'They do but grope in learning's pedant round
Who on the phantasies of sense bestow
An idol substance, bidding us bow low
Before those shades of being which are found
Stirring or still on earth's brief trial ground.'
Lyra Apostolica, xlii.
To crown hard work by success in the Schools was, in those days as in these, to earn a holiday; and no opposition was now made at home to Edward Pusey's proposal to go abroad for three months. His companion was Mr. Sheffeld Neave, an Eton and Christ Church friend, who had graduated in the preceding year. They left England on July 4th, and after a halt in Paris, they reached the frontiers of Switzerland on the 14th, after an unusually fatiguing journey by diligence.
When as yet there were no railways, or Murray's or Baedeker's handbooks, a tour, if a more formidable, was perhaps also a more instructive undertaking than it is now. Observation was quickened by the reflection that the opportunity of visiting the scenes through which the traveller was moving was not likely to recur and the greater difficulty of reaching them enhanced the sense of their value. Pusey kept a journal, which he wrote out at night from rough pencil notes jotted down in the course of each day. It describes much which, to us, with modem facilities for travel, may not appear to require description, and it is not lacking in the crude judgments and the misshapen and fantastic thoughts of a young man of twenty-two. But it also discovers a breadth of interest, a delicacy of observation, and an intensity of feeling which are at least remarkable; and, in particular, it exhibits that same enthusiasm for the beauty of the natural world which is observable in his 'Commentary on the Minor Prophets' and which he used to express in his last days of declining strength, so strongly and so often, in the pine-woods at Ascot. Nothing would appear to escape him whether it be the formation and physiognomy of glaciers, or the forms and stratification or rocks, or the position of trees, or the effects of light or the courses of torrents, or the varying aspects of mountain-peaks, But he is still more interested in all that bears on human character and human history; and especially in such self-sacrificing efforts for a great cause as were suggested by the districts through which he journeyed, and notably in Suwarrow's campaign against the French, or Tell's struggle for the freedom of his country. Now and then too, the journal. which was meant only for his own eye, affords glimpses of the feelings that then lay nearest to his heart; of his tender love for his mother, of his distress at the apparent hopelessness of his engagement and, not least, of his religious temper, which, it as yet undisciplined, was already the ruling feature in his life and character.
But the peculiarity of the journal is that Pusey is almost as interested in the effects which the scenes he visited produced upon his own thoughts and feelings, as in the scenes themselves. This subjective and introspective tendency of his mind was partly an original element of his intellectual character. But it was developed and exaggerated by his disappointment in regard to his affections; and it had considerable influence on the subsequent development of his mental attitude towards theology.
After commenting on their weary ride across France, Pusey describes his first view of Mont Blanc, then far less familiar to Englishmen than now:--
Whatever disappointments we had experienced were immeasurably overbalanced by this evening's enjoyment. I set off some hours before sunset to a spot pointed ott by Ebel, near the Grand Sacconnex on the right, as the heat external view of Mont Blamc near Geneva. It at first appeared almost totally invested in light clouds, itself appearing scarcely, denser substance. The foreground harmonized admirably. Nearest, the blue lake partially seen through the trees, circled on the opposite side by the numberless villas, each embosomed in wood. Thence rose a bold mountain as the central figure, towards which inclined others on each side, rising as they receded towards the lake. Behind stood Mont Blanc whose chain formed a curve in the rear resting on the two mountains which flanked the centre. The whole summit of the mountain is clearly displayed, in every part abrupt, in every part beautiful. It had hardly that imposing effect which it had standing on a lower level, where I could almost imagine it impending over me, though at a distance of fifty miles. It, however, blended in a scene of the most perfect beauty. The mind, gradually raised by the nearer objects was not unequal to its survey, though the wonderful intricacies of its form baffled examination. After an hour or more the sun rested on Mont Jura, and the scene gradually changed; the contrast was striking, as the shadow gradually invaded the villas on the plain; but when it had devoured the nearer mountains, when those which had not rivalled the monarch sunk as in death and the mountain itself, with those of its suite, was kindled by the sun's full glory and seemed to belong to another world, the soul was excited almost to tears.'
Geneva, Pusey writes when leaving it, 'excites no regret, in itself or its inhabitants.' But its environs 'posses endless variety.' The road to Chamonix is described in detail, almost every rock and waterfall is a separate study; and minute comparisons are instituted between successive scenes and the writers recollections of Wales. Pusey describes the Mer de Glace as resembling
'a sea which had raised its waters with unwonted tumult, but whose fury had been suddenly stayed by Him, Whose it is to still the noise of His waves.'
While at the Jardin, he was vexed at being unable to analyze and record his own impressions--
'The thoughts that rush across the mind at such times are too transient for observation even by yourself, though the tumult is calmed and the current directed by the sublimity of the scene which rouses them; any attempt to note them as they pass by would check them in their course. The wish to retain them is for the time lost in actual enjoyment, the care for their duration comes not till they ae already past.'
The travellers were making the circuit of Mont Blanc, and at Contamines, where there was no inn, they had to put up with the parish priest.
At Contamines I was somewhat annoyed at finding that the only auberge was at the Cure's house; he however leaving us after the fist civilities, and not appearing again, seemed as unconstrained as be left us to he. I much mourned the low state of the Swiss Church, which appeared in this practice. The case is different in the Protestant cantons.'
The last sight of Mont Blanc is well described. The gradual retreat of the pink sunlight from point to point, ended at last and the evening mist rose in the valley.
'Though the vivid scene which had feasted our eyes so long left for some little time the illusion that the tints we had so much prized were yet there, yet it was but his the recalling of the heart from unpleasing intelligence; the truth was too soon marked in characters too intelligible that I had witnessed, perhaps for the last time, the meet soul-filling scene in nature. The chill scene struck cold on my heart; lovely as was the decay, and slow and gentle, there was too much to remind me of my own lot not to inspire the deepest melancholy.'
We all fiind in nature what we bring to it. Edward Pusey saw the shadows of his own heart reflected from the Swiss mountain.
'The sun, which kindled Mont Blanc, will revisit and kindle it again with its glowing light, but when the warmth of feeling which has illumined and cheered the heart is once quenched, there may remain some smouldering embers to indicate that a flame once lighted it, but the snow of the mountain are not more cold or comfortless than that heart must be. Yet would I not exchange the heart, which could be ennobled by such feelings, even in its decay, for the dullness of insensibility·
'It may yet be blended, it is blended with religion and with the fire which came down from heaven. Yet then as ever it is necessary to subdue [my secret melancholy] and bear it alone. Neave, ignorant of its cause, must not share its effects, yet he occasionally excites it; and when he bade me this evening take leave of the Aiguille Park for ever, the words found a gloomy correspondence with feelings of my own. They are pressing on my soul more and more; and Heaven alone can--He will if I bear me as a Christian--lighten my burthen.'
While retiring to Geneva, Pusey was much interested in the grotto near Balme. He describes a heavy thunder storm between Geneva and Lausanne. He sees 'no beauty' in Lausanne Cathedral--a judgment in which few visitors will agree with him; and describes it as 'wretchedly subdivided, as was no doubt the case at the date of his visit'. The Castle of Chillon interested him, as, at that time, a warm admirer of Byron.
They were prevented by a storm from visiting Rousseau's home on the Island of St. Pierre. Berne is pronounced to be the most agreeable residence they had seen in Switzerland, on account of 'its high situation, the river at its base, the stone porticoes, the broad streets, and the cheerful inhabitants.'
Waterfalls were of more account fifty years ago than they are in days when it is almost a distinction not to have seen Niagara.
'The falls of Schaffhausen' says Pusey, 'had been the sole object of a journey of two heavy days.
'There is always a fear that the object of much panegyric is also the object of exaggeration. . . We descended with our eyes fixed on the ground in order to raise them in a full view of the fall, and waited at the wooden door in a suspense which almost amounted to pain. When the door opened the fall though not so high nor seen as in a picture had a variety, a breadth, and a rapidity for which we were not in the least prepared.'
The friends spent some four hours looking steadily at the mighty volume of roaring waters, and at last tore themselves away with great difficulty.
From Schaffhausen they made their way to Zurich; then along the lake to Rapperschwyl, and so to Weesen. The fine scenery of the Lake of Wallenstadt. the gorge of Pfaffers, and the view of the ravine of the Linth from the Pantenbrcke, are described at length. To Pusey the scene seemed
'like the wreck of some mighty mind, which, amid decay and convulsion, preserves the majesty of its earlier state·It was like him in whom was--
"All changed that ever charmed before,
Save the heart that beat for Ellinore."
In the subjoined description Pusey is thinking less of the scene which he describes than of mental conditions which were constantly present to his thoughts:--
'The depth immediately below us was indicated by the torrent, which wound round where the ravine took its last turn, as another [torrent], whitening, trembled to meet it. On each side trees yet flourishing were bending as to meet over its division, or waving their arms as if they bowed towards it, while others, leafless and decaying, as they hung by the one yet remaining root, which yet upheld them, with firmness almost incredible, while it seemed so far beyond its power to aid against and tempest before which it had sunken, reft of the supporting which it had trusted, and by which amid dangers it would have stood glorying and unmoved, deserted by the gradual withdrawing of all other aid, was yet restrained, though nodding to its fall, from final destruction by one single support. When that support should cease, it was destined to plunge headlong from the mountain's height deep in the roaring tide below to endless night.'
They partly followed the line of Suwarrow's retreat from Glarus into the Valley at the Rhine in October, 1799:--
A French lieutenant-general, whose party we joined, had himself been in the principal body of the army, before a detachment of which this retreat was made. he had attained his rank by carrying the bridge at Zurich in the battle which prevented the Russians from penetrating into France in '98. He was travelling for his son's health, who had sunk, through excessive exertion, into a state of gloom, to dispel which the scenes of Switzerland alone, it was hoped, would be equal. I hope so too yet there was a vacuity and absorption which, combined with the languor with which he raised his eyes on the most interesting objects, forbade hope. Heaven he praised who has preserved mine unimpaired.'
The incidents of this campaign were then generally remembered and Pusey records each detail that he could earn with eager interest. While making their way towards the Righi, the travellers passed the site of Goldau, which, with three other villages, had been buried in September, 1806, by the landslip of the Rossberg,--.
'We saw some chalets yet remaining at the every edge of the inundation, and by which some of thee stones bounded as they passed over a slight eminence at the foot of the Rossberg. A few yards more had overwhelmed them. . . Could you for a moment forget the cause of the wild confusion around you, the bare and fearful nakedness of the mountain still remains to recall it, and, should the valley ever regain any portion of its former cheerfulness, would be to their children's children an ever-present record of His power, before Whom the maintains tremble.'
The travellers enjoyed a fine sunrise on the Righi--which Pusey again visited in 1872. The preparatory warnings of the sun's appearance, the outburst of the dawn, the gradual flitting of the light from point to point, are dwelt on in succession:--
'It was singular how soon the objects from their structure or from their shadow most engrossing sunk into insignificance before the rising majesty of others, or how, when the loftiest had veiled themselves in clouds the village spire received the full rays [of the sun]. It seemed thee triumph of revealed over natural religion, when the objects most suited to the exercise of each had been placed in the balance -- the latter even thus fond wanting.'
A visit to Kssnacht followed, which provoked in Pusey an outburst of feeling, quickened perhaps by his general political sympathies:--
'All the spots which [Tell's] glorious name have rendered memorable have been made consecrated ground; a chapel marks the spot where he was born, where be sprung from the boat which devoted him and his county to slavery, where he accomplished his country's freedom by the sacrifice of the inhuman tyrant.'
Before leaving the neighbourhood of Altdorf, Pusey visited Tell's chapel at Brglen:--
'We soon gained admission. In leaning over the Altar, by means of which his countrymen have blended the feelings of patriotism and religion, I could not but address a prayer to our common Father for my own country, that it might long enjoy freedom unpolluted, that it might cultivate the virtues which alone merit that choicest gift a nation can receive, and without which it cannot be retained.'
Lucerne he thinks 'as poor at Swiss towns generally are.' The Lion - which bad been cut in the rock, after Thorwaldsen's model, in the preceding year (1821) to commemorate the Swiss Guard of Louis XVI., suggests to him that the soldiers of a free people are degraded by dying for a foreign potentate in a foreign land.
The St Gothard Pass disappointed them. In the ascent of the Furca they met three parties of peasants on their way to spend the Feast of the Assumption at Einsiedeln:--
'There was nothing in them apparently of the austerity of the pilgrim. In one fine female countenance alone I saw something of that superior dignity which the consciousness of being engaged in the performance of a religious duty and absorptive meditation on the sublimest objects can bestow. Some of them came from the Genevan cantons, others from the Valais, even as far as Sion its capital, where the prints exercise the most complete dominion. Neave wished we had been there; I neither regretted my absence now, nor that the visit to Einsiedeln itself had been laid aside from our adopting the route to Mont Praghel.
'Had the spot to which they were repairing been really consecrated by the hallowed tread of our Saviour, had it witnessed Him going about doing good, had it heard the words of puritty which He spake, or the prayer of faith from the unbeliever, converted because He spake as never man spake, one could have tolerated that some eager but misled disciple should have mingled other more particular impressions with the general feelings that pervade the Holy Land.
'But there, where the very holiness imputed to the place is founded on an abject and mercenary superstition·every part is so revolting and at the same time so forcibly impressed by every object around the visitor; by the very crowd of worshippers with whose prayers he is to mingle, that every attempt to associate himself must be in vain. He must, in silence and alone, pray that their hearts may be enlightened at the same time, that he petitions for himself that he may not think more highly than he ought to think.'
The appearance of the Jungfrau from one side as though at, summit were 'presiding over an unbroken cliff,' although this cliff was really formed of an inticcate assemblage of parts,' suggests to him how
'when the petty circumstances of life are forgotten, and a man is no longer judged by the influence of portions of his life, he is seen but in the effect which the whole sway of the power he directed had on the happiness of mankind.'
The beauties of their mountain home were not lost, Pusey thought upon the Swiss peasantry. After witnessing a village fête he writes:--
'I was delighted thus, to see that hundreds of this people felt the infuence of the scenery by which they had been surrounded. I never saw a jour de fête in which there seemed to be so much intellect mixed with physical delight· In our descent we were much disappointed to find that the national dance (from which we had anticipated much pleasure, after having witnessed the graceful movements of the paysannes of Chillon) was prohibited, and ill-supplied by the activity and strength displayed in wrestling match. The reason given (the fear of quarrels) was very unsatisfactory.'
The journal breaks off abruptly. Mr. Neave went on into Italy: Pusey was well on his way to England in the latter half of September.
Pusey's Swiss journal contains traces of a temper of mind which characterized him in varying degrees throughout his life as an undergraduate at Christ Church, and which he did not altogether throw off until some years had passed. Looking back upon it he used to call it Byronism The fascination which Byron exercised over young people in that generation was of course partly due to the genius of a writer who had made English poetry do some kinds ot work in the realms of feeling that it had never done before. Pusey had too much of the scholar and poet in him to be insensible to the wealth, of Byron's language and exquisite music of his verse. But the secret of Byron's power-- at least with refined natures--lay in his being the exponent of what was then a new and, to some minds, an attractive philosophy of life. In this philosophy the element of sensualism, coarse or subtle, would always have been repellent to a character like Pusey's: but Byron was also, in a sense, the prophet of the disappointed, and, as such, he threw a strange spell over Pusey as a young man, who had set his heart passionately upon an object which it seemed likely that he would not attain. That which Pusey afterwards condemned in himself as Byronism was a sad, nerveless, dreamy way of regarding life and nature, which imperceptibly tended towards a listless survey of evil as something which might almost be declared snore interesting than deadly. Byron, as he looked. out on the world, anticipated, although only vaguely, the blank despair of Leopardi and the systematized pessimism of Schopenhauer and Hartmann and if Pusey never surrendered himself wholly to the magician, he often would reproach himself in after years on the score of a phase of mind and feeling in which Byron had had any attractions for him at all.
'The extreme force and beauty of Byron's poetry' he says, 'combined with a habit of deep and, in some degree, morbid feeling which had always, more or less, a shade of gloom, induced us to give our assent to, and even in some measure exult in feelings of whose full extent we were either at the time not aware, or at least against which we half, and but half shut, our eyes'
The Byronist, though coerced by the purest air, with the golden sun, full of joy and pleasure, gleaming in the bright blue sky, will fix his eye on any speck of mist which he sees crouching near the horizon, and gaze on it till it swell and seem to fill heaven and earth. To a real Byronist a pure blue sky is a dull insipid thing·It is the misery of Byronism that it fixes the mind exclusively upon the disease and so distracts it sufferers from all thoughts of contributing to cure it; or if the mind does rouse them from the lethargies of its contemplation; the evil has, from being exclusively regarded, assumed such magnitude as to make all attempts seen hopeless. In the disordered state of the moral, as well at of the bodily eye, an object from being long gazed at fills the whole sense, assumes an unnatural and frightful size, and prevents the admission of any other. Byronism is a mere theoretical, not a practical habit. Like the god of Epicurus it becomes in imagination the being of another world, and looks down upon the miseries and struggles of this and leaves the unhappy wretches to their fate while it philosophizes upon them; or, at best, it comments with almost a contemptuous pity on the ill, it sees. I am, of course, only speaking of ripened and fully-developed Byronism, but I believe every shade of it makes the mind unpractical and indisposed to apply the relief of Christianity to the ills it dwells upon. Christianity acknowledges as true most of the data of Byronism, that there are everywhere and in all our actions seeds of or admixtures of evil. It also draws them to the light, but with the difference, that it does so in ourselves, not in others, to mend not to exhibit their depravity.'
In October, 1827, he observes incidentally:--
My friend Luxmoore reminded me yesterday, in discussing Lord Byron with me, of an expression which I had used when nineteen, that I never arose from reading Lord Byron a better man.'
Thus to Pusey Byronism was for a while, and to some extent, his system or view of life. Looking back upon his early manhood he writes reproachfully of 'my excessive Byronisnm'. It did not indeed lead him to give up habits of regular prayer; or to renounce his faith in God's loving providence; still less into moral mischiefs beyond. Young men will often contrive to hold incompatible principles, by storing them away in different compartments of the mind: but a time comes when a choice has to be made. Before that time came to Pusey, his 'Byronism' had been frankly abandoned. While it lasted it did him harm by leading him to dwell morbidly on thoughts and feelings which would have better been repressed and forgotten, but which in fact coloured his entire apprehension of nature and life. As Byron to a certain extent spoiled Pusey's view of the Swiss mountains; so, strange to say, Pusey at first read Walter Scott with Byron's eyes: Scott ministered to the feelings which Byron had roused and gratified. His brother Philip induced him to read 'Rokeby,' by telling him that he had a great deal of 'Wilfrid' in his character.
'I read the book', he said long afterwards, 'most carefully, and found it so; it became from that time my greatest favourite. Maria, of course, occupied the place of Matilda. My destiny was, I how not how far, identified with Wilfrid's. You may, or rather cannot, conceive the effect of the beautiful "cypress wreath," or the few last words which Wilfrid addresses to Matilda. These were my principal treasures, though indeed any passage which I could torture into a means of distracting was welcome, and the book was complete poison.'
The love of study, the love of nature, the pensive melancholy mood, were to a certain extent common to Edward Pusey and Wilfrid.
'For a fond mother's care and joy
Were centred in her sickly boy.
No touch of childhood's frolic mood
Showed the elastic spring of blood:
Hour after hour he loved to pose
On Shakespeare's rich and varied lore.'
But that was only a superficial point of resemblance; and the reader need not be reminded of passages which will illustrate the deeper correspondence. He often used to say that we find what we look for in the books we read, even in the Bible. He was speaking in view of this early experience. Pusey himself was not unaware of a natural tendency in himself to take a gloomy view of life: when older he was so constantly on his guard against it that few of his friends could have suspected the weakness. But as a young man his character was less perfectly disciplined; and his protracted disappointment about his engagement made Improvement in this respect more difficult.
Chief among the causes which roused Pusey from the moral lassitude of 'Byronism' and left a lasting impress upon the direction of his thought and life was a controversy with an old schoolfellow which began soon after his Swiss tour. At Eton he had formed a friendship with Z, a boy slightly older than himself, and like himself of quiet steady habits, good abilities, and a retiring disposition. They were alike interested in subjects about which most boys do not think much, if all ; but Pusey's friend approached them, in a self-reliant and scornful temper, which was too certain to earn its wonted penalties. The Etun system had, of course, no means of taking account of what was passing in the minds of the boys on the most serious subjects. The ordinary attendance at Chapel and lessons in divinity did not prevent or control the upgrowth of thoughts and questionings which were full of significance for later years; and when young Z went up to Cambridge, a college debating society went far to complete the work which had been begun at Eton. On leaving Cambridge he became intimate with Richard Carlile, the publisher of The Republican, and gave literary and pecuniary aid to the cause represented by that periodical. Much of his later life was spent in Paris: he died while yet comparatively young.
Pusey and his friend had learnt to understand each other pretty accurately while at school; and when they parted, their intercourse by letter became gradually less frequent and less intimate. It had ceased altogether for a year and a half, when in October, 1823, it was renewed by Pusey. He was throughout his life charitably sanguine, sometimes at the expense of his judgment, and he had apparently brought himself to hope that his friend's infidelity had been a passing phase of mind, or at any rate much less pronounced and resolute than was really the case. As Z bad already lived much in France and was quite at home In the language, Pusey wrote to bespeak his aid in recommending to the Paris booksellers some translations of English religious works, with a view to their circulation among the French Protestants. Z replied by an expression of his kindly feelings towards Pusey, accompanied by an unreserved statement of his present attitude towards religion. When they had parted a year and a half before, he had been at the least, a sceptic. How he was too much of a Pyrrhonist to think that any opinions, even when entirely negative, were certainly true; but, if he were asked what system most nearly approached to truth, he should say Atheism. He would distribute anything that Pusey wished, but Pusey must not suppose that the books he recommended would have any sale in France. If Pusey would do some. thing to the purpose, he had better set himself to refute the French philosophers who had opposed Christianity, such as Dupuis, Voltaire, Diderot, Holbach, Helvetius, Rousseau. If Pusey desired assistance in discovering their weak points he would be happy to give it. But this refutation of the French deists and atheists was the work that had to be done if any good, in Pusey's sense of good, was to be done In France.
Z.'s letters show that for a young man he was a wide reader. He read some of the Christian fathers; some of the philosophical works of Cicero; and more of Lucian and of Julian the Apostate, whose straightforward and vigorous style had a special attraction for him. He especially delighted in the Testament of the illiterate CurZ, Jean Meslier, and wished to send Pusey a copy. But the writer who secured his warmest enthusiasm was Dupuis. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Dupuis had been a professor of Latin Eloquence in the College of France, and a member of the Academy of Inscriptions. He sat in the Convention which decided the fate of Louis XVI., and afterwards in the Corps Legislatif. He died in 1809. His best claim to literary renown was by no means the cumbrous and fantastic work which delighted Z., and in which he attempted to give an account of the origin of all religions. It appeared when Robespierre's efforts to obtain some national recognition of a Supreme Being were being vanquished by the stern atheism of his Jacobin associates, and it was welcomed by the Paris of the Terror as the last word of science. But it had been well answered, and, in France at any rate, forgottenf(or some years, when it fell in Z's way. According to Dupuis, Christianity might be explained as a religious rendering of the astronomical observations of a rude age. Our Lord was the Sun, His Blessed Mother the constellation Virgo; the cross marked the intersection of thee equator and the ecliptic, and so on. Behind these absurdities there was a more serious materialism, but Z was chiefly concerned with Dupuis' attacks on the claim of the Christian Faith to be God's last message to man.
He was generally too scornful arid bitter to make the best of his case, or to recommend it to tire sympathies of a young man like Edward Pusey. But he brought before and impressed upon Pusey's mind the living energy of unbelief as a fact in the modem world of most serious and threatening import. He endowed Pusey with a conviction which had much to do with shaping his life for sixty years, that the Faith of Christ had, in the very heart of Christendom, implacable enemies just as ready to crush it out of existence, if they could, as any who confronted the Apostles or the Church of the first three centuries.
It occurred to Pusey that he could help his friend by telling him how
'a man of first-rate abilities had persuaded himself of the truth of Christianity, after having been, a little before he commenced the investigation, thoroughly persuaded that he never could believe it.'
The person thus referred to was another and far more intimate friend, whose doubts had been the subject of much earnest discussion and correspondence. But of all this, and of the process by which they were at last laid to rest, no trace remains. That such doubts should ever lace been entertained by one whom he loved so dearly, was a deep distress to Edward Pusey, and he appears to have destroyed all the records of his relations with his friend during this period. Now, however, he thought that san account of this recovery of faith might be of assistance to Z.; and, at his request, his friend wrote a history of the inquiry by which he had satisfied himself of the truth of Christianity. It was sent to Z. by Pusey, together with a long letter of his own.
It failed of its intended effect. Good logic may remove difficulties which belief insincere souls; but faith has its roots in a moral temper, and the absence of this temper reduces the most cogent arguments to silence. Nothing however could daunt Edward Pusey's perseverance. Z.'s comment on this letter was that it only represented a deist's attitude towards Christianity, and therefore could not help an atheist. Pusey then endeavoured to persuade his friend to read the well-known apologetic work of Gottfried Less, which had been recently translated into English; but this proposal was civilly declined, on the ground of his 'being almost too lazy to send anything'. Edward Pusey then determined to accept Z's challenge, repeated wore than once in the correspondence to study Dupuis thoroughly with a view to answering him. The enterprise was, for a young Englishman of twenty-three, a sufficiently bold one. The reply to Dupuis was to he written in French; an English translation was an afterthought. This project was brought a close by Edward Pusey's visit to Germany in 1825,
In December, 1823, Z declined to correspond any further with Pusey, but Pusey still persevered in his efforts, and his earnestness, patience, self-depreciation, disinterestedness, could not but have their influence sooner or later. In the letters which follow his friend's tone has completely changed; he is genial, serious, almost sympathetic. The courtesies, however, of this later correspondence are invariably found side by side with a recognition of the gulf that divided the correspondents.
'I have now,' wrote the friend, 'received three long and admirable letters, for which I am indefinitely obliged to you. I once naturally desired that you should, like myself, have been a convert to Dupuis; but I am now convinced that the cause of truth is much better served by your being his opponent. I only regret that the mass of learning contained in your letters should he thrown any on such an ignorant individual as myself. Many authors whom you quote I have scarcely even heard of, and I confess I an even by no means capable of always understanding the Greek quotations. must beg and beseech you to compose a systematic refutation of my favourite author.'
But argument can only, in the event, have one of two results: it may compel agreement when men acknowledge the same premises; or, when this is not the case, it may show that agreement is out of the question. The courtesies of letter-writing avail little when there is in the background a fundamental difference as to the principles which ought to govern human lives. Edward Pusey was too sanguine and too generous to make this discovery as early as many another man in his position would have made it. But at last it gradually broke on him, although allusions to a correspondence with Z are still found as late as 1827.
In a letter of that date, he is referring to another and more hopeful case of loss of faith:--
Had I had such a prospect for my unhappy friend, my spirits had not been so broken by our fruitless correspondence. But when every fresh letter, at the same lure ham it abandoned some part of the intellectual system of error, or some portion of its proof, evinced a heart still more alienated from the idea of God, which it no longer believed, so that I no longer saw even the wreck of the friend of boyhood; when, seeing myself apparently the only remaining instrument to save him, there still seemed no hope that anything should be effected through me, my only respite from unhappiness was each short interrval after sending a fresh letter with diminished hope, before I learnt that it also was useless. And [as for] the last letter--the pain of loosing from one's hold a drowning friend . . would be happiness compared with it.'
In later years Pusey referred from time to time to this correspondence, without even naming the friend. On June 15, 1882, exactly three months before his death, he said that when twenty-two, he had been obliged to read an infidel book in order to help a friend who was in difficulties.'
'That' he continued, 'was my first real experience of the deadly breath of infidfel thought upon my soul. I never forget how utterly I shrank from it. It decided me to devote my life to the Old Testament; as I saw that that was the point of attack in our defences which would he most easily breached.'
But Z.'s was not the only friendship that was lost to Edward Pusey at this time by a lapse into infidelity:--
'I am grieved at heart,' writes R. W. Jelf, 'to hear of your other friend's alienation from religion·You certainly are tried by witnessing such defections in those for whom you have regard·Console yourself with the reflection that you have done much and may do more for those who have fallen away, and that those others for whom you are anxious are young, and may be imperceptibly influenced by you.'
Of a very different but yet important kind was the influence exercised on Pusey's mental history by the marriage of his eldest brother.
Philip Pusey had left Oxford in 1819 without taking his degree. This course did not necessarily imply, at that date, in young men of good position, any want of intelligence or industry. Oxford was an opportunity for forming friendships it furnished intellectual and moral stimulus; and young men whose means enabled them to travel, and who had access to literary society, often preferred to finish their education in their own way. It was probably a mistake in all but a very few cases but at least in Philip Pusey it did not mean indolence or incapacity. In truth his was a strong and fertile mind, strenuously bent on self-improvement, and keenly alive to the momentous issues that depend on the deeper problems in religion and philosophy. Like his younger brother he shared in the quality of literary industry; he was passionately fond of the Greek and Latin classics and kept up his acquaintance with them throughout life; and he was a systematic student of modern literature, English and foreign. In this respect he had the advantage of his younger brother, whose devotion, a few years later, to the Semitic languages and to theology was too absorbing to leave much time for general reading. But the brothers resembled each other in the warmth of their sympathies, in the practical character of their dispositions, in their indifference to appearance, and in their capacity for unreserved self-surrender to a great cause. Their paths in life were distinct; their convictions not always identical; but they were always on intimate and brotherly terms with each other; and, as Philip Pusey observed, his marriage was only less important to his brother Edward than it was to himself.
After leaving Oxford, Philip Pusey had travelled with his friend of Eton and Oxford days, and future brother-in-law, Lord Porchester. Their visit to Spain and Portugal, and their narrow escape from death at the hands of a guerrilla chief, have been vividly described in a work which in the last generation was read by everybody; and Philip Pusey's own, letters to his family at this time give evidence of those powers of observation and reflection which secured or him in after years such high consideration in the House of Commons. He returned to England at the end of June, 1822, when, his brother Edward was about to leave for Switzerland. This Swiss tour, as has been noted, was at once followed by Philip's marriage.
Each brother mad difficulties in marrying the lady on whom his affections were fixed; but while In the case of the elder brother they disappeared at the end of four years, in that of the younger they were to last for a much longer period. At Highclere it seems probable that Lord Porchester's influence was exerted to promote the wishes of his friend and his sister; while at Pusey the first impulse of an inexorable Toryism had yielded to the consideration that in such a matter as marriage character and disposition are of more importance than the colour of political opinions. The wedding took place in the old church of Highclere, adjoining the Castle, on October 4, 1822.
The introduction of Lady Emily Herbert to the family added greatly to Edward Pusey's happiness. She was brilliant graceful, accomplished, a great reader of poetry, a musician of no mean order, an artist, at least, in knowledge and feeling. The central feature of her character was a remarkable combination of strength and tenderness: she was full of benevolent instincts, and she could turn them to good account by her practical and administrative ability. Thus she interested herself warmly in the agitation which preceded the first Reform Bill, and especially with the view of warning the country people against courses which might bring them into trouble. With this object she wrote some tracts which had considerable circulation, and which could not have been composed by any one who had not studied closely the manners and feelings of the agricultural classes. No doubt she was on the side of order and property; and her sympathy, good sense, and earnest moral and religious purpose are abundantly apparent.
These qualities gave her, throughout her life, a considerable influence for good over young men; she could rouse them to exertion, or recall them to a sense of duty, when other advisers were powerless; and she knew how to enter into and encourage their efforts in the cause of truth and virtue. Combined with her other qualities was a naturally devotional temper; and thus It was inevitable that she would soon discover and strengthen the ties of a fast friendship with her brother-in-law, Edward Pusey.
How soon she learnt to do so is apparent from a novel which she wrote in the early years of her married life. It observes the law of three volumes; it contains a wedding and a murder. But it anticipates a characteristic of very modern novels; the authoress does not so much invent as describe; and she describes from her own observation. As a student of character she belongs to the school of Miss Austen; but when painting the manners of the country gentlemen of England sixty years ago she could command greater opportunities than fell to Miss Austen's lot. In early life she had travelled in Italy: her pictures of Italian scenery and character are pleasing and generally accurate but the main interest of her hook is that it is largely a record of the character and opinions of those among whom she moved. In particular Edward Pusey, as a young man, stands before us in its pages. Edgar Belmore, with his studious habits, his resolute and successful efforts to recover a friend from unbelief, his energetic unselfishness, the long and bitter disappointment of his affections, cannot be mistaken: and in conversations on the observance of the Lord's Day, on care for the religion of servants, on the claims of Christianity, on the respect due to parents, his very phrases may almost be recognized. It is no accident that the most prominent work in the description of an infidel library is Dupuis, or that the deepest interest of the book underlying all else in it that is grave or gay is the religious interest.
For more than thirty years, to her husband's delight and satisfaction, Lady Emily corresponded constantly with her brother-in-law. She entered warmly into the anxieties which preceded and delayed his marriage: her letter of congratulation was, he said, the most welcome of any that he received. On this occasion he gave her a copy of the German poet Claudius--the poet of home and friendship as these things were understood in Germany in its age of sentimentalism, and also the poet who, while simple and childlike in expression, is judging the spirit of his time with a searching accuracy, and who has known how to clothe some of the deepest things in literature with the playful irony of his verse. Claudius fitly suggested a lifelong friendship between whatever was bright and tender in family life, and all that was most serious in theology.
This friendship lasted undimmed to Lady Emily's last hours. She soothed the anguish of Pusey's early years of widowhood; and in return he admitted her to share his thoughts and hopes and fears in those years when his heart and mind were taxed to the uttermost by the demands of the great Movement in which his share was so great and so responsible; and he found in her a sympathy more intelligent and responsive than that of any other member of his family. In her last hours he was at her bedside, and in his ministrations and words she found her greatest comfort and support.