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on devoting his talents, which are so well fitted for the task, to the moral elevation of his fellow-men. Let us respectfully remind him that the Romans at first had a joint temple dedicated to virtue and honour, and afterwards, when they allotted separate fanes to them, they were so placed that no one could enter the temple of honour without passing through that of virtue. And let us kindly part with him in the words of the poet of immortality,
"Virtue alone out-builds the Pyramids;
This elaborately severe reprehension of certain marked tendencies of the writings, while rendering the amplest homage to the genius of Dickens, may possibly be looked upon by southern admirers of the great novelist as only an amusing illustration of Scottish narrowness. Our Gallic neighbours have a theory, that English thought partakes of the limitation and isolation of England's soil. Something very similar to prepossessions which on the further shores of the straits of Dover are found so freely cherished respecting Albion, would seem to have taken possession of Englishmen regarding Scotland. Such of our countrymen as wander south and get metamorphosed into cockneys, may be permitted to pronounce upon the merits of southern authors; but criticism by a Scotchman who has not crossed the border, is for the most part looked upon, not in the light of its own merits, but through the blinding mists of national prejudices. That Hugh Miller's opinion of Dickens is an opinion pretty prevalent among the more reflective portion of Scotchmen does not, we presume, admit of doubt, however much southern friends may dispute the competency of Scottish taste to decide on English wit.
We should not, perhaps, be disposed altogether to acquiesce in the charge of pandering to a debased popular sentiment, which if not directly made, is rather broadly hinted as a sin of the novelist. Dickens is, we believe, in this respect altogether above suspicion. The author who has not stooped to humour throne,” is not likely to be guilty of any mean compliances to humour the mob. The truth is, Dickens owes his immense popularity to the fact, that at once in his faults and excellencies, his strength and weakness, he is a perfect representative of the English mind, minus the theological element; and so feeble is that element in a large section of Englishmen, its absence from the writings of their favourite author is hardly felt. But while this is the condition of England, Scotland has been, so to speak, saturated with theology; and to a man like Hugh Miller, on whom almost a double portion of the national tendency and predilection had fallen, nothing was more natural than to imagine what never, unless by design and the most studied intention, could be overlooked or misrepresented by himself, must have been intentionally misrepresented by the novelist.
Calvinian theology, so universally the theology of Scotland, has found but comparatively little favour south of the Tweed. We are quite aware, some of England's greatest theologians have been Calvinists; but at this hour the writings of these theologians are more read and more reverenced by Scotchmen than by Eng lishmen. Veneration for usages and ideas understood to be peculiarly associated with Calvinistic tenets, has never been very great in England. Knox brought with him from Geneva an idea of the man Calvin, which, blending with the dogmas of his theology, left an image of greatness and power that forever associates itself in the Scottish mind with the memory of the stern Genevan reformer. Among Englishmen, even Englishmen holding substantially a Calvinistic creed, no such hallowed conception of the great Frenchman is found to exist. Cowper's theology is well known, yet Cowper could say of Calvin :
Religion, in him intolerant, austere,
Dickens's caricatures of religious characters, are little more than an amplification of Cowper's lines; indeed, the epithets which the bard of Olney has brought together in this single verse, would almost exhaust the portraits of religious life Dickens has drawn. Given a character intolerant, austere, with a needless severity of manner, and lacking the smile, the sweet
ness, and the grace of Christianity, and we realize to the life the glowing asceticism of Dickens's religious characters.
Noticing not only in Dickens, but in other scarcely less popular modern English novelists, pious people always painted of the same obnoxious school, we suspect it must surely be a degenerate Calvinism compared with the Scottish type-a sort of parasitic plant that has entwined itself with a certain order of the English mind. In Kingsley's “Alton Locke" recognize the same disgusting features in the religious characters, that so sicken us in the novels of Dickens. They are Calvinistic clergymen who devour Widow Locke's house, and for a pretence make long prayers during the process. It may, therefore, be possible that Scotchmen do English authors an injustice in sometimes mistaking for caricature what has been copied from the life. It may be that, like plants which flourish luxuriantly in their own proper latitude, but which get dwarfed so soon as transferred to a less genial soil, some forms of faith may acquire a maturity, a strength, and a nobleness among certain peoples, which degenerate into a puerile fanaticism among peoples less fitted to profit by their peculiar power.
As years rolled away, Hugh Miller felt his early passion for science growing upon him. The storms of ecclesiastical controversy had subsided, and though he bore himself nobly and as a man of honour throughout the great church struggle, yet the editor of the Witness made no secret of the regret he felt for some of the more personal controversies in which he had been engaged. It was occasionally his lot, during the latter years of his life, to meet some of those towards whom, in the earlier part of his connection with the Witness, he had violated the dictates of good taste. When he found men on whom in other days he had poured the vials of his sevenfold wrath, forgetful of the past and all that had been personal between them, had nothing for him save honour and attention, the recollection of these rencounters was intolerable.
Nor was the recoil of such feelings weakened by the mode in which some he had served only too well, were disposed to treat his labours. His fame was indeed no longer in the keeping of any sect or party.