."

That is as distinct and as bold an attempt to clear the Church of England of anything like a theology as we have ever seen, and it was of the essence of Whately's mind to object to a theology " and keep before himself only the " regulative " Christianity, as Mr. Mansel has since called it, which should have an immediate practical bearing on human conduct. How he reconciled this mode of thought with the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, which are purely theological declarations of the secrets of the Divine Essence, or even with a great portion of the theology of St. John, which seems to us of precisely the same nature, we are never told. But that he honestly believed it to be the duty of a good Protestant to decline entering in any degree on the divine ontology, and to believe only as much as clear human logic could prove, without, however, disputing or disbelieving the assertions made about the deeper things of God, but rather leaving them to be decided, if at all, in a higher state of existence, is obvious enough. The bias of Dr. Whately's mind towards close and accurate observation in natural phenomena he extended to the region of faith, noting carefully enough the various manifested characteristics of the divine will and government, but declining to feel any great interest in the secret of their hidden unity and origin. Hence the tendency of his religious writings to construct a scaffolding for the Christian faith, rather than to work at the actual structure at all. His mind occupied itself with the evidences, and his heart took the leap to actual trust silently and without giving much sign of that most important step in the process.

And this tendency of Dr. Whately's to be satisfied as a theologian with preparing the understanding for conviction, was no doubt

increased and rendered more remarkable by his great deficiency in intellectual and moral sympathy with minds widely removed from his own. There never was a mind less able to enter into the heart of a conviction which he did not share. It was this want which made him often appear hard and cold, and made him sometimes posi- tively cruel and unjust. His prejudice was not usually the pre- judgment of an unfair mind, but the incapacity of a stiff and fixed character to enter into a very different moral attitude than any to which he was accustomed. This it was which made him guilty, in at least one instance, of a very discreditable loss of temper and equity, which many would falsely attribute to dishonesty. When his chaplain, Mr. Blanco White, became a Unitarian, and fell into that suffering state of mind into which a man of his sensitive temperament could not but fall when old ties of the tenderest nature were necessarily relaxed, if not broken, the Arch- bishop behaved with his usual generosity of both mind and purse to him, but pummelled away at the sensitive invalid on the sub- ject of his misunderstandings of the true relation between them, in letters the merciless logic and terrible robustness of which are quite painful to read in such a connection. There was no want of real tenderness for his friend ; the sympathy with his distress of mind of which he speaks was genuine enough ; but this sym- pathy did not tell upon his style or manner of writing, any more than his genuine piety told upon his religious discourses ; the man stayed at the bottom, the logician came to the surface. That the Archbishop was deeply mortified at Mr. Blanco White's defection, that he could not understand it, that he believed ho could argue him out of it, and longed to make the attempt, is obvious. But after Mr. White's death his annoyance took a most unjustifiable and culpable shape. He had found Mr. White nervous, and to a certain extent, no doubt, morbid in mind, and he coolly assumed that his change of belief was contemporaneous with a loss of sanity. He had got, he says, medical opinions to sustain him, but an Archbishop of his force of character would easily get ten per cent. in any profession to echo any strong judgment of his own. The simple fact, as any one can see who reads Mr. Blanco White's life, and notes the grounds on which the Archbishop evidently formed his presumption against his friend's sanity, is that Mr. White was intellectually perfectly sane and even lucid, but that the Archbishop startled and jarred upon his shaken nerves, and made it difficult for him to appreciate the exact amount of unpleasant meaning not embodied in, but sug- gested by, the Archbishop's words. Worse still than this involun- tary but violent injustice to his friend's memory was his treatment of the Memoir of Mr. Blanco White when it actually appeared, and of its editor, Mr. Thom. A finer piece of intellectual biography has not been published in the last fifty years, than this painful story of a spiritual mind losing its faith in revelation and yet eagerly sigh- ing after it when lost. The Archbishop, however, charged the editor with indelicate revelations of the private feelings of an unhealthy mind made for the sake of gain, and with gross misrepresentations of his own conduct to Blanco White, and evidently believed his own absurd indictment. This gauges the immense force of prejudice,— here strictly prejudice in the true sense of prejudgment,—which he brought to the reading of a book absolutely and wholly free from all trace of the bad qualities imputed to it. Miss Whately has acted either very courageously or blindly in publishing the only letters discreditable to her father in these volumes. They are discreditable not because he was guilty of any dishonesty, but because they show him capable of such blind and insensate preju- dice as is implied in inability to understand how Mr. Blanco White could cease to agree with him, and could repeatedly misunderstand his letters, without being insane, and how any other intellectual man could write his life and publish his diaries without detecting that insanity, and having determined to trade on it for the sake of gain. In a future edition we should advise Miss Whately to apolo- gize for the two letters on the life of Blanco White. They are indeed characteristic enough of her father's mind, but character- istic of an injustice in it that she cannot well wish to have perpetu- ated, —sculptured, as it were,—for all succeeding generations. Her implied approval is the only blot on her admirable book.

Though Dr. Whately was, as a ruler of the Church, deficient in any true love or care for theology, he had a great deal of the power of a statesman. The system of united education which he so nearly succeeded in forcing upon Ireland was a thoroughly statesman-like experiment, and, but for the rise of the Ultramon- tane party and the Cullen faction, might have had all the success it deserved. We have always maintained, indeed, that as soon as the great majority of the Catholics of Ireland rejected it, there was no choice for any true Liberals but to admit their right to a separate education, as we have admitted the right of Dissenters to a separate

education in England. But though the late Government was not only right about the Catholic University, but were acting in the only way possible for Liberals after the success of the Ultramontane reaction, we do not the less recognize the great value of the attempt made by the Archbishop, or the less regret that it is evidently doomed to fail. Moreover, the astonishing pertinacity and reso- lution with which he stuck to the attempt, when once it was made, was quite heroic. He had to defend it without avowing his belief that it must ultimately lead to the Protestantization of Ire- land,—or, as he said himself, to defend it with one hand, and that his best, tied behind him,—but defend it he did with unparalleled vigour to the last. As a theoretic statesman, too, he was a man of no small acuteness. The following suggestion, for instance, of a remedy for the too great rigidity of a constitution like that of the United States is very shrewd and statesman-like :— " Some newly formed States have dreaded to entrust to any man or body this unlimited power, and have in the original scheme of the Con- stitution fixed certain fundamental points as out of the control of the Legislature. This is the case with the United States of America. The Government is limited by the original Constitution, and if the Congress should pass any Act encroaching on that, no citizen would be bound to obey such a law. The disadvantage of this is, that it places the present generation under the control of their ancestors, and provides no legal method for their throwing it off, even should they unanimously wish to do so. Should a great majority of the citizens of the United States agree with the Legislature in wishing for such a change, we may be sure they would effect it, though they would not do BO regularly. The problem is to devise a mode of escaping both disadvantages ; and this can only be effected by providing for the calling in from time to time, some new power, distinct from the ordinary Legislature, and authorized to intro- . duce changes from which the other is restricted. The Roman deeemvirs and dictators were something approaching to such a provision, but the chief error of those contrivances was the allowing these provisional governments to supersede the ordinary and to engross the whole power of the State. Hence they led to tyrannical usurpation. They should have had no other power than that which was peculiar to them. The best contrivance of the kind is, I think, the constitution of some colleges in respect of their visitors. The Master and Fellows, dm, govern and make bye-laws under certain restrictions ; but, with respect to alterations of fundamental statutes, have no power except to call in the Visitor, who has power, when thus appealed to, to alter the statutes, and having done so retires, and leaves the ordinary government in the same hands as before. It is on this plan I should proceed if I were employed to frame for any community, civil or religious, a constitution of government. The principle is equally applicable to all forms, whether monarchical, aristocratical, popular, or in any way mixed. Provision should be made for calling in what might be called a visitational power on extra- ordinary emergencies. The constitution originally laid down should bind the ordinary government, which should administer, under these limitations, the affairs of the community. It should have no power to alter any of the fundamental rules of the constitution, but should be authorized, whenever its members thought fit, to summon the extra- ordinary assembly (or whatever it might be called), for which provision should have been made. And this assembly should have no power except to deliberate and decide on the points proposed to it by the ordi- nary legislature; it should not supersede or interfere with their authority, and should be dissolved at any time, even re infeca at their pleasure. In short, it should be precisely the regulator of a watch. It is, I think, thus, and thus only, that we can avoid the two opposite evils —of too strict a confinement to the decisions of our ancestors, when, even if originally the best, they may have ceased to be suitable ; and of rash and ruinous changes of constitution—an evil which is very apt to succeed the other."

On the whole, the impression of the Archbishop left upon us by these volumes is of a very strong and noble character of rather coarse grain. A man of vast generosity, great love of approbation, and greater conscientiousness, who never intentionally did an unjust thing, and who laboured without ceasing in the cause he thought to be good, incapable of insincerity, rough and abrupt almost to a point at which episcopal stateliness became impossible, yet dig- nified from the great purity of his own conceptions of duty and the immobility of his will when once he had made up his mind, a man with a most tender heart, with something of the pathos of dumb affection about him, so deeply was it hidden in involuntary but deep reserve, with great intensity of feeling con- centrated within very narrow limits, deficient in sympathy to know when he was giving needless pain, of a sledge-hammer under- standing with which he thumped away mercilessly at all that seemed to him false, of a utilitarian cast of mind, yet of a much higher than utilitarian school of ethics, he seems to us a kind of mitred Hercules, who, above all, gave reality of mind to a Church

the highest thoughts of which he was perhaps intellectually incapable of appreciating.