The Rev. Frederick Denison Maurice, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Cambridge, and formerly Chaplain of Lincoln's Inn, whose death, on Monday week, has been recorded with sinoere regret, was about sixty-seven years of age. He was the son of a Unitarian minister in the neighbourhood of Bath or Bristol. Having been sent for his education to Trinity College, Cambridge (image), he became a pupil of Julius Hare, one of the “Two Brothers,” authors of The Guesses at Truth. He was a fellow-student, at the same time, of John Sterling, the personal friend of Carlyle.
Mr. Maurice, though he distinguished himself at the University, was excluded for some time from taking his degree, with the Fellowship that was offered him, by his dissent from the doctrines of the Church as set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles. He therefore came to London, and engaged in literature as a regular occupation. He wrote a novel of domestic life, called Eustace Conway; or, the Brother and Sister, and he wrote criticisms for the Athæneum when Mr James Silk Buckingham first started that journal, of which Mr. Maurice was for a short time the acting editor. A singular aneodote of this period is related. It is said that the accidental choice of a name, “Captain Marryat,” for the imaginary villain of his story caused the real Captain Marryat, a more successful novelist, to challenge the author of “Eustace Conway” to fight a duel. The story was written in 1830, but was not published by Mr. Bentley till 1834, by which time Mr. Maurice was a country clergyman; for his objections to the orthodox creed had melted under the influence of Coleridge, whom he and Sterling constantly visited at Highgate. He resolved to enter the ministry of the Established Church, and, with this view, entered Exeter College, Oxford, where he took his degree of B.A. at the Michaelmas Term, 1831, with classical honours, at the same time as Mr. Gladstone. Having taken clerical orders, Mr. Maurice performed, during two years, the work of a curacy in a rural parish of Warwickshire. In 183d he was appointed Chaplain to Guy's Hoepital, where he gained a familiar acquaintance with the wants aad sufferings, the habits and notions, of the London poor. He kept this post ten years, but added to it, in 1840, the Professorship of Modern History and English Literature in King's College, London. He wrote for the Encyclopedia Metropolitans, projected by Coleridge, the essays on the history of moral and metaphysical philosophy, which he afterwards developed to form a book.
His first expressly theological publication, in 1838, was The Kingdom of Christ; or, Hints on the Principles, Ordinances, and Constitutions of the Catholio Church, in Letters addressed to a Quaker. Its main idea was that Christianity, instead of making its disciples separate themselves from the world, should prompt them to infuse the Christian spirit into all the secular business, the common duties, and wholesome pleasures of ordinary life. In 1845 and 1846 Mr. Maurice preached the Boyle Lectures on the nomination of Bishop Blomfield : their subject was an examination of the other great religions of mankind in comparison with Christianity. About this time, having delivered the Warburton Lectures at Lincoln's Inn, he was invited to beoome Chaplain of Lincoln's Inn, for which office he relinquished the Chaplaincy of Guy’s Hospital. At the same time his work in King's College was augmented by taking the Professorship of Eoclesiastical History. He was active meanwhile in the establishment of several agencies for social good. The democratic agitation, between Chartism and Socialism, that spread to England from the French Revolution of 1848, was to be met with earnest co-operative efforts by the more affluent classes to aid the working men in bettering their own condition. Health, leisure for recreation, and the means of good eduoation were the objects most desired; and with these chiefly in view, in the autnmn of 1849, an association was formed, by some clergymen, physicians, barristers, and literary men, to advocate reforms of social life on the principles of Christian morality, applied to the conduct of manufactures and trade, the regulation of terms of labour, and various matters of household concern. Mr. T. Hughes, the Rev. Charles Kingsley, Mr. T. Hare, and others who have since gained influence and distinction, were among the leaders of this movement, which was nicknamed "Christian Socialism;" and one of its counsellors was Mr. Maurice. Its main result of permanent value was the foundation of the Working Men's College, in Red Lion-square, now in Great Ormond-street, in which Mr. Maurice. Mr. Hughes, and Mr. Ruskin have taken efficient parts. The Ladies' College, in Harley-street, is another institution which has beon much indebted to the services of Mr. Maurice for its early success. His diverse labours, as a religious minister and teacher, as a discursive writer on serious questions, and as a benevolent social reformer, free from the taint of partisanship, went on till 1853 without a check. In that year he published a volume of Theological Essays one of which, containing an expression of opinion contrary to that of the unlimited duration of future punishment, was denounced as heretical. Thu late Rev. Dr. Jelf, Principal of King's College, protested against Mr. Maurice remaining a Professor of that college; and, as Mr. Maurice oould not alter his opinion, he was obliged to resign; leaving the Harley-street Ladies' College also for the same cause. It is scarcely worth while to comment on this affair, in which equally good men on both sides, looking at a question in two different ways, found themselves unable to agree, and parted without any bitterness of feeling. In the next year Mr. Maurice gave a series of lectures, at Willis's Rooms, on the oo-operative principle of organisation for the working classes. In 1860, resigning the chaplaincy of Lincoln's Inn, be became the minister of St Peter's Chapel, Vere-street, Cavendish-square. This appointment he held till 1869, since which he has been Professor of Casuistry and Moral Philosophy at Cambridge.
Among the important works of Mr. Maurice are his Lectures on Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, in two volumes, the first of which is an historical and critical review of ancient systems to the thirteenth century; the second part brings it down to the French Revolution, “with a glimpse into the nineteenth century.” His “Lectures on Casuistry," delivered in the University of Cambridge, are published under the title of The Conscience Another series of his Cambridge lectures is that on Social Morality There is a volume of Lectures on Ecclesiastical History; and one, entitled Learning and Working, of lectures on the foundation of oolleges for working men. But the most characteristic literary fruits of his mind will be found in the long list of his religioue treatises, some of which had the effect above noticed of forcing him, by the clamour they excited, to engage in theological controversy. He was therefore sometimes treated by his opponents as, the leader or chief of atheological school, which wascertainly the, last thing he could ever have expected or desired. His Theological Essays have passed through a second edition. His Epiphany series of sermons, What is Revelation, being accompanied by letters to a student on the Bampton Lectures of Mr. Mansel (the late Dean of St. Paul’s), drew forth a reply from Mr. Mansel, to which Mr. Maurice offered a controversial rejoinder. The differences between them cannot here be indicated, but are wittily expressed by one of Mr. Maurice’s friends, in designating the views of Dean Mansel those of “the Hard Church.” in opposition to “the Broad Church” to which Mr Maurioe, no lees than the late Dr. Arnold, Bishop Temple, Dean Stanley, Mr. Jowett of Balliol, aod the late Mr. Robertson of Brighton, with several well-known London clergymen, Mr. Stopford Brooke and others, have belonged. The partisans of Dean Mansel and Mr. Henry Rogers, on their side, have had an obvious retort at their disposal, in affixing to the doctrines of Mr. Maurice the appellation of “Soft Church," as the proper antithesis to that bestowed on themselves. It is, however, always to be remembered that Mr. Maurice, though he must be classified among the Broad Churchmen of his day, was a man of no sect or party, aud had no ambition to be the founder of a school. His personal feelings, upou this occasion as upon others, would probably have agreed with those of St. Paul, expressed in the first chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Indeed, there seem to be points of moral likeness in the “great passion of humility,” the eager self-abnegation and renunciation of personal claims to authority, combined with a fervent zeal for the assertion of truth, as it appeared to his own mind. The great living principle of Mr. Maurice's theological writings is declared by Mr. R. H Hutton to be this: “That all beliefs about God are but inadequate intellectual attempts to justify a belief in him, which is never a merely intellectual affirmation, but rather a living act of the spirit, by no means confined to those who conscientiously confess His presence. Grant this, and it follows that all attempts to limit our living relations with God by beliefs about Him — whether those beliefs are negative, and deny His power to reveal Himself at all to beings to narrow, or positive, and ailoct to express His essence exhaustively in a number of abstract propositions — are mistakes. Only where a belief about God helps to explain a more real belief in Him, and only so far as it does so, has it any true value."
Besides the works above mentioned, the list of Mr. Maurice's published essays. sermons, and lectures includes those on The Patriarchs aud Lawgivers and The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament; Discourses on the Gospel of St. Luke and on the Gospel and Epistles of St. John; an exposition of the Apocalypse; Some considerations on the Prayer-Book in reference to the Romish system; The Religions of the World, and their Relations to Christianity, The Commandments as Instruments of National Reformation; The Claims of the Bible and Science; The Ground and Object of Hope for Mankind a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer; and many short discussions. He was an occasional contributor of letters signed with his name, in the Spectator and Macmillan’s Magazine, which were always received with attention.
The funeral of Mr. Maurice took place, on Friday week, in the Higbgate Cemetery. The service was performed by his friend, the Rev. J. Llewellyn Davies, of Marylebone; and many of those who loved and sympathised with Mr Maurice, both in the Church and out of it, were assembled beside his grave. The portrait of Mr. Maurice is drawn after a photograph by Mr. W. Farren, of Cambridge.
- Maurice's sermon, "Prosperity and Adversity" (full text)
- The Broad Church Party in the Church of England
- Muscular Christianity
- Dr. Arnold and the Meaning of Anglican Liberalism
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“The Late Rev. F. D. Maurice.” Illustrated London News. 50 (13 April 1872): 363. Hathi Trust web version of a copy in The University of Michigan Library. Web. 28 November 2015. The text above was created from the Hathi Trust page images with ABBYY FineReader. — George P. Landow
Last modified 16 December 2015