2. This, then, is what occurs to me to say in the first place, concerning the dear friend of whom we are now taking leave. Such as I have described were the prospects which opened upon him on his start in life. But now, secondly, by way of contrast, what came of them? He might, as time went on, almost have put out his hand and taken what he would of the honours and rewards of the world. Whether in Parliament, or in the Law, or in the branches of the Executive, he had a right to consider no station, no power, absolutely beyond his reach. His contemporaries and friends, who fill, or have filled, the highest offices in the State, are, in the splendour of their several careers, the illustration of his capabilities and his promise. But, strange as it may appear at first sight, his indifference to the prizes of life was as marked as his qualifications for carrying them off. He was singularly void of ambition. To succeed in life is almost a universal passion. If it does not often show itself in the high form of ambition, this is because few men have an encouragement in themselves or in their circumstances to indulge in dreams of greatness. But that a young man of bold, large, enterprising mind, of popular talents, of conscious power, with initial successes, with great opportunities, one who carried with him the good-will and expectation of bystanders, and was cheered on by them to a great future, that he should be dead to his own manifest interests, that he should be unequal to the occasion, that he should be so false to his destiny, that his ethical nature should be so little in keeping with his gifts of mind, may easily be represented, not only as strange, but as a positive defect, or even a fault. Why are talents given at all, it may be asked, but for use? What are great gifts but the correlatives of great work? We are not born for ourselves, but for our kind, for our neighbours, for our country: it is but selfishness, indolence, a perverse fastidiousness, an unmanliness, and no virtue or praise, to bury our talent in a napkin, and to return it to the Almighty Giver just as we received it.
This is what may be said, and it is scarcely more than a truism to say it; for, undoubtedly, who will deny it? Certainly we owe very much to those who devote themselves to public life, whether in the direct service of the State or in the prosecution of great national or social undertakings. They live laborious days, of which we individually reap the benefit; nevertheless, admitting this fully, surely there are other ways of being useful to our generation still. It must be recollected, that in public life a man of elevated mind does not make his own self tell upon others simply and entirely. He is obliged to move in a groove. He must act with other men; he cannot select his objects, or pursue them by means unadulterated by the methods and practices of minds less elevated than his own. He can only do what he feels to be second-best. He proceeds on the condition of compromise; and he labours at a venture, prosecuting measures so large or so complicated that their ultimate issue is uncertain.
Nor of course can I omit here the religious aspect of this question. As Christians, we cannot forget how Scripture speaks of the world, and all that appertains to it. Human society, indeed, is an ordinance of God, to which He gives His sanction and His authority; but from the first an enemy has been busy in its depravation. Hence it is that, while in its substance it is divine, in its circumstances, tendencies, and results it has much of evil. Never do men come together in considerable numbers, but the passion, self-will, pride, and unbelief, which may be more or less dormant in them one and one, bursts into a flame, and becomes a constituent of their union. Even when faith exists in the whole people, even when religious men combine for religious purposes, still, when they form into a body, they evidence in no long time the innate debility of human nature, and in their spirit and conduct, in their avowals and proceedings, they are in grave contrast to Christian simplicity and straightforwardness. This is what the sacred writers mean by 'the world,' and why they warn us against it; and their description of it applies in its degree to all collections and parties of men, high and low, national and professional, lay and ecclesiastical.
It would be hard, then, if men of great talent and of special opportunities were bound to devote themselves to an ambitious life, whether they would or not, at the hazard of being accused of loving their own ease, when their reluctance to do so may possibly arise from a refinement and unworldliness of moral character. Surely they may prefer more direct ways of serving God and man; they may aim at doing good of a nature more distinctly religious, at works, safely and surely and beyond all mistake meritorious; at offices of kindness, benevolence, and considerateness, personal and particular; at labours of love and self-denying exertions, in which their right hand knows nothing that is done by their left. As to our dear friend, I have already spoken of the influence which he exercised on all around him, on friends or strangers with whom he was connected in any way. Here was a large field for his active goodness, on which he did not neglect to exert himself. He gave others without grudging his thoughts, time, and trouble. He was their support and stay. When wealth came to him, he was free in his use of it. He was one of those rare men who do not merely give a tithe of their increase to their God; he was a fount of generosity ever flowing; it poured out on every side; in religious offerings, in presents, in donations, in works upon his estates, in care of his people, in almsdeeds. I have been told of his extraordinary care of families left in distress, of his aid in educating them and putting them out in the world, of his acts of kindness to poor converts, to single women, and to sick priests; and I can well understand the solicitous and persevering tenderness with which he followed up such benevolences towards them from what I have seen in him myself. He had a very retentive memory for their troubles and their needs. It was his largeness of mind which made him thus open-hearted. As all his plans were on a large scale, so were his private charities. And when an object was public and required the support of many, then he led the way by a munificent contribution himself. He built one church on his property at Lochshiel; and another at Galashiels, which he had intended to be the centre of a group of smaller ones round about; and he succeeded in actually planting one of these at Selkirk. Nor did he confine himself to money gifts: it is often more difficult to surrender what we have made our own personally, than what has never come actually into our tangible possession. He bought books freely, theological, historical, and of general literature; but his love of giving was greater than his love of collecting. He could not keep them; he gave them away again; he may be said to have given away whole libraries. Little means has any one of determining the limits of his generosity. I have heard of his giving or offering for great objects sums so surprising, that I am afraid to name them. He alone knows the full measure of his bounties, who inspired, and will reward it. I do not think he knew it himself. I am led to think he did not keep a strict account of what he gave away. Certainly I know one case in which he had given to a friend many hundreds, and yet seemed to have forgotten it, and was obliged to ask him when it was that he had done so.
I should trust that, in what I am saying, I have not given any one the impression that he was inconsiderate and indiscriminate in giving. To have done this would have been to contradict my experience of him and my intention. As far as my opportunities of observing him extended, large as were his bounties and charities, as remarkable was the conscientious care with which he inquired into the nature and circumstances of the cases for which his aid was solicited. He felt he was but the steward of Him who had given him what he gave away.
He gave away as the steward of One to whom he must give account. There are at this time many philanthropic and benevolent men who think of man only, not of God, in their acts of liberality. I have already said enough to show that he was not one of these. I have implied the presence in him of that sense of religion, or religiousness, which was in fact his intimate and true life. And, indeed, liberality such as his, so incessant and minute, so well ordered, and directed too towards religious objects, almost of itself evidences its supernatural origin. But I insist on it, not only for its own sake, but also because it has a bearing upon that absence of ambition which, in a man so energetic, so influential, is a very remarkable point of character. Viewed in itself, it might be, even though not an Epicurean selfishness, still a natural temper, the temper of a magnanimous mind, such as might be found in ancient Greece or Rome, as well as in modern times. But, in truth, in him it was much more than a gift of nature; it was a fruit and token of that religious sensitiveness which had been bestowed on him from above. If it really was the fact that his mind and heart were fixed upon divine objects, this at once accounts for what was so strange, so paradoxical in him in the world's judgment, his distaste for the honours and the pageants of earth; and fixed, assuredly they were, upon the invisible and eternal. It was a lesson to all who witnessed it, in contrast with the appearance of the outward man, so keen and self-possessed amid the heat and dust of the world, to see his real inner secret self from time to time gleam forth from beneath the working-day dress in which his secular occupations enveloped him.
I cannot do justice by my words to the impression which in this respect he made on me. He had a tender conscience, but I mean something more than that—I mean the emotion of a heart always alive and awake at the thought of God. When a religious question came up suddenly in conversation, he had no longer the manner and the voice of a man of the world. There was a simplicity, earnestness, gravity in his look and in his words, which one could not forget. It seemed to me to speak of a loving desire to please God, a single-minded preference for His service over every service of man, a resolve to approach Him by the ways which He had appointed. It was no taking for granted that to follow one's own best opinion was all one with obeying His will; no easy persuasion that a vague, obscure sincerity in our conclusions about Him and our worship of Him was all that was required of us, whether those conclusions belonged to this school of doctrine or that. That is, he had deep within him that gift which St. Paul and St. John speak of, when they enlarge upon the characteristics of faith. It was the gift of faith, of a living, loving faith, such as 'overcomes the world' by seeking 'a better country, that is, a heavenly.' This it was that kept him so 'unspotted from the world' in the midst of worldly engagements and pursuits.
No wonder, then, that a man thus minded should gradually have been led on into the Catholic Church. Judging as we do from the event, we thankfully recognise in him an elect soul, for whom, in the decrees of Omnipotent Love, a seat in heaven has been prepared from all eternity—whose name is engraven on the palms of those Hands which were graciously pierced for his salvation. Such eager, reverential thoughts of God as his, prior to his recognising the Mother of Saints, are surely but the first tokens of a predestination which terminates in heaven. That straightforward, clear, good sense which he showed in secular matters did not fail him in religious inquiry. There are those who are practical and sensible in all things save in religion; but he was consistent; he instinctively turned from bye-ways and cross-paths, into which the inquiry might be diverted, and took a broad, intelligible view of its issues. And, after he had been brought within the Fold, I do not think I can exaggerate the solicitude which he all along showed, the reasonable and prudent solicitude, to conform himself in all things to the enunciations and the decisions of Holy Church; nor, again, the undoubted conviction he has had of her superhuman authority, the comfort he has found in her sacraments, and the satisfaction and trust with which he betook himself to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, to the glorious St. Michael, to St. Margaret, and all saints.
3. I will make one remark more. I have spoken, first, of his high natural gifts, of his various advantages for starting in life, and of his secular prospects. Next, in contrast with this first view of him, I have insisted on his singular freedom from ambition, and have traced it to that religiousness of mind which was so specially his; to his intimate sense of the vanity of all secular distinction, and his supreme devotion to Him who alone is 'Faithful and True.' And now, when I am brought to the third special feature of his life, as it presents itself to me, I find myself close to a sacred subject, which I cannot even touch upon without great reverence and something of fear.
We might have been led to think that a man already severed in spirit, resolve, and acts from the world in which he lived, would have been granted by his Lord and Saviour to go forward in his course freely, without any unusual trials, such as are necessary in the case of common men for their perseverance in the narrow way of life. But those, for whom God has a love more than ordinary, He watches over with no ordinary jealousy; and if the world smiles on them, He sends them crosses and penances so much the more. He is not content that they should be by any common title His; and, because they are so dear and near to Him, He provides for them afflictions to bring them nearer still. I hope it is not presumptuous thus to speak of the inscrutable providences of God. I know that He has His own wise and special dealings with every one of us, and that what He determines for one is no rule for another. I am contemplating, and, if so be, interpreting, His loving ways and purposes only towards the very man before us.
Now, so it was, there was just one aspect of this lower world which he might innocently love; just one in which life had charms for a heart as affectionate as it was religious. I mean that assemblage of objects which are included under the dear name of Home. If there was rest and solace to be found on earth, he found it there. Is it not remarkable, then, that in this, his sole earthly sanctuary, He who loved him with so infinite a love met him, visited him, not once or twice, but again and again, with a stern rod of chastisement? Stroke after stroke, blow after blow, stab after stab, was dealt against his very heart. 'Great and wonderful are Thy works, O Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, O King of ages. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and magnify Thy name? for Thou only art holy.' I may speak with more vivid knowledge of him here than in other respects, for I was one of the confidants of his extreme suffering under the succession of terrible inflictions which left wounds never to be healed. They ended only with his life; for the complaint, which eventually mastered him, was brought into activity by his final bereavement. Nay, I must not consider even that great bereavement his final one; his call to go hence was itself the final agony of that tender, loving heart. He who had in time past been left desolate by others, was now to leave others desolate. He was to be torn away, as if before his time, from those who, to speak humanly, needed him so exceedingly. He was called upon to surrender them in faith to Him who had given them. It was about two hours before his death, with this great sacrifice, as we may suppose, this solemn summons of his Supreme Lord confronting him, that he said, with a loud voice, 'Thy will be done;' adding his favourite prayer, so well known to us all: 'Fiat, laudetur, atque in aeternum superexaltetur, sanctissima, altissima, amabilissima voluntas Dei in omnibus.' They were almost his last words.
We too must say, after him, 'Thy will be done.' Let us be sure that those whom God loves He takes away, each of them, one by one, at the very time best for their eternal interests. What can we, in sober earnest, wish, save that very will of God? Is He not wiser and more loving than we are? Could we wish him back whom we have lost? Who is there of us who loves him most but would feel the cruelty of recalling to this tumultuous life, with its spiritual perils and its dark future, a soul who is already rejoicing in the end and issue of his trial, in salvation secured, and heaven begun in him? Rather, who would not wish to have lived his life, and to have died his death? How well for him that he lived, not for man only, but for God! What are all the interests, pleasures, successes, glories of this world, when we come to die? What can irreligious virtue, what can innocent family affection do for us, when we are going before the Judge, whom to know and love is life eternal, whom not to know and not to love is eternal death?
O happy soul, who hast loved neither the world nor the things of the world apart from God! Happy soul, who, amid the world's toil, hast chosen the one thing needful, that better part which can never be taken away! Happy soul, who, being the counsellor and guide, the stay, the light and joy, the benefactor of so many, yet hast ever depended simply, as a little child, on the grace of God and the merits and strength of thy Redeemer! Happy soul, who hast so thrown thyself into the views and interests of other men, so prosecuted their ends, and associated thyself in their labours, as never to forget, there is one Holy Catholic Roman Church, one Fold of Christ and Ark of salvation, and never to neglect her ordinances or to trifle with her word! Happy soul, who, as we believe, by thy continual almsdeeds, offerings, and bounties, hast blotted out such remains of daily recurring sin and infirmity as the sacraments have not reached! Happy soul, who by thy assiduous preparation for death, and the long penance of sickness, weariness, and delay, hast, as we trust, discharged the debt that lay against thee, and art already passing from penal purification to the light and liberty of heaven above!
And so farewell, but not farewell for ever, dear James Robert Hope-Scott! He is gone from us, but only gone before us. We then must look forward, not backward. We shall meet him again, if we are worthy, in 'Mount Sion, and the heavenly Jerusalem,' in 'the company of many thousands of angels, the Church of the firstborn who are written in the heavens,' with 'God, the Judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the Mediator of the New Testament, and the blood which speaketh better things than that of Abel.'
J. H. N.
Words spoken in the Chapel of the Ursulines of Jesus, St. Margaret's Convent, Edinburgh, on the 7th day of May, 1873, at the Funeral of James Robert Hope-Scott, Q.C. By the Rev. William J. Amherst, S.J.
My Dear Brethren,—In complying with the request which has been made to me, to say a few words on this solemn occasion about one who was so immeasurably my superior in everything, I feel as a child would when suddenly asked to give an opinion on some abstruse question which it could not comprehend. But when asked to address you, however sensible I might have been of my own inferiority, I could not, even in thought, entertain a reluctance; I could not show the slightest hesitation to speak the praises of one whom I admired so much, to ask your prayers for one whom I so much loved.
Scotland is blessed in giving a resting-place to one of her noblest sons; and this religious community is doubly blessed in providing the holy spot where his body shall repose. I need not enter into all the particulars of his life. Those which I should naturally think of to-day are sufficiently known to you all. But if I do not enter into any details, it is not that they are without a very strong interest. They might well be recorded as the history of a great and noble character, as an example to the young men of our own day, and as possessing, from his family connections, more than ordinary value for every one. But I must speak of his character in general, and single out those points which I consider deserving of especial praise. We must praise the dear deceased. It is our duty to do so. What are our desires now? What is our great wish?
That God may have mercy on his soul. God will hear us when we appeal to Him by the good works which His servant has done. We should all praise him, that we may be so many witnesses before God of the things which we know must entitle him to mercy from his Father who is in heaven.
When I first heard that he was dead—especially when I was asked to speak about him—I began to think of his character in a more careful manner than I had ever done before. Besides my own thoughts about him, I have heard what they say of him who were most closely allied to him. I have listened to those who, though not related to him, were his most intimate friends and acquaintance. I know what is thought of him by those who knew him well. I have seen letters written since his death from many different persons; from those who knew him in early days, those who knew him in middle life, and again, those who knew him in later days. I have read letters from some who knew him during the whole of his and their lives. There is a unanimity in the thoughts of all about him which is most striking. The thoughts and words of every one seem to form one beautiful melody, one harmonious song. They all testify to the same great intellectual qualities, the same goodness of heart, the same excellence of demeanour. They speak of him as being one who was more fit for the foremost places in the State than some who have actually attained them. They speak of him in such terms as these, 'the loveable,' 'the amiable, 'the beautiful.' Besides having talents of the highest order, the dear deceased possessed a nature peculiarly susceptible of good impressions. And he seems to have opened his whole heart to receive the dew of heaven; and the grace of God produced a hundredfold in his soul. To have known a man such as he was, who possessed such power of mind combined with such high attainments, such soundness of principle with such rectitude in practice, such independence of thought, and such submission to conscience and lawful authority; to have known him— to have been, I may say, on terms of friendship and intimacy with him—will be amongst the most pleasing and the saddest recollections of my life. I have said his submission to conscience. It seems almost like presumption in me, standing as I do in the midst of those who knew him so much better than myself, to single out any one distinguishing characteristic; but it always struck me that a great conscientiousness was that which showed itself the most, and shone most brilliantly to those who had the happiness of knowing him. The voice of conscience seemed to have a magic effect upon him. The call was no sooner heard than it was obeyed, and without any apparent hesitation of the will. It was this delicacy of conscience, and his good- will to act upon it, combined with his most perfect demeanour, which gave him that authority over others which was so beautifully spoken of by his venerable friend on Monday last, when I and many of you, my dear brethren, had the happiness of being present. For it was this conscientiousness which purified, consolidated, and gave direction to all the great qualities of his soul. To this influence which he had over others I am myself a willing witness. I felt the force of it myself. And in saying this, my dear brethren, I speak most sincerely what I believe to be true. I should deem it an irreverence on an occasion like this to say a word which I did not believe. Though by no means a young man myself when I first had the happiness of making acquaintance with the dear deceased, during the few years that I knew him he exercised an influence over me, for the effects of which I now thank God, and hope that I shall thank Him for all eternity.
It was, my dear brethren, to this great gift of conscientiousness, aided by the grace of God, that he who has left us owed the greatest blessing of his life—his submission to the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The obstacles which stood in the way of his entering the Church must have been great. The old French saying does not stand good when one who is not a Catholic is thinking of entering the Church. It is not the first step towards the Church which, in this country at least, costs the sacrifice. The first step costs little; it most frequently costs nothing. It is generally a pleasant step to take. Many have taken that step; but few have persevered in their onward march. The step which costs the sacrifice is that which crosses the threshold when the door has been arrived at. For on one side stands that powerful tempter, human respect, whose baneful influence has sent back hundreds, perhaps thousands, into the dreary waste. On the other side stands ambition, with noble and captivating mien. I need not speculate here as to what ambition may say to others; but I will imagine what ambition may have said to our departed friend. It may have addressed him in some such words as these: 'You are conscious, innocently conscious, of possessing great talents. You cannot have associated as you have done with men of great intellect, with the first men of the day, without having in some degree measured yourself with them, without knowing something of your own great power. You are, perhaps, desirous yourself of advancing in the highest paths. You may have a praiseworthy ambition of using the gifts you have received for the good of others, and to make a return to God for all that He has bestowed upon you. You cannot but know that, from your family connections, and the position you hold in society, you have as fine an opening as was ever presented to a young man. Enter the Catholic Church, and all such knowledge will be useless; all such thoughts may be cast aside.' There is no use, my dear brethren, in blinding ourselves to the truth in this matter. We know it, and it is well that we should recognise it. In this country, which boasts so much of its religious liberty, the influence—the persecution I must call it—of public opinion is such, that when a man enters the Church, he deprives himself of all chance of progress in the high walks of life. It may be said that in the line in which he had hitherto walked, he succeeded as well after he entered the Church as he had done before. It is true that he reached the highest point of eminence as an advocate, and his religion was no obstacle in the way; but if it was so, it was because it was the interest of suitors to make use of his power. But if he ever entertained any idea of attaining to the highest offices in the State—and he may well have done so—the fact of his having entered the Catholic Church would, in all probability, have proved a bar to his advance. He resisted the tempters; he despised human respect, and he thrust aside ambition. Having walked up to the open door of the Church, he did what conscience told him he ought to do, and passing the threshold, he went in. My dear brethren, there can be no doubt that the life which he led before this time had prepared him for the step which he took. He had a great devotion to the will of God. His favourite prayer was those well-known words: 'May the most just, the most high, and the most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!' And though before he became a Catholic his thoughts may not have been put into that particular formula, yet no doubt the substance of those words had been his prayer through life. As the will of God had been his guiding star, so, and as a consequence, he always had a great love for Jesus Christ our Redeemer. I cannot, indeed, state this as a positive fact on my own personal knowledge, but it could not have been otherwise; and you, my dear brethren, who knew him so much better than I did, will, I think, agree with me in this respect. When he became a Catholic, Jesus Christ was the object of his continually increasing love. By the means which God provided for him in the Church, his faith in his Redeemer, his hope in his Redeemer, and his love for his Redeemer, grew stronger, and went on increasing to his dying day. [Footnote: The last words which he heard on earth whilst the crucifix was pressed to his lips, and they were spoken by those lips which here he loved the most, were these: 'You know that you have loved Jesus all your life.'] As he loved Jesus all his life, pray, my dear brethren, that his merciful Lord may show mercy to him now.
Some amongst you, my dear brethren, have already heard from the lips of one as much my superior as the subject of my discourse was, that a distinguishing feature of the departed was the intensity of his domestic affection. And the venerable preacher observed that the great trial of him who has left us was to receive a succession of terrible wounds in the tenderest part of his noble nature. You will remember his words. He said that God had repeatedly struck him; that He had stabbed him. It was so, indeed; and yet, my dear brethren, at the same time that a merciful God so severely tried His servant, it was through those same domestic affections that He gave to him the greatest comfort, next to a good conscience, that a man can have on his death-bed. For to him who had always been so kind and gentle with others, and anticipated all their wants, was given during the many long months of his illness all that help and comfort which the most tender, filial, and sisterly love could give. As God blessed him in making him the object of such strong and persevering affection, so He has blessed those also who were the willing instruments of His mercy.
Pray, my dear brethren, that he may rest in peace. We all owe a great deal to him, more than we can ever repay during life. Generosity was a remarkable feature in the dear deceased. His generosity was of a noble kind. It was not confined to generosity with his worldly means. He was generous in his sympathies. He sympathised with all who had any relations with him. No one was ever with him who did not feel this. He was generous with his worldly means; he was generous with his counsel and advice. He was ready and willing to help any one in any way he could. I feel that I owe him much myself. I have already alluded to the obligations which I am under to him. And who is there amongst you, my dear brethren, who does not, in some respect, owe him much? As he was generous to others, let us be generous to him. Let us pray, and continually pray, to God for him. If any of you may be inclined to relax in your prayers for his soul, because you think that his good works were such that we have reason to hope that he is even now enjoying the sight of God, I do not quarrel with you for so thinking—I may think so myself; but still I urge you to pray. Pray as if you thought it were not so. Do not let your hope lessen the effect of your love. Pray for him as you would wish him and others to pray for you if you were dead.
And here, my dear brethren, I might finish my discourse. But who is there who knew the dear departed, who does not feel an irresistible impulse to turn from the dead to the living? This influence may have been felt on other occasions by others. For my part, I have never so deeply felt how impossible it is to separate the one who has gone from those whom he has left behind. Pray for the father; and pray also for the children. Pray for those whose future must be a matter of interest to you all. And you may pray with a firm hope of being heard. For it would seem that there is a special providence over them, for already those children have found a home —homes, I may say—which a guardian angel might have chosen for them. Pray that God would ratify and confirm all those blessings which that fond parent had bestowed upon his own, especially those blessings which, with increased earnestness, he must have desired when he saw that, at a critical moment in life, the hand which had guided was to make sign no more. Pray, my dear brethren, that those two honoured names which he bore, and which for so many years have been allied to all that is best and of sterling worth, to all that is great and noble, may long continue the ornament and the pride of Scotland. Once more, let me turn from the living to the dead; and I will conclude with the prayer of the Church—'Eternal rest give to him, O Lord; and may a perpetual light shine upon him! May he rest in peace!'
The Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P., to Miss Hope-Scott [now the Hon. Mrs. Maxwell Scott].
Hawarden: Sept. 13, 1873.
My Dear Miss Hope-Scott,—I found awaiting me, through your kindness, on my return from Scotland, Dr. Newman's Address on your much-loved father's death. I need not say that one of my first acts was to read it. It does not discourage me from attempting to put on paper my recollections of him, as my free intervals of time may permit. It is well that a character of such extraordinary grace as his should have been portrayed by one who could scarcely, I think, even if he tried, compose a sentence that would not be 'a thing of beauty.' His means and materials for undertaking that labour of love were as superior to mine as his power of performing it. I will only say that I countersign, with full assent, to the best of my knowledge, the several traits which Dr. Newman has given. He must have much more to say. I shall at once lay before you all my little store of knowledge, in addition to that worthier tribute of your father's own letters, to which you are not less welcome. Lights upon his mental history my memory may, I hope, serve here and there to throw; but those will be principally for the period antecedent to what he himself described as 'the great change of his life.'
Few men, perhaps, have had a wider contact with their generation, or a more varied experience of personal friendships, than myself. Among the large numbers of estimable and remarkable people whom I have known, and who have now passed away, there is in my memory an inner circle, and within it are the forms of those who were marked off from the comparative crowd even of the estimable and the remarkable by the peculiarity and privilege of their type. Of these very few, some four or five I think only, your father was one: and with regard to them it always seemed to me as if the type in each case was that of the individual exclusively, and as if there could be but one such person in our world at a time. After the early death of Arthur Hallam, I used to regard your father distinctly as at the head of all his contemporaries in the brightness and beauty of his gifts.
We were at Eton at the same time, but he was considerably my junior, so that we were not in the way of being drawn together. At Christ Church we were again contemporaries, but acquaintances only, scarcely friends. I find he did not belong to the 'Oxford Essay Club,' in which I took an active part, and which included not only several of his friends, but one with whom, unless my memory deceives me, he was most intimate—I mean Mr. Leader. And yet I have to record our partnership on two occasions in a proceeding which in Oxford was at that time, and perhaps would have been at any time, singular enough. At the hazard of severe notice, and perhaps punishment, we went together to the Baptist chapel of the place, once to hear Dr. Chalmers, and the other time to hear Mr. Rowland Hill. I had myself been brought up in what may be termed an atmosphere of Low Church; and, though I cannot positively say why, I believe this to have been the case with him; and questions of communion or conformity at that date presented themselves to us not unnaturally as questions of academic discipline, so that we did not, I imagine, enter upon any inquiry whether we in any degree compromised our religious position by the act, or by any intention with which it was done.
After Oxford (which I quitted in December 1831) the next occasion on which I remember to have seen him was in his sitting-room at Chelsea Hospital. There must, however, have been some shortly preceding contact, or I should not have gone there to visit him. I found him among folios and books of grave appearance. It must have been about the year 1836. He opened a conversation on the controversies which were then agitated in the Church of England, and which had Oxford for their centre. I do not think I had paid them much attention; but I was an ardent student of Dante, and likewise of Saint Augustine; both of them had acted powerfully upon my mind; and this was in truth the best preparation I had for anything like mental communion with a person of his elevation. He then told me that he had been seriously studying the controversy, and that in his opinion the Oxford authors were right. He spoke not only with seriousness, but with solemnity, as if this was for him a great epoch; not merely the adoption of a speculative opinion, but the reception of a profound and powerful religious impulse. Very strongly do I feel the force of Dr. Newman's statements as to the religious character of his mind. It is difficult in retrospect to conceive of this, except as growing up with him from infancy. But it appeared to me as if at this period, in some very special manner, his attention had been seized, his intellect exercised and enlarged in a new field; and as if the idea of the Church of Christ had then once for all dawned upon him as the power which, under whatever form, was from thenceforward to be the central object of his affections, in subordination only to Christ Himself, and as His continuing representative.
From that time I only knew of his career as one of unwearied religious activity, pursued with an entire abnegation of self, with a deep enthusiasm, under a calm exterior, and with a grace and gentleness of manner, which, joined to the force of his inward motives, made him, I think, without doubt the most winning person of his day. It was for about fifteen years, from that time onwards, that he and I lived in close, though latterly rarer intercourse. Yet this was due, on my side, not to any faculty of attraction, but to the circumstance that my seat in Parliament, and my rather close attention to business, put me in the way of dealing with many questions relating to the Church and the universities and colleges, on which he desired freely to expand his energies and his time.
I will here insert two notices which illustrate the opposite sides of his character. It was in or about 1837 that I came to know well his sister-in- law, Lady F. Hope, then already a widow. I remember very clearly her speaking to me about the manner in which he had ministered to her sorrow. It was not merely kindness, or merely assiduity, or any particular act of which she spoke. She seemed to speak of him as endowed with some special gift, as if he had, like one of old, been 'surnamed Barnabas, which is, being interpreted, the Son of Consolation.'
I now pass to the other pole of his mind, his relish for all fun, humour, and originality of character. In one of his tranquil years he told me with immense amusement an anecdote he had brought from Oxford. He was in company with two men, Mr. Palmer, commonly called Deacon Palmer, and Arthur Kinnaird, of whom the one was not more certain to supply the material of paradox, than the other to draw it out. The deacon had been enlarging in lofty strain on the power and position of the clergy. 'Then I suppose,' said Kinnaird, 'you would hold that the most depraved and irreligious priest has a much higher standing in the sight of God than any layman?' 'Of course,' was the immediate reply. [Footnote: Of course, Mr. Palmer, who was clear-headed, knew what he was saying, and meant that, in comparing an irreligious priest with a religious layman, the priest, as such, belongs to a higher spiritual order than the layman as such, just as it is a mere truism to say that a fallen angel, as regards his degree in the order of creation, is superior to a saint.—ED.]
His correspondence with me, beginning in February 1837, truly exhibits the character of our friendship, as one founded in common interests, of a kind that gradually commanded more and more of the public attention, but that with him were absolutely paramount. The moving power was principally on his side. The main subjects on which it turned, and which also formed the basis of our general intercourse, were as follows: First, a missionary organisation for the province of Upper Canada. Then the question of the Relations of Church and State, forced into prominence at that time by a variety of causes, and among them not least by a series of lectures, which Dr. Chalmers delivered in the Hanover Square Rooms, to distinguished audiences, with a profuse eloquence, and with a noble and almost irresistible fervour. Those lectures drove me upon the hazardous enterprise of handling the same subject upon what I thought a sounder basis. Your father warmly entered into this design; and bestowed upon a careful and prolonged examination of this work in MS., and upon a searching yet most tender criticism of its details, an amount of thought and labour which it would, I am persuaded, have been intolerable to any man to supply, except for one for whom each and every day as it arose was a new and an entire sacrifice to duty. As in the year 1838, when the manuscript was ready, I had to go abroad on account mainly of some overstrain upon the eyes, he undertook the whole labour of carrying the work through the press; and he even commended me, as you will see from the letters, because I did not show an ungovernable impatience of his aid. [Footnote: J. R. Hope to Mr. Gladstone, August 29, 1838, in ch. ix. vol. i. p. 164.]
The general frame of his mind at this time, in October 1838, will be pretty clearly gathered from a letter of that month, No. 24 in the series, written when he had completed that portion of his labours. [Footnote: Ibid., October 11, 1838, ch. ix. vol. i. p. 165.] He had full, unbroken faith in the Church of England, as a true portion of the Catholic Church; to her he had vowed the service of his life; all his desire was to uphold the framework of her institutions, and to renovate their vitality. He pushed her claims, you may find from the letters, further than I did; but the difference of opinion between us was not such as to prevent our cordial co- operation then and for years afterwards; though in using such a term I seem to myself guilty of conceit and irreverence to the dead, for I well know that he served her from an immeasurably higher level.
If I have not yet referred to his main occupation, it is because I desire to speak specially of what I know specially. It was, however, without doubt, in his Fellowship at Merton that he found at this period the peculiar work of his life. A wonderful combination of fertility with solidity always struck me as one of his most marked mental characteristics. Only by that facility could he have accumulated and digested the learning which he acquired in relation to Church, and especially to College History and College Law. In mastering these systems how deeply he had drunk of the essential spirit of the times which built them up, may be seen from a very striking letter (No. 9) respecting Walter de Merton. [Footnote: J. R. Hope to Mr. Gladstone, dated 'Rochester: Sunday, July 29, 1838,' in ch. viii. vol. i. p. 147.] He gave the world some idea of the extent and fruitfulness of these labours in connection with the next subject on which we had much communication together, the subject of what was termed in 1840 Cathedral Reform. My part was superficial, and was performed in the House of Commons. His was of a very different character.
As a hearer, and a rapt hearer, I can say that Dr. Newman (p. 10) has not exaggerated the description of the speech which he delivered, as counsel for the Chapters (I think) before the House of Lords in 1840.[Footnote: See ch. xi. vol. i. p. 198.] I need not say that, during the last forty years, I have heard many speeches, and many, too, in which I had reason to take interest, and yet never one which, by its solid as well as by its winning qualities, more powerfully impressed me. At this period he had (I think never or) rarely spoken in public, and he had not touched thirty years of age.
I cannot now say who was the prime mover in the next matter of interest which we pursued in common. It was the foundation of Trinity College, Glenalmond. We drew into our partnership the deceased Dean Ramsay, one of the very few men known to me who might, perhaps, compete even with your father in attracting affection, though very different in powers of mind. The Dean worked with us usefully and loyally, although, as was to a certain extent his nature, sometimes in fear and trembling.
The early prosecution of this enterprise was left for a time mainly to me, while your father paid his visit to Italy in 1840, in company with Mr, Rogers, now Lord Blachford, from whom I hope you may obtain memorials of it far better worth your having than any which I could supply, even had I been his companion. I remember that I wrote for him in bad Italian a letter of introduction to Manzoni, of whom, and of whose religious standing-ground, he gives (No. 32 [Footnote: See ch. xiii. vol. i. p. 244, Mr. Hope to Mr. Gladstone (Milan: November 18,1840).]) a remarkable account. I wish I could recover now that letter, on account of the person for whom, and the person to whom, it was written.
I think it was shortly before or shortly after this tour, that your father one day spoke to me—I well remember the spot where he stood—about his state and course of life. He had taken a resolution, with a view to the increase of his means, to apply some part of his time to the ordinary duties of his profession; whether he then said that it would be at the Parliamentary Bar or not, I am not able to say. He, on this occasion, told me that he did not intend to marry; that, giving a part of his time in the direction I have just mentioned, he meant to reserve all the rest for the Church and its institutions; and of these two several employments he said, 'I regard the first as my kitchen-garden, but the second as my flower- garden.' [Footnote: Compare letter of J. R. Hope to Mr. Gladstone, quoted in ch. xxii vol. ii. p. 94.] And so it was that, almost without a rival in social attractions, and in the springtide of his youth and promise, he laid with a cheerful heart the offering of his life upon the altar of his God.
It was, I think, the undertaking to found Trinity College which gave rise to another friendship, that it gave me the greatest pleasure to witness— between him and my father. In 1840 my father was moving on towards fourscore years, but 'his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated;' he was full of bodily and mental vigour; 'whatsoever his hand found to do, he did it with his might;' he could not understand or tolerate those who, perceiving an object to be good, did not at once and actively pursue it; and with all this energy he joined a corresponding warmth and, so to speak, eagerness of affection, a keen appreciation of humour, in which he found a rest, and an indescribable frankness and simplicity of character, which, crowning his other qualities, made him, I think (and I strive to think impartially), nearly or quite the most interesting old man I have ever known. Nearly half a century of years separated the two; but your father, I think, appreciated mine more than I could have supposed possible, and always appeared to be lifted to a higher level of life and spirits by the contact. On one occasion we three set out on a posting expedition, to examine several sites in the midland counties of Scotland, which had been proposed for the new college. As we rolled along, wedged into one of the post-chaises of those days, through various kinds of country, and especially through the mountains between Dunkeld and Crieff, it was a perpetual play, I might almost say roar, of fun and laughter. The result of this tour, after the consideration of various sites near Perth, Dunkeld, and Dunblane, was the selection of the spot on which the college now stands. I am ashamed to recollect that we were, I do not say assisted in reaching this conclusion, but cheered up in fastening on it, by a luncheon, which Mr. Patton, the proprietor, gave us, of grouse newly killed, roasted by an apparatus for the purpose on the moment, and bedewed with what I think is called partridge-eye champagne.
Your father's influence operated materially in procuring a preference for this beautiful but somewhat isolated site on the banks of the Almond. The general plan of the buildings was, I think, conceived by Mr. Dyce—another rare specimen of the human being—a master of Art and Thought in every form, and one whose mind was stocked to repletion with images of Beauty. I need not tell you what was your father's estimate of him. As to the site, the introduction of railways, which did not then exist for Scotland, has essentially altered the scale for relative advantage for all situations, in proportion as they are near to or removed from these channels of communication, and has caused us, in estimating remoteness from centres, to think of a mile as much as we should formerly have thought of ten. But I ought to record that, in all questions relating to the college, your father's mind instinctively leaned to what may be called the ecclesiastical side; and though the idea of a great school was incorporated in the plan, his desire was that even this should not be too near any considerable town. I remember also his saying to me, with reference to Glenalmond, and the opportunities which the college chapel would afford, 'You know it will plant the Church in a new district.'
He laboured much for the college; and had, if my memory serves, a great hand in framing the Constitution, with respect to which his academic learning gave him a just authority. He laboured for it at first in love and enthusiasm, afterwards in duty, at last perhaps in honour: but after a few years it necessarily vanished from his thoughts, and he became unable to share in facing the difficulties through which it had to pass. Events were now impending which profoundly agitated, not only what is termed the religious world, but the general mind of the country. I need not here refer to the unwise proceedings of great and ardent Churchmen, which darkened the skies over their heads, and brought their cause from calm and peaceful progress to storm, and in some senses to shipwreck. I do not think that, with his solid judgment, he was a party to any of those proceedings. They seem to have gradually brought about an opinion on the part of the ruling authorities of the English Church that some effort should be made to counteract the excesses of the party, and to confront the tendencies, or supposed tendencies, now first disclosed, towards the Church of Rome, by presenting to the public mind a telling idea of Catholicity under some other form. I am now construing events, not relating them; but they are events which it will be a prime duty of the future historian to study, for they have (I think) sensibly affected in its religious aspects the history of this country, nay, even the history of Western Christendom.
About this time Baron Bunsen became the representative of Prussia at the British Court. I remember that your father used to strike me by his suspicions and apprehensions of particular persons; and Bunsen, if I recollect right, was among them. That distinguished person felt an intense interest in England; he was of a pious and an enthusiastic mind, a mind of almost preternatural activity, vivacity, and rapidity, a bright imagination, and a wide rather than a deep range of knowledge. He was in the strongest sympathy, both personal and ecclesiastical, with the then reigning King of Prussia, who visited England in the autumn, I think, of 1841. Sir Robert Peel, however loyal to the entente with France, had a strong desire for close relations of friendship with Germany; and the marriage of the Queen, then recent, told in the same sense. All these circumstances opened the way for the singular project of the Anglican Bishopric of Jerusalem, which I believe to have been the child of Bunsen's fertile and energetic brain, and which received at that particular juncture a welcome due, I think, to special circumstances such as those which I have enumerated.
Wide as was the range of Bunsen's subsequent changes, he at this time represented the opinions of the Evangelical German Church, with the strong leaning of an amateur towards the Episcopate as a form of Government, not as the vehicle of the continuous, corporate, and visible life of the Christian Church. He had, beyond all men I ever knew, the faculty of persuading himself that he had reconciled opposites; and this persuasion he entertained with such fervour that it became contagious. From some of these letters (in accordance with my recollections) it would appear that in the early stages of this really fantastic plan (see No. 48) [Footnote: See ch. xvi. (vol. i. p. 313), J. R. Hope to Mr. Gladstone, November 19, 1841.] your father's aid had been enlisted. I must not conceal that my own was somewhat longer continued. The accompanying correspondence amply shows his speedy and strong dissatisfaction and even disgust. I do not know whether the one personal influence, which alone, I think, ever seriously affected his career, was brought to bear upon him at this time. But the movement of his mind, from this juncture onwards, was traceably parallel to, though at a certain distance from, that of Dr. Newman. My opinion is (I put it no higher) that the Jerusalem Bishopric snapped the link which bound Dr. Newman to the English Church. I have a conviction that it cut away the ground on which your father had hitherto most firmly and undoubtingly stood. Assuredly, from 1841 or 1842 onwards, his most fond, most faithful, most ideal love progressively decayed, and doubt nestled and gnawed in his soul. He was, however, of a nature in which levity could find no place. Without question, he estimated highly, as it deserves to be estimated, the tremendous nature of a change of religious profession, as between the Church of England and the Church of Rome; a change dividing asunder bone and marrow. Nearly ten years passed, I think, from 1841, during which he never wrote or spoke to me a positive word indicating the possibility of this great transition. Long he harboured his misgivings in silence, and ruminated upon them. They even, it seemed to me, weighed heavily upon his bodily health. I remember that in 1843 I wrote an article in a review (mentioned in the correspondence) which referred to the remarkable words of Archbishop Laud respecting the Church of Rome as it was; and applied to the case those other remarkable words of Lord Chatham respecting America, 'Never, never, never.' He said to me, half playfully (for the article took some hold upon his sympathies), 'What, Gladstone, never, never, never?'
It must have been about this time that I had another conversation with him about religion, of which, again, I exactly recollect the spot. Regarding (forgive me) the adoption of the Roman religion by members of the Church of England as nearly the greatest calamity that could befall Christian faith in this country, I rapidly became alarmed when these changes began; and very long before the great luminary, Dr. Newman, drew after him, it may well be said, 'the third part of the stars of heaven.' This alarm I naturally and freely expressed to the man upon whom I most relied, your father. On the occasion to which I refer he replied to me with some admission that they were calamitous; 'but,' he said, 'pray remember an important compensation, in the influence which the English mind will bring to bear upon the Church of Rome itself. Should there be in this country any considerable amount of secession to that Church, it cannot fail to operate sensibly in mitigating whatever gives most offence in its practices or temper.' I do not pretend to give the exact words, but their spirit and effect I never can forget. I then thought there was great force in them.
When I learned that he was to be married, my opinion was that he had only allowed his thoughts to turn in the direction of the bright and pure attachment he had formed, because the object to which they had first been pledged had vanished or been hidden from his view. I think that his feelings underwent a rally, rather, perhaps, than his understanding, when I was first put forward as a candidate for the University of Oxford in 1847. At least, I recollect his speaking with a real zest and interest at that time of my wife, as a skilful canvasser, hard to resist.
I have just spoken of your father as the man on whom I most relied; and so it was. I relied on one other, also a remarkable man, who took the same course, at nearly the same time; but on him most, from my opinion of his sagacity. From the correspondence of 1838 you might suppose that he relied upon me, that he had almost given himself to me. But whatever expressions his warm feelings combined with his humility may have prompted, it really was not so; nor ought it to have been so, for I always felt and knew my own position beside him to be one of mental as well as moral inferiority. I cannot remember any occasion on which I exercised an influence over him. I remember many on which I tried; and especially when I saw his mind shaken, and, so to speak, on the slide. But these attempts (of which you may possibly have some written record) completely failed, and drove him into reserve. Never, on any one occasion, would he enter freely into the question with me. I think the fault lay much on my side. My touch was not fine enough for his delicate spirit. But I do not conceal from you that I think there was a certain amount of fault on his side also. Notwithstanding what I have said of his humility, notwithstanding what Dr. Newman has most truly said of his self-renouncing turn, and total freedom from ambition, there was in him, I think, a subtle form of self-will, which led him, where he had a foregone conclusion or a latent tendency, to indulge it, and to refuse to throw his mind into free partnership with others upon questions of doubt and difficulty. Yet I must after all admit his right to be silent, unless where he thought he was to receive real aid; and of this he alone could be the judge.
Indeed, his own intellectual calibre was too large to allow him to be other than fastidious in his judgment of the capacities of other men. He had a great opinion of the solidity and tact of Denison, Bishop of Salisbury. He thought also very highly of Lord Blachford. When Archbishop (then Archdeacon) Manning produced his work on the 'Unity of the Church,' he must, I think, have seen it before the world saw it; for I remember his saying to me, 'That is going to be a great book,' or what would have been not less emphatic, 'That is going to be a book.' Again, he was struck with Mr. W. Palmer's work on the Church, to which also testimony has been borne by Dr. Newman in his 'Apologia.' But I do not recollect that he had an unreserved admiration at once of character and intellect in any case except one—that of Dr. Newman himself.
Whatever may have been the precise causes of the reticence to which I have referred (and it is possible that physical weakness was among them), the character of our friendship had during these later years completely changed. It was originally formed in common and very absorbing interests. He was not of those shallow souls which think, or persuade themselves they think, that such a relation can continue in vigour and in fruitfulness when its daily bread has been taken away. The feeling of it indeed remained on both sides, as you will see. On my side, I may say that it became more intense; but only according to that perversity, or infirmity, of human nature, according to which we seem to love truly only when we lose. My affection for him, during those later years before his change, was, I may almost say, intense; and there was hardly anything, I think, which he could have asked me to do, and which I would not have done. But as I saw more and more through the dim light what was to happen, it became more and more like the affection which is felt for one departed.
As far as narrative is concerned, I am now at the close. In 1850 came the discussions and alarms connected with the Gorham judgment; and came also the last flickering of the flame of his attachment to the Church of England. Thereafter I never found myself able to turn to account as an opening any word he spoke or wrote to me. The year had been, for my wife and me, one of sorrow and anxiety, and I was obliged to spend the winter in Italy. In the spring of 1851 I dined at his brother's and met him. He spoke a few words indicative of his state of mind, but fell back immediately into silence. I was engaged at the time in opposing with great zeal the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, but not even this circumstance led him to give me his confidence. The crisis had come. I am bound to say that relief soon became visible in its effect upon his bodily health. His road and mine were now definitively parted. After the change had taken place, it happened to me to be once, and once only, brought into contact with him in the course of his ordinary professional employment. I had been giving evidence in a committee-room on behalf of a railway. He was the opposing counsel, and had to put some questions to me in cross-examination. His manner in performing this usually harsh office was as engaging as in ordinary social intercourse; and though I have no doubt he did his duty by his clients, I thought he seemed to handle me with a peculiar tenderness.
On June 18, 1851, he wrote to me the beautiful letter, No. 95. [Footnote: See ch. xxi. (vol. ii. p. 87), where this letter is given.] It was the epitaph of our friendship, which continued to live, but only, or almost only, as it lives between those who inhabit separate worlds. On no day since that date, I think, was he absent, however, from my thoughts; and now I can scarcely tear myself from the fascination of writing about him.
And so, too, you will feel the fascination of reading about him; and it will serve to relieve the weariness with which otherwise you would have toiled through so long a letter. I hope it is really about him, and that egotism has not slily crept into the space which was meant to be devoted to him. It notices slighter as well as graver matters; for the slight touches make their contribution to the exhibition of every finely shaded character. If anything which it contains has hurt you, recollect the chasm which separates our points of view; recollect that what came to him as light and blessing and emancipation, had never offered itself to me otherwise than as a temptation and a sin; recollect that when he found what he held his 'pearl of great price,' his discovery was to me beyond what I could describe, not only a shock and a grief, but a danger too. I having given you my engagement, you having accepted it, I have felt that I must above all things be true, and that I could only be true by telling you everything. If I have traversed some of the ground in sadness, I now turn to the brighter thought of his present light and peace and progress; may they be his more and more abundantly, in that world where the shadows that our sins and follies cast no longer darken the aspect and glory of the truth; and may God ever bless you, the daughter of my friend!
Believe me always and warmly yours,
W. E. GLADSTONE.
VERSES BY J. R. HOPE-SCOTT.
FEAST OF THE CIRCUMCISION, 1859 (THE BIRTHDAY OF C. H. S.).
New Year's Day returns again, Does it bring us joy or pain? Does it teach us to rely On the world, or pass it by? Will it be like seasons gone, Or undo what they have done? Shall we trust the future more Than the time we've spent before? Is it hope, or is it fear That attends our new-born year?
Childhood, busy with its toys, Answers, it expects new joys; Youth, untaught by pleasures past, Thinks to find some that will last; Manhood counts its honours o'er, And resolves to gather more; While old age sits idly by, Only hoping not to die.
Thus the world—now, Christian, say What for me means New Year's Day.
New Year's Day is but a name, While our hearts remain the same; All our years are old and few, Christ alone can make them new. Around Him our seasons move, Each made fruitful by His love. Summer's heat and winter's snow May unheeded come and go; What He suffered, what He taught, Makes the year of Christian thought.
Then to know thy gain or loss, From the cradle towards the Cross Follow Him, and on the way Thou wilt find His New Year's Day. Advent, summoning thy heart In His coming to take part, Warned thee of its double kind, Mercy first, but wrath behind; Bade thee hope the Incarnate Word, Bade thee fear the avenging Lord.
Christmas next, with cheerful voice, Called upon thee to rejoice; But, while yet the Blessed Child Sweetly on thy homage smiled, Lo! beside His peaceful bed Stephen laid a martyr's head.
Next a day of joy was won For thee by our dear Saint John; But its sun had scarcely set When the earth with blood was wet: Rachel, weeping for her slain, Would not raise her heart again; And St. Thomas, bowing down, Grasped in death his jewelled crown.
Thus the old year taught thee: say, Thinkest thou that New Year's Day Will these lessons sweep away? Foolish thought! the opening year Claims a sacrifice more dear Than the martyrdom of saints, Or the blood of innocents.
Christ Himself doth now begin, Sinless, to atone for sin; Welcomes suffering for our good, Takes His Saviour's name in blood, And by Circumcision's pain Makes the old year new again.
Then, with Him to keep the Feast, Bring thy dearest and thy best; Common gifts will not suffice To attend His sacrifice. Jesus chose His mother's part, And she brought a pierced heart. But what Christ for many chose, Doth His utmost love disclose; Bid her not unkind to be, But to share that choice with thee. Ask her sufferings, ask yet more, Ask for those thy Saviour bore; Upon earth hath never been Sorrow like His sorrow seen; He exhausted man's distress, Pain, and shame, and loneliness. Ask to feel His thorny crown, Ask to make His wounds thine own; With His mother claim to be Partner in His agony. This obtain, and thou wilt care Little what thy New Years are; There can thee no grief befall Which the Cross did not forestall; Joy in this world there is none Like that which the Cross hath won. Grasp it, and the year begin With no fear, except of sin; Love it, and, in turning o'er All the gifts in hope's bright store, Choose but one—to love it more.
LOW TIDE AT SUNSET ON THE HIGHLAND COAST.
Ye dark wild sands, o'er which th' impatient eye Travels in haste to watch the evening sky, When last I gazed, how nobly heaved your breast, In purple waves and scattered sunbeams drest! Then o'er you shouted many a gallant crew, And in gay bands the sea-fowl circling flew; In your embrace you held the restless tide, And shared awhile great Ocean's power and pride. But now how sad, how dreary is the scene In which so much of life hath lately been! Your barren wastes untraversed by a sail, Your only voice the curlew's distant wail; With rocky limbs and furrowed brow you lie Like some lone corpse by living things passed by; Till Night in mercy spreads her clouded pall, And rising winds mourn at your funeral. Yes, you are changed, but not more changed than he Who lately stood beside that smiling sea; For whom each bark which hastened to the shore Some welcome freight of love or honour bore; Who saw reflected in the peaceful flood His home made happy by the bright and good. Gladly he looked upon you; now, apart, He veils his brow and hides his desolate heart; From him life's joys have quickly ebbed away, Leaving the rocks, the sands, and the declining day. To-morrow's tide again the shore will lave, To-morrow's sun will gild the crested wave; New ships will launch and speed across the main, And the wild sea-fowl ply their sport again; But for the broken-hearted there is none To gather back the spoils which Death hath won. None, did I say? O foolish, impious thought, In one whom God hath made, and Christ hath bought! Thou who dost hold the ocean in Thy hand, And the sun's courses guide by Thy command, Hast Thou no morrow for the darkened soul, No tide returning o'er its sands to roll? Must its deep bays, once emptied of their sea, For ever waste, for ever silent be? Not such Thy counsels—not for this the Cross Stretched its wide arms, and saved a world from loss! When life's great waters are by sorrow dried, Then gush new fountains from Christ's wounded side; The Ark is there to gather in our love, The Spirit, dove-like, o'er the stream to move. Then look again, and mirrored in thy breast Behold the home in which thy dear ones rest; See forms which lately vanished from thy sight, Shine back with crowns, and palms, and robes of light! See richer freights than ever ocean bore Guided by angel pilots to the shore! In faith, in penitence, in hope shall be Thy traffic on that bright and changeless sea.
ON RESUMING HIS PROFESSION.
Mourner, arise! this busy fretful life Calls thee again to share its toils and strife; The pause conceded to thy grief is o'er, And the world's march can stay for thee no more. Then dry thy tears, and with a steadfast mien Resume thy station in the troubled scene; Sad, but resolved, thy wonted vigour prove, Nor let men deem thee weak from sorrowing love. The wakeful bed, the sudden sharp distress, The still recurring void of loneliness; The urgent prayer, the hope, the humble fear, Which seek beyond the grave that soul so dear,— These yet are thine, but thine to tell no more. Hide, then, from careless hearts thy sad but precious store, And if life's struggle should thy thoughts beguile, Quicken the pulse, and tempt the cheerful smile, Should worldly shadows cross that form unseen, And duty claim a place where grief hath been, Spurn not the balm by toil o'er suffering shed, Nor fear to be disloyal to the dead.
'Twas nature bade thee grieve, and for thy grief The Lord of nature now ordains relief. Like iron molten by the founder's art, To fierce affliction yields the stubborn heart. The fiery blast its ancient form destroys, And bids it flow released from base alloys; But the kind God, who doth the flames control, Wills to re-cast, not to consume, the soul: Hence tempering breezes, hence the lessened pain, That the vexed heart may rest and form again. Then be it so—but, ere that heart grows cold, See that its later be its nobler mould. See that, by pain made new, and purged from dross, It bear, in sharp relief, the image of the Cross.