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Bright Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1979), pp. 385-404 Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2709244 . Accessed: 24/04/2012 04:33
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ENGLISH LITERARY ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT
BY MICHAEL H. BRIGHT
It has become almost a commonplace among cultural historians to regard the Oxford Movement as sharing certain aspects of Romanticism in English literature. Although such writers as Hoxie Neal Fairchild, Yngve Brilioth, and Vernon F. Storr perceive a fundamental disparity between the two, they nevertheless acknowledge that there are numerous similarities as well.1 In some cases the historian can trace the direct influences that literaryRomanticism had upon the Tractariansand thereby prove the participationof the Oxford Movement in the broad current of nineteenth-century English Romanticism. Cardinal Newman, for example, tells us that as a boy he read the Waverley novels in bed early in the morning before arising, and in the Apologia he admits Scott's influence on his life. Keble openly acknowledged the indebtedness of his thought and poetry to Wordsworth, and in 1844, upon the occasion of Wordsworth'svisit, Thomas Thorpe, President of the Camden Society, told the assembly that Wordsworth "might be considered one of the founders of the Society."2Recently, Stephen Prickett has extensively investigated the influence of Wordsworth and Coleridge on the Victorian attitude towards the Church.3 Despite this evidence, the influence of Romantic literature upon Victorian religion is often difficult to trace very precisely, and one must conclude therefore that the parallels between the two are owing not so much to direct and palpable influences as to the idea that both are expressions of the "spirit of the age," that is, similar linked manifestations of one intangible source. As Owen Chadwick says, "this link is easier to feel than define. Theology like literature moved from reason to feeling. But theology did not move because literaturemoved. They marchedhand
Cf. Fairchild's Religious Trends in English Poetry, IV (New York, 1957); Brilioth's The Anglican Revival: Studies in the Oxford Movement (London, 1925); and Storr's The Development of English Theology in the Nineteenth Century 1800-1860 (London, 1913). Fairchild discusses the matter most thoroughly, but all agree that the central difference is between Tractarian emphasis on authority and Romantic individualism. 2 The Ecclesiologist, IV, 26, quoted in James F. White, The Cambridge Movement: The Ecclesiologists and the Gothic Revival (Cambridge, 1962), 28. As this quotation suggests, I am using the term Oxford Movement in a broad sense to denote not just the writing of the Tracts during the years 1833-45 but the whole revival generated by the Tracts during the years that followed. 3Romanticism and Religion: The Tradition of Coleridge and Wordsworth in the Victorian Church (Cambridge, 1976).
174. the priest reassumes the position of reverence from which he had fallen in the preceding two centuries. Lovejoy. even elitist. In the field of religion. and the Sacraments. some of these parallels have never been thoroughly examined.386 MICHAEL H. Secondly. the means by which the poet communicates his extraordinary insights and experiences is through symbolism since literalism is inadequate to comprehend and express the ineffable. are the parallels I wish to examine. convinces one instead of the existence of a time spirit that. . then. especially the Eucharist. 1966). with the special gift of a powerful imagination. The Victorian Church (New York. Lovejoy has proven Romanticism notoriously difficult to define. the transmissionof theology depends now not as much on the sermon delivered from the dominating three-deckerpulpit of the auditory church. and as one supported by the revived doctrine of Apostolic Succession. two similar developments occur. Although Arthur O."4 Such a recognition. is the emphasis upon the supernatural that arises in opposition to the mechanistic idea of the universe of the eighteenth century. as the intermediarybetween the laity and God. beginning with a look at the pattern as it appears in literature. and organicism are all traits that one commonly associates with Romanticism and that exist in both the literatureand theology of the age.secondly. We shall find two consequences: in the field of literaturethe role of the poet becomes exalted. as the divinely ordained minister of the newly emphasized mysteries of the Church. But perhaps the most fundamental and important characteristicshared by both. on the other hand. the liturgy.5 there is one aspect that its varied expressions share and that many people would agree upon: the mystical and imaginative apprehension of the supernatural. see note 12 below.It is best stated by Ernest Bernbaum: 40. far from invalidating an examination of the correspondences between any two areas where exact influences cannot be established. 229-53. and the one that I wish to consider first. since it is only he. BRIGHT in hand because the human spirit yearned for new depth. where I shall cover some familiar ground for the sake of establishing a basis for comparison."PMLA 39 (1924). to borrow Shelley's phrase. Although often noted. "Floats though unseen among us" and allows new insights into the nature and power of a source from which streams flow separately. I. who can perceive and commune with the supernatural. O. aestheticism. Several parallels join Romantic literature and the Oxford Movement and have their origin in the real though often vague and elusive spirit of Romanticism permeating the thought of the age. "The Discriminationof Romanticism. a preference for the natural and picturesque. a sense of nationalism. a dedication to feeling as opposed to reason. the priest's vestments. 5 A. First. not as much on the word as on the symbolism of the church building. A reverence for the past. Chadwick. These.
Romanticism stands opposed to eighteenth-centurybeliefs in "materialism. The other was the world of actual appearances. 1949). goodness. And so it is that Wordsworth tells us in "TinternAbbey" (11. infinite. and beauty: this was eternal. of course. And rolls through 6 Guide Through the Romantic Movement.. Whosedwelling And the roundocean and the living air. One was the world of ideal truth.and last. all things." and herein we see by the word "living"that Carlyle's Romantic view is something more than sacramentalin that it considers nature not only as symbolic of God but as interfused with God.94-102) that he has felt me withthe joy A presencethatdisturbs a sense sublime Of elevatedthoughts. and 'common sense' in the baser meaning of the term. the first of these worlds that involves the supernaturaland that is described in the land of Blake's Mental Traveller who "heard & saw such dreadful things/As cold Earth wanderers never knew. Of first. and Lamia. 304. for the Romantic takes a sacramental view of the phenomenal world." in Wordsworth's "spots of time" and his encounters with "a mind/That feeds upon infinity"when he climbs the Alps and Mt. Regardedfrom this point of view. Of something is the lightof settingsuns. ugliness. Grecian Urn. Carlyle refers to nature as "the Living Garment of God. 304. secularism. in Coleridge'sXanadu or the terrifyingvoyage of the Ancient Mariner. however. seeing it as emblematic of an ideal world. and which to the idealist was so obviously full of untruth.all objectsof all thought. And the blue sky. far moredeeplyinterfused.mechanistic science.thatimpels All thinkingthings. In The Prelude. Wordsworth describes the naturalfeatures of an alpine chasm as of the greatApocalypse. in Shelley's "burning fountain" to which Adonais returns or the "secret throne" atop Mont Blanc. evil. Bk. 2nd ed.which to common sense was the only world. and absolutely real. or who regards it only insofar as he wishes to escape from it.and withoutend. and in the mindof man: A motionand a spirit. Snowden in The Prelude. (New York. 7 Bernbaum. ignorance. . 6. as to compel him to dejection or indignation. and midst. to think of the Romantic as one who ignores the phenomenal world in his pursuit of the noumenal. and in the worlds of Keats's Nightingale.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 387 "The Romantics were keenly conscious of the difference between two worlds. Characters The types and symbolsof Eternity."7 It would be a mistake."6It is. and wretchedness.
"B. Thus. through the dialogue of "A.whatever fire the fancywarms. the priesthood shar'd. Cowper. Wherediscipline helps op'ningbuds of sense. and delicate. too. the real and the ideal. then.388 MICHAEL H. the material and the spiritual. comments on the state of modern poetry. while he himself attempted the reverse by investing the supernatural with a sense of the natural. all success on Thus. of the ideal within the actual. the finite and the infinite. and "A. To set a distichupon six and five. the known and the unknown. 10 Guide. . Bernbaum says that for the Romantic artist "It was the highest function of literature and art to portray man and his world in such a way that the presence of the infinite within the finite. came to hold a place of high esteem. the natural and the supernatural." this fusion wrought by the imagination. 1965). I it too dear."9 Similarly. And thinking mightpurchase 8 M." recalls the distant past when poetry was a sacred art allied to religion. Abrams has taken this as the subject and title of his book. New York. Wordsworthattempted to show the presence of the supernatural in the ordinary. for the art of poetry had sunk to an unprecedented nadir. depending an ear. Such elevation represents quite a turnabout in the reputationof the poet. 9 The Romantic Quest (1931. to contemporary eyes at any rate. Carlyle calls "Natural Supernaturalism"8 not to ignore the material world but to attempt a reconciliation of it with the spiritual. as Coleridge tells us in the Biographia Literaria. Thatverse. firesto me belong." proceeds to make the contrast with modern poetry. BRIGHT causes the poet What." and "B. now no longer simply one who held "the mirror up to nature" but one who was singularly able to see and understand the mysteries of nature. Natural Supernaturalism: The Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (New York. At Westminster. rpt. would be revealed in all its beauty. wherelittle poets strive A.and sportin song. I was a poet too: but moderntaste Is so refin'd.and chaste. 304. But no prophetic I play withsyllables. The consequence of this dramatic change in outlook. And makeshis pupilsproudwith silverpence. Fairchild defines Romanticism as "an imaginative fusion of the familiar and the strange."10This "reconciliation of opposites. was that the poet. which has sacrificed fire and feeling to mechanical precision: HenceBritishpoets. is the chief aim of the Lyrical Ballads. Withouta creamysmoothness has no charms. where. And ev'ryhallow'ddruidwas a bard. at least as far as the artist was concerned. 1971). during the last half of the eighteenth century." in Table Talk (1781). H. 251.
Shelley comments more personally on the poet's spiritual concerns: "As to real flesh & blood. whose breech Cowper had regretted in Table Talk. his spiritflies On awfulwing.." Wordsworthis seemingly more egalitarianwhen he says in the "Preface" to the Lyrical Ballads that a poet "is a man speaking to men. weresacrific'd And truthcut shortto makea periodround. however. things Of this diurnal ball. in describing the poet in Prometheus Unbound.Past. he "made poetry a mere mechanic art. This extraordinaryability to commune with the spiritual world invests the poet not simply with the mantle of authority but. although he rescued poetry from the lewdness of the time of Charles II. as we see in the last two lines of the poem. ignoring Pope's warning. I judg'da manof sensecould scarcedo worse Thancaperin the morris-dance of verse. Whoseearshaveheard The Holy Word Thatwalk'damongthe ancienttrees. John Taylor.-you might as well go to a ginshop for a leg of mutton.502-19) Cowper considers Pope the culprit because. you know that I do not deal in those articles.sees." In a sonnet entitled "The Poet. Practicallyall the Romantic poets speak of their calling as one that sets them apart from ordinary men and one that has a religious aura." The Romantics. &Future." written by Keats's publisher.. that of divinity as well. Of shapesthathauntthought's In a letter to John Gisborne in 1821." Shelley. thus recapturingfor the art the association with religion. there is this description of the poet in the sestet: abovethe grossand palpable Sometimes. and formerly attributed to Keats himself. "presume not God to scan. Songsof Experience) ("Introduction..and with its destin'dskies Holdspremature and mysticcommunings: Till suchunearthly intercourses shed A visiblehalo roundhis mortalhead. Blake assumes the role of a bard WhoPresent. are not primarily interested in mechanics or the merely physical aspects of the universe but are concerned with the supernatural. as expect anything human or earthly from me.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 389 If sentiment to sound. writes: Nor seeksnor findshe mortalblisses." but then he goes on to qualify this by saying that the poet is like other men in kind . (11. But feeds on the aerealkisses wildernesses.
for.. For Shelley poets are not only "the unacknowledged legislators of the world" but also "the priests of an unapprehendedinspiration. For he on honey-dewhath fed. Coleridge describes at the end of "Kubla Khan" the religious awe with which the poet might be viewed: And all shouldcry. and with the ordinary world.. and." yet he also recognizes that there are some experiences that cannot be expressed in simple language and for which words. Coloursand wordsthatare unknown To paint the visionary dreariness . Sinai. BRIGHT though not degree and that he is generally superior in thought and feeling. but for men. . elitist since the poet is a man of genius above all others. on the other hand. And close youreyes withholy dread. 254-56) At the end of Epipsychidion Shelley expresses an even more acute frustration with language: 11 Romanticism and Religion. (XII. his floatinghair! Weavea circleroundhim thrice. He is not an isolate. 23-24. And drunkthe milk of Paradise." of which his own is unmistakablyone. simple or otherwise. and thus it is that the Ancient Mariner is compelled to share the story of his strange voyage with the Wedding Guest and numberless others. he is more than ever involved with them. egalitarian since his genius "gives wider sympathies with Nature. are just inadequate.In recounting a "spot of time" in The Prelude he tells us his sensationswere such that I shouldneed to man. as Coleridge says in the Biographia Literaria. in the highest sense of the word. and calls himself and Coleridge "Prophetsof Nature. the mirrors of gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present .." (A Philo- sophical View of Reform)." To be sure. "An IDEA. Wordsworth says in the "Preface" to the Lyrical Ballads that he is going to avoid poetic diction and personified abstractions in favor "of language really used by men" since "Poets do not write for Poets alone. but a sharer of open secrets. Stephen Prickett has pointed out the paradox of the poet's role by saying that it is.390 MICHAEL H. In The Prelude he refers to "higher minds."" Thus it is that Blake and Shelley use their powers for political and social reform. cannot be conveyed but by a symbol." In a passage that recalls both Blake's "Mental Traveller" and Moses' descent from Mt. .. on the one hand. Beware!Beware! His flashing eyes. The means by which they share those secrets of the supernaturalgained by imaginative powers is symbolic. The artist is not separatedfrom his fellow men by his powers.
. abides itself as a living part in that unity of which it is the representative. 1948). the ineffable. were the most popular among their contemporary readers. The symbolism of Romantic poetry. then.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 391 The wingedwordson whichmy soul wouldpierce Into the heightof Love's rareUniverse.. writes in The Statesman'sManual that " a symbol . has begun. (588-90) Keats. is important enough for Rene Wellek to see it as one of the common characteristicsof Romantic literature: "All the great romantic poets are mythopoeic. It always partakes of the reality which it renders intelligible. and while it enunciates the whole. the condemnation of Lycius in "Lamia" for revealing "to common eyes these secret bowers. and it is worth noting in passing that those two poets who relied less upon symbolism than their fellow writers. what is more. Lovejoy."The relationship between the symbol and the thing it signifies. is much like the relationship between the natural and the supernaturalworlds in that both depend on a unifying act of the mind. 1 (1949). above all by the translucence of the eternal through and in the temporal. for example. with the impossibility of conveying in words the full force of the visionary experiences created by the imagination. "On the Discrimination of Romanticism. the ecstatic. happy love"-and then traps himself by the contrast with earthly love. 12 "The Concept of Romanticism in Literary History." The alienation of the artist from society. Romantic poets turn to the suggestive power of symbols. so prevalent a Victorian concern."12 Before leaving our discussion of literature we might conclude by remarkingthat these facets of Romanticism were not popularly welcomed at the time.of poetical readers" and that Epipsychidion is "for the esoteric few." Essays in the History of Ideas (Baltimore. Well known are the failures of these poet-prophetsto transmit their mystic visions by symbols or otherwise to their contemporariesthe general ignorance of Blake's poetry. faced. is characterized by a translucence of the special in the individual." Comparative Literature. 165. 0. Wordsworth and Byron. or of the general in the special. in short. do so in part because they are organically related to the things they represent. Faced with the impossibility of expressing the supernatural. Are chainsof lead aroundits flightof fire. Keats's epitaph." or Shelley's remarksthat Prometheus Unbound is intended only for "the more select classes. are symbolists whose practice must be understoodin terms of their attempt to give a total mythic interpretationof the world to which the poet holds the key. or of the universal in the general. These alone are capable of expressing the infinite and. A. Cf. so different from the much more literal verse of the eighteenth century. Coleridge. in attempting to describe the ecstasy of his "fellowship with essence" in the "Ode on a Grecian Urn." resorts to repetition-"More happy love! more happy. .
who had more at stake and who perhaps more acutely recognized how dire was the threat. continued by Dickens in such a novel as Hard Times. founded in eighteenth-century empirical skepticism. Peck. The spiritual world to which they looked. says that the Oxford Movement "was. 1933)."'6 Evelyn Underhill writes that "The greatest thing which they did for their Mother Church is not to be found in the sphere of expressive ceremonial." and it was therefore necessary to reform the Church and shore up its defenses before it could march "againstthe foe. Joseph E. 17 Worship (New York. but in the restoration of this other-worldly temper. and to strengthenand purify religion. 15 The Oxford Movement: Twelve Years. for example. BRIGHT The renewed sense of the supernaturalarose in the Church. from a reaction to the secular humanism or liberalism which stipulated "that the whole realisation of the life of man was to be ."14This battle. was no less important in theology than in literature and was waged with no less vigor by the leaders of the Oxford Movement." in The Reinterpretation of Victorian Literature. in the English Church. begun by the Romantic poets. and developed in modern materialistic industrialism. (Chicago. sought "to rouse the Church from its lethargy. 1970). and reaching its most monumental expression in Tennyson's Idylls of the King. 4. the clearest and fullest re-affirmationof the primacy of the spiritual. As R."13 According to Charles Frederick Harrold." The Oxford Movement. by making it deeper and more real. was to be the supreme enemy of man's spiritual identity. . He then describesthe effect of the scene upon him: in me a placehavefound Suchthoughts more profound. ed. Church has said. ."15 The importance of this aim to the Oxford Movement can hardly be overestimated. the ruins of a church. discovered in this world./Mullions and arch" disclosed by the light of the moon. Nor was the threat wholly external.392 MICHAEL H. for a secular fifth column was working insidiously within the Church itself. 19. and which they believed to be revealed in sacramental experience. .and made an unmitigated demand upon the soul. The Social Implications of the Oxford Movement (New York. ed. Geoffrey Best 16Social Implications. 1950). W. 91. 13 William . "The Oxford leaders were as acutely aware as were Coleridge and Carlyle . In The Baptistery. the "blot" of the eighteenth-centuryChurch "was quiet worldliness.. then. as it had earlier in poetry. with its "crumbling walls. Isaac Williams places himself in a typical Romantic setting. 1937). 330-31. . 14 "The Oxford Movement: A Reconsideration. Baker (Princeton. 'Mid contemplations And seemto minglewithmy themes George Peck. . 1833-1845.""7 At times the descriptions of the spiritual experience assume distinctly Romantic overtones. and with it the essential link between adoration and sacrifice. that the new secularism. half-falling tower. was a world charged with mystery and awfulness. 39. 11.
After all.so. though at times it degenerates into superstition [as with Madeline in "The Eve of St. but. Pusey writes that "Faith is instead of eyes.. Mind. I have used this compendium for most of the quotations from the Tractarians because of its convenience and accessibility. Now there may be actually little differencebetween the two. of the opposition between imagination and reason embodied in Keats's question in "Lamia. however. these eyes which shall soon decay. Faith is the eye of the soul.I deemin themmore truthto lie Than all man'scold philosophy.. Faith is a divine power. is confessedly a higher instrument than Sense with its secure premisses. Cal. This notion is most succinctly put by Shelley in Prometheus Unbound when he says that the poet can create "Forms more real than living man. but instead Christianfaith." and of Keats's command to the pipes on the Grecian Urn to play "Not to the sensual ear. By faith we see Him who to our eyes of sense is unseen. but in practice we find that the Tractarians quite naturally prefer the religious term.""Do not all charms fly/At the mere touch of cold philosophy?"The opposition to reason as a means to truth is consistently found in Newman's writings. and in Keble we find it stated in terms reminiscent of both Williams and Keats: "Clearnessand symmetry of doctrine are a dear purchase. which is "trulyfrom the Deity. 20 Parochial Sermons in Chadwick. Whether precisely synonymous or not. when Christian truth and duty must be impairedfor their sake. Mind.. these descriptionsare put in peculiarly religious terms. which God has given us. a fragment of the true Temple is worth all the palaces of modern philosophical theology."20 One is reminded of Wordsworth's assertion in The Prelude that the imagination. They are mere bodily powers. more endear'd./Nurslings of immortality!"One is reminded even more.. 18 . however.Faith rises above Reason in its subject-matter ." Newman writes that "And as Reason."'9 Many readersof "KublaKhan"would have little difficultyin agreeing. is far better than that cold Excerpted in Owen Chadwick ed. 108-09. which tell us that the things around us are. 69./ Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone. 19Sermons Academical and Occasional in Chadwick. More often. with its great conclusions. Agnes"]. The Mind of the Oxford Movement (Stanford. they are very much alike in that both are faculties for the apprehension of a higher or divine truth and both are contrasted with the lower organs of sense and reason.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 393 Moretruethanlife suchholy dreams. 121.. as it is with the poets..'8 The passage is Romantic not only in its setting. but also in the idea that the unseen world of the imagination represents a higher reality than the experientialworld of reason.." allows the poet "To hold fit converse with the spiritual world. wherein one sees that the way to spiritual truth is not the imagination." On another occasion he says that "a Faith which generously apprehends Eternal Truth. 1960).. to behold Himself.
that although Christianityinsists upon the subservience of the body to the soul. because of Pusey's description of monastic institutions as "a refuge from the weariness and vanities of the world. quoted in W. Both soul and body took the Son of man.but soul and sense Mustboth alikefindwingand rise to Heaven. is an intimate and organic fusion of these two disparate elements. ."23 But it would be a mistake to regard the Tractariansin this way. Mind. after all. which has no inward sense of an overruling ever-presentProvidence. the act by which this reconciliation is made possible. 22 From a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1842. 84. 24 In Chadwick..394 MICHAEL H. Accordingly. 211."21 It would be easy to consider this religious quest for God. for they were no more dualistic than Browning's Fra Lippo Lippi.. as it is easy to consider the Romantic quest for the ideal. the stronger burns our inward life. One must remember. BRIGHT sceptical. but are true evidences of Nature's voice-in 21Sermons. who repudiates the Manicheism of his prior. 23Sermons during the season from Advent to Whitsuntide in Chadwick. The History of the Anglo-Catholic Revival from 1845 (London. chiefly on the Theory of Religious Belief. and it would be just as wrong. It would be easy because of Newman's quasi-monastic community at Littlemore. Thereby we perceive that the analogies and pleasant images [of poetry] are not the meaningless sport or fancy of a clever mind. and that the Incarnation."22 This quest for a refuge has its counterpart in literature with Keats's attempt to escape from "The weariness. preached before the University of Oxford in Chadwick. the less vivid is the life of the soul.. the fever. J. Both soul and body mustin Him serveGod. it is ultimately committed to the reconciliation of the human and divine. The more we live to things unseen. a new and heavenly light is cast upon it. and the fret" of this world. and a means of higher perfection to individuals . Isaac Williams in The Baptistery says of the aesthetic aspects of worship: These are alliedto sense. Mind.24 In a passage that approachesquite closely the Romantic attitude towards nature. . no desire to approach its God.. 1932). ibid. the less hold will this world of sense have over us. 231. 88-89. Keble discusses the intimate relationship of nature and God: "Religion is like a magic wand. The more we live amid the distractions of the world. critical tone of mind. 189. Sparrow Simpson. once that wand touches a part of Nature. and later on with isolationist themes in Tennyson and Arnold. insists upon the sovereignty of the spirit. Mind. It would be easy to understand these remarksby Pusey as dualistic: "The less we live for things outward.. one that ignores or repudiates the empirical world. because of the creation of Anglican religious orders beginning at midcentury.
monastic communities. This doctrine. after the seventeenth century when the Stuarts had 25 Praelectiones 26 Academicae. so did the Victorian belief in the high seriousness of the priest's calling present a sharp contrast to the relaxed worldliness of many eighteenth-centuryclerics. (I. 70. 235. Although the Church and State had been joined in the figure of the monarch since the Reformation." Nor. in turn.to cheerthemor to chide. of Him who created Nature. Although Goldsmith has left us complimentary accounts of the parish priest in The Vicar of Wakefield and The Deserted Village."26 This evangelicalism. To urgetheirchase. or indeed the chief. or Gothic churches. more than anything else dispels the mistaken impression that Victorian churchmen cloistered themselves within the secure and comfortable confines of university chambers."27A passage in George Crabbe's The Village describesthe very type that Church had in mind: task A jovialyouth. very much. however. and just as the Romantic view of the modern poet as inspired singer represented a dramatic reversal of Cowper's view that he is a mechanical drudge. 11. which Newman regarded as the commencement of the Oxford Movement. skill'dat whist. ibid. so did the parallel phenomenon in religion increase the respect and reverence with which the priest was held. R. W. . for in addition a new aura of solemnity and reverence surroundedthe priest because of the recently revived and emphasized doctrine of Apostolic Succession.who thinkshis Sunday's As muchas God or man can fairlyask.andto feaststhe night. or "outreach"as it is often called nowadays. keen. 27 The Oxford Movement. Social Implications. 306-13) A simple desire to reform such worldly ways was not. the only. To fieldsthe morning. source of the importance and seriousness now attached to the priesthood. derived from a fear of Erastianism. Church comes closer to describingthe typical eighteenth-centurypriest when he says that "He was often much. None betterskill'dthe noisypack to guide. there is proof of the Tractarian concern with this world in Peck's observation that "one of the chief effects of the Oxford Movement was to impose upon the English Church the task of recoveringfor itself a real field of action in Society. The resthe gives to loves and labourslight. he shootsthrough And. to the society round him. there was no need to fear Erastianismbecause of the doctrinal implications of "the divine right of kings..ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 395 truth."25Finally. contemplatingthe divine and forgetting "this strange disease of modern life. Mind." Just as the renewed sense of the supernaturalhad regained for the poet a pre-eminence long before lost. A sportsman half the day. first declared in Keble's "National Apostasy" sermon in 1833.devotesthe nightto play.
BRIGHT foundered on the resistance to this idea and when the effective power had shifted from the monarch to Parliament was there need to fear the domination of the Church by the State because the Test and Corporation Acts insured that all members of Parliament were communicants of the Anglican Church. Thus it is that when the bishop lays his hands on the head of the priest during ordination. and the aboltion of ten Irish Bishoprics in 1833. Once the sense of mystery had been restored to religion. then. Tract 86 alludes to Henry VIII's claim to be Head of the Church as "preposterous."Not only. the laity should be excluded to a large degree from participation in the liturgy which now became the 28 Development of English Theology. having its source also in the visitation of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles at Pentecost. by referringto "the Catholic Church in England" instead of "the English Church. "Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God."28 The emphasis on the doctrine enhanced the status of the clergy by providing them with an authority derived not from any secular power but from the divine charge granted St. Apostolic Succession came to be of such importance that Storr regards it as the most important tenet of all: "the essence of Tractarianismlies in this doctrine of succession. the Reform Bill of 1832. When. for. but as something without which there can be no Church at all. now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands. in turn. Peter by Christ himself. but an intimate association with divinity gave the priest an exalted position even as it had given the poet a similar place. the Book of Common Prayer requires that he say. and one that empowered them to reject the interferences of an apostate Parliament. 260. the Oxford leaders turned to the doctrine of Apostolic Succession to establish for themselvesand their Church an authorityolder and more puissant than that of the State. it proposes the transmission of the Holy Ghost to all who stand in the apostolic line. Besides a reaction to the laxity of eighteenth-centurypractices and a new sense of the importance of Apostolic Succession. one closer to the literary. the Test and Corporation Acts were repealed in 1828 there was no longer a guarantee that Parliamentary control of the Church was in the hands of Anglicans.396 MICHAEL H. that created respect for the priest's calling. As a result of all this. But the doctrine goes even further in elevating the priest's role." sought to establish an authority beyond the reach of Parliament."and others involved with the Movement. and when to this repeal were added the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. authority. however. indeed even Christians. there was great alarm within the Church about the high-handed and unsympathetictreatment accorded it by Parliament. Episcopacy is held up as not merely of the bene esse of a Church. it followed that church services should turn from an emphasis on instruction to an emphasis on worship and that. there was yet a third force. .
perhaps. The chancel had fallen into disuse and the minister stood near the people "so that even at the cost of some dignity and propriety they could see what was Now. the chancel was rehappening and follow the service. which had been moved forward to increase the participation of the congregation in the service. 1893).. so dear to the ecclesiologists. lvi-lvii. comment that "The worshipers who are to assemble in our church are not all on equality. it would be difficult for the priest. W. and the priest took his place in the chancel. 1948). Addleshaw and Frederick Etchells. John Mason Neale and Benjamin Webb. Finally. Anglican Worship (London. or put again to use at the east end of the chancel in the sanctuary. The Architectural Setting of 30 Ibid. and the mutual duties arising from the relation in The call for the restoration which the flock stand to their shepherds. The importance of the priest was literally visible in the restored and new churches. rebuilt. his nearness to God and emphasizing his role as intermediary. suggesting. the chancel screen. O. 31 Introductory essay to William Durandus. chief officiator at these mysteries. In the eighteenth century the proper place of the minister was either behind or beside the communion table. He now stands between the people and the altar."29 attitude brought about a further separation of clergy and laity. where one encounters such remarksas. 29 . In early times so real a thing was the distinction between the clergy and the laity.Their aim is not so much that the services should be a corporate offering of priest and people but that they should be offered by clergy and a choir in such a way as to call The change in out from the people an attitude of awe and adoration. he is elevated above the people. not to share in the aggrandizingeffects of this reverence. 203. and although the awe and adoration are directed towards the mysterious. presents an even more visible barrier. that the Church being divided into these two classes. Since the chancel is raised. 209. which physically separated the clergy from the laity. however. The Symbolism of Churches and Church Ornaments: A Translation of the First Book of the Rationale Divinorum Officiorum (London. usually three steps. stone altars were built. "It is almost useless for us to repeat for the G.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 397 primary responsibility of the clergy and choir. the material edifice displayed a like division: and the nave and chancel preach to posterity the sacredness of Holy Orders."30 stored to use. founders of the Camden Society and staunch advocates of a division between the nave and chancel by the roodscreen."31 of the screen is repeated over and again in The Ecclesiologist. This change in attitude is particularly evident in the ecclesiologists who "are anxious that the church services should create a certain atmosphere and make an impression on the minds of the people by the mysterious and by what appeals to a great deal more than man's understanding. There are some who are endowed with high privileges as being those consecrated to the immediate service of the sanctuary.
assumed by the priest upon ordination. and Pusey.but it was nevertheless. the church building itself. III (Princeton. to minister to the people. Taking together the expulsion of the poor and labouring classes (especially from the town churches). who is reported to have asked once "Do tell us what a cope is.as I shall show. as to worship."Historians are quick to point out that the Tractarianswere uninterested in the forms of worship. and authoritativelyand spiritually separated by the doctrine of Apostolic Succession and the new attitude towards worship. 1961).and late-Victorian Church is so visibly and forcefully striking as is its insistence on the symbolic importance of vestments."33 Ritualism. the Sacraments. Worship and Theology in England. even as it was the vehicle for the divine truths of the Romantic poets. Newman was indifferent. quoted in White. The means by which these shepherds attempted to reach and instruct their flocks was the use of symbolism. the natural result of Tractarianbeliefs. that we consider the screen the proper separation between the clerks and the laity. the liturgy. Many writers regard ritualism as an aesthetic reaction against the slovenly and irreverent habits of worship prevailing well into the nineteenth century.398 MICHAEL H. was bad beyond all parallel known to me in experience or reading. for it was his specific duty. 102. BRIGHT thousandth time. anything of ritualism or especially any revival of disused vestments. with whom in early days I was associated. as it was not necessarilythe poet's. that which the writers of the Tracts. and John Rouse Bloxam rather than of the Tractarians.but the concern of the Victorian churchman for social problems and particularlyfor the plight of the poor suggests that he accepted his duty willingly and succeeded in adjusting to his difficult and paradoxical role. . then. church furnishings. 148. Thomas Hook. Gladstone recalled that at the turn of the century "the actual state of things. was the child of the Camden Society and of such men as John Jebb. 20."32 Thus physically separatedfrom the congregation by his place in the chancel and also by the rich and elaborate vestments that were coming into use." repudiated the synonymous use of Puseyism and ritualism: "I am in this strange position that my name is a byword for that with which I never had any sympathy. in short all those things designated by contemporariesas "Ritualism. The Hireling Shepherd. the Victorian priest found his role even more acutely paradoxical than did the poet. 244. always deprecated-any innovations in the way of conducting the service. 33The question about the cope is quoted without a source in Horton Davies. The longer passage is from Liddon's biographyof Pusey and quoted by White. and there is ample evidence that the services provided much to react against. This duty. was taken lightly by such priests as Crabbe described in The Village and by some in the Victorian age too if one calls to mind Holman Hunt's painting. 32IX (1848). Perhaps no aspect of the mid.
Storr."35 While it is no doubt true that the indignation expressed in these and other reports derives from outraged aesthetic sensibilities. the elaboratehorrors of the so-called music. "a church warden get up on the altar to open the east window. with the jargon of parts contrived to exhibit the powers of every village roarer. VI. 4. 119. too. but the history of the ritualistic movement proves that the desire for ritual was determined by a dogmatic interest. 24 (Oct. the baldness of the service. 1879)."36 That many Victorian tion of Ritualism was dogmatic and not artistic. But ritual does not only inculcate a worshipful attitude. and while it is no doubt true that ritualism arose from the general aesthetic movement in the century as well as other sources such as a return to the medieval Church. ." Contemporary Review. 204. 37 Cambridge Movement.for even as the Romantic poets turned to symbolism as a more efficacious and appropriate way of expressing visionary truths out of frustration with the inadequacy of literal meanings. Had there been no sacramentaldogma. thandiscourses Are stronger Morepowerfully theyreachand move the soul. . 38 In Chadwick. and above all. Dean of Exeter. 1874). 268-69. later. writes that "Ritual is dogma translated into symbolism and outward form. so did the ritualists turn to ceremony and form to express divine truths and mysteries beyond the capacity of mere words.38 34"The Church of England and Ritualism."37 churchmen stress the didactic function of ritual over the aesthetic supports these opinions. there would have been far less passion White agrees: "Certainlythe basic inclinaaroused over ritual matters. for example." and John Mason Neale in that same year witnessed a luncheon tray brought to the squire during the reading of the Ten Commandments and. in Gleanings of Past Years (London. Mind. Here. it is no less true than these statements disclose a revulsion at holy things desecrated and that ritualism accompanied the increased reverence and awe with which the Victorians approached their worship. reported in 1842 that "we may now see in most of our rural Churchesa rabble of boors and boys seated on the very steps and rails of the altar.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 399 the mutilations and blockages of the fabrics. 35 Both comments are quoted in White. 36 Development of English Theology. and the altar itself used to place their hats on."34Thomas Lowe.. For example. rpt. one begins to perceive the parallel with literature. our services were probably without a parallel in the world for their debasement.. it also symbolically expresses dogma. and to prevent all congregationalsinging. and there are some who believe this to be the main reason for the revival of ceremony in the English Church. The intimate connection between dogma and ritual is sometimes denied. 188. the coldness and indifferenceof the lounging or sleeping congregations. in The Baptistery Isaac Williams justifies religious symbols by arguing: the visualsense For objectspleadingthrough to the ear.
In Tract 89 he writes. and this common weakness leads them to use alike the world of nature and sensation.according to Storr. acting through it. may almost seem to be God's gift from the beginning. Poetry. 40 Development of English Theology. vouchsafed to us for this very purpose: at any rate. . the fact is unquestionable. whereupon occurred the symbolic re-enactmentof the Incarnation.as through transparentbodies. BRIGHT Keble. This statement recalls Hegel's view that philosophy. whereby the towering and domineering pulpit was removed from its central position to the side.. testifies so forcefully to this change of attitude about how God might be most effectively made known as the rearrangementof church interiors. the Tractarians. as Angels might do when they appeared 39Ibid.. notion most frequently. 261. in passages that draw very closely together the literary and religious uses of symbolism. however. Poetry affords to Religion its store of symbols and metaphors. He is the Light and Life of the Church." In Praelectiones Academicae he says that prose. . The word had been usurped by the symbol and the reasonable had made way for the mysterious. regardedthe entire Church as symbolical in this sense: "in place of a theory of the Church as the accredited organ for the transmission of divine truth. religion. but (as it were) effluences of grace developing themselvesin external forms. In addition to their origin. traced as high up as we can go."40 one or sees this sacred that in the Sacraments. that it was the ordainedvehicle of revelation.400 MICHAEL H. by which he means literal speech. the studied pref- erence of poetical forms of thought and language. and these its Mysteries are not mere outward signs. similarly indicates the propriety of symbols for religious truth. chiefly. until God Himself was made manifest in the flesh. Coleridge believed that a symbol "alwayspartakes of the reality which it rendersintelligible". . as the channel of supernaturalknowledge to mankind. symbols. Religion gives them back to Poetry. which was that both were considered organically related to the things they represented."39 Nothing. is inadequate for religious and poetical subjects: "Both Religion and Poetry struggle to express thoughts and feelings beyond the power of prose to describe. Newman writes that "Christ shines through the Sacraments. the literary and religious symbols shared another similarity.. without impediment. "There is . 70. was set up a theory of the Church as an extension of the Incarnation. and the channel through It is which the living Christ works His age-long work of redemption. 68. . In short. the high pews that obstructed the view were demolished. dispensing of his fulness. (so to say) more sacramentsthan symbols. was restored to its elevated place in the sanctuary and became once again the focal point of the congregation.As we have seen. and poetry express the same truths in different ways. but sparkling in their new light. though. and the altar. knitting and compacting together every part of it.
"He who is at the right hand of God. 43Nine Sermons preached before the University of Oxford in Chadwick."Furthermore. and "participate in the holiness of the Holy. 59. 199-200. making us one with His glorified Humanity. Architectual Setting. 44Tillich. The eighteenth-centuryauditory church was little different from a nonconformist chapel or.the difference between symbols and signs is that although both point to something beyond themselves. but. New York (1959). we must recognize that there was a high seriousness and purpose behind the revival of these "mere forms" and that they were far more than the vain and trivial trappings of pro-Catholic medievalists.45The pulpit was in a central position and a communion table.." whereas symbols do. manifests Himself in that Holy Sacrament as really and fully as if He were visibly there. as the attacks in Punch would have us believe. for that matter. there is the union between the divine and the one who partakes of the symbol. Every symbol opens up a level of reality for which non-symbolic speaking is inadequate. . Religious symbols. held by the Tractariansand ritualists alike. Communion was the most important. Newman says. union with Him who hath taken our manhood into God. a Georgian ballroom. . . as He is One in the Godhead with the Father. Pusey writes that "this Divine Sacramenthas. . Thus. There he states that the main purpose of symbolism is "the opening up of levels of reality which otherwise are hidden and cannot be grasped in any other way. cit. 54. The ministerwore a simple black cassock instead of elaborate Eucharistic vestments and was not accustomed to calling himself "Father" or even 42 Ibid."41Of all the Sacraments. not an altar.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 401 to men. as its immediate and proper end. which is the Holy. 197. . 56. Ritualism and ecclesiology completely revolutionized Anglican worship and left behind the most visible and perhaps most lasting effects of the Movement. and it is in the doctrine of the Real Presence that one can see most clearly this interfusion. Most of those features we commonly associate with Anglican worship and assume to be part of the unbroken Catholic tradition were in fact reintroduced by the Victorians into a worship service that was practicallyindistinguishablefrom those of the Dissenters. op. was used."43 So it is that the symbol carries one far beyond the power of words by not only revealing God but also by achieving a union with Him. then. "signs do not participate in any way in the reality and power of that to which they point. 41Parochial Sermons in Chadwick. because of this fusion. open up a level of reality. 191."44 In light of such a view as that.."42 And not only is there the fusion of the symbol and the divine. Mind. and the infusion into us of His Spirit and life and immortality. Much of what I have been trying to say about the use of symbols in both poetry and religion has alreadybeen said by Paul Tillich in Theology of Culture.. Mind. 45 Addleshaw and Etchells. 206.
acolytes. BRIGHT "priest. and the lectern is supported by an eagle. The baptismal font. In fact. and choirs. representing the Church Militant or the Church in this world. Worship and Theology. practicallyall features of the church came to have symbolical value. was removed to the rear because it is by baptism that one enters the Church. and their colors all have symbolic value. xxvii. Easter.402 MICHAEL H. 1. The alb is purity and the stoll is the yoke assumed by the priest. In fact. But the buildings' symbolism is more specific than that. in this respect at least. Ideally. their signs. The ecclesiologists emphasized the symbolic nature of the church building itself. the sign of St. These changes met with as much opposition as had parallel ones in literature. The conduct of the service. The celebrant's vestments. separatedfrom the nave by three steps up (the Trinity) and the cross upon the screen (death). particularlyHoly Communion. The font is octagonal since eight represents eternity. representing the Church Expectant (the Intermediate State roughly comparable to the Roman Catholic Purgatory). All this changed. or Darwinism. Neale and Webb stated in their preface to Durandus is that characteristicwhich so strikinglydistinguishes that "Sacramentality ancient ecclesiastical architecturefrom our own" and "architectureis an emblem of the invisible abstract. John. . and the sanctuary with the altar. for instead of offering Communion to the people with the words "Behold the Lamb of God. he did know 46 Davies. was made more elaborate and formal by candles. Higher Criticism. they should be cruciform and pointing eastward. formerly placed at the front of the building so that all could see. the Anglican service was even less appealing than the nonconformist. the reception of these innovations was as vehemently hostile and certainly more generally hostile than any other proposed by the Victorian Church. which were so much more symbolic than the neo-classic ones."47Such beliefs lie behind their attempt to restore and build anew Gothic churches. and. and after harvest. incense. Paul's on Easter 1800. and even then it was not always well attended as we see by the fact that there were only six communicants at St. Pentecost. 47pp. now celebrated much more frequently. The inside is divided into three parts: the nave (the ship that carries us)." the celebrant said something like "Come forward.46 The language of the liturgy was simpler too."The Sacrament of Holy Communion was ordinarily celebrated only four times a year-at Christmas. for if the average communicant knew and cared nothing about Erastianism. the chancel. dear people." Popular hymns were not included in the service. the quincunx is on the altar to symbolize the five wounds of Christ. 58. no less than Holy Baptism and the Lord's Supper. III. representing the Church Triumphant or Heaven. These churches are symbolic in a very broad sense in that the verticality of Gothic draws one's eyes up into the empyrean even as Shelley's Skylark rises upwards and upwards into the infinity of space.
succeeded in having four priests imprisoned between 1871 and 1882.". and in Tennyson's description of Pellam's chapel as a place where "he scarce could spy the Christ for Saints. 129. and the reader should remember that there were other parallels between Romantic literature Mr. and. its journal The Ecclesiologist. Charles L. and above all. Victorian Church. though their purpose be to carry the mind This fear forward. like larks into a trap by broken glass. by Parliament. ed. etc.48The Queen expressed her displeasure with ritualism in her characteristicallyemphatic manner in a letter to Dean Stanley in 1873: "She thinks a complete Reformation is what we want. no treacheryso contemptible. I."49 Ruskin's invective against the meretricious beguilements of the Roman Church helps to explain the Anglican distrust of ornament and ceremony in their own Church: "But of all these fatuities. IV. VI. Davies. and the Anglican service today bears ample testimony to the success of the Camden Society. and everything of that kind. jangled into a change of conscience by the chimes of a belfry. "I am afraid that many in their zeal for the Church forget Christ . sweet sweet Rome. Worship and Theology. 1907). Punch ridiculed the Puseyites mercilessly. II. But if that is impossible. the archbishop should have the power given him.."52 Whatever the reason for the opposition to ritual. bowings. to stop all these ritualistic practices. all attempts at confession. there's no place like Rome. dressings. the basest is the being lured into the Romanist Church by the glitter of it. in 1859 and 1860 that are unparalleled in Church history for their violence and mayhem. and the service./ For all us Tractarians. The Stones of Venice (London. "Balin and Balan. My topic has been an arbitrarilylimited one. 108. 49 Quoted in Chadwick. Graves (New York." Idylls of the King. ritualism survived. the Church Association. the furniture. Gleanings. formed in 1865 to suppress ritualism. VI. no imbecility so absolute. the English Church Union.. I know nothing in the shape of error so dark as this.ENGLISH ROMANTICISM AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 403 and care about an order of worship that he feared tended more and more to Rome. 321. London. stitched into a new creed by gold threadson priests' petticoats. and the many individuals who persevered in the face of derision and contempt. 103. 52 Quoted in Gladstone. Punch taunted "Rome."51 is not so much of Roman Catholicism in general as it is of what most Anglicans considered Roman idolatry.d. there were riots at St. Punch's History of Modern England. n. most shocking. . may induce it to rest upon those objects themselves. and it is echoed in Dean Hook's comment." and with some justification since 446 people who might be broadly termed Tractarians joined the Roman Catholic Church between 1840 and 1899. 50Appendix 12. I. 51 Gleanings. For all this.). 340. 117. to be blown into a change of religion by the whine of an organ-pipe. George-in-the-East."50 Much more reasonable is Gladstone's fear "that the beauty of the edifice. the resistance was formidable. 48 . Rome.
are more convincing than simple parallels of a time spirit permeating and molding the physical appearances of an age. to a more limited extent perhaps. Also. in literature and religion there is an increased awareness of the mystical and supernatural element in the universe. for the most part long ago. They are interesting. among them such things as medievalism. or because it is less avowedly dedicated to permanence than the Church. I think. aestheticism. A second conclusion is that literature. then. What. second. That is.further. to repeat. One conclusion. do not become active literaryconcerns till the Victorian age. the mystical is expressed and comprehendedonly in symbolicalterms. but because of the simple limitation of space and because the parallels I have chosen are particularlyinteresting for the similar causal relationshipsthat operate in both areas. but it lingers yet. I have neglected these matters not because they lack significance. in such an area as history where the emphasis on the hero more or less corresponds to the importance given to the poet and priest. on the other hand. although latent in Romantic poetry. The religious and poetic views of the world unite both the natural and the supernatural. in turn. almost unchanged. produces two results: first. one should remember that the parallels I have selected to examine are not confined to poetry and religion in that they could probably be discerned as easily in painting. . say. in the Church. grow into plants of a like nature. the poet or priest who has access to this element is elevated to a pre-eminence above those who are denied immediate participationin this realm. the causal relationship and the complexities. This awareness. and. Perhaps it does so because it is not encumbered with the slow and intractable machineryof an institution.404 MICHAEL H. because they are similar in their individual complexities. No amount of direct influence could bring about. I have already mentioned some of these. the priest and the poet are elitist and egalitarian. in short. that we might draw from this parallel is that seeds of the same ideological species. seems to respond more readily and with greater sensitivity to this time spirit than does religion. Both these areas of interest. or because it never fully abandons its mimetic origins. was slower in responding to Romanticism and is only just now beginning to react to the modern world by revising the doctrines and practices established by the Victorians. it is clear that poetry responded first both to the Romantic temper and then to those currents of thought that rendered Romanticism untenable. such profound and complex similarities. The Anglican Church. in the nineteenth century at least. especially in the form of biological and geological science. BRIGHT and the Victorian Church. and. and opposition to materialism. Eastern Kentucky University. But many of these. and the literary symbol and religious sacramentare both the sign and thing. from poetry. Whatever the reason. although planted in different soils. we have been considering has disappeared.
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