Page:Studies of a Biographer 3.djvu/250

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238
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

the one lesson that the right triumphs 'in the long-run.' Froude can theorise when he pleases, and an eloquent essay on 'The Conditions and Prospects of Protestantism' gives an account of the rise and decay of religions in general. Creeds have their periods of vitality, of established usefulness, and of 'petrifaction.' It is the 'very law of their being' that they 'should stiffen' into formalism. He could still, after parting from Newman, enlarge upon the central idea of Catholicism—the 'beautiful creed which for fifteen hundred years turned the heart and formed the mind of the noblest of mankind.' He could declare that the old monks were the true builders of our national 'greatness.' There was once (when is perhaps rather doubtful) a golden age, when men were sincere believers in an elevating ideal. But the creeds had 'stiffened' and the monasteries were in need of a Cromwell and a Henry. The place of the Greek fate is to be taken by the intellectual and moral revolt against the lying and corruption sheltered under the system which in its origin had corresponded to the noblest of aspirations. I have no quarrel with this theory. An adequate account of the great convulsions of the sixteenth century would