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- Lectures and Essays - 67/67 -


understand (to mention no more points) either the doctrine of Repentance _or that of the Holy Eucharist_, as held, _e. g._, by Bishop Ken, nor that of Justification, and such points as these must surely make a great difference. But may it please God to preserve me from writing so unreally and deceitfully as I did then, and if I could tell you the whole of my shameful history, you would join with all your heart in this prayer."

The biographer, while he proves his integrity by giving us the letter, of course protests against our taking seriously the self accusations of a saint. We certainly shall not take seriously any charge of deceitfulness against Keble, whether made by himself or by any other human being, but he was liable, to a certain extent, like all other human beings, to self-deception. His opinions, like those of his associates, on theological questions in general and on the question of the Eucharist in particular, had been moving rapidly in a Romanizing direction during the interval between the publication of "The Christian Year" and that of the "Lyra Innocentium." In the passage just quoted, we see that he was conscious of this, but it was not unnatural that he should sometimes forget it, and that he should then put upon the words in "The Christian Year" a construction in conformity with his opinions as they were in their most advanced stage. It is strange, however, that he and the rest of his party, if they were even dimly and at intervals conscious of the fact that their own creed had undergone so much change, should still have been able to take the ground of immutability and infallibility in their controversies with other parties and churches.

It has been almost forgotten that Keble held for ten years a (non- resident) Professorship of Poetry at Oxford. His lectures were unfortunately written, as the rule of the Chair then was, in Latin. He thought of translating them, and Sir John Coleridge seems still to hold that the task would be worth undertaking. For the examples, which are taken from the Greek and Latin poets, it would be necessary to substitute translations or examples taken from the modern poets. Mr. Gladstone chooses, the apt epithet when he calls the lectures "refined." Refinement rather than vigour or depth was always the attribute of Keble's productions. His view of poetry, however, as the vent for overcharged feelings or an imagination oppressed by its own fulness--as a _vis medica_, to use his own expression--if it does not cover the whole ground, well deserves attention among other theories.

To the discredit, perhaps, rather of the dogmatic spirit than of either of the persons concerned, religious differences were allowed to interfere with he personal friendship formed in youth between Keble and Arnold. With this single and slight exception, Keble's character in every relation--as friend, son, husband, tutor, pastor--seems to have been all that the admirers of "The Christian Year" can expect or desire. The current of his life, but for the element of theological controversy and perplexity which slightly disturbed his later days, would have been limpid and tranquil as that of any rivulet in the quiet scene where the years of his Christian ministry were passed. He and his wife, the partner of all his thoughts and labours, and the mirror and partaker of the beauty of his character, died almost on the same day; she dying last, and rejoicing that her husband was spared the pain of being the survivor.

"Within these walls [of the Church] each fluttering guest Is gently lured to one safe nest-- Without 'tis moaning and unrest."

The writer of those lines perfectly as well as beautifully realized his ideal.


Lectures and Essays - 67/67

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