Imágenes de página

ever been known as purely Catholic. In the town itself, till the English, since the peace, made it a favourite residence, there was no place of Protestant worship. Several, by the zeal of our countrymen, have lately sprung up. Among these, one at first opened for their use is now attended and overcrowded every Sunday by a French congregation, formerly all Papists. In this manner, according to our information, the event came about. An English clergyman was in the habit of performing Divine service in this chapel. By way of an experiment, he invited a pastor in the employment of the Evangelical Society to preach from the pulpit. The fact was announced, and a French auditory of a dozen persons or so were brought together. The pastor, thinking he had made a good beginning, afterwards demanded and obtained permission, sometimes of a morning, sometimes of an evening, and at last regularly on a week-day, to officiate in the same place. The number of his hearers increased rapidly. Many persons every day embraced the Protestant faith, till the conversions became so numerous, that the English minister conceived it his duty to yield up the church to the French pastor, who has, as we have said, a full and overflowing audience.

The fact which we have next to communicate is not less encouraging than the preceding one, and much more significant and characteristic of the religious sentiments of a comparatively very small number of Frenchmen who are frequently to be met with in the provinces.

At Dunkirk there has been for many years a Protestant church for English residents; but the French inhabitants, all by birth Catholics, have lately, strange as it may appear, built another at their own expense. The ministry of an agent of the Evangelical Society has produced this effect. The singularity of this case is, that those who have constructed this edifice for the Reformed worship make no profession themselves of being Protestants. The mayor and préfet of the town, both avowed Catholics, promoted, by their personal influence, the undertaking, and form at present part of the congregation, amounting to about two hundred persons, who attend regularly to hear a pastor who

has been sent to them from Paris. This congregation, without having separated from the Church of Rome, are determined, they say, to give the Protestant doctrines a fair hearing. Even should they not embrace these doctrines, they consider them, they declare, worthy of their support, and calculated to do much good by their diffusion. This sentiment we know is not uncommon in France; but the very earnest manner in which it has been, in act and deed, expressed at Dunkirk, is without precedent, and exhibits a spirit of rational moral seriousness which justifies the most sanguine hopes of Christian philanthro pists.

We have already alluded, in a cursory manner, to the notable advantage which Protestantism gained at Sionville, in Normandy, a little more than two years ago. Many of the inhabitants of that place then invited a pastor of a neighbouring national temple to come among them, proclaiming at the same time their intention to abjure the Romish faith. The invitation was accepted; and there is now a Reformed church, which increases daily, belonging to the state establishment, in a town where one has never before existed. Here we see a spontaneous movement on the part of Romanists to throw off the Romish yoke, and to adopt the creed of the Reformation.

We pass over unnoticed, for want of space, the successes of other societies, merely stating that the spots rescued from Popery mentioned in former papers, continue to flourish and gradually to spread and to encroach upon the gross superstition and incredulity with which they are surrounded. This shows that what has been done of late years for the propagation of genuine Christianity in France, has been done solidly. No evanescent triumphs, but durable conquests, though on a small scale, have been achieved by Christian efforts in that country. Protestant posts established there six years ago, under the most unfavourable circumstances, and so feeble to all seeming in their commencement, that one might well anticipate their disappearance in less than six months, remain, have become strong, and acquire fresh strength and efficiency, by a sensible progressive extension, almost from month to month.

We have now touched upon the

principal topics by which we believe a very decided progress of the Reformed faith in France may be fairly inferred. For our own parts, we confess the entertainment of very high hopes on this subject. Great objects seem to us to be intimately connected with the religious movement that has lately taken place, and is increasing among French Protestants; and these objects, if care be taken not to regard them as little ones, may be compassed by small means. Small means may involve a principle of expansion, but great objects can certainly contain no principle of diminution; and their greatness is sure speedily to overwhelm the exertions towards their accomplishment of those whose minds-the scope of whose efforts are not distended to a size commensurate to their large and comprehensive completion. Bearing this truth, then, in mind, which our French brother-religionists fully, we hope, appreciate, we must not despise their comparatively feeble beginnings in the propagation of the Gospel. Let us rather recollect that eight years ago, the Reformed population of France spread before the eye of the observer like a rocky waste, in which no wholesome plant took root; whilst here and there sapless shrubs of a melancholy dwarf rationalism sprung up from its fissures, giving an air of utter hopelessness to a scene which is now like a wide and widening field, abounding in spots of verdure and fertility, and in gushing springs of life, and yielding a more and more ample harvest every revolving year.

To conclude: there are two particulars in which the zealous among the French Protestants have the advantage over those of England. The first is, that in their humble labours in the cause of religion they have a more pure and simple spiritual earnestness than their English brethren; worldly motives have less hold upon them;

they can promote no personal interests, they can make no gain by godliness; there is no ugly mercantile bustle and competition in their demeanour; and divisions, jealousies, and recriminations are unknown among them. And further, whilst their faith is genuinely orthodox, they consider forms and creeds, which have taken shape in specific confessions, as matters of very minor importance. They have little attachment to establishments, except for the maintenance of order, and have a decided repugnance to rules of a rigid discipline. Thus, exterior impediments to their success, generally more obstructive than any others, exist not. Thus, they are truly liberal. Their sympathies with humanity at large are not partially counteracted by any desire to uphold or to maintain a supremacy for any sectarian or even national ecclesiastical institution. To their peculiar position they owe this happy advantage, which, it must be acknowledged, is counterbalanced by many great and grievous disadvantages. The defence of Christianity is not with them, as with us, identified with the predominance of any particular organization of church government. Hence the characteristic OPENNESS of the French Reformed communions, which opens a wide admission to all denominations of really serious men ; and this openness being occasioned by no laxity of doctrine, but by a sterling Biblical charity with respect to such variations of religious sentiment as, like those of the compass, point, not divergently, but with wavering trepidations in the same direction, bids fair to compose these variations into an harmonious difference. In a word, Protestantism in France, we have no hesitation in affirming, has, at the same time, more of its original purity and a more Catholic character than it possesses in any other part of the world.


I PITY the man who does not love his old school! To such a one the years of boyhood, to which most of us are wont to look back with such fondness, are diminished and shrunk to a poor ten weeks each. He has nothing pleasant to remember, save the Midsummer and Christmas holidays; those bright, brief, evanescent days of perpetual plum-pudding and lollypops ad libitum. It is but a short time since a valued friend of mine confessed to me, that, above all things, he wished he could look back with any thing resembling a feeling of affection for his old school or his old master, for he should then be able to fill up (such was his expression) what was now a sort of blank in his existence.

[ocr errors]

It is in one of those delightful essays of Charles Lambe, that a schoolmaster's letter is quoted, in which he is made to express his regret that he never knew what it was to be loved by his pupils. He represents himself to his correspondent, real or imaginary, as visited by one of his former flock, now arrived at manhood; and he says, sadly-" He did never love me; and what he now mistakes for gratitude and kindness for me, is but the pleasant sensation which all persons feel at revisiting the scenes of their boyish hopes and fears, and the seeing on equal terms the man whom they were, accustomed to look up to with reverence. It may be so in some, perhaps though I would fain hope otherwise - in the majority of cases. Doubtless there are, and will be, pedagogues that never can be loved, be the nature of their disciples ever so loving; and disciples that will never love, be their pedagogues ever so loveable. But I do stoutly deny the position of Elia's schoolmaster-that the relation of master and scholar forbids the existence of any thing like attachment between them-and, if need were, I should not want for backers. The schoolmaster in question was, however, as any body who takes the pains to read his letter will perceive, a private schoolmaster; and this, I think, will tend, in some measure, to account for, though not to establish, his dictum. It would, perhaps, be somewhat difficult to lay

down the precise line which now-adays separates public schools from private. We of the eight-or we of the nine, for I do not see why the Blue coats should be shut outmust, I fear, consent to admit some strangers within our pale. We are, alas! becoming daily less and less exclusive; but it is sufficient that almost every body understands what distinction, and what state of things we mean to imply, when we speak of private, as opposed to public, schools. At these, I think it may be laid down as a general rule, that boys seldom continue to any advanced period of boyhood-they are either transplanted in due season to one of the public schools, or, when they have acquired a sufficient stock of information for the particular purpose to which they may be destined, they are taken away, and set to work forthwith. They seldom remain at a private school till they are capable of any thing like serious, sensible thinking for themselves; at public schools they do; not to mention that these latter contribute, in no inconsiderable degree, to accelerate the capacity; and somewhere hereabouts, ➤• if I am not mistaken, lies the secret of the complaint above quoted; for few, I think, will venture to deny, that, though at a public school somewhat less attention than private ones generally show is paid to comfort-that word and thing so peculiarly English

yet there is far more real love and esteem entertained for the master by his quondam scholars than falls to the lot of those who sway the destinies of "Classical academies" and "Establishments for young gentlemen." Perhaps I may be wrong-and perhaps I cannot claim to be considered as a perfectly impartial witness-for I am all for public schools; and had I-the very thought makes me shudder-all the sons of Ægyptus, and all the wealth of Croesus, I should not think I could employ the latter better than in giving the former an opportunity of learning those lessons of open, honest, manly independence of fighting one's own way fairly, and honourably, and boldly-which a public school, and a public school only, can teach to a boy;

and which, if not learned in boyhood, are seldom to be acquired in later life. A boy cannot, to my thinking, begin to depend upon himself too soon. I have said nothing about the superiority of intellectual culture in these more extensive nurseries. A public school may, in many instances, be unsuccessful-although the likeliest place in the world-in making a scholar; but it will very rarely fail to make a gentle


I am, then, all for large public schools-the larger the better; and, from my own experience of such places, I venture to assert that there is to be found in them much genuine esteem and affection entertained by the pupil towards his master. I have one in my mind's eye at this moment, where it is pre-eminently the case; I do not mean my own, though I think we would scarcely yield even to the

men in liking for our preceptors. Foul befall us, indeed, when we learn to remember, with any thing save affectionate gratitude, the names of our old and kind masters-when we cease to honour and bless the memory of "good old Thomas Sutton," and acknowledge not within our bosoms a sentiment of semi-filial regard at the very mention of Charter-House!

We boast not, indeed, to be the neighbours of royalty, as do our brethren of Eton. We have not around us the pleasant fields of our cousins of Harrow and Rugby. We cannot show cathedrals with our kins men of Winchester, and Westminster, and St Paul's; but we are not without our share of attractions nevertheless. Nor will we, in addition to our intrinsic merits, disdain to acknowledge some trifling obligation to the advantages of contrast. We are, at the same time, fortunate and unfortu. nate in our locality. The bellowings of Smithfield, in spite of the "mugitus boum" of the Georgics, are any thing but classical. We are compassed about by fat bulls-a pearl literally among swine. Wilderness Row sends forth a dense and dingy population, continually belying the name it bears; and on our western boundary we are not far removed from the multitudinous tribes of Clerkenwell and Saffron Hill, ανιπτοποδες Kauaisvval, more dense, and, alas! more dirty. solitary ray of glory, indeed, streams upon the massive wall, now bending



with age, which confines us on the east-Goswell Street bids fair to have its name immortalized as having been deemed worthy to be the residence of the immortal Pickwick; but I know not that we have any other neighbour "renowned in story or in song." Nobody who knew us not would suspect us of lurking so quietly among such uncongenial streets, and lanes, and courts, and alleys. But only do us the favour to turn up CharterHouse Lane, or into Carthusian Street, and you shall not be without your reward. Does the quiet of the square strike you as refreshing after the confusion and hurly-burly you have just quitted? You have not yet half fathomed the depths of our stillness. Keep on, if you please-sounder the great archway on your leftand you are in a moment more out of the world than in any college on the banks of Isis or Camus. You look up at the old rude semi- Cyclopian wall, and the windows of an elder fashion, with a silent expression of wonderment at lighting upon such things in such a place. You walk about delicately, as if fearing to disturb the deep repose of the genius loci. You peep through arched passages and half-closed doorways with a timid curiosity, half expecting to be terrified and "taken in the manner by the apparition of some strange form suited to so strange a habitation; some disembodied monk, searching in vain for the cell which was his earthly dwelling-place, retaining still, according to the creed of Sir Kenelm Digby," bias and a languishing" towards his bodily haunts, muttering, as he flits by, whispered Pater-Nosters and hollow-sounding Ave-Marys. turn to flee at the first glimpse of an old man in a black cloak; but pause, half ashamed of your own apprehensions. Look again take courage; there is nothing so very terrible about poor old brother AWalk on, and you shall see many such as he, and learn to look on them too without alarm. Yonder is a group of themaprici senes-seated on the bench in the great court in that quiet basking gossiping idleness which old age asks and loves-canvassing the merits of the new building now in progress of erection-the warmth of to-day's sun as compared with that of yesterdayor the number of minutes yet to elapse

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



ere the bell summons them to their social meal. Happy souls! that have no heavier cares than these to load the evening hours of life, and make them drag wearily to a close-that can forget in this tranquil retreat the chances and changes which compelled them to seek its shelter! Many a gossip used I to have with those old fellows in my time, waylaying them as they toddled through the short cloister adjoining what used to be called Watkinson's Arch, on their way to their afternoon devotions; and many a queer tale did I hear when they happened to be in a more than usually communicative humour. There were some of the poor brothers of the Charter-House in those days, whose stories, "stranger than fiction," might put many a novel to the blush.

Nor leave, I charge you, a single corner unexplored, till you have found and admired our great hall, its old dark wainscotings, its lanterned roof, its galleries for fair dames and merry minstrelsy, and its quaint old fireplace garnished with mimic instruments of war. Still less, if thou canst by any means make interest with one in authority, neglect to persuade him to open to thy wondering eyes our governor's room, with its huge latticed bay-window, its tapestried walls, and its gorgeous chimneypiece. Let him take thee, too, into our chapel, pausing duly, ere thou enterest, to peruse the iam bics which declare the end of Nicholas Mann, "Olim magister, nunc remis tus pulvere." Let him point out to thee the resting-place of the munificent old man, that noble sample of Britain's merchant sons, whose bounty it is our duty and our pride annually to commemorate:-let him show thee where sleeps, not far from his side, one of the worthiest of his many worthy sons,

clarum et venerabile nomen," Carthusian Ellenborough :-and then let him lead thee out upon the terraced walk, and display to thy astonished gaze an extent of territory whose very existence in such a spot is to more than half the world a thing unknown, undreamed of, and almost, save to actual vision, incredible.

Yet one thing more let the heart of thy cicerone warm towards thee, as thou expressest thy increasing gratification at all which he showeth thee: let him take thee, at the proper hour, nothing loth, into that ne plus ultra of comfort,


hight Brooke Hall, that snuggest of symposiac chambers, albeit Dan Phobus with his jolly visage peereth in never at its windows: let him make thee free of its happy corporation— seat thee at its hospitable boardfeast thee with its dainties-cheer thee with its social converse-send thee away when the hour of parting comes, grieving only that it comes so soon and if that day is not noted as a white day in thy calendar-if ever thenceforth thou speakest word or syllable of Charter-House save in its honour, thou hast less taste and more ingratitude than, whoever thou mayst be, I would willingly give thee credit for.

To me there are few greater plea sures in life than an occasional afternoon's visit to my old school. It seems to me a positive duty to hold it, and to cause it to be held, in honour. I am as jealous of its reputation as of my own. Whoever filches from it its good name, goes nigh to commit a similar depredation upon myself. He who slanders my school wounds not my school alone-my own ribs are bruised by its thumps. I would do battle for its claims against the champion of any other school in the three kingdoms, and feel myself thrice armed in the justice of my quarrel. I have only to learn that such a one is a Charter-House man, and I look upon him forthwith with a kindlier eye-with a sort of free-masonic brotherly feeling. But he must (at any rate, so far as regards our common school) be "likeminded" with myself, or I shrink from him as I would from a chimney-sweeper in a narrow passage. I know of nothing which more stirs my bile, than to hear a coxcombical jackanapes affect to despise and make scoff of the source of whatever little knowledge (for in such cases it always is little) he may happen to possess. I am naturally and constitutionally a man of peace, but I could tweak the nose of the fellow with the most unalloyed satisfaction:—I long to kick him:— like Maria, " I can hardly forbear hurling things at him." He is one of those thankless children whom it is "sharper than a serpent's tooth" to have; an intellectual matricide: Icould even find in my heart to give him, like those iron old Romans, his sack, his viper, and his ape-I never could un

3 D

« AnteriorContinuar »