arius the Epicurean (1885) is not only the supreme intellectual and artistic effort of Pater's career, but it represents the ultimate reach of the dialectical impulse that had governed so much of his earlier career. Moreover, the ethical and intellectual thrust of Pater's dialectic is closely parallel to the central line of Matthew Arnold's development in the sixties and seventies. Marius becomes a thoroughgoing revision or at least reshaping of Pater's characteristic positions in the Renaissance and elsewhere; and his basic dichotomy between culture and religion is worked out in terms strikingly dose to Arnold's historical and ethical theory of the relations between Hebraism and Hellenism. That Arnold's Inaugural Lecture of 1857 and the essay on Marcus Aurelius (1863) had an important part in forming Pater's view in Marius of Marcus Aurelius and late [263/264] Roman civilization is now well established. As readers have also seen, (See Allott, pp. 219-221; and Hough, p. 149.) the larger tissue of Arnoldian phrasing extends well beyond these two matters; my argument here is that the very structure of Marius reflects Pater's reading of Culture and Anarchy and Arnold's religious writings of the seventies.
The stages of Marius' progress have been carefully detailed, especially by R. V. Osbourn, who finds the pattern of the book in "the cycle of apparent stabilities recurrently failing": each alternative view of life is tested by death and each, except for the final Christian vision, found wanting. ("Marius the Epicurean," Essays in Criticism, p. 398.) Marius moves from the traditional religion and ethic, through a pleasurable paganism, to the apparent stability of Pater's partially hedonistic New Cyrenaicism; Stoicism then attracts him by its claim of a more complete life of "active serenity," and, after a stage in which he is prepared for the possibility of union with a transcendent power, he ends in the life of the Christian community.4 That this [264/265] movement, hesitant as it may be concerning his ultimate commitment to Christianity, is intended to be a "progress," is obscured by the fact that the "Christian" Marius at the point of death seems temperamentally very similar to Marius at twelve years. As Billie Andrew Inman his shrewdly noted, "All of the themes introduced in the first three chapters can be traced throughout the work." ("The Organic Structure of Marius the Epicurean," p. 478.) Apart from the numerous elements in the Christian community which are obviously not present in the inherited religion of Marius' childhood and which Mrs. Inman overlooks, the flaw in her argument is her neglect of the ambiguity into which Pater's double time scheme throws "that visionary idealism of the villa." As Osbourn puts it, "the historical setting is primarily of importance as a disguise for an autobiographical and philosophical progress in the nineteenth century, and not for its revelation of Antoine Rome. ("Marius the Epicurean," p. 392.) The inherited religion will have close resemblances to the final Christian vision precisely because, in its nineteenth-century analogue, the inherited religion becomes the traditional Christianity -abandoned by a sensitive young man of acute aesthetic susceptibilities; the later rapprochement with Christianity of such a man will inevitably bear certain resemblances to his boyhood faith, along with important additions and modifications.
The movement from stage to stage in Marius' progress is unified, moreover, by a persistent three-part conflict between Marius' intellectual and emotional impulses, a conflict manifested both in Roman society and in his own mind. As Mrs. Inman helpfully frames the oppositions,
Paganism, in his scheme, corresponds to the head and Christianity to the heart. Pater details three sides of this general conflict: (1) against the consurning concern of paganism for perfection in external display he places a Christian reverence for inner virtues; (2) against paganism's haunting sense of futility he places Christian hopefulness; (3) against paganism's [265/266] philosophic indifference to pain and its vulgar delight in brutality to arimals he places Christian sympathy for all creatures. Each of these conflicts has a correspondent in the mind of Marius: (1) pure aesthetic judgment vies with moral concern; (2) a scepticism which engenders despair vies with a mysticism which engenders hope; (3) a tendency to develop the mind in detachment vies with a sympathy for the suffering of all creaturcs, ("Organic Structure of Marius," p. 484.)
Mrs. Inman finds this continuing oscillation between the aesthetic and skeptical view of life, and the moral and even mystical view, persisting to the very end and thus leaving unresolved the conflicts of Marius' life. But she does concede that in one aspect of this conflict of heart and head — "intellectual detachment versus sympathetic feeling" — the heart wins decisively. (Ibid, p. 487-88.) It remains to suggest the implications of this complex dialectical structure in relation to Pater's earlier thought and to Arnold's sponsorsbip — in providing terms and ideas — of this new marriage of aestheticism and Christianity. Pater's opposition of bead and heart becomes, in effect, a further set of variations in the prolonged struggle of Hebraism and Hellenism in the thought of both men.
The altered perspectives of Pater's view are evident early in the book in the sharp contrast of Flavian's rather sinister mobility, animation, and "eager capacity for various life" with the older "visionary idealism": "To Marius, at a later time, be counted for as it were an epitome of the whole pagan world, the depth of its corruption, and its perfection of form" (ME, I, 53). Pater is preparing for a thoroughgoing critique of his aestheticism as expressed in the Renaissance; indeed, Marius cannot be understood fully unless the reader is constantly alive to Pater's attempt to meet the charges of the critics of his first volume, perhaps above all W. H. Mallock. The basic opposition of the book between Hellenic culture and a "visionary" religion informs each stage of the dialetic. The early contrast between the childhood religion and the young man's new Epicureanism is presented in terms of Arnold's dichotomy between "culture" and traditional Christianity, Hellenism and Hebraism. The second dichotomy, that marked out between Marcus Aurelius' Stoicism and early Christianity, is drawn as [266/267] Kenneth Allott and others have shown, from Arnold's disparagement of Aurelius' melancholy in contrast to Christian "joy," in the essay of 1863 and elsewhere. The final reach of Pater's dichotomizing impulse is achieved when he introduced a new disjunction within Christianity, one between the "humanistic" Christianity of the second century and the unsatisfactory "ascetic" Christianity of the Middle Ages. The rejected ascetic Christianity plays the tole assigned to English Puritanism in the interplay of Hebraism and Hellenism in Culture and Anarchy, His favored version of Christianity hovers between two related ideals: one, a Christianized version of Arnold's culture or Hellenism, with several dashes of the religion of Literature and Dogma; the other, a naturalistic, nondogmatic Christianity not unlike that moralized secular Christianity of Arnold's religious writings of the seventies, though Pater pointedly eschews the heavily moral emphasis Arnold imparts to his reading of religious history and psychology.
The point of especial importance here is that Marius recapitulates not only a number of stages in Pater's own development but also, with significant changes of torie and emphasis, the crucial struggles of Arnold's career. As Pater borrowed from Arnold's works the essential structure of his dilemmas, he now more systematically responds to a number of the very pressnres that impelled Arnold continually to reshape the dilemmas and disjunctions of his own intellectual career.
To understand Pater's reliance an Arnold requires at least a synoptic view of the relations between culture and religion in Arnold's thought in the sixties and seventies. Arnold's straightforward contrast of Christian joy and the Stoic gloom of Marcus Aurelius in 1863 is undercut the next year in "Pagan and Mediaeval Religious Sentiment," where medieval religious joy is only temporarily awarded the palm over pagan sensuousness, and where the religiously tinged humanism of Peridean Athens and its "imaginative reason" offer a final aggressive challenge to Christianity: "Let St. Francis, — nay, or Luther either, — beat that!" (CPW, III, 231). Arnold's disinterested criticism in "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time," while having no direct relation to religion, derives a good deal of its power from the religious rhetoric in which it is swathed: Criticism inhabits the sphere of spiritual progression, its task is to lead men to the fullness of spirit- [267/268] ual perfection, its subtle and indirect action works by the Indian virtue of detachment. The relation of religion to culture in Culture and Anarchy is more complex, partly because the book reflects Arnold's developing thought for a period of almost two years. In "Sweetness and Light" culture not only seeks to achieve what religion seeks-perfection, harmonious perfection, general perfection, an inward condition of mind and spirit-but it also engrosses and supersedes the functions of traditional religion: as the harmonious expansion of all the highest powers, avoiding the overdevelopment of any one faculty, "culture goes beyond religion, as religion is generally conceived by us" (CPW, V, 94). The model is Greek art and poetry, "in which religion and poetry are one"; the ideal of human life is the aesthetic one of "beauty, harmony, and complete human perfection" (CPW, V, 100). A year later, however, in "Hebraism and Hellenism," man's two impulses, intellectual and moral, are again said to have the same aim — "man's perfection or salvation"-but Arnold is at considerable pains to insist on the divergence of method by which they proceed. Arnold concedes that "the Hellenic conception of human nature" was unsound because late classical civilization lacked the "indispensable basis of conduct and self-control." But it is not "absolutely" unsound: it was simply not the "hour" for Hellenism. At another point Arnold assigns "the priority ... to that discipline which braces all man's moral powers, and founds for him an indispensable basis of character" (CPW, V, 169-10). Arnold's most persistent posture of course is that of the reconciler, the sponsor of "the idea of a comprehensive adjustment of the claims of both the sides in man, the moral as well as the intellectual, of a full estimate of both, and a reconciliation of both" (CPW, V, 179). But the polemical mood breaks through as Arnold reminds the reader that for the Reverend W. CAttle and his fellow countrymen, "at this particular moment," Hellenism i's more wanted (CPW, V, 181).
Literature and Dogma, the central statement of Arnold's religious position in the seventies, marks a retreat from both the easy merging of religious and aesthetic categories and the aggressive setting up of Hellenic inclusiveness over against Hebraic narrowness. Arnold speaks almost as if he were not the author of Culture and Anarchy:[268/269]
Some people, indeed, are for calling all high thought and feeling by the name of religion; according to that saying of Goethe: "He who has art and science, has also religion." But let us use words as mankind generally use them. We may call art and science touched by emotion religion, if we will; as we may make the instinct of self-preservation ... include the perfecting ourselves by the study of what is beautiful in art; and the reproductive instinct ... include the perfecting mankind by political science. But men have not yet got to that stage; ... neither do we yet think of religion as otherwise exercising itself. When mankind speak of religion, they have before their mind an activity engaged, not with the whole of life, but with that three-fourths of life which is conduct. (LD, pp. 18-19)
Arnold later explains this notion, which surely Pater would have read with considerable interest, when he says that the "not ourselves, by which things fulfil the real law of their being," extends greatly beyond the moral sphere and includes "art and science." This is not true in "the generality of men," however, because the moral side of that tendency includes so large a fraction of life: "Let us," Arnold pleads, "keep firm footing on this basis of plain fact, narrow though it may be" (LD, p. 40). But Arnold is not wholly comfortable, even in Literature and Dogma, with the restrictions that the special development of his Christian moralism places upon the totally engrossing tendency of his culture. He criticizes even his own definition of the God of Israel as "the Eternal Power, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness," since it applies only to our moral side, and he bids us remember that "there is one-fourth of our being of which it does not strictly meet the wants, the part which is concerned with art and science" (LD, p. 308). "For the total man, therefore, the truer conception of God is as 'the Eternal Power, not ourselves, by which all things fulfil the law of their being;' by which, therefore, we fulfil the law of our being so far as our being is aesthetic and intellective, as well as so far as it is moral" (LD, PP. 348-349). although it may be harsh, at present, to speak of pleasing or displeasing God in these two areas, nevertheless 11 as man makes progress, we shall surely come to doing this. For, the clearer our conceptions in science and art become, the more will they assimilate themselves to the conceptions of duty in conduct, will become practically stringent like rules of conduct, and will invite the same [269/270] sort of language in dealing with them" (LD, p. 349). Arnold has prepared the way not only for his own return to the literary and political world with a much deepened, religiously colored doctrine of culture, but also for the special emphasis of the Paterian version of culture.
The ethical dynamic of this movement from the intellectualist position of disinterested criticism in the early sixties to the elevated and sometimes even mystical view of self-transcendence in the religious writings of ten years later is complex. It involves notions like service, the higher self, and as its culmination the "inspired self-sacrifice" of Jesus first developed in Cultare and Anarchy. The deepening of the ethical substructure of Arnold's culture in the latter volume was, as already discussed, largely a response to the critics' charges of hedonism, aestheticism, uselessness, and self-centeredness. The argument of Marius was in large part shaped as an answer to the very similar charges directed against Pater's earlier writings; Pater understandably turned to Arnold's example for possible solutions to the ethical dilemma.s that by 1880 evidently loomed large for him, too. Always in the background there is the mysterious matter, about which little will ever be known, of Pater's personal rapprochement with his own childhood religion.
A central thread of Arnold's ethical progress is the theme of the religious solidarity of mankind, based on sympathy, an idea related to the social utility of culture. Culture is a "moral, social, and beneficent" force, because the social motives — "love of our neighbour, the impulses towards action, help, and beneficence, the desire for removing human error, clearing human confusion, and diminishing human misery, the noble aspiration to leave the world better and happier than we found it" — are now "the main and pre-eminent" ground of culture. He explains the role of "sympathy" in this culture which seeks a "general" religious perfection:
And because men are all members of one great whole, and the sympathy which is in human nature will not allow one member to be indifferent to the rest or to have a perfect welfare independent of the rest, the expansion of our humanity, to suit the idea of perfection which culture forms, must be a general expansion. Perfection, as culture conceives it, is not possible while [270/271] the individual remains isolated. The individual is required, under pain of being stunted and enfeebled in his own development if he disobeys, to carry others along with him in his march towards perfection, to be continually doing all he can to enlarge and increase the volume of the human stream sweeping thitherward. [CPW, V, 94]
This sympathy of the "one great whole," that best self by which "we axe united, impersonal, at harmony," becomes in the Preface of 1869 "general" perfection, developing all parts of our society," and is exPlained in Pauline terms: "For if one member suffer, the other members must suffer with it; and the fewer there are that follow the true way of salvation, the harder that way is to find" (CPW, V, 235). Later in the same year, in "St. Paul and Protestantism," this is called Paul's "mystical conception" of identifying oneself with Christ and thus with Christ's "idea of the solidarity of men." The regenerate members of the human race, dying and rising with Christ, become "the mystical body of Christ." The life of Christ is incomplete if only this or that individual follows it: "The same law of emotion and sympathy, therefore, which prevails in our inward self-discipline, is to prevail in our dealings with others" (SPP, pp. 66-67). Tbus what Mrs. Inman speaks of as Marius' movement from intellectual detachment to a Christian "sympathy for the suffering of all creatures," "sympathetic feeling," closely resembles the central movement of Arnold's intellectual career. The sympathy that Arnold places at the center both of his religiously conceived culture and his enlightened religion is the crown of Pater's new-found Christianity in Marius.
A review of Marius' career reveals that this ethical direction in Arnold's thought provides a pattern for the stages of Marius' spiritual progress. In tracing this movement, Pater not only revises a number of his earlier views but also subjects his own and Arnold's conception of culture to the kind of scrutiny given it by their critics; in this way, Marius becomes almost an epitome of the successive attempts by Arnold and Pater to shore up the assailable basis of culture. In the formation of Marius' Cyrenaicism, there are many echoes from Culture and Anarcby concerning mankind's deep yearning "towards ideal perfection," "completeness of life," "insight through culture," and culture as "a wide, a complete, education" and "the expansion and refinement of [271/272] the power of reception" (II, 98, 142, 157). Not only does Marius himself have a "poetic and inward temper," but he senses that his culture and "intellectual discipline" (referred to in Schiller's phrase as "an 'aesthetic' education") "might come even to seem a kind of religion-an inward, visionary, mystic piety, or religion" (I, 147-48). Similarly, "the true aesthetic culture would he realisable as a new form of the contemplative life, founding its claim on the intrinsic 'blessedness' of 'vision,' " in a "world of perfected sensation, intelligence, emotion" (I, 148). The first challenge to this ideal comes with the admission that culture may become "antinomian" by the standards of the received morality (I, 149-50). Pater's first answer to criticism is that the charge of immoralism, and hedonism is not applicable to Marius' form of Cyrenaic reflection: "Not pleasure, but fulness of life," was his goal (I, 151). This phase of Marius' career even ends with a saving "inconsistency" in Marius, a note of limited selflessness. That is, despite his philosophy of the "mystic now," the moment, he wishes he could "arrest, for others also, certain clauses of experience, as the imaginative memory presented them to himself." This may merely be the literary impulse asserting itself, but it is conneLted with "his longing ... for something to bold by amid the 'perpetual flux.' " (I, 154-55; this reference and a later one — "an inward need of something permanent in its character, to hold by"; II, 18 — indicate that Graham Hough's statement that Pater shows "none of Arnold's longing for certitude" (p. 137) requires some qualification.] The furthest reach of Marius' selfless feelings at this period is shown by his determination, not unconnected with the conscientious religion of his childhood, "to add nothing, not so much as a transient sigh, to the great total of men's unhappiness" (I, 156)-which is a negative version of Arnold's "desire for ... diminishing human misery," the "noble aspiration to leave the world better and happier than we found it" (CA, p. 44).
Much of volume II is preoccupied with the possibility, under the new Stoical influence, of in "adjustment" between "the old morality" and the Epicurean view of things. The old morality had been allowed no place in Marius' intellectual scheme because he feared its first principles might stand in the way of his goal of "a complete, many-sided [272/273] existence." Now he fears that this dismissal reveals a "graceless 'antinomianism.' " Aware of "a strong tendency to moral assents," his concern becomes "to find a place for duty and righteousness in his house of thought" (II 6-7). In this "search after some principle of conduct," for some "theoretic equivalent to so large a proportion of the facts of life," Marius finds a temporary due in Cornelius Fronto's defense of "the purely aesthetic beauty of the old morality" (II, 7-9). Pater has now arrived almost exactly at the stage of culture indicated late in "Sweetness and Light," where Arnold speaks of the "best art and poetry of the Greeks, in which religion and poetry are one, in which the idea of beauty and of a human nature perfect on all sides adds to itself a religious and devout energy, and works in the strength of that" (CPW, V, 100). Pater's "adjustment" of morality and culture is precisely the point of a key passage in "Hebraism and Hellenism" which describes the Greek "idea of a comprehensive adjustment of the claims of both the sides in man, the moral as well as the intellectual, of a full estimate of both, and of a reconciliation of both" (CPW, V, 179). Of course Pater's "complete, many-sided existence" is reminiscent of a score of expressions in Culture and Anarchy-for example, the definition of Hellenism as "a many-sided perfecting of man's powers and activities," or the idea of "being complete at all points, the full and harmonious development of our humanity" (CPW, V, 185). Moreover, Pater's speaking of morality as "so large a proportion of the facts of life" has the ring of Arnold's famous definition of conduct, in Literature and Dogma, as "three-fourths,... at the very lowest computation, of human life," perhaps even four-fifths or five-sixths (LD, p. 13).
Chapter XVI, "Second Thoughts," is at once Pater's most poignant defense of his aestheticism and the most telling critique of its limitations. The argument breaks neatly in the middle, and each half implicitly acknowledges different kinds of critical challenges. The framework is the "isolating narrowness" that Marius now sees in his scheme of life, by contrast with the "wide prospect over the human, the spiritual, horizon" revealed in the discourse of the Stoic Fronto. Marius applies his own aesthetic criterion of "loss and gain," or the economy" of life, to determine whether his Epicureanism "missed [273/274] something in the commerce of life, which some other theory of practice was able to include," and whether it "made a needless sacrifice" (II, 15). This fear of "sacrificing" some part of consciousness, pervasive in Marius, seems dearly derived from Arnold's definition of the bent of Hellenism, "to follow, with flexible activity, the whole play of the universal order, to be apprehensive of missing any part of it, of sacrificing one part to another, to slip away from resting in this or that intimation of it, however capital" (CPW, V, 165). Ironically, however, where Arnold was in 1868 apprehensive of "resting" in the religious intimation of the universal order, Marius' new fear is that of sacrificing the wider religious consciousness to his life of aesthetic perception. At any rate, Pater's limited defense of Cyrenaicism takes the line that it is simply the philosophy of youth, ardent and sincere, but one-sided and even fanatical, the "vivid, because limited, apprehension of the truth of one aspect of experience" (II, 15).
although this "clear-eyed intellectual consistency" may indeed require the sacrifice of certain high convictions and first principles, Pater's chief point is that in the aesthetic devotee's "scrupulous idealism, indeed, he too feels himself to be something of a priest, and that devotion of his days to the contemplation of what is beautiful, a sort of perpetual religious service" (II, 17). In short, the doctrine is that of the idealistic young man and not of "the 'jaded Epicurean' " (II, 16). The very intensity of his self-development makes him especially open to the appeal of religion: "he has, beyond all others, an inward need of something permanent in its character, to hold by" (II, 18). although truth admittedly resides " 'in the whole'in harmonisings and adjustments" (almost Arnold's very prescription of the "comprehensive adjustment" and harmonious "reconciliation" of the two sides of man's nature), the "nobler form of CyrenaicismCyrenaicism cured of its faults" paradoxically merges with the religious temper:
If it starts with considerations opposed to the religious temper, which the religious temper holds it a duty to repress, it is like it, nevertheless, and very unlike any lower development of temper, in its stress and earnestness, its serious application to the pursuit of a very unworldly type of perfection. The saint, and the Cyrenaic lover of beauty, it may be thought, would at [274/275] least understand each other better than either would understand the mere man of the world. Carry their respective positions a point further, shift the terms a little, and they might actually touch. (II, 20)
In this ultimate defense of a purified aestheticism, Pater can list the qualities of the nobler Cyrenaicism which approach those of the nobler phases of the traditional morality: "In the gravity of its conception of life, in its pursuit after nothing less than a perfection, in its apprehension of the value of time ... it may be conceived, as regards its main drift, to be not so much opposed to the old morality, as an exaggeration of one special motive in it" (II, 21). This rather strained performance, one of the most "synthesizing" in Pater, parallels Arnold's listing of the qualities in which culture is like religion-with the significant difference that Arnold's culture went beyond religion in inclusiveness, while Pater's aestheticism is somehow the extreme development of one aspect of religion itself.
Thus Pater refutes the charges of hedonism and antinomianism directed against the view of life expressed in the Renaissance by offering a purified and elevated aestheticism not only compatible with religion but actually especially conducive to religious vision. He goes on, in the second part of the argument, so far to acknowledge the charges of selfcenteredness and narrowness as to shake the self-sufficiency of culture to its foundations. This new strategy takes the form of admitting that the older masters of Cyrenaic philosophy, though they experienced moments of almost "beatific" pleasure and knowledge, paid too high a price, "in the sacrifice of a thousand possible sympathies, of things only to be enjoyed through sympathy, from which they detached themselves, in intellectual pride" (II, 21-22). By rejecting even the "higher view" of Greek religion available to the philosopher, these thinkers rejected a "whole comely system of manners or morals" which gracefully enveloped the whole of life and which would satisfy even the "merely aesthetic sense" (II, 22-23). The failure of this Cyrenaic culture to profit by attention to Greek religion and Greek morality shows, Pater concludes, "their fierce, exclusive, tenacious hold on their own narrow apprehension" (II, 24) — which is, by an amusing shift in rhetoric, the very terminology Arnold habitually employed to abuse English Puritans for their "rigidness and contentions- [275/276] ness" and for their "narrow and mechanical conception" of salvation (SPP, p. 14; CPW, V, 187). But Marius, it is clear, must be carefully preserved from these harsher strictures: for it was perfection he had sought all along, even if a narrow perfection centered in "his capacities of feeling, of exquisite physical impressions, of an imaginative sympathy" (II, 24). In his reawakened interest in the "venerable system of sentiment and idea," he found his old self again, as the pilgrim who had originally come to Rome, "with absolute sincerity, on the search for perfection" (11, 26-27). This inherited order of sentiment and idea, first imparted to Marius by the Stoics, would indeed entail some curtailment of his liberty, but it "defined not so much a change of practice, as of sympathy-i new departure, an expansion, of sympathy" (11, 27). He would be untrue to his own criterion of value "if he did not make that concession, if he did but remain just there" (11, 28). Marius' own standards remain, for the while, 11 aesthetic" — there must be no "sacrifice" of any possible experiencebut the phrase "the merely aesthetic sense" and references to sympathy, friendship, and patriotism prepare the reader for the advent of Pater's Hellenic Christianity.
Chapter XIX, "The Will as Vision," is crucial in presenting the growth of Marius' conscience and religious sense. His apprehensions of divinity are presented in some detail, and seem clearly to reflect Arnold's struggles with the idea of the transcendent in his writings of the seventies. Marius' speculation on a providential hand in his life and affairs, "an unfailing companion," brought him in the first place "an impulse of lively gratitude" (II, 66-67). Under the direct influence of natural beauty, "he passed from mere fantasy of a self not himself, beside him in his coming and going, to those divinations of a living and companionable spirit at work in all things, of which he had become aware from time to time in his old philosophic readings," a "reasonable Ideal" known to the Greeks and to the Old and New Testaments (II, 67-68). He saw that
his bodily frame ... Nay! actually his very self — was yet determined by a far-reaching system of material forces external to it, a thousand combining currents from earth and sky. Its seemingly active powers of apprehension were, in fact, but susceptibilities to influence. The perfection of its capacity [276/277] might be said to depend on its passive surrender, as a leaf on the wind, to the motions of the great stream of physical energy without it. And might not the intellectual frame also, still more intimately himself as in truth it was, after the analogy of the bodily life, be a moment only, an impulse or series of impulses, a single process, in an intellectual or spiritual system external to it, diffused through all time and place — that great stream of spiritual energy, of which his own imperfect thoughts, yesterday or to-day, world be but the remote, and therefore imperfect pulsations? [II, 68-69]
Gratitude, a self not himself, the currents from earth and sky, susceptibilities to influence, passive surrender, the great stream of physical energy, the great stream of spiritual energy: these are some of the key terms and ideas of Arnold's theodicy and cosmology. Agnostic as to the "personality" of the transcendent element in things, Arnold prefers in St. Paul and Protestantism to define God as the "stream of tendency by which all things strive to fulfil the law of their being" (SPP, p. 8). This sense of God as "the source of life and breath and all things" is the "infinite element " the "element in which we live and move and have our being, which stretches around and beyond the strictly moral element in us, around and beyond the finite sphere of what is originated, measured, and controlled by our own understanding and will" (SPP, pp. 47, 49). "By this element," says Arnold, "we are receptive and influenced, not originative and influencing" (SPP, p. 49). The basic opposition remains that between the "voluntary, rational, and human world, of righteousness, moral choice, effort" and "the necessary, mystical and divine world of influence, sympathy, emotion" (SPP, p. 50). In Literature and Dogma, in discussing the origin of the religious impulse, Arnold again brings in those "facilities and felicities ... suggestions and stimulations," to which visitations, he concludes, "we may well give ourselves, in grateful and devout selfsurrender" (LD, pp. 25-26). The irrational "energy" and "power" in the world are amplified into "a tendency, which is not ourselves, but which appears in out consciousness, by which things fulfil the real law of their being" (LD, p. 39). This presumably corresponds to Pater's system of material forces, of which one's "very self" is a part. But there is for Arnold a more limited aspect, "the not ourselves by [277/278] which we get the sense for righteousness, and whence we find the help to do right"; and, as shown above, this aspect of the not ourselves extends beyond this moral sphere to "art and science," thus including the totality of man's spiritual operations (LD, pp. 27, 39). This more limited view of the not ourselves would then correspond to Pater's intellectual or spiritual system, and great stream of spiritual energy. When Pater says that this sense of companionship with a transcendent force "evoked the faculty of conscience, ... in the form ... of a certain lively gratitude" (II, 71), he echoes the Arnold who speaks of "gratitude for righteousness," or put differently, who says that with the happiness brought by morality, comes a "sense of gratitude" (LD, pp. 30, 41).
In Chapter XXI, "Two Curious Houses," Marius was reaching "the critical turning-point in his days"; for he saw in "the blithe self-expansion" of the Christians at worship the message of peace put forth everywhere, "with images of hope, snatched sometimes from that faded pagan world which had really afforded men so little of it fromfirst to last" (II, 103). In effect, by allowing Marius to find in Christianity a "tranquil hope ... heroic cheerfulness and grateful expansion of heart," as well as "the solace or anodyne of his great sorrows," and by disparaging the pagan world, Pater is quite openly reversing the characteristic balance of cultural values presented in the Renaissance and Greek studies and adopting the formerly rejected view of Arnold in "Pagan and Medieval Religious Sentiment." Not until the following chapter, " The Minor Peace of the Church,' " does Pater present his ultimate dialectical effort. Here Pater reasserts his Hellenic humanism, but now as one of the two traditions within historic Christianity and superior to Greek religion. The effect is to confound critics of the allegedly antireligious tone regarding culture in the Renaissance by showing it to be somehow the highest Christian ideal. Moreover, the poles of Pater's dialectic — the familiar ones of culture and a puritan Christianity: in a word, Hellenism and Hebraism — are taken bodily from Arnold.
A prime characteristic of this brief period of the Minor Peace of the Church was "the vision of a natural, a scrupulously natural, love," under the urgency of a "new motive," "a more effective sanction and [278/279] motive," than it had ever had before, though it was still unfathomable to Marius (II, 109 ff.). This is, presumably, the love of Christ. This new motive and sanction of what Pater calls "the truth of nature" in Christianity are important notes in Arnold's view of Christianity, too. Saint Paul and Protestantism, as shown earlier, speaks of Christianity's new motive force, "the immense tidal wave of sympathy and emotion" felt for Christ. Literature and Dogma ref crs to the new and stronger motive as "personal devotion to Jesus Christ," a motive "full of ardent affection and gratitude," and to "the sanction of joy and peace" (LD, pp. 92, 172-173). Arnold asserts the identity of natural and revealed religion (as opposed to the "artificial" religion of the theologians) as being the product of a certain natural consciousness, man's "experience of the power, the grandeur, the necessity of righteousness" (LD, p. 45). At any rate, the genius and power of Christianity, says Pater, are shown in the hope nurtured by Christian chastity. This chastity issued "in a certain debonair grace, and a certain mystic attractiveness, a courtesy, which made Marius doubt whether that famed Greek 'blitheness,' or gaiety, or grace, in the handling of life, had been, after all, an unrivalled suocess" (II, 111 ). Again he adopts Arnold's previously rejected view that the Greek religion of gaiety and pleasure (that of Gorgo and Praxinoe "chattering in their blithe Doric") was a "manifest failure" as a religion for men to live by (CPW, III, 228-229).
This view of Christianity as a more successful sponsor of grace and courtesy than pagan culture is the clue to Pater's remarkable development of what amounts to the idea of "two Christianities." Christian belief had inspired chastity, which in turn rehabilitated "peaceful lahour" after the pattern of Christ, "another of the natural instincts of the catholic church, as being indeed the long-desired initiator of a religion of cheerfulness" (II, 114). Pater offers his statement of a theory of historical oscillation:
And this severe yet genial assertion of the ideal of woman, of the family, of industry, of man's work in life, so close to the truth of nature, was also, in that charmed hour of the minor "Peace of the church," realised as an influence tending to beauty, to the adornment of life and the world. The sword in the world, the right eye plucked out, the right hand cut off, the [279/280] spirit of reproach which those images express, and of which monasticism is the fulfilment, reflect one side only of the nature of the divine missionary of the New Testament. Opposed to, yet blent with, this ascetic or militant character, is the function of the Good Shepherd, serene, blithe and debonair, beyond the gentlest shepherd of Greek mythology; of a king under whom the beatific vision is realised of a reign of peace-peace of heart-among men. Such aspect of the divine character of Christ, rightly understood, is indeed the final consummation of that bold and brilliant hopefulness in man's nature, which had sustained him so far through his immense labors, his immense sorrows, and of which pagan gaiety in the handling of life, is but a minor achievement. Sometimes one, sometimes the other, of those two contrasted aspects of its Founder, have, in different ages and under the urgency of different human needs, been at work also in the Christian Church. [II, 114-15]
In Marius' mind, the favored version of "Christianity in its humanity, or even its humanism, in its generous hopes for man, its common sense and alacrity of cheerful service, its sympathy with all creatures, its appredation of beauty and daylight," is sharply contrasted with Marcus Aurelius'burden of "unrelieved melancholy" (II, 115). The due to the nature of this humanistic Christianity lies in Pater's remark that It so much of what Marius had valued most in the old world seemed to be under renewal and further promotion" (II, 116). At this stage of its exposition, this Christianity is simply Pater's Arnoldian culture and Hellenism taking to itself certain religious graces. For example, Pater now explains what in 1883 he had called Christian "sacramentalism" as the view that "the world of sense ... set forth the veritable unction and royalty of a certain priesthood and kingship of the soul within, among the prerogatives of which was a delightful sense of freedom" (II, 116). The major part of Christian history, before and after this brief episode under the Antonines, was the reign of the Christianity of "the dark ages," of an "austere ascêsis," of "exclusiveness ... puritanism ... ascetic gloom" and "tasteless controversy." But this "gracious spirit" of the second century marked a Christianity true to the "profound serenity" in the soul of Christ and thus "conformable to the original tendency of its genius." It was the spirit of this better Christianity — "Amiable, in its own nature, and full [280/281] of a reasonable gaiety"-wbich reasserted itself centuries later in St. Francis, Dante, and Giotto (II, 117-119).
This theory of the two Christianities is only the prelude to an even more ambitious universal theory of ethical history:
In the history of the church, as throughout the moral history of mankind, there are two distinct ideals, either of which it is possible to maintain-two conceptions, under one or the other of which we may represent to ourselves men's efforts towards a better life — corresponding to those two contrasted aspects ... discernible in the picture afforded by the New Testament itself of the character of Christ. The ideal of asceticism represents moral effort as essentially a sacrifice, the sacrifice of one part of human nature to another, that it may live the more completely in what survives of it; while the ideal of culture represents it as a harmonious development of all parts of human nature, in just proportion to each other. [II, 120-21]
There can be little doubt that this contrast between asceticism with its "sacrifice" and culture with its "harmonious development" is precisely that which Arnold makes the center of his discussion of Hebraism. and Hellenism. There, intelligence and morality are two "forces," "in some sense rivals.... as exhibited in man and his history," which the world is attracted to in alternation (CPW, V, 163). The passage that probably comes closest to Pater's words is one in which Arnold says of Hellenism that "it opposes itself to the notion of cutting our being in two, of attributing to one part the dignity of dealing with the one thing needful, and leaving the other part to take its chance" (CPW, V, 154). Pater had turned to Arnold's ethical and historical theory to explain the relations between Marius' Cyrenaicism and his broadening Stoic vision; here again, he draws on Arnold's definitions of Hebraism. and Hellenism, but with a strikingly different balance of values. For it is evident that Pater's rather factitious Christianity as described in this chapter is in fact a blend of his own "comely" aestheticism and Arnold's Hellenism and culture, while the contentious kind of Christianity, militant, puritan, ascetic, exclusive, is parallel to Arnold's Hebraic English Protestantism. That the favored Christianity is indeed what "Marius had valued most in the old world" is confirmed by the characteristic vocabulary used concerning Christianity in this chapter-serene, blithe, debonair, sweetness, humanism, appreciation [281/282] of beauty, freshness, grave and wholesome beauty, gracious spirit, an-Liable, reasonable gaiety, the grace of graciousness, tact, good sense, urbanity and moderation, cheerful liberty of heart, aesthetic charm, comely order, the graces of pagan feeling and pagan custom: the whole panoply of the Paterian rhetoric which had adorned, and given the characteristic resonance to, the often aggressively "Pagan" Renaissance and Greek studies. The only potentially moral or mystical notions contained in the chapter are those of a cheerful service, a sympathy with all creatures, and the "priesthood and kingship" of the soul — all undeveloped at this stage. Pater cannot of course be accused of deception; certainly his emphasis on "the naturalness of Christianity" (II, 122), Arnold's characteristic phrase in his later years, indicates both some of the source of this religion, as well as its metaphysical status; see, for example, Matthew Arnold, "A Comment on Christmas, "Contemporary Review, XLVII (April 1885), 457-472; reprinted in the Popular Edition of St. Paul and Protestantism. (1887). At times the larger polemical thrust of Pater's argument comes to the surface, as when he mentions, apropos of the accommodation of pagan feelings and customs in this Antonine Christianity, "As if in anticipation of the sixteenth century, the church was becoming 'humanistic,' in an earlier, and unimpeachable Renaissance" (II, 125). Pater was at once retreating from the antinomianism of the Renaissance volume while almost delightedly re-exhibiting his Hellenic ideal in sacerdotal robes.
Fairness demands, of course, that this crucial chapter on the "Minor Peace" be seen as only a stage, not the ultimate reach, of Marius' pilgrimage. There is more to the religion of this chapter than Winckelmannian or Goethean Hellenism in blasphemous disguise for this is not merely Arnold's culture in its more religious mood. I believe that when Pater makes "a cheerful temper" the special quality of Christian character (II, 123), he is reflecting Arnold's more deeply moral conviction, in the religious writings, that "Christianity is, first and above all, a temper, a disposition" (SPP, p. xxii). In one of his most conciliatory moods, in St. Paul and Protestantism, Arnold insists that both Hebraism and Hellenism are "beauty and charm"; if Hellenism is "amiable grace and artless winning good-nature, born out of lucid- [282/283] ity, simplicity, and natural truth," Christianity (not here, interestingly, Hebraism) is "grace and peace by the annulment of our ordinary self through the mildness and sweet reasonableness of Christ." Both, then, are "eminently humane" (SPP, p. xxxiii). Literature and Dogma repeatedly stresses that authentic Christianity-as opposed to the strange "aberrations" of medieval asceticis-consists in a spirit of "mercy and humbleness," "meekness, inwardness, patience, and self-denial,"and "the exquisite, mild, winning felicity" of Jesus (LD, pp. 195, 74, 86, 194). Now Parer's Christ and his "amiable" Christianity are of the very same spiritual quality: Christ is "the Good Shepherd, serene, blithe and debonair," who announces "a reign of peace-peace of heart"; this "spirit of a pastoral security and happiness" reflects the "profound serenity," "the peaceful soul," of Jesus; and the Church is a er of sweetness and patience" (11, 119, 114, 115, 117, 121, 124).
It also seems likely that Pater's very favorable presentation of the catho ic church" and of Catholic ritual in this chapter is, at least in part, indebted to Arnold. Pater speaks, for example, of the "aesthetic charm of the catholic church, her evocative power over all that is eloquent and expressive in the better mind of man, her outward comeliness, her dignifying convictions about human nature" (II, 123). He ends by commenting on the "generous eclecticism" of Catholic ritual: "It was thus the liturgy of the church came to be-full of consolations for the human soul, and destined, surely! one day, under the sanction of so many ages of human experience, to take exclusive possession of the religious consciousness" (II, 127). Arnold's "Irish Catholicism and British Liberalism" (July 1878) appeared in the Fortnightly, where by far the greatest number of Pater's own essays of this period were first published. There, Arnold announced that when Catholicism is eventually stripped of its Ultramontanism, sacerdotalism, and superstition, "It is left with the beauty, the richness, the poetry, the infinite charm for the imagination, of its own agelong growth" (MxE, pp. 88-89). In this poetry and charm for the imagination lies the superiority of Catholicism to all the Protestant sects: "I persist in thinking that the prevailing form for the Christianity of the future will be the form of Catholicism" (MxE, p. 90). Published at [283/284] the very time of Pater's first conception of the plan of Marius, Arnold's essay may well have confirmed a significant drift in Pater's religious thought.
I think it imply demonstrated that — even apart from the very important extent to which Arnold shaped Pater's view of Marcus Aurelius and his conception of the conditions of late classical civilization, a subject I have not gone into here — Pater looked to Arnold's writings of the sixties and seventies in elaborating Marius' dialectical advance from one alternative position to another; the religion of Marius represents, to a degree not hitherto recognized or detailed, a merger of Arnold's Hellenism and his Christianity of mildness and sweet reasonableness. Perhaps Arnold goes even further as Virgil to Pater's pilgrim. As explained earlier, Arnold's religious doctrine of "the solidarity of men" in "the mystical body of Christ," through the "law of sympathy and emotion," is the clue to his own highest religious perceptions in the religious writings. And sympathy, as Mrs. Inman and others have seen, is precisely the one area in which Pater's hero unequivocably achieves a triumph over aesthetic isolation and detachment. Especially in Chapter XXV, "Sunt Lacrimae Rerum," Marius' diary reveals that he is aware of the need for "an imaginative stimulus," to overcome his occasional "indifference ... in regard to the sufferings of others." This "callousness," he realizes, is a failure in love (II, 173 ff.). A "ready sympathy with the pain one actually sees" becomes the practical difference among men; the future ties with those who have the most of this "power of sympathy" (II, 183). Through this power we may have intimations, even if only of "some mere general sense of goodwill-somewhere in the world perhaps"; as Marius puts it, in pity, even self-pity, " 'seem to touch the eternal' " (11, 183-184). (By this point in Marius, intriguingly, Pater has adopted for his needs Arnold's three chief periphrases for God: the not ourselves, the streani of tendency, and the Eternal.) The theme of sympathy is expanded in the final chapter, where Marius, at the point of death, feels "the link of general brotherhood, and feeling of human kinship" (II, 217).
Pater parts company with Arnold precisely here, at the moment of Marius' rather abortive beautifying vision. Marius' point of view is [284/285] curiously double: he retains the essential norm, and the phrases, of the "Wordsworth" essay, insisting on "vision" or seeing as the end of life, above having or doing. This vision of "beauty and energy" in things implies using life, "not as the means to some problematic end, but, as far as might be ... an end in itself" (II, 218-219). On the other hand, it is just this "elaborate and lifelong education of his receptive powers" which enables Marius to open himself, however tentatively, "towards possible further revelation some day towards some ampler vision." Marius remains forever poised, the house of his soul "ready for the possible guest," buoyed up by "the great hope" (II, 219-221). Both halves of this double vision fall outside the purview of Arnold's agnostic Christian moralism. The intense ethical strain in Arnold's religious writings strives for an active engagement with the world beyond even the highly qualified aesthetic views of Essays in Criticism and Culture and Anarchy; at the same time, despite certain hints of companionship with Christ and of a "mystical" selfsurrender to the not ourselves, there emphatically will be no further revelation, no possible guest, in the cleanswept house of Arnold's religion of joy in righteousness.
Last modified November 2000