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GENERAL LIFE AT RUGBY.
It was natural that with the wider range of duty, and the more commanding position which Dr. Arnold's new station gave him, there should have been a new stage in his character and views, hardly less marked intellectually, than that which accompanied his change from Oxford to Laleham had been morally. The several subjects of thought, which more or less he had already entertained, especially during the two or three preceding years, now fell rapidly one by one into their proper places. Ready as he still was to take the advice of his friends in practice, his opinions now took a more independent course; and whatever subsequent modification they underwent, came not from without, but from within. Whilst he became more and more careful to reconcile his own views with those, whom, in ages past or present, he reverenced as really great men, the circle within which he bestowed his veneration became far more exclusive. The purely practical element sank into greater subordination to the more imaginative and philosophical tendencies of his mind;-in works of poetical or speculative genius, which at an earlier period he had been inclined to depreciate, he now, looking at them from another point of view, took an increasing delight; and the very change of his style, whether from the stiffness of his boyish verses to the simple fragments in which from time to time he expressed the feelings of his later years, or from the baldness of his earlier works to the vigorous English of his mature age, indicates the corresponding impulse given to his powers, and the greater freedom and variety of his new range of thought.
With his entrance, therefore, on his work at Rugby, his public life, (if it may so be called,) no less than his professional life, properly begins. But what was true of the effect of his own character in his sphere as a teacher, is hardly less true of it in his sphere as an author. His works were not merely the inculcations of particular truths, but the expression of his whole mind; and excited in those who read them a sentiment almost of personal regard or of personal dislike, as the case might be, over and above the approbation or disapprobation of the opinions wbich they contained. Like himself, they partook at once of a practical and speculative character, which exposed them, like himself, to considerable misapprehension. On the one hand, even the most permanent of them seemed to express the feeling of the hour which dictated them. On the other hand, even the most transitory seemed to express no less the fixed ideas, by which his whole life was regulated; and it may be worth while, therefore, in regard to both these aspects, without descending into the details and circumstances of each particular work, which the ensuing correspondence will of itself sufficiently describe, to offer briefly a few remarks which may serve as a preface to all of them.
I. Greatly as his practical turn of mind was modified in his later years, and averse as he always was to what are technically called “ practical men,” yet, in the sense of having no views, however high, which he did not labour to bring into practice sooner or later, he remained eminently practical to the end of his life. “ I always think,” he used to say, “ of that magnificent sentence of Bacon, · In this world, God only and the angels may be spectators.'
“ Stand still, and see the salvation of God," he observed in allusion to Dr. Pusey's celebrated sermon on that passage,
was true advice to the Israelites on the shores of the Red Sea; but it was not the advice which is needed in ordinary circumstances; it would have been false advice when they were to conquer Canaan.” Secluded as he was, both by his occupations and his domestic habits, from contact with the world, even more than most men in his station, yet the interest with which, now more than ever, he entered into public affairs, was such as can rarely be felt by men not actually engaged in the government of the country. The life of a nation, he said, was to him almost as distinct as that of an individual; and whatever might be his habitual subjects of public interest,—the advance of political and social reform,the questions of peace and war,-the sufferings of the poorer classes,—the growth of those rising commonwealths in the Australian colonies, where, from time to time, he entertained an ardent desire to pass the close of his life, in the hope of influencing, if possible, what he conceived to be the germs of the future
destinies of England and of the world,—came before him with a vividness, which seemed to belong rather to a citizen of Greece or Rome, than to the comparative apathy and retirement of the members of modern states.
It was of course only or chiefly through his writings, that he could hope to act on the country at large; and they accordingly, almost all, became inseparably bound up with the course of public events. They were not, in fact, so much words as deeds; not so much the result of an intention to instruct, as of an incontrollable desire to give vent to the thoughts that were struggling within him. 66 I have a testimony to deliver," was the motive which dictated almost all of them. “ I must write or die,” was an expression which he used more than once in times of great public interest, and which was hardly too strong to describe what he felt. If he was editing Thucydides, it was with the thought that he was engaged, “ not on an idle inquiry about remote ages and forgotten institutions, but a living picture of things present, fitted not so much for the curiosity of the scholar, as for the instruction of the statesman and the citizen.” (Pref. vol. iii. p. xxii.) If he felt himself called upon to write the History of Rome, one chief reason was, because it “ could be understood by none so well as by those who have grown up under the laws, who have been engaged in the parties, who are themselves citizens of our kingly commonwealth of England.” (Pref. vol. i. p. vii.)
(Pref. vol. i. p. vii.) If he was anxious to set on foot a Commentary of the Scriptures, it was mostly at times, when he was struck by the reluctance or incapacity of the men of his own
generation to apply to their own social state the warnings of the Apostles and Prophets. If he was desirous of maintaining against the Oxford school his own views of the Church, it was that, “ when he looked at the social condition of bis countrymen,' he “ could not doubt that here was the work for the Church of Christ to do, that none else could do it, and that with the blessing of her Almighty Head she could.” (Serm. vol. iv. Pref. p. cxv.)
It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, if that impatience of present evil, which belonged alike to his principles and his disposition, appeared in his writings, and imparted to them—often, probably, unknown to himself—something, if not of a polemical aspect, at least of an attitude of opposition and attack, averse though he was himself to controversy, and carefully avoiding it with those whom he knew personally, even when frequently challenged to enter upon it. “ The wisdom of winter is the folly of spring,” was a maxim with him, which would often explain changes of feeling and expression that to many might seem inconsistencies. "If I were living in London,” he said, “I should not talk against the evil tendencies of the clergy, any more than if I were living in Oxford I should talk against the evil tendencies of the political economists. It is my nature always to attack that evil which seems to me most present.” It was thus a favourite topic, in his exposition of Scripture, to remark how the particular sins of the occasion were denounced, the particular forms of Antichrist indicated, often without the qualification, which would have been required by the presence of the opposite danger. “ Contrast,” he used to say, “ the language