Western churches, soundly historic, soberly aesthetic, observing always the practical balance of the moral and mystical elements in its faith, I know nothing more wisely reasoned, or--speaking within the mind of the age--more convincing, than Milman's review of the Essay on Development.


THE FAITH OF THE GRANDFATHERS 1

IN 1800 that Bishop of Rochester whom Gibbon called 'the mighty Horsley', and Wilberforce 'a dirty scoundrel', complained that in matters of religion 'the vicious ignorance' of the poor was balanced by 'the presumptuous apostasy' of the aristocracy. Eighty years later, John Bright got into hot water--a favourite and familiar element with him--by saying that the working classes cared as little for the dogmas of Christianity as the upper classes for its practice. Yet anyone could have confuted the bishop or the statesman by pointing to thousands of working men who were deeply studious of the Bible and its commentators, and scores of upper-class families whose life was a model of Christian decorum. The rejoinder, I suppose, would be that they were only thousands among millions, and scores out of hundreds. In other words, when we speak of Religion in the Victorian Age we mean, primarily, the movement of religious thought and practice in the Middle Class, among the people whose writings and conversations made opinion.

Where, then, did these people, clergy and laity, stand at the opening of the Victorian age--an age which may be reckoned from Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the Reform Act of 1832, Keble's Assize Sermon in 1833, or the New Poor Law of 1834? Now that the Victorian era has begun to rise again above the ignorant contempt of the last decade, there is a tendency to push the Dark Ages one generation farther back. Anglo-Catholics, in

____________________
1
Religion in the Victorian Era, by L. E. Elliott Binns, D. D.

-153-

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Victorian Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Victorian Centenary 13
  • The Age of Tennyson 46
  • Eyes and No Eyes 70
  • Thackeray 74
  • Mr and Mrs Dickens 79
  • The Schoolman in Downing Street1the Two Mr Gladstones, by G. T. Garratt. 82
  • Mr Gladstone 90
  • The Happy Family 110
  • The Greatest Victorian 116
  • The Mercian Sibyl 129
  • The Victorian Noon-Time 133
  • Sophist and Swashbuckler 142
  • The Faith of The Grandfathers 146
  • Tempus Actum 153
  • B. A. Kohnfeldt 158
  • Katherine Stanley And John Russell 162
  • Maitland 173
  • Topsy 178
  • The New Cortegiano 183
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