Page:Some aspects of the Victorian age.djvu/24

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

guidance of Newman, in grazing among the Fathers, whom (after his eyes had been opened) he characterized as 'the degenerate and semi-barbarous Christian writers of the Fourth Century'. And now, in his emancipated isolation, he looked more in pity than in anger upon what he regarded as the apostasy of Green. 'A new à priori metaphysic', he writes, 'was imported into Oxford by a staunch Liberal. It can only be accounted for by a certain puzzle-headedness on the part of the Professor, who was removed from the scene before he had time to see how eagerly the Tories began to carry off his honey to their hive,'[1] (To avoid possible misapprehensions I ought perhaps to explain that, in the Llama dialect, 'Liberal' means 'Rationalist', and 'Tory' means 'High Churchman'.)

I have not space to follow the Victorians into some of their other spheres of achievement and effort. In the domain of History, the names of Froude and Freeman became symbols and watchwords in the rather unreal battle on the issue whether it is possible for a great historian to be both accurate and readable. In point of fact, Froude was capable of an infinity of dryasdust research, and Freeman of not a little rugged and sometimes flashy rhetoric. The matter had been settled many centuries ago by Thucydides, and the combatants had another example before their eyes, or at least fresh in their memory. Macaulay—as we know from Sir G. Trevelyan's Life, the most brilliant of the Victorian biographies—thought no labour wasted in writing history, whether it was spent on verifying a fact, or perfecting a sentence.

On the Art of the Victorians—a difficult and much

  1. 'Memoirs,' by Mark Pattison (Macmillan, 1885), p. 167.