The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XIII. The Growth of Liberal Theology

§ 13. Stanley

Stanley’s commentary was full of human interest, but defective, like the rest of his writings, in critical power. He had many gifts and much miscellaneous knowledge, but never gave himself wholly to any one branch of exact learning. “What does this remind you of?” was Arnold’s favourite question in school, and Stanley was busy answering it the rest of his life. His Lectures on the Jewish Church (1863–76), and most of his many books, abound in historical parallels and similitudes, sometimes felicitous, at other times forced. He had “a grand curiosity” for the historical and literary associations of place. He would sooner describe an heresiarch’s country and customs than unravel his exploded opinions. When he was installed dean of Westminster, he hailed as a happy omen the ancient admonition that he was set there “for the enlargement of the Christian Church.” He proved faithful to his conception of his office in giving the abbey pulpit a more national character; the preachers whom he brought there represented English religious thought of many types. His published sermons reflect his own urbane, cultured and tolerant spirit, his feeling for history and his dramatic sense, but they made no contribution to the theology of the next generation.