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'with Universal Christian Sympathy'-in which we admire the resolute, even if imperfect, struggles of a noble and generous nature against the rigidity of soi-disants Church Principles.' He seems eagerly to stretch forth his manacled hands to grasp kindred excellence under all diversities of form, and to recognise, in spite of system, a Christian brother wherever he sees the image of his Master. Though still perhaps somewhat fettered by the very prejudices he struggles against, so noble, so beautiful is his entire character as a minister of Christ, that one feels inclined to say of him, in the words of Paul,-'Would to God 'that all were not only almost, but altogether such as he was, 'except those bonds.'
In the summer of 1844, he paid a visit to his friend Mr. Graves, curate of Windermere, and made the acquaintance of Wordsworth. Of this visit his host has furnished a somewhat full and interesting account. It is amusing to see with what almost boyish enthusiasm, the poetic philosopher listened to the utterances of the philosophic poet. In 1845, Butler was principally engaged on the Roman Catholic controversy, and soon after gave the fruits of his studies to the world in the powerful' Letters 'on Development.' In 1846-7, the Irish famine, which with pestilence and its terrible procession of attendant horrors, stalked in the neighbourhood of Butler's residence, afforded his noble nature another opportunity of displaying itself. 'Literature, 'philosophy, and divinity were all postponed to the labours of 'relieving-officer to his parish. From morning till evening he 'superintended the distribution of food, often toiling with his 'own hands in this ministry of love.'
But this truly glorious career, in which lofty aims and lowly duties were alike cared for and reconciled, was already drawing to a close. The week preceding his last illness was spent at the house of his friend Archdeacon Gough, in whose neighbourhood he was about to preach at an approaching ordination. His sermon as usual was unwritten, but must have been singular on such an occasion, and we imagine, more calculated to excite the suspicions of bigotry than even his earlier protest against church rigours.
'He was led,' says a gentleman who heard it, 'to speak of those divines of the Anglican Church, in whose writings would be found an armoury against all heresies, as well as the most touching lessons of practical holiness. He took a series of these authors; he dismissed each with a few sentences; but not before he had characterised his peculiar excellences, and made the audience feel his distinguishing
* Memoir, p. 28.
merits. His description of Taylor, in particular, was startlingly beautiful, and literally took away our breath. He recommended us to read some works of a practical character by Dissenters. Baxter, Howe, and Edwards were among the number mentioned.' (Memoir, p. 28.)
On his return home from this public service, he took cold; it was the prelude of fever, which in a few days proved fatal. He died on the 5th of July, 1848. How much he was loved, as well as admired, appears from the following statement of his biographer. Upon Saturday, the 8th of July, his remains were laid in his own churchyard. The Bishop, the sur'rounding clergy and gentry, and several thousands of the 'humbler classes, were assembled to pay the last tribute of ' respect.'*
Though, as we have seen, little is known of his life; and though of his conversation (which is said to have been full of wit, point, and vivacity,) hardly a stray fragment, so far as we can find, has been preserved in the Memoir,' he has in these volumes left memorials of himself which the world will not 'willingly let die.' As the fruit of so young a mind,—for nearly all must have been produced before the author had passed his thirtieth year, they form an extraordinary monument of his vigour, versatility, and precocity.
A marked feature of his mind was the perfection in which it combined many of the rarest endowments of the poetic and the philosophic temperaments; not that there is any reason to wonder at such conjunction, for it has been too often repeated in great philosophers and great poets to leave room for that. Nor are the two classes of qualities, if they be not relatively disproportionate, at all at variance. The very aptitude for readily apprehending analogies under the impulses of poetic feeling, prompted by the instincts of the beautiful, will, if organised and directed by an equally predominant aptitude for philosophical speculation, constitute that inventive and creative faculty which, seizing another class of analogies and resemblances, constructs systems of philosophy; of truth sometimes, and sometimes, alas! of fiction;-fiction as wild, as airy, as unsubstantial as the poet's veritable dreams. At all events, certain it is, that in the higher order of minds,-as in Shakspeare, Plato, Bacon, Pascal, the alliance of the speculative and the imaginative, of subtlety and wit, of logic and eloquence, has been too often repeated to allow us to doubt that though reason may be only a lumen siccum,' and imagination but an 'ignis fatuus;'
* Memoir, p. 32.
though a philosopher may be only a reasoning mill' or a poet whose fine frenzy' is little more than frenzy, philosophy and poetry need not be estranged. Intellect of the highest order generally exhibits very various mental endowments, each in large proportion and all in harmonious combination. One or more may be predominant, but genius is usually a constellation, not a single star; and though one may be brightest, all will be bright. Professor Butler's early love of poetry followed him through life; it was not only a solace but a passion. Even when wedded to philosophy, his early mistress was never forgotten. Though the mere conjunction of the poetic and philosophical temperaments be no rare phenomenon, the precocity with which the reflective and analytic powers were manifested in Butler might be regarded as extraordinary. The philosophical lectureseven those on Plato and Aristotle-which are given in these volumes, seem to have been composed and delivered before he was eight-and-twenty, or at most a year older! It may, however, be remarked, that the period of life which intervenes between the effervescence of youth and the practical energy of mature manhood is to many powerful minds a period of vigorous philosophical speculation. On the whole, Butler's rich imagination was, even as a philosophical lecturer, of signal service to him. Though his more brilliant endowments occasionally led to excess of ornament, too deeply coloured the diction, or rendered it too redundant, they admirably fitted him to redeem the abstruse subjects he treated from the curse of dryness, and especially equipped him for the task of criticising Plato, to whose wonderful union of subtlety and grace, of philosophic depth with all-various literary excellence, he ever showed himself keenly sensitive. His learning was extensive for his years; in certain directions, and in the department of ancient philosophy, profound; though in pure philology he seems never to have aspired to minute accuracy. He had, however, all those higher qualities of sagacity, comprehensiveness, and congenial sympathy with philosophic genius, which will do more in the interpretation of such writers as Aristotle and Plato than any quantity of mere learning.
The matter of these five volumes is thus distributed: two of them are filled with 'Sermons ;' one with the Letters on Development;' and two with the Lectures on the History of
In the Sermons,' it is impossible not to be impressed with the rare qualities of the author's mind, though the style is far from being severe enough to satisfy a just taste. The imagery is too profuse, the diction too ornate; in a word, there is too
much of the pomp and glare of rhetoric. In some of the discourses, moreover, the train of argument appears more refined and ingenious than just or convincing; and the expression of the preacher's views is not free from obscurity. Nevertheless, these Sermons' abound in exquisite thoughts, expressed often with exceeding felicity, as well as in passages full of genuine pathos. They are the utterances of a mind not only glowing with the fires of intellect and imagination, but with the fervours of devout passion also. His conviction of the importance and grandeur of the truths he proclaims is evidently profound. None can doubt, who read these discourses, that, in the author's estimate, all things were to be counted dross' in comparison with the Gospel, and that he loved and lived for the Truth, as well as taught and preached it. It is proper to add, that the mass of these sermons do not represent Professor Butler's ordinary style of preaching; his great promptitude of mind and command of language soon induced him to drop the habit of writing his sermons, and (after three or four sessions) even his University Lectures. His ordinary pulpit-style, it may be conjectured, was more colloquial and less ornate than that of these volumes; and, in our estimate, none the worse for that. It is also to be borne in mind, that if the style of thought often indulged, and some of the topics selected, would be ill-suited to the mass of a country congregation, a great part of these discourses seem to have been preached on public occasions and to select audiences. On the whole, we agree with the judgment of Professor Jeremie, who edited the second series: -after saying that he is in no way pledged to defend all the arguments and interpretations of Scripture adopted by the author,' he remarks that though they would doubtless have 'gained much in terseness of style and diction by a careful preparation for the press,' these Sermons form a most valuable accession to our theological literature.'
It were easy to point out many trains of argument in the highest degree original and impressive, while even common thoughts are illustrated with a beauty and expressed with a grace which give them a new force. Thus he says finely :
'Men from deep places can see the stars at noon-day; and from the utter depths of her self-abasement, she (the Syro-Phoenician woman) catches the whole blessed mystery of Heaven: like St. Paul's Christian, "in having nothing, she possesses all things." No humility is perfect and proportioned, but that which makes us hate ourselves as corrupt, but respect ourselves as immortal; the humility that kneels in the dust, but gazes on the skies.' (Sermons, First series, p. 171.)
We select, as another brief specimen, the following beautiful sentences on the great truth that evil seems ever the incidental, not the designed, result of all the arrangements of Nature:
'There is no instance producible-setting aside manifest disease and displacement of a living creature expressly organized by our Creator for a life of agony. He, -a Father to the children of His love, He meant that life should be blessedness; if it be otherwise, "an enemy hath done this." Would you apprehend how even our lost world retains dim traces of His purpose that life and happiness should be for every one? Go forth into that world, though it is a sad world; gaze on that age which Christ Himself (made the living symbol of His kingdom, to perpetuate a lovely tradition of heaven to every generation; behold the child, when such as childhood should be, in the joyousness of that freedom he never again on earth must know; mark the delight of his young activities, the bliss of growing energies, the bright unsullied fancy, the cheerful confidence, the boundless hope; behold him - the little type of heaven-alone with Nature in her summer noon, and asking nothing more of earth or sky than that the one should thus blossom, the other thus beam for ever; and you will be able, in some faint way, to conceive how the mere consciousness of existence may be happiness. And thus Scripture, as if instinctively, uses the word "life" to imply felicity, and "eternal life" to imply eternal felicity; for in the first draft of creation, to live was to be blest.' (Sermons, vol. i. p. 151.)
The Letters on Development,' in reply to Mr. Newman, were given to the world under great disadvantages. They were written necessarily with much haste; they were published piecemeal (in the Irish Ecclesiastical Journal), and, above all, were produced in the very agony of the Irish famine, when the devoted pastor's head and heart were brimful of care and sorrow, and overtasked in endeavours to alleviate the misery around him. Weighing all this, these letters, though not the most brilliant perhaps, deserve to be considered the most remarkable proofs of the author's indomitable energy and power of concentration. It may be observed, also, that the style of them is more severe;-partly, perhaps, from the rapidity with which the author wrote, which left less time for the mere play of fancy; partly from the fact that the work was among his last, and therefore maturest; but principally, without question, from the sharp air of controversy which braced and animated his style. Controversy often acts on a too rhetorical mind, as a sudden call to combat might act on an Oriental; he kicks off the embroidered slippers, tucks up those long flaunting Asiatic robes, and draws his girdle tighter. The fourth and fifth volumes are occupied with the 'Lec"tures on Ancient Philosophy.' While they are the produc