« PreviousContinue »
brother Yorkshiremen knew a horse. had no faith whatever in the enterprise Although he laid stress in his Preface which produced Green's Short History upon the fact that he was writing a of the English People. history of institutions, there is plenty of flesh and blood on his bones. He "For a popular history," he wrote knew how to say much in few words. to Freeman, "such as he contemplates,
surely Charles Knight and the Picas in the case of Henry Beaufort.
torial people have done what is necesThe Cardinal of England passed
sary and possible from existing ma
terials." away; not, as the great poet has described him, in the pangs of a melodramatic despair, but with the same Wisdom did not die with Charles businesslike dignity in which for so Knight; and every one knows what a long he had lived and ruled.
splendid success Green's book had.
That Stubbs did not altogether like it, Sometimes, but not often, he let him
is clear from his letters. His views of self go. Henry the Fifth excited all
Charles the First and of Laud were, as his enthusiasm.
he says, fundamentally different from He was religious, pure in life, tem
Green's. Even on George the Third he perate, liberal, careful and yet splen- would not trust him. Freeman was did, merciful, truthful, and honorable more remote from the topics that ... a brilliant soldier, a sound diplo burn; and Stubbs would indeed have matist, an able organizer and con- been ungrateful if he had not admired solidator of all forces at his command;
Freeman. the restorer of the English navy, the founder of our military, international,
"Stubbs was not satisfied,” says Mr. and maritime law.
Hutton with extreme unction, "to be
wholly without pastoral cares.” It To the Plantagenets, and the England must, however, be admitted that very of the Middle Ages, such ample justice little sufficed. When, in 1875, nine had never been done before. Stern years after resigning Navestock in moralist as he was, though making Essex, he accepted Cholderton in dangerously "liberal" allowance for Wiltshire, it was on condition that he the vices of "Churchmen” and kings, "might legally count as residence in his he had the human sympathy without benefice the whole of the term-times at which it is not really possible to re- Oxford, and would still be entitled to construct the past. The Select Char- three months' leave without licence," ters, which preceded his greater work, which used to be called French leave. displayed his initial power, and vindi- The Church of England is famous for cated his right to be an authoritative her admirable elasticity; and perhaps exponent of the Constitution. He him. this is as good an instance of it as self thought that he was better appre could be found. It is pleasant to add ciated in Germany than in England. that he did really visit Cholderton for But in Freeman he had the same sort three months in the summer, and was of champion as Huxley was to Dar thought "a nice kind gentleman" by win; and Freeman used the columns of his flock. He did not think Mr. Disthe Saturday Review to trumpet his raeli a nice kind gentleman when in fame, until he must have been almost this same year he gave the Deanery of sick of it himself. He was not blind Ripon, which would just have suited to the faults of his trumpeting friends. Stubbs, to another; and he complained He perceived that Freeman's iteration rather bitterly that he himself "had deserved an unclerical epithet, and he not let down the party to which he belonged.” In 1879, however, Lord Then the crash came. Up to this Beaconsfield gave him a Canonry at point the career of Dr. Stubbs had been St. Paul's. It was not altogether a perfectly suited to his talents. He was suitable appointment, for the Canons the most learned of English historians, of St. Paul's ought to be popular and he had, for nearly twenty years; preachers. Stubbs should have been filled the Chair of Modern History at Canon of Christchurch and Professor Oxford with European renown. For of Ecclesiastical History, instead of five years he had been also a Canon Dr. Bright, a far less able man. Still, of St. Paul's, in easy circumstances, a it was a welcome recognition, even dignitary of the Church which he from the unhonored head of his own adorned. He would have been a perparty; and it enabled him once more fect Dean, either of his beloved Ripon to be happy without the cure of souls. or of any other cathedral. The one It also brought him into close relations ecclesiastical office for which nature with Dean Church, which would have had unfitted him was a bishopric; and been an advantage to any one. As that was what Mr. Gladstone offered might be expected, his sermons did not him in February, 1884. The see was. draw large congregations; and he Chester, out of which the modern characteristically remarked that the dioceses of Manchester and Liverpool newspapers, after stating that Mr. had been carved. Mr. Gladstone bad This or Dr. That preached in the morn- the best intentions; and he knew, of ing, added: "In the afternoon the pulpit course, that Stubbs was a political opwas occupied by the Canon in resi- ponent. Mr. Hutton quotes the high dence.” But the Canonry had the authority of Mr. Bryce for the fact great merit of making him comfortable, that one of Mr. Gladstone's "reasons for and enabling him to pursue the work offering a bishopric to Dr. Stubbs was. of his life without distraction. Un- the importance he attached to bis fortunately, he allowed himself to be knowledge of ecclesiastical law and put on the Ecclesiastical Courts Com- custom." There are some things which mission, where "every one had a psalm the least intelligent reader may be asand no doctrine and no patience." sumed to know; and it would have been What had he to do with such futilities? more interesting to learn what the The lawyers, especially Lord Coleridge, other reasons were. A modern bishop only irritated him by reading the Ref- does not require either great intellect ormation Acts as if they saw them for or great learning. Besides the moral the first time. But he himself proposed and religious qualifications which may a fantastic scheme of referring to the be taken for granted, he needs dignity, bishops points considered by the Lord courtesy, aptitude for business, paChancellor doctrinal, which Parliament tience of detail, knowledge of men, and would never look at, except as a curi- taste for ceremonial observances. osity. The Judicial Committee he Stubbs's kindness made him courteous; thought a “foul thing.” It has at least and he had an unerring eye for a bore stopped the persecution of heretics, or a fool. Ceremony, which he called which is a fouler thing still. As, how. "fuss," he detested; and even Mr. Hutever, nothing came of the Commission, ton admits that even as a professor he and ecclesiastical appeals have been was undignified. No one could help stopped by the veto of the bishops, respecting his simple goodness and his one can only regret that so much of transcendent ability. But the chief Stubbs's time was wasted in a manner result of making him a bishop was to so unprofitable.
that he would have been an excellent The Bishop of Chester was said, by layman. He hesitated, and took ad- one who knew him well, never to have vice. Church, Liddon, and the present changed an opinion. His tastes and Dean of St. Paul's all counselled ac- habits were not more flexible. Though ceptance. If biographies tell the truth, a High Churchman by conviction, reabout which there can in this case be garding Erastianism as anathema, he no sort of doubt, such is the invariable detested elaborate ritual, and was not consequence of consulting clerical even fond of hymns. Asked on one friends. Nor could any one deny that occasion if he thought them appropriDr. Stubbs would increase the reputa- ate, he answered with a quotation tion of the episcopal Bench, where none from the last of them: “Oh, dear me, of his colleagues, save Dr. Lightfoot, yes, to be sure.” then Bishop of Durham, could compare “Yet saints their watch are keeping, with him in learning. Lightfoot, how. Their cry goes up: How long?" ever, was a practical man; and if he · Bishops, and even mere clergymen. had remained at Cambridge, he would can say with impunity what in laymen not in all probability have written a
would be thought profane. Yet some standard book. Dr. Creighton, who of Dr. Stubbs's more solemn incumafterwards deserted history for episco- bents thought they sometimes detected pacy, became an excellent bishop. He in him a slight inclination to flippancy. delighted to exercise his great mental If he had been without it, he would powers in work which bore immediate have died of a plethora of "functions." fruit; and he was naturally fitted to “Life," he wrote to Freeman from deal with men. To Stubbs, nine-tenths Chester, “is as much a burden here as of his new duties seemed sheer waste it is everywhere else: the advantage of of time. His heart and mind were in being a bishop is that one has no time his books. Earnestly pious and devout, to think about it." He had to spend generous almost to a fault with money, a large part of his time in trains; and the Bishop of Chester grudged all out could only "get an hour now and then lay which was not charitable, and for William of Malmesbury.” His every hour spent in "that worst form humor was his salvation. “What a of trifling called business." A theolo
great many people there are in the gian, Mr. Hutton tells us, said that he world,” he wrote on his return from had a "sceptical mind," meaning, no Italy, "to whom the disestablishment doubt, that he declined to accept his of the English Church will make no torical conclusion without historical difference." Unfortunately, though not evidence, He certainly believed in unexpectedly, he could not see wbat apostolical succession. But he did not difference a great many things made believe in diocesan conferences; and he which bishops were supposed to regard was incapable of concealing his want as very serious indeed. He emphatiof belief. He took refuge in that incor- cally declined to be “organized” himrigible humor which was rather stimu- self; and had not the slightest wish to lated than quenched by the episcopal organize other people. He wanted to office. It is indeed melancholy to re- be let alone, to pray without fuss, and flect that, before his experience of Mr. to study in peace. He had always been Gladstone's cruel kindness, he had pro- a great novel-reader; and he now read posed to write a Constitutional History more novels than ever. Putting him at of the Reformation, which all the other Chester was like putting him on the bishops on the Bench could not have rack. But there was worse torture compiled among them.
Lord Melbourne used to say that the with trivial engagements, apprehensive bishops died to spite him. They re- of interruptions. The parsons of his signed to spite Stubbs. The resigna- agricultural diocese were oppressed by tion of Dr. Jacobson was the first poverty; and he had three glass houses, stroke. The resignation of Dr. Mack- which he would not even look at. He arness was the final blow. A retiring would have given all the glass houses bishop, it may be explained, takes away in the world for the chance of reading a third of the income, and leaves all at the Bodleian. Occasionally, he the work. Stubbs had found himself stayed in the Lollard's Tower at a poorer man at Chester than he was Lambeth, as when he attended Mr. at St. Paul's. Just as Jacobson's death George Smith's Dictionary Dinner, and had improved his pecuniary position, he walked home. "I was quite well, was offered another see burdened with thank you," he said, to Mr. Sidney Lee another pension. Lord Salisbury, like the next morning, “but my boots were Mr. Gladstone, was a well-meaning tight." Many good things were said at man. He thought, not unnaturally, the dinner, but nothing better, or at that Oxford was entitled to the most least funnier, than that. learned bishop on the Bench; and Dr. The plain truth is, that this great Stubbs thought that he could not refuse student and sagacious historian was, heavier work. So he accepted, and as Bishop of Oxford, bored to death. then he suffered acute misery. The Without the safety-valve of his humor, Bishop of Oxford does not live in the there would have been some terrific excity, but in a country house called plosions; and even Mr. Hutton would Cuddesdon, remote from railways, with have had to admit that his hero could gardeners, and coachmen, and all the despise the office of a bishop. As it rest of it. To this plain and homely was, he sailed uncommonly near the scholar, life in such a place was repug- wind when an unkind fate put him on nant. There was, in his opinion, only the Archbishop's Court at Lambeth, to one thing to be done with Cuddesdon; try the Bishop of Lincoln for wearing and that was to sell it. But to this the vestments in a parish church. On that Ecclesiastical Commissioners would occasion, at all events, Stubbs had no by no means give their consent; and business to be there. He did not beArchbishop Benson, in a letter of re- lieve that the Bishop of Lincoln ought markable shrewdness, remarked that to be tried. He did not believe that the "the Bishop of Oxford is not wanted Archbishop of Canterbury had any in that Cathedral. It would be im- jurisdiction to try him. He did not politic and not for the good of the think that the lawyers knew what they University that he should eclipse the were talking about. He regarded it all Dean in affairs, and worse more as a sham and a solemn farce; and he widely that the Dean should eclipse did not hesitate to say so. "It is not a him.” The idea of any one eclipsing the Court,” he kept saying; “it is an archmagnificent potentate who was at that bishop sitting in his library.” The time Dean of Christchurch is hardly whole case should be left to a jury of conceivable. But, Chancellor of the matrons, whom he named. “How does Garter as he was, it is possible that his Grace get his patience? Is it from Dr. Stubbs might have been eclipsed the Stores ? I sit and admire him by Dr. Liddell. At any rate, as a man and then sleep it off.” His Grace who makes his bed must lie on it, he was in his element, thoroughly enjoyhad to live at Cuddesdon. He became ing himself, and required no commisrestless, impatient, hurried, disgusted eration.
The use of crossing next appears Both to the lay and to the ecclesiastiToo hard for our digestion;
cal mind it must seem that Professor The question of the cross remains
Stubbs's acceptance of a bishopric was A very crucial question.
the mistake of his life. That he was a
great bishop, only flattery will assert. Now it was verse, then it was prose.
That he was a great, though not a Oh, the wearing weariness of it all! popular, historian, is the unanimous Once the earth was without form and opinion of the few who are competent void: now it is full of forms, and has to judge him. Nine-tenths of his episnot ceased to be void. . . . Certainly copal work was mechanical and secuthis Court is quite informal and the
lar. His History always upholds the subject void of all interest. One feels inclined to deal with forms without
cause of the Church, whose loyal and any ceremony, and with ceremonies
faithful minister he would always, in without much formality,
any circumstances, have been. What
the Church and the world have lost by Such quaint cries of despair never went his "hallowing," as Freeman called it. up before, either from a bishop, or we shall never know; but we may from a judge, or even from an assessor. guess. No man of equal learning has A good man gone wrong Bishop treated the English Reformation from Stubbs could hardly be called. A great his peculiar platform. We can find man out of place he certainly was. Protestantism and eloquence in Froude, The thing of which he had the greatest Catholicism and accuracy in Lingard. horror was wasting time; and nobody But Stubbs was a sturdy Anglican, wastes more time than a modern whose sympathies were neither with bishop. His last duty, which it did Ridley, nor with Gardiner, but with not require a bishop to perform, was Laud. Although he would never have at once congenial and heroic. The perverted evidence or falsified a fact. death of Queen Victoria, in January, he would have told the story better 1901, found him depressed in spirits, than any one else could tell it, as an and enfeebled by illness. He had al- Englishman and an ecclesiastic. That ways felt a reverent admiration for the the Bishop of Rome neither hath nor Queen; and, in spite of medical warn- ought to have any jurisdiction within ings, he obeyed the King's command this realm of England, Stubbs held as to preach at St. George's, Windsor, the strongly as Froude. He adhered with day after the funeral, which he also equal firmness to the doctrine, that the attended. His simple, manly, straight Church of England had never lost its forward sermon is compared, with identity since Britain was converted curious infelicity, by Mr. Hutton, to to the Christian faith. He was not, the splendid and highly artificial ora- like Gibbon, a citizen of the world. tions of Bossuet, Massillon, and Bour- with an impartial contempt for everydaloue. It was a characteristic ut- thing except historical truth. He was. terance from the Bishop's heart, and like Macaulay, an intensely patriotic therefore as unlike the “French preach- Englishman, and as much a Tory as ers of the great age” as anything Macaulay was a Whig. His Liberal could well be. It was his last public friends, such as Freeman and Green, effort. On the 22nd of April he died, never made the smallest impression on in his seventy-seventh year, three him. While he admired Gladstone's months after his friend and brother Churchmanship, he abhorred his polihistorian, Mandell Creighton, who was tics. I do not myself believe in absoalmost twenty years bis junior.
lutely impartial history. What we