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mental excitement. The precise nature of inspiration, and the method of its operation upon the minds of its subjects, we cannot know; for it is not explained in the records of revelation, and none of us have experience of it. Most probably, it could not be made intelligible by any kind of verbal description. It extended only to religious subjects, and it made the apostles safe and infallible guides on all such subjects. Such was this mere child's' view of this deeply important doctrine. Dr. Davidson has said the same thing, only in other words, to which, on page 504 of the second volume of Horne's • Introduction,' we must refer our readers. The summary is, to use the doctor's own words, Whatever they inculcate respecting doctrine and duty, is INFALLIBLY CORRECT. If this be heretical, Dr. Vaughan himself is a 'heretic,' for, on page 236, we find Dr. Vaughan writing as follows :—David was inspired as a psalmist,' that is, when teaching moral or religious truth, but we may doubt his inspiration when, in his ode upon the death of Saul, he can be blind to the errors of the dead king, and attribute qualities to him in a manner partaking more of poetic license than of truthfulness ;' that is, there is something not true in the Bible, apart from moral and religious teaching. 'So Deborah was inspired when, in the name of the Lord, she called Israel to arm against the oppressor; but she does not tell us that she was inspired' (neither does she tell us’ anywhere that she was inspired), when she wrote her song upon the struggle after it was over; and the contents of that song oblige us to distinguish between Deborah as an inspired messenger, and Deborah simply (uninspired ?] as a poetess. Here the human and the divine are clearly recognised, and the inspired and uninspired portion of the lives of Biblical characters defined with a sharpness to which even we cannot give assent.
But we must end our criticisms. We have not essayed to write on inspiration. To place certain facts on record touching the religious freedom we all claim, but so few allow, has been our only purpose. We disclaim creeds, and articles, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and so on; but we have them all with the vulgarity and pettiness of cliquism beside. It is a difficult thing, as some of us know, to be an Independent amongst Independents, or a Dissenter amongst Dissenters. Dr. Davidson is our present illustration; he has yet to be tried by his peers if he must be tried at all; but we doubt whether the majority of the present committee would consider themselves such in questions affecting not simply a practical judgment' and knowledge of human nature, but the highest departments of psychological investigation and Biblical research.
For many years nothing has so stunned, shocked, and horrified the public mind as the death, by his own hand, of the great and good man whose name we have prefixed to this paper. We hear often a cant about such and such a sad event 'casting a gloom' over society ; but in the case before us these words had a meaning. The very aboriginal mysteries of Evil and Death seemed deepened at the tidings of such a man being permitted to come to such an end. In the course of a long connexion with journalism it was inevitable for a man of Miller's strong passions, decided views, and uncompromising honesty, to make enemies. But these were all disarmed by the affecting and awful manner of his death ; and we know of one of the ablest of men bursting into tears when he heard of the sad event. Deeply felt wherever his name had penetrated, his death acted like an earthquake shock to Edinburgh, which then, for the first time, became fully aware that it was its greatest and most gifted citizen who had been removed. The death of Haydon, ten years ago, did not produce a tithe of the impression. His life had always been a scrambling and miserable one, and his nature was essentially flighty and erratic. In leaving Edinburgh, where he had been lecturing in March, 1846, his last words to the secretary of the Philosophical Institution were, “I'll go home and cut my throat;' and when he did at last retire to his chamber, himself alone, 'not to fast or to pray,' but to blow out his brains, it was only what might have been expected. But Hugh Miller, with his proud,
. firm, commanding nature, and his clear, masculine intellect—no man could ever have dreamed of him dying as fools and maniacs die. And yet so it is. Well may men exclaim, as many have exclaimed, 'God help us all! Lord! what is man?'
We propose, while the public interest and sorrow are still eddying around his premature and self-dug grave, to say a few words about him. We had a very slight personal acquaintance with him, but have experienced his literary friendship, and have always highly respected his character and genius.
Hugh Miller was perhaps a little overrated, as all self-taught men are apt to be, just as men generally over estimate the strength and courage of a bandit or savage above those of a regular soldier. His style, for instance, has by many critics been compared to Goldsmith's
a most unfortunate comparison—since the peculiarities of Goldsmith's style were ease, unconscious felicity, and unstudied sweetness, while those of Miller's were strength and high elaboration. It was natural, since a self-taught man could write so well, to exaggerate his merits, just as the first tolerable draughts of one learning penmanship are more praised by the master than the finished copies of advanced scholars. Apart from this natural exaggeration, however, Miller's merits and powers were of a ve high order. He had in large measure intellect of that masculine type which stamps the strong man,
and distinguishes him from the effeminate on the one hand, and the fantastic on the other. His mind had a clear massiveness about it, reminding you of his own favourite hill—the glory of the Moray Frith-Ben Wyvis—when its huge form is sprinkled with snow. He had less a subtle than a strong intellect_less a beautiful than a bold imagination. As in Allan Cunningham, you saw the vigorous stonecutter in all that he did. His views and his language were not always those of a man looking abroad into universality, but more frequently reminded you of the attitude of one looking down intently on a special piece of mason-work, and his fancy was just the spray of stone which surrounds such a sturdy worker. He is one of the few men of genius who have never for a moment condescended to trifle. An earnest purpose pervades even his slightest sketches and stories. Contrast him in this respect with Goldsmith and Washington Irving. Not only does he display incomparably more thought and more muscular force, but he never, like them, deliberately lingers amidst oddities for his own mere delight; nor when he finds a luxuriant spot of velvet verdure and flowers, does he lie down and loll on it, to the waste of precious time, and to the Capuan enfzeblement of his own genius. Miller simply touches on such spots, refreshes himself and his readers a moment beside them, and then pursues his way. The consequence is, that his humour, though considerable, is far drier and less rich than that of these writers, or of Sir Walter Scott, although his sarcasm is of a very peculiar and formidable description, as many an enemy to the Witness' felt to his cost. His style has, by some critics, been claimed as almost faultless. It is, indeed, astonishing to see with what comparative purity, precision, and flexibility the stonemason of Cromarty indites English, and what felicitous expressions drop from his pen. In translating science, too, into popular phraseology, he is a great master. How, like a boa constrictor swallowing the horns, hide, and gigantic bones of a rhinoceros, and reducing them by its strong saliva, does our author appropriate and melt down into readable essence the uncouth terminologies and rugged cacophonies of the modern geology. He turns chaos into harmony, beauty, and poetry; and while Buckland and Sedgwick only say, Miller sings the wonders of old “Mother Earth.' Every one remembers how Buckland said he would have given one of his hands to have written the Old Red Sandstone,' that · fairy tale of science, --to employ with strict propriety that famous expression of the poetlaureate. If in any one thing we deem Miller's style deficient, we think it is in abandonment. The highest masters of writing are those who, while strictly attentive to accuracy in general, can, on certain great occasions, give themselves full swing, throw the reins over the neck of their steed, and go off at a generous, fiery, breakneck gallop. Thus did Burke, in some of the best passages in his · French Revolution, and often in his ‘Letters on a Regicide Peace,' the last and noblest production of his genius. Thus does De Quincey sometimes quit his measured majesty of motion, and rise, as in the Suspiria de Profundis,' into lyrical raptures-only inferior to Milton's higher prose—where, too, we find some perfect specimens of this abandonment. Now, there is little of this in Miller. Even his noblest and most eloquent passages have a certain constrained air, as though knowing the deficiencies of his education (take, for instance, that on the ocean, at page 203 of 'First Impressions of England '), he were afraid to launch out, in case of blundering and breaking down. He is said to have composed with great difficulty ; to have made many erasures and additions ; and to have resorted to the dictionary more than most practised authors require. And yet nothing strikes us more than the vast multitude of allusions to subjects foreign from, although related to, his general themes. Like Burke, he gathers illustrations from all quarters ; from science, literature, common life, art, and history; and the use he makes of what he does know is, in general, as felicitous as Burke's, although his knowledge is not nearly so encyclopædiac, and he has a far less subtle, bold, and prodigal imagination.
Apart from his scientific pretensions, Miller's love and knowledge of literature would alone have made him famous. He was eminently fitted for a critic; indeed, we are inclined to think that this was his true vocation. As a geologist he stands high, but ranks more as a describer than as a discoverer in that science. As a poet his early volume, although it contained some fine pieces, was a failure. But few men have displayed a stronger sympathy with English literature, a keener discrimination of its peculiar beauties, or have expressed their critical dicta in language so strong, yet delicate, so deliberate, decisive, and enthusiastic. We refer our readers in proof of this to the manly, healthy, generous, and just criticisms on Shenstone, Shakespere, Cowper, and others in his ‘First Impressions of England,' as well as to his many literary papers in the • Witness.' His early love of literature had been very strong, and very disinterested, and not the sobriety of middle life, nor the pursuits of science, nor the tear and wear of a newspaper life, nor the disputes of party, nor the chill of sorrows with which no stranger could intermeddle, and which only a few suspected to exist, till that dreadful pistol shot proclaimed them to the world, were able to damp this genial ardour. He retained it to the end, and it is interesting to notice that his last employment with his children was reading them some of Cowper's little poems. Was there any significance in his selection of
the Castaway' as one of these ? Ah! ere morning he might have exclaimed,
• We perished each alone,
And whelmed in deeper tides than he.' In one point, perhaps, only he came short as a critic of our present literature. He had not sufficient appreciation of the merits of that school of semi-German bards, including Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Keats, and their recent followers, Bailey, Smith, Yendys, Bigg, &c. He admitted their genius, while he saw their faults, but he did not fully sympathize with them as the indices of a certain state in the
public mind, a state of purifying fever and hopeful unrest ; their spirit not altogether Satanic,' and their power not entirely 'spasmodic.' He should have remembered that as there are convulsions in the series of geological progress, and comets as well as stars in the heavens, so there should, ought, and must be poetic writers, who are a law unto themselves, and who are welcomed because they spring from, are adapted to, and serve first to intensify, and then to relieve a certain morbid condition in the mind of the world. From doing fill justice to such writers Miller was deterred, partly by the overbearing healthiness of his own intellectual nature; secondly, by this ignorance or indifference about the German authors, and his preference for purely English models, such as Shakespere, Milton, and Cowper; and, thirdly, by the intensity of his religious convictions, which, although sincere, in general just, and becoming wider with tiine, would not permit him to see anything good in diametrically opposite opinions. He seldom stepped boldly forward from the 'nettle danger to pluck the flower safety;' in other words, to list the music which sometimes mingles with blasphemy, and to gather the flowers which sometimes grow amidst the foul debris of sin. At the same time, Miller was, on the whole, a fair literary critic. In party, polemical, or personal matters, he was occasionally truculent, savage, and unjust, but on literary matters he usually despised the common arts of detraction; avoided the language of low abuse; was a righteous and genial judge ; and remembered that a critic should be not only a gentleman, but a Christian. In one instance, irritated by controversial heat, he did gross injustice to Thomas Aird's genius, but we know that he repented of, and regretted, this, and learned to think and to speak very highly of the most original poet now extant in Scotland. This was noble, and showed true greatness of soul. An inferior critic (as Byron says, while praising similar conduct on Jeffrey's part to him) would have gone on cavilling to the end of the chapter.' If
, as hinted above, in some points, Miller's strict Calvinistic creed weakened, in others it served to strengthen him. Calvinism has been called a chilly doctrine ; but even as the strong Alpine air, which kills weaklings and infants, braces sturdy men, and gives hunters the wings of eagles in crossing chasms, and the feet of mules in climbing dizzy ravines, so has Calvinism acted upon certain Anakim of intellect or of genius. What strength it evolved or confirmed in Augustin, in John Calvin himself, in Knox, in Howe, Edwards, and many Scottish divines! The finer and more poetic forms of Christianity have taken shape in the minds of partial Arminians, such as John Scott (of the 'Christian Life ), Jeremy Taylor, and Bishop Heber; but the sterner grandeurs of our faith are better represented in our Puritanic literature. Miller himself says— Arminianism is a greatly less awakening system of doctrine than the Calvinism of Scotland. It does not lead the earnest mind into those abstruse recesses of thought to which the peculiar Calvinistic doctrines form so inevitable a vestibule. The man who deems himself free is content simply to believe that he is so; while he who regards himself as bound is sure to institute a narrow