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Christ, The Virgin Birth of,
Education Question in England, The, 836
Forty-Five Sermon's Written to 'Meei
the Objections of the Day,
History of Commerce, a;
America, Colonial and Federal, 816
Hymns of the Marshes,
Little City of Hope, The,
mative Causes and Broad Movements, 817
Meditationes ex Operibus St. Thomæ
Meditations for the Use of Seminarians
and Priests. The Fundamental
Memoriale Vitae Sacerdotalis,
My Brother's Keeper,
Psychic Riddle, The,
Saints, Les. Le Vénérable Père Eudes
for those in Charge,
Sweet Miracle, The,'
Thomas à Kempis: His Age and Book, 118
T has frequently been proclaimed, and still more
convincingly demonstrated, that the writing of verse is the best possible recipe for a good prose style. We find in the poet's use of prose not
only an habitual delicacy and picturesqueness (that we should have foreseen), but also a notable precision and sense of proportion-as though the use of wings had taught him all the possible graces of walking. It was thus with Aubrey de Vere; whose venerable head shared the glory of a great prose epoch as it had that of a rare poetic revival, and perhaps even more transcendently. We do not claim for him the superb distinction and vitality of Newman's unforgettable prose; nor the musical and emotional qualities of Ruskin; nor the stimulating if pugnacious vigor of Carlyle. But we do submit that his intellectual breadth and seriousness, his poetic sensibility and critical acumen, coupled with his infallibly pure and strong English, and that gracious versatility which we think of as Irish (when we know it is not French), render Aubrey de Vere worthy of a throne beside any one of them-when they shall come to judge the scribes of their Island Israel !
It was very characteristic of the de Vere household that, at eighteen, Aubrey and his beloved sister used to drive about the woods of Curragh Chase in their pony cart, reading the poetry of Keats, Coleridge, and Walter Savage Landor. Cul. Copyright. 1907. The MissiONARY SOCIETY OF ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE
IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
ture had become a tradition of the family. But an older and even higher tradition was patriotism-which in Ireland meant love of the people. And so it was equally characteristic that young de Vere's first prose work should have been upon no literary or speculative theme, but upon the pressing political needs of the day. “ English Misrule and Irish Misdeeds, Four Letters from Ireland addressed to an English Member of Parliament," appeared in 1848, while the famine was still an appalling reality, and English relief measures had about proved their inefficiency. The book is probably little known in these days, although it roused much comment, both favorable and adverse, at the time of its issue.
We should look far indeed for a calmer yet more burning statement of Irish wrongs, or a more masterly arraignment of that baser side of England, which for six centuries "kept vigil for Ireland, while for the rest of the world it generally slept." There is nothing melodramatic in these letters; although that heart-stirring outburst upon the causes of Irish poverty in Letter II, and the later apostrophe to England, with its reiterated burden: “It was your duty- It was your duty—" are noble examples of political eloquence. But for the most part the volume is a simple if impassioned statement of conditions, an inquiry into causes, and a series of suggestions for bettering those conditions. These eleven recommendations of de Vere
. -including as they do a plan of State-aided Emigration and Colonization, Amendment of the Poor Law, Agricultural Education, improved Sanitation for the Towns, et cetera-prove how practical an idealist the poet and littérateur could be upon occasion. But he was no partisan. He believed in union (provided that union meant equality) and he wrote as one “attached profoundly, reverentially, and sorrowfully to both countries”—and as nowise disturbed if his statements excited the hostility of either side. Year after year he continued these political writings: pleading as he knew so well how, upon philosophical as well as sentimental premises, against the secularization of Ireland's Church Property; discussing Proportionate Representation (1867, 1868), Constitutional and Unconstitutional Political Action (1881), and so on.
De Vere had from youth been an apostle of Edmund Burke, and in his later years he was no doubt considered rather ultraconservative. He believed neither in Home Rule nor the Na.
tional League; and while he still decried injustices to Church property or in the representation of the higher classes, he looked forward hopefully in the conviction that “the great wrongs of Ireland exist no more." In a man so large-minded, the tendency was ever toward the general and away from the particular-toward the sunlight which endures and away from shadows. Doubtless his own personal conviction was best expressed in this singularly beautiful and unworldly passage : “One great Vocation has been granted to Ireland by many great qualifications and many great disqualifications. When Religion and Missionary Enterprise ruled the Irish Heart and Hand, Ireland reached the chief greatness she has known within historic times, and the only greatness which has lasted. When the same Heart and Hand return to the same task, Ireland will reap the full harvest of her sorrowful centuries. She will then also inherit both a Greatness and a Happiness perhaps such as is tendered to her alone among the Nations." Besides this aim, the practical designs of his more radical compatriots were bound at times to seem unworthy and transitory.
In 1850 appeared the first of de Vere's purely descriptive writings—his Picturesque Sketches of Greece and Turkey. They are admirably named, and show throughout an unfailing appreciation, not only of beauty in every form, but of beauty's inner and less obvious significance. We note this quality alike in his dreamful description of the Tragic Theatre at Athens, in his comment upon the "hilarity" of Parnassian scenery, and in his contrast between the domestic mountains of England—with their herds and cottages and fruitful orchards—and those southern heights, black with pine forests at their base, while their summits soar into regions of perpetual snow. “ It is simply the difference between poetry and poetical prose," de Vere summarizes. The author's tribulations at the Syrian Lazaretto are recorded with that genial Irish humor which winds like a sunlit stream through the story of his wanderings. The sublime tranquility” of his English traveling companions—“sufficient of itself to keep the ship steady in a storm "-was a constant marvel to de Vere; while the absence of enjoyment at a London evening party suggested to him a possibility that the guests were “fashionably repenting, in purple and fine linen,” for the sins of their merrier youth.
* Preface to Inisjail, 1877.
But Aubrey de Vere's keenly philosophic and religious tendency was equally manifest. The Eleusinian Mysteries, those most deeply spiritual of Greek devotions, roused his critical and reverent interest; they also brought him face to face with a possible problem. “How are we to account for the extra. ordinary analogies between truth and fiction-between the guesses of pagan intelligence and the Christian Revelation ?" he demands, after acknowledging the many resemblances, both in rite and doctrine, between these ancient mysteries and the faith which succeeded them. “In all these matters there is but one question for a reflecting mind," he answers squarely; "namely, was the later Religion a patchwork of those which had preceded it; or were the early religions of the world, on the contrary, attempts to feel after a truth congruous with man's nature, and intended from the first to be revealed to him?" Such, on all grounds of philosophic reasoning, de Vere deduces as the true solution. “Whatever was deepest in the human heart, and highest in the human mind, sympathized with and inspired after that Religion, which (human only because Divine) is the legitimate supplement of human nature, as well as its crown. To infer that Christianity is but a combination of human inventions, because it satisfies the more elevated human instincts, is about as reasonable as a moral philosophy would be which accounted for the maternal affection by concluding it to arise from a recollection of the pleasure the child has found in her doll."
De Vere's Recollections, published almost half a century later, are his sole return to this form of narrative description -unless we include those charming touches scattered through his correspondence. The varied and voluminous letters included in Mr. Ward's Memoir are indeed a study in themselves : as a record of friendships, of nascent criticism upon art and literature, and of progressive spiritual experience they are quite indispensable. It cannot be said, however, that they reveal any unexpected phase of de Vere's thought; and many passages were later expanded in his more formal works. To return to the Recollections : The chapters upon Manning and Newman, with their intimate pictures of England during the Oxford Movement would alone make the book one of absorbing interest. Then there is that memorable description of the Great Irish Famine. In one vivid snap-shot we see de Vere