Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Maurice, Frederick Denison
MAURICE, FREDERICK DENISON (1805–1872), divine, born at Normanston, near Lowestoft, on 29 Aug. 1805, was the fifth child of Michael Maurice, by Priscilla (Hurry), daughter of a Yarmouth merchant. Michael Maurice, educated for the dissenting ministry, had become a unitarian before leaving the Hackney academy in 1787, and had sacrificed the prospects of an estate rather than abandon his opinions. In 1792 he was elected evening preacher at the chapel at Hackney in which Priestley preached in the mornings. He married in 1794, and took pupils from 1801 to 1812 at Normanston manor-house. In 1812 he moved to Clifton, and a year later to Frenchay, near Bristol. Frederick had three elder sisters: Elizabeth, Mary, and Anne (b. 1795, 1797, and 1799), and four younger: Emma, his special friend (b. 1807), Priscilla (b. 1810), and twin sisters (born at Frenchay), Lucilla, who became Mrs. Powell, and Esther, who in 1844 married Julius Hare. The family also included a nephew and niece of Mrs. Maurice: Edmund Cobb Hurry, who died on 18 Oct. 1814, and Anne, who married Alfred Hardcastle on 3 Jan. 1815, and died the same year in her first confinement. The illness and death of their cousins greatly affected the three elder sisters, and led to a change in their religious opinions. They became Calvinists; Elizabeth joined the church of England, and Anne the baptists. Anne and Mary took for their guide John Foster (1770–1843) [q. v.] the essayist. Their mother followed the daughters after long perplexity. Painful religious controversies thus divided the family while Frederick was still a child. As he came to understand the state of the case he received strong and permanent impressions. A profound desire for religious unity, and the conviction that a ‘society founded upon opinions had no real cohesion’ (F. Maurice, Life, ii. 276), were embodied in all his teaching. Maurice was educated by his father in puritan principles. He read no fictions, except, apparently, Miss Edgeworth; he studied the Bible and Neal's ‘History of the Puritans,’ and attended meetings of the Anti-Slavery Society, the Bible Society, and similar institutions. He was a thoroughly ‘good boy,’ industrious and truthful; he cared little for games, read in time a good deal of miscellaneous literature, and had ambitions of rivalling Brougham, Sir Francis Burdett, and Joseph Hume, then the idols of the radicals (ib. p. 31). A letter written at the age of ten shows that he must have been very precocious, and perhaps a little self-conscious.
His mother finally abandoned unitarianism in 1821. Maurice, who had been intended by his father for the ministry, had by this time revolted against unitarianism and the narrowness of the dissenters generally (Life, i. 175). To escape from the difficulties of his position he resolved to become a barrister. Thomas Clarkson, son of the philanthropist, offered to take him as a legal pupil gratuitously. He wished to gain the wider culture obtainable at the universities, although his friends generally regarded them with dislike, and chose Cambridge, because no test was there imposed upon the students at entrance. He began residence at Trinity College, Cambridge, in the October term of 1823. He attended Julius Hare's lectures upon the Greek drama and Plato. Hare saw little of him personally, but recognised his remarkable aptitude for metaphysics. His private tutor was Frederick Field (1801–1885) [q. v.] He spoke at the Union, was one of the founders of the well-known ‘Apostles' Club,’ and formed a close intimacy with John Sterling, also a favourite pupil of Hare. With Sterling he migrated in October 1825 to Trinity Hall, where the fellowships were tenable by barristers and given for a law degree. He kept the terms for the LL.B. degree. He went to London to read for the bar in the long vacation of 1826, and in the following term returned for the examination, and took a first-class in the ‘civil law classes’ for 1826–7. He would have had a fair chance of election to a fellowship at Trinity Hall, but he felt himself unable to make the subscriptions then necessary for a degree, and at once took his name off the books, saying that he would not ‘hang a bribe round his neck to lead his conscience.’
Although shy and reserved, Maurice had become an intellectual leader among his ablest contemporaries. While still at Cambridge he with his friend Whitmore edited the ‘Metropolitan Quarterly Magazine,’ which first appeared in November 1825, and lived through four numbers. He wrote several articles, attacking Bentham sharply, praising Byron, Wordsworth, Shelley, De Quincey, Scott, Keats, and Southey, and expressing unqualified admiration for Coleridge, at this time his chief guide in philosophy. Maurice contributed to the ‘Westminster Review’ in 1827 and 1828, and joined the debating society of which J. S. Mill was a member (Autobiography, pp. 123–9). The society had originated in a discussion with Owen's disciples. Maurice opposed both the Benthamites and the tories. In January 1828 he contributed some ‘Sketches of Contemporary Authors’ to the ‘Athenæum,’ just started by James Silk Buckingham [q. v.] He and some friends bought the ‘London Literary Chronicle,’ which he edited from 1 May following. On 30 July it was amalgamated with the ‘Athenæum,’ which was purchased from Buckingham, Maurice continuing to be editor. The paper was in favour of reform. Maurice's own articles, however, were strongly anti-Benthamite. He wrote warmly in support of the constitutional party in Spain. Some sons of Spanish exiles had been pupils of his father. He dissuaded Sterling, however, from joining the rash expedition in 1830. The ‘Athenæum’ did not pay under his management, and he was dispirited by home troubles. His father had lost much money by investments in Spanish bonds. He was no longer able to take pupils. The family had to move into a smaller house in Southampton, where they now lived. His sister Elizabeth became for a time companion to Mr. Gladstone's sister. She died in April 1839 (Life, i. 264). Mary decided to be a schoolmistress. Emma soon became dangerously ill. Frederick Maurice gave up his editorship, returned home, taught his sisters, and wrote for the ‘Athenæum.’ He gradually made up his mind to take orders, and resolved to go to Oxford, where Jacobson, a friend of Sterling (p. 179), then tutor of Exeter, had arranged that he should be allowed to count his Cambridge terms. He entered Exeter in the beginning of 1830, hoping to pay his expenses by a novel upon which he was now employed, with the warm encouragement of his sister Emma. There were delays in disposing of it, and he was only enabled to keep the last term of 1830 by a small legacy, though Jacobson had offered to advance his expenses (ib. i. 112).
At Oxford Maurice joined an ‘Essay Society,’ on the model of the Apostles', and made the acquaintance of Mr. Gladstone and of James Bruce, afterwards eighth Earl of Elgin [q. v.] Bruce introduced him to the writings of Thomas Erskine (1788–1870) [q. v.] of Linlathen. He was much interested by the religious excitement in Irving's congregation and the alleged miracles, but he was not personally acquainted with the leaders of the Oxford movement. On 29 March 1831 he was baptised as a member of the church of England. He spent the next three months by the deathbed of his sister Emma. She died on 9 July 1832, having, it is said, had much influence upon the development of his mind. Her papers, with those of her sister Anne, who died in 1826, were published as ‘Memorials of Two Sisters.’ He took a second class in November 1831. After spending some time with A. J. Stephenson, incumbent of Lympsham, Somerset, to prepare for holy orders, he was ordained by the Bishop of Lichfield on 26 Jan. 1834 to the curacy of Bubbenhall, near Leamington. His story, ‘Eustace Conway,’ for which he received 100l. (ib. i. 124), was published soon afterwards. Coleridge, as Sterling told him, praised it warmly, though it had little commercial success. He never met Coleridge personally (ib. i. 178). He also published a pamphlet, ‘Subscription no Bondage,’ of which Southey said in 1836 (ib. vi. 292) that he ‘never read an abler treatise,’ against the measure then proposed for abolishing subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles in the universities. He argued that the declaration of bonâ fide membership of the church of England imposed upon graduates at Cambridge was really more stringent than the Oxford subscription to the articles, which he interpreted as only implying acceptance of them as the terms of university teaching. He had changed his mind by 1853 (ib. ii. 154) on finding that this subscription was not generally made in this sense, and afterwards strongly advocated the abolition of the tests. At Bubbenhall he also began for the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana’ an article upon ‘Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy,’ the completion and revision of which in later editions occupied much of his attention through life.
In January 1836 he became chaplain to Guy's Hospital. Here he lectured the students twice a week upon moral philosophy. His sister Priscilla kept house for him, and he had a pupil, afterwards a warm friend, (Sir) Edward Strachey. He saw few friends except Sterling, but occasionally met Carlyle and others. His relation to Carlyle became more antagonistic. He felt bound to insist upon points of difference, which Carlyle preferred to pass over (ib. i. 250), and they agreed enough to make the differences painful (see Maurice's criticisms upon Carlyle's ‘pantheism,’ Life, i. 276–82). In 1836 he declined an offer of the tutorship at Downing, where the new master, Thomas Worsley, dreamt of ‘making theology and Christian philosophy the centre of all studies’ (ib. i. 207). At the end of the year he allowed himself to be named as candidate for the chair of political economy at Oxford. The appointment was supported without his knowledge by the leaders of the Oxford movement. His pamphlet upon subscription had been shown (ib. i. 182) to Newman and Pusey, who approved the aim, if not the spirit. Maurice, however, had been profoundly alienated by Pusey's tracts upon baptism, representing a theology radically opposed to his own. His second ‘Letter to a Quaker’ (published early in 1837) dealt with baptism, and showed his previous supporters that they had mistaken his position. They decided at once to vote against him, and his name was withdrawn.
In June 1837 Maurice visited Hare at Hurstmonceaux, where he met Sterling and Anna Barton, sister of Sterling's wife, and already known to him. He now became engaged to her, and they were married by Sterling at Clifton on 7 Oct. following. During the first ten months of 1837 Maurice was publishing the ‘Letters to a Quaker.’ They were addressed to his friend Samuel Clark (1810–1875), then a quaker, and afterwards a clergyman. They were collected at the end of the year as ‘The Kingdom of Christ.’ The publication was the signal for the beginning of a series of attacks from the religious press, which lasted for the rest of his life, and caused great pain to a man of a singularly sensitive nature. The book contains a very full statement of his fundamental convictions, which were opposed to the tenets of all the chief parties in the church. His philosophical position was not easily grasped by the average mind, and if he was often misrepresented and attacked with unjustifiable bitterness, it must be admitted that he condemned very unsparingly the favourite doctrines of his opponents.
In September 1839 Maurice became one of the editors of a newly founded ‘Educational Magazine.’ The progress of chartism and Owenism had increased his deep interest in national education. A grant of 20,000l. previously given was increased to 30,000l. in 1839, with a condition of government inspection. Maurice's chief contention was that the school system should not be transferred from the church to the state. He became sole editor of the magazine in 1840, and was contented with the agreement made by government with the National Society in that year. The magazine, which had not paid its way, was abandoned in the spring of 1841.
In June 1840 Maurice was elected professor of English literature and history at King's College, London. His lectures were rather above the heads of his boyish hearers. They dealt with general principles to the exclusion of dates and facts, and he was too sensitive and gentle to enforce order upon lads not very accessible to appeals to their (assumed) feelings as gentlemen. But he stimulated the more thoughtful minds, and attracted the strong personal devotion of many of his hearers.
Maurice took a strong interest in the religious questions of the day. He warmly supported the foundation of the Jerusalem bishopric, which to Newman and his friends was a great offence, Maurice holding that it recognised the catholicity of the church, which was really denied by the external unity of ‘popery.’ He defended his position in an answer to a pamphlet by William Palmer of Magdalen, who had attacked protestantism on the occasion. When, on the other hand, Pusey was suspended from preaching at Oxford in 1843, Maurice earnestly protested against the measure in a letter to Lord Ashley (afterwards Shaftesbury), who had presided over an anti-tractarian meeting. In 1844 W. G. Ward was attacked for his book upon the ‘Ideal of a Christian Church,’ and Maurice again protested vigorously against the statute which deprived Ward of his degree in ‘Two Letters to a Non-resident Member of Convocation.’ These discussions led incidentally to some later controversies.
Sterling's wife died on 18 April 1843; Sterling himself died on 18 Sept. 1844; and Mrs. Maurice, who had been greatly shocked by her sister's death, on 25 March 1845. She left two sons. Maurice was deeply affected by these calamities. He ever afterwards reproached himself with having been unduly harsh towards Sterling's change of belief, although they had always retained their mutual affection, and he could not bear even to read Hare's ‘Life’ of his friend.
At the end of 1843 Hare expressed his hopes that Maurice might succeed to the principalship of King's College and the preachership to Lincoln's Inn, both of which were to be vacated by the appointment of Lonsdale to the bishopric of Lichfield. In reply Maurice described himself as so unpopular with both of the chief parties in the church, that if he became principal of King's College the professors would all resign, and the college be reduced to a third or a fourth of its numbers. He felt that he must always hold a subordinate position in the church. Jelf became principal of King's College. In July 1845 Maurice was appointed Boyle lecturer by the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London, and in August Warburton lecturer by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Warburton lectures were the substance of his book on ‘The Epistle to the Hebrews,’ 1846, which contains an answer to Newman's ‘Theory of Development,’ and the Boyle lectures were developed into ‘The Religions of the World,’ 1847. The appointments, as his son thinks (i. 521), were due to his support of the Jerusalem bishopric scheme, and the favour of two archbishops might imply that he was a ‘safe’ man. When in 1846 a theological department was founded at King's College, he became one of the professors, upon Jelf's nomination. In June 1846 he was elected chaplain of Lincoln's Inn, with a salary of 300l. a year, and resigned the chaplaincy at Guy's Hospital, where his labours had tried his health (Life, i. 361). At Lincoln's Inn Maurice had to conduct a daily morning prayer, and a full service on Sunday afternoon. He very soon attracted an intelligent audience, including many young barristers. Among them were the present Judge Hughes and Mr. J. M. Ludlow. Charles Kingsley had become known to him in 1844, and all were soon devoted friends.
In 1848 he founded Queen's College, with the help of other professors at King's College. His sister Mary, who had set up a school at Southampton, had been led and had led him to take an interest in governesses, and the new institution was especially intended to meet their wants. (For an account of the college see an article by Lady Stanley of Alderley in the Nineteenth Century for August 1879.)
On 12 Nov. 1844 Julius Hare had married Esther, Maurice's younger sister, and on 4 July 1849 Maurice married Georgiana, daughter of Francis Hare-Naylor [q. v.], half-sister of Julius Hare. Meanwhile Maurice's position had been profoundly affected by the revolutionary movements of 1848. Maurice and his friends agreed with the chartists and radicals that great changes were urgently needed, but held that the substitution of genuine Christianity for the secularist doctrines supplied the only sound foundation for a reconstruction of society. Maurice was the spiritual leader of the ‘Christian Socialists,’ as they came to be called, and, though often against his will, was induced also to preside ever many of their practical endeavours. He edited, with Mr. Ludlow, their first organ, called ‘Politics for the People,’ which was apparently first suggested by Julius Hare. It lasted through seventeen weekly numbers, of which the first appeared on 6 May 1848. Among the contributors were many distinguished men, including Kingsley, Arthur Stanley, Helps, S. G. Osborne, Conington, and Whately. It reached a circulation of two thousand, but did not pay its expenses. It led to friendly relations with some of the chartist leaders. After its death weekly meetings, which had been held by the chief writers at Maurice's house, were continued and increased in numbers. From this was also developed at the end of 1848 a weekly class for the study of the Bible, which extended Maurice's influence with many rising young men. ‘Conferences’ were held with the working classes during 1849, when Maurice presided, and was generally well received. A visit of Mr. Ludlow to Paris to examine the ‘Associations Ouvrières’ and the publication of Mayhew's ‘London Labour and the London Poor’ helped to draw the attention of the friends to co-operation. At the beginning of 1850 they started a tailors' association, and other associations were afterwards formed. A society for the promotion of such associations was founded. A ‘central board,’ consisting of the managers of the separate associations, met for business purposes, and a ‘council of promoters,’ with Maurice for its head, acted as referees and general advisers. A series of tracts upon ‘Christian Socialism’ was issued, none of them without the sanction of Maurice, who intervened decisively on occasion. He suppressed a tract in which Lord Goderich had defended the movement on democratic grounds (Life, ii. 125, &c.) The ‘Christian Socialist’ was started as an organ of the party on 2 Nov. 1850, and at the beginning of 1852 became the ‘Journal of Association.’ Maurice objected to it at starting, and only contributed a few articles (ib. ii. 55, 88, 96). The associations formed by the Christian Socialists failed after a time, while those founded independently by working men in the north ultimately succeeded. The causes cannot be considered here. The Christian Socialists in any case secured one very important result by obtaining in 1852 the passage of the act which gave a legal status to co-operative bodies. Their advocacy of the movement had also a very great influence in obtaining recognition of the principle of co-operation among the more educated classes.
Maurice had meanwhile been growing in disfavour with the chief religious parties. An absurd outcry had been made about the Sterling Club, founded for purely social purposes by Sterling's friends (ib. i. 516, 532). The publication of Hare's ‘Life of Sterling’ had made his heterodoxy known, and Maurice, Manning, the Wilberforces, and others who had joined the club, were accused of infidelity. Maurice's ‘Christian Socialism’ was represented as implying the acceptance of all manner of atheistic and immoral revolutionary doctrines. He was fiercely attacked by Croker in the ‘Quarterly Review’ for September 1851. Jelf, as principal of King's College, called upon him for an explanation. Jelf said that unless Maurice disavowed Kingsley (who was wrongly suspected of contributing to the freethinking ‘Leader’) he would be identified with Kingsley, who was identified with Holyoake, who was identified with Tom Paine, and concluded by suggesting resignation of his professorships as an alternative to disavowal. Jelf accepted Maurice's denial of the more extravagant charges; but the council of King's College appointed a committee of inquiry. The committee reported decisively in Maurice's favour, with some expression of regret that his name had been ‘mixed up’ with other publications ‘of questionable tendency,’ and after some further explanations the affair dropped for the time. The publication of his ‘Theological Essays’ in 1853 produced a new attack. Jelf brought before the council the passage in which Maurice defended his doctrine (which had already been incidentally brought forward in the discussion of Ward's ‘Ideal’) that the popular belief in the endlessness of future punishment was superstitious, and not sanctioned by the strictest interpretation of the articles. ‘Eternity,’ he maintained, has nothing to do with time or indefinite duration. After a long correspondence with Jelf, a meeting of the council on 27 Oct. 1853 voted that Maurice's doctrines were dangerous, and that his continuance of his connection with the college would be detrimental. Mr. Gladstone moved as an amendment that ‘competent theologians’ should be appointed to examine Maurice's writings, hoping that some formula concordiæ might be arranged. The amendment, however, was lost. Maurice was much hurt by Jelf's decision that he should not even finish his course of lectures. He challenged the council to say which of the articles condemned his teaching, but they prudently declined to continue the discussion. Maurice's son mentions some circumstances tending to show unfairness in the procedure, and Jelf had advertised in the ‘Record,’ Maurice's chief assailant, that Maurice's orthodoxy was under consideration, and that he hoped that the requirements of the paper would be satisfied.
Maurice upon resigning received many warm expressions of sympathy and approval from his friends and old pupils, including Lord Tennyson's fine poem. The benchers of Lincoln's Inn declined his offer to resign the chaplaincy. He resigned the chairmanship of the committee of Queen's College, but consented to retain his lectureship if he should be unanimously requested to do so. A minority objecting he resigned, but in 1856 resumed the position, all opposition having been withdrawn. The public feeling was strongly with him, though perhaps the popular objections to everlasting punishment did not quite coincide with his own.
The failure of the Christian Socialist associations had suggested the importance of improving the education of the artisan class. Some lectures had been given during 1853 at the ‘Hall of Association.’ In February 1854 Maurice drew up a scheme for a Working Men's College, partly suggested by a ‘People's College’ founded at Sheffield in 1842. During the remainder of the year he gave lectures in its behalf at various places. On 30 Oct. he delivered an inaugural address at St. Martin's Hall, and the college started with over 130 pupils, in Red Lion Square, moving successively to Great Ormond Street and to Crowndale Road, N.W. Maurice became principal, and took an active part both in teaching and superintending during the rest of his life in London. Many distinguished men became gratuitous lecturers, and similar colleges were started in other towns. Both teachers and pupils were of many religious persuasions. In 1855 two French gentlemen of strongly revolutionary principles were excluded from the council. Some difficulties afterwards arose about the ‘Sunday question.’ Maurice, though carefully avoiding anything like a sectarian system, desired to give an essentially Christian character to the college. He had Bible classes both in connection with the college and outside of it, where he encouraged the freest discussion of all questions.
During the King's College controversy H. L. Mansel [q. v.] had written a pamphlet against Maurice's theories, which had been noticed by Maurice in his ‘Old Testament Sermons.’ A short correspondence between them only showed the absence of any common ground (Life, ii. 311). When Mansel in 1858 delivered his Bampton lectures, Maurice was profoundly moved by their assertion of a principle diametrically opposite to his own. He wrote a reply, called ‘What is Revelation?’ A very sharp controversy followed, which occasionally led to unfortunate imputations on both sides. As Maurice assumed as the centre of his whole teaching a ‘knowledge of God’ in a sense in which, according to Mansel, such knowledge was demonstrably impossible, any compromise or approximation was out of the question. Arthur Stanley, Mr. Goldwin Smith, and Mr. Chretien took Maurice's side in Oxford.
In July 1860 Maurice was appointed to the chapel of St. Peter's, Vere Street, by Mr. William Cowper, then chief commissioner of the board of works. The appointment was attacked by the ‘Record,’ and an address, signed by about twenty clergymen, was sent to the Bishop of London (Tait), protesting against his institution. A counter-address, with 332 clerical and 487 lay signatures, congratulating him upon the ‘tardy recognition’ of his services to the church, showed that the prejudices against him were now confined to a few determined antagonists. Mr. Ludlow, Mr. Llewellyn Davies, and Dean Hook had been the chief promoters, and among the signatures were those of Mr. Gladstone, Lord Tennyson, and Bishop Thirlwall. His position, however, was not free from trouble. Bishop Colenso had been an old friend, and (as bishop-designate of Natal) had greatly touched Maurice by dedicating a volume of sermons to him during the King's College controversy. When preparing his book upon the Pentateuch in 1862, he consulted Maurice and showed him the proof-sheets. Maurice was shocked by the tendency of the book. He told Colenso that many people would think that he ought to resign his bishopric. Colenso replied that many people thought that Maurice had no business to hold his living. Maurice had been alarmed by decisions (reversed on appeal) in the cases of Heath and Wilson, which would condemn his own teaching. He now determined to resign, thinking that as an unbeneficed clergyman he would be able to assert more forcibly his adherence to its formularies, whereas his legal ejection from his living might cause a schism. His intention became known, and excited many protests. He found that he was supposed to be resigning because he had doubts as to subscribing the articles. Bishop Tait declared that he could hardly accept the resignation; but Maurice was at last only withheld by the suggestion that he was acting unfairly to Colenso, who had confided in him, and would be injured by the resignation. He agreed to be guided by the advice of the bishop, and retained the living. The misunderstanding, however, caused a falling off of the congregation, who were puzzled by his scrupulosity (ib. ii. 553). In 1863 he replied to Colenso in a series of letters called ‘The Claims of the Bible and Science,’ and some estrangement followed (ib. ii. 485), which made him decline to meet Colenso at the house of a common friend. On 25 Oct. 1866 Maurice was elected to the Knightbridge professorship of ‘casuistry, moral theology, and moral philosophy’ at Cambridge, vacant by the death of John Grote [q. v.] The election was all but unanimous, and Maurice was warmly received at Cambridge, where, at any rate, there were no doubts of his sufficient orthodoxy. He remained principal of the Working Men's College, though he had to give up his constant attendance. He retained the Vere Street Chapel, with which no parish work was connected, but the labour of a weekly journey to perform the services tried his strength, which was already showing symptoms of decline. He resigned it in October 1869 under medical orders. In 1870 he agreed to serve on the commission upon contagious diseases, and came up weekly from Cambridge to the meetings. At the same time he accepted St. Edward's, Cambridge (in the gift of Trinity Hall), a position which gave no income and little parish work, but which involved regular preaching. He was also giving his professorial lectures, and seeing as much as he could of the undergraduates personally. He had never spared his strength, and by 1870 his health was visibly breaking down. Yet at the beginning of July 1871 the Bishop of London (Jackson) induced him to accept the Cambridge preachership at Whitehall. He preached in November and December 1871 and January 1872, besides preaching two university sermons in November. At Christmas he became seriously ill. He afterwards struggled through a little work. On 30 March he was able to sign a letter resigning St. Edward's. He was exceedingly weak, and suffered from mental depression. On 1 April 1872 he became unconscious, after, with a great effort, pronouncing a blessing, and died.
A proposal was made that he should be buried in Westminster Abbey, but his family agreed unanimously that such a funeral would have been contrary to his wishes. He was buried at Highgate (5 April) in a vault where his father, mother, and sisters had been laid. A bust is in Cambridge University Library. A portrait by Miss Hayward is in the National Portrait Gallery, London; other portraits, by Lowes Dickenson, are at the Working Men's College in Crowndale Road and at Queen's College, London.
Maurice was rather below middle height, but a singularly noble and expressive countenance gave dignity to his appearance. His voice and manner in conducting divine service were especially reverent and impressive. He suffered from severe illnesses, partly due to overwork (Life, ii. 288), but behaved like a man in strong health. He rose early, often saw his friends at breakfast, and afterwards worked till his dinner-time, unless interrupted by business (ib. pp. 6, 30), dictating most of his writing. His manuscripts were elaborately corrected and rewritten.
Maurice's character was most fascinating. Kingsley called him the ‘most beautiful human soul’ he had known; and an early friend (ib. i. 38) says that he was the ‘most saintlike,’ or, if he ‘dared to use the words,’ the most Christlike individual he had ever met. Those who knew him well would generally agree in the opinion. He was exceedingly gentle and courteous in personal intercourse, beloved by his servants, and an easy victim to begging impostors. He was absolutely unworldly, shrinking from preferment when it was within his reach, as in previous days he had frankly uttered the convictions which then made preferment impossible. He had an even excessively scrupulous sense of honour, and throughout his life was devoted exclusively to setting forth what he held to be the truth. He was at times moved to vehement indignation, and could be very sharp in controversy; some natural irritability joined with his keen sense of the importance of certain truths, and with the consciousness that, from whatever cause, his meaning was very liable to be misconceived. His sensitiveness and extreme diffidence sometimes gives an impression of rather exaggerated humility, though the sincerity of his feeling is beyond a doubt. A certain want of practical capacity only increased the devotion of his friends by the sense that he needed protection against rougher natures. They looked up to him with the reverence due to a great spiritual teacher. Whatever the value of his philosophy, he was among the first of the clergy to perceive the full importance of the great social movement of his time, and in spite of much practical failure rendered great service in raising the general tone of feeling upon such questions. The long continuance of a persecution from religious opponents, which embittered much of his life, is easily explicable, but not the less lamentable.
Maurice constantly protested against being identified with any party. He had early left a sect, based upon dogma, because he thought that the national church represented the vital principle of Christian unity, and rested on a spiritual fact instead of the intellectual acceptance of defined opinions. If, however, he did not belong to a ‘party,’ he held very distinctive doctrines and an intimate circle of sympathetic friends, and to outsiders this looked like being the head of a party. He condemned in the strongest terms the characteristic theories of the ‘high’ and ‘low’ church, and, although it included many of his warmest friends, those also of the ‘broad church’ party. The ‘broad church,’ first so called by W. J. Conybeare [q. v.], appeared to him to reduce Christianity to a mere caput mortuum, by abandoning all disputed doctrines and mysteries. He stood to them in the relation in which the ‘Cambridge Platonists,’ his nearest analogues in the Anglican church, stood to Locke and Tillotson. According to the definition of his early master (Coleridge) he was emphatically a ‘Platonist’ as opposed to an ‘Aristotelian,’ and has been regarded by theological opponents (see Dr. Rigg, Anglican Theology, 3rd edition, pp. 244–345) as substantially a neo-Platonist. The peculiarity which divided him from the mystics was his strong conviction of the necessity of an historical element in theology. A mystic appears, in any case to ordinary common sense, as unintelligible, and Maurice's distinctions (e.g. between ‘eternal’ and ‘everlasting’) seemed mere evasions to uncongenial minds. They were equally perplexed by his statements as to the worthlessness of mere dogmas or opinions considered as such, and their infinite value when considered as divine revelations of truth. His catholic interest in all religious beliefs, and sympathetic appreciation of their value, seemed to imply an excessive intellectual ingenuity in reconciling apparent contradictions. The effort to avoid a harsh dogmatic outline gives an indistinctness to his style, if not to his thought, and explains why some people held him, as he says himself, to be a ‘muddy mystic.’ The value of his theological teaching will therefore be estimated very differently as the critic belongs to a school more or less in sympathy with his philosophical tendencies. But no fair reader can doubt that he was a man of most generous nature, of wide sympathies, and of great insight and subtlety of thought, and possessed of wide learning. Such qualities are compatible with much confusion of thought, but are too rare to be overlooked or undervalued. A bibliography of Maurice's writings, by Mr. G. J. Gray, was published by Messrs. Macmillan in 1885. His works, omitting a few occasional sermons, are: 1. ‘Eustace Conway, or the Brother and Sister, a novel,’ 1834. 2. ‘Subscription no Bondage,’ 1835. 3. ‘The Kingdom of Christ, or Hints to a Quaker respecting the Principle, Constitution, and Ordinances of the Catholic Church,’ 1838; 2nd enlarged edition, 1842; 3rd edition, 1883. 4. ‘Has the Church or the State power to Educate the Nation?’ (a course of lectures), 1839. 5. ‘Reasons for not joining a Party in the Church; a Letter to S. Wilberforce,’ 1841. 6. ‘Three Letters to the Rev. W. Palmer’ (on the Jerusalem bishopric), 1842. 7. ‘Right and Wrong Methods of supporting Protestantism’ (letter to Lord Ashley), 1843. 8. ‘Christmas Day, and other Sermons,’ 1843. 9. ‘The New Statute and Dr. Ward,’ 1845. 10. ‘Thoughts on the Rule of Conscientious Subscription,’ 1845. 11. ‘The Epistle to the Hebrews’ (Warburtonian lectures), with preface on Newman's ‘Theory of Development,’ 1846. 12. ‘Letter on the Attempt to Defeat the Nomination of Dr. Hampden,’ 1847. 13. ‘Thoughts on the Duty of a Protestant on the present Oxford Election,’ 1847. 14. ‘The Religions of the World, and their Relations to Christianity’ (Boyle lectures), 1847. 15. ‘The Lord's Prayer’ (nine sermons), 1848; with the succeeding in 1880. 16. ‘Queen's College, London; its Objects and Methods,’ 1848. 17. ‘The Prayer Book, considered especially in reference to the Romish System’ (nineteen sermons at Lincoln's Inn), 1849, 1857, and with the preceding in 1880. 18. ‘The Church a Family’ (twelve sermons at Lincoln's Inn), 1850. 19. ‘Queen's College, London’ (in reply to the ‘Quarterly Review’), 1850. 20. ‘The Old Testament’ (nineteen sermons at Lincoln's Inn), 1851 (second edition as ‘Patriarchs and Law-givers of the Old Testament,’ 1855). 21. ‘Sermons on the Sabbath Day, on the Character of the Warrior, and on the Interpretation of History,’ 1853. 22. ‘Theological Essays,’ 1853 (a second edition in 1854 with new preface and concluding essay). 23. ‘The word Eternal and the Punishment of the Wicked’ (letter to Dr. Jelf), 1853. 24. ‘The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament’ (sermons at Lincoln's Inn), 1853. 25. ‘The Doctrine of Sacrifice deduced from the Scriptures,’ 1854. 26. ‘Ecclesiastical History of the First and Second Centuries,’ 1854. 27. ‘The Unity of the New Testament, a Synopsis of the First Three Gospels, and the Epistles of St. James, St. Jude, St. Peter, and St. Paul,’ 1854. 28. ‘Learning and Working’ (six lectures at Willis's Rooms), with ‘Rome and its Influence on Modern Civilisation’ (four lectures at Edinburgh), 1855. 29. ‘The Epistles of St. John: a Series of Lectures on Christian Ethics,’ 1857. 30. ‘The Eucharist’ (five sermons), 1857. 31. ‘The Gospel of St. John’ (sermons), 1857. 32. ‘The Indian Mutiny’ (five sermons), 1857. 33. ‘What is Revelation?’ (with letters on the Bampton lectures of Dr. Mansel), 1859. 34. ‘Sequel to the Enquiry, What is Revelation?’ 1860. 35. ‘Lectures on the Apocalypse,’ 1861. 36. ‘Dialogues … on Family Worship,’ 1862. 37. ‘Claims of the Bible and of Science’ (upon the Colenso controversy), 1863. 38. ‘The Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven’ (eighteen lectures on the Gospel according to St. Luke), 1864. 39. ‘The Conflict of Good and Evil in our Day’ (twelve letters to a missionary), 1864. 40. ‘The Workman and the Franchise; Chapters from English History on the Representation and Education of the People,’ 1866. 41. ‘Casuistry, Moral Philosophy, and Moral Theology’ (inaugural lecture at Cambridge), 1866. 42. ‘The Commandments considered as Instruments of National Reformation,’ 1866. 43. ‘The Ground and Object of Hope for Mankind’ (four university sermons), 1867. 44. ‘The Conscience, Lectures on Casuistry,’ 1868. 45. ‘Social Morality’ (lectures at Cambridge), 1869. 46. ‘Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy,’ 2 vols. 8vo, 1871–2. Maurice wrote the article ‘Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy’ for the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana.’ This was expanded into three volumes, published in the series called the second edition of the ‘Encyclopædia.’ The first, upon ‘Ancient Philosophy,’ appeared in 1850; the second, upon the ‘Philosophy of the First Six Centuries,’ in 1853; and the third, upon ‘Mediæval Philosophy,’ containing the period from the fifth to the fourteenth century, in 1857. A continuation, upon ‘Modern Philosophy,’ containing the period from the fourteenth century to the French revolution, appeared in 1862. The four are combined in this work; the first volume containing the three first periods, and the second the fourth period. 47. ‘Sermons preached in Country Churches,’ 1873. 48. ‘The Friendship of Books, and other Lectures’ (edited by Mr. Thomas Hughes), 1874.
[Life of Frederick Denison Maurice, chiefly told in his own Letters, edited by his son, Frederick Maurice, 1884. See also Caroline Fox's Memories of Old Friends, 2nd edit. 1882, i. 299, ii. 54–5, 63, 86, 113, 119, 170, 195, 217, 230, 233; Memorials of J. McLeod Campbell, 1877, passim; Mill's Autobiography, pp. 152–4; Froude's Carlyle, and Life in London, i. 39, 40, 125, 409; A. J. Ross's Life of Bishop Ewing, pp. 434, 518, 576, &c.; Life of Charles Kingsley, passim; Liddon's Life of Pusey; Mozley's Reminiscences.]