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Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

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to have been altogether advantageous.



8o COVENTRY PATMORE

ceived a letter ' from him written expressly to qualify, in
some slight degree, some expression he had used about Mr.
Gladstone. He never seems to me to have quite worked
off his Protestantism. St. Evremond, I think, says that the
Protestant and Catholic Spirits are distinguished thus : the
Protestant is always thinking of not displeasing God, the
Catholic is always thinking of pleasing Him, fear being the
ruling motive in one, love in the other. Keble's Parish
Sermons seem to me to be much more Catholic than New-
man's.

I am just now reading the Life of a peasant girl, Marie
Lataste, who died only a few years ago. Her life was all
grace and miracle, and her writings full of living sanctity
and vigorous perceptions of things hidden to the wise.
There are no such books in English, but many in French.
From a Christian point of view, we English are a very poor
lot compared with the French.

Lord Bacon's " Philosophy," as a philosophy, is as base as
his life was. It is not indeed, philosophy, " love of Wisdom,"
at all, but mere far-sighted material utilitarianism. Fancy
his setting down Plato and Aquinas as mere players upon
words !

I envy you the task you had of helping that poor fellow
to go happily out of the world. The " poor " as a class are



^ " The Oratory, Brompton,

"June 8, 1868
"My Dear Sir,

" Pardon me for giving you the trouble of reading another
letter from me. It has struck me that, in the one which you have
just answered, I so worded what I said as to seem to call Mr.
Gladstone an experimentalist or empiric in politics. I had no
thought of him in what I said. I have far too much respect for
him to like the appearance of having so spoken of him. I was
thinking of the two great parties, Whigs and Conservatives since
1859, bidding against each other for popularity and binding them-
selves with pledges which they would evade if they could.

" As you say in in your letter, I grieve at the forbidding aspect
which Catholics are at this time assuming in England.

"Very truly yours,

"John H. Newman."



APHORISMS AND EXTRACTS 8i

rolling so in luxuries that it is the rarest thing in the world
to find an opportunity of helping them to anything better
than to get a little more drunk than usual. The real poor,
that is the greater part of the lower middle class, hide their
poverty and will not take help from strangers. It is a good
thing for well-to-do people that Our Lord's exhortations to
help the poor apply rather to interior poverty than ex-
terior ; and especially to our own poverty. They are the
truly charitable who clothe and feed the poor beginnings of
grace in themselves, and save them from starving. These
are the " poor " and " needy," the " orphans " and " widows "
evidently which David always had in his mind in his
Psalms.

I send you a book, which will occupy your thoughts and
perhaps your heart, for at least a day or two. It is very
long since I have read any book so well worth reading as
this sketch of the " Life and Philosophy" of Schopenhauer.
He seems to me one of quite the greatest minds of modern
times. He thinks himself almost an atheist, and yet his
philosophy is almost purely Catholic. The book will give
you much insight into Indian philosophy. You will see
that the doctrine of annihilation of Buddha is exactly the
same as the self-annihilation of Christianity — an abnegation
of self, not of life, as is vulgarly supposed. You will sym-
pathise with Schopenhauer's scorn of his fellow-country-
men, whom I am glad to see, he regards as the stupidest
of created beings. I love him also for telling Wagner
(the musical impostor) that he did not know what music
meant.

Goethe's loves, as you feel, are all immoral ; for all love is
immoral which contemplates or admits of the possibility of
change ; and one always sees that he is loving " provision-
ally." I hate, too, Goethe's views of self-" culture." He
would have got more real self-culture by one great act of
self-sacrifice than by all his dissections of live women.

I have been reading Gibbon's " Decline and Fall " with
great pleasure and admiration. Nine-tenths of what people
of all " denominations " shriek at him for, is simply true.
His sneers are almost always at priests, not religion. His
sketch of the progress of Christianity in the first three

II. G



82 COVENTRY PATMORE

Centuries, is the only piece of ecclesiastical History I have
ever found interesting, or, indeed intelligible.

My Lent and Easter will have been very much helped by
your present of the Missal, which I am ashamed to say, I
had been very little in the practice of using, trusting rather
to my own way of praying at Mass. I had gone through
all the forty days with it, and have been astonished at the
light which is thrown upon the Bible by the way the
Church applies it. The collocation of prophecies, etc., for
to-day is especially wonderful.

" The thought that makes the monk and nun " glows
darkly through them, as the heat glows through the shut
doors of a smelting furnace.

What a surprise it will be to meet. At least that is
always my feeling after a long separation. Doubtless one
of the purposes of death is to supply this exquisite feeling
in the highest perfection, when those who have loved each
other come together again. And as every feeling will be
always new and fresh in Heaven, those who attain to it
may hope to live for ever with this acute delight of recog-
nition in their hearts.'

Your dream was very curious. Be sure there is much
more in dreams than people think. They constitute a real
world running alongside of our other world. That one part
of a dream should explain and solve another, is absolute
proof that dreams are not mere associations at random of
ideas drawn from our waking hours.

The exceedingly few persons who are habitually occupied
with the realities of life, and not with the shadows, must
have noticed that dreams are sometimes among the most
real of life-affecting realities. They reveal the capacity of
the soul for felicity and misery as no experiences of waking
life ever do. Goethe says of such dreams :

" I know they are eternal, for they are''

God will not have it that, at the Day of Judgment, any



Cf. "A Farewell," "With tears of recognition never dry."






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Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 7 of 36)