Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Placed within the control of the Committee. From the abstract of the receipts and expenditure, it appears that although the former exceed those of last year by more than 500l. still the expenses will subject the Society to engagements amounting to nearly 2000l.; so that great exertion is necessary on the part of its friends to provide for the payment of this sum, and to secure a supply of books adequate to the numerous and urgent demands upon the benevolence of the Society. The Committee, in thus venturing on an expenditure beyond their existing resources, look to the public liberality to approve their zeal, and enable them to fulfil their engagements. They state, that "they ventured forward with reluctance; but the stimulus of so highly interesting a cause was too powerful to be resisted, and the good effects of their labours such as to encourage every possible exertion in continuing them. The beneficial effects, indeed, of this Society are not conjec tural or merely speculative; the actual fruits that have flowed from it are most valuable and much beyond expectation." Numerous instances of the moral and religious improvement effected in the Navy and Army by the distribution of the Scriptures, are recorded in the Re. ports of the Society.

Several interesting communications occur in the Appendix to the Report. The following will shew their tenour. From an Officer commanding one of his Majesty's ships lately paid off, dated March, 1821

"I wish all success to your approaching meeing at -, as an important branch of an admirable institution, productive, I believe, of much religious, moral, and professional benefit. In the ship I last commanded we were fully supplied with Bibles and Testaments, from the Naval and Military Bible Society; all of which were distributed gratuitously to the men, according to their messes, on our being first manned; and they were certainly duly appreciat ed; for subsequent requests for individual donations of books were frequent ly made during the whole time the ship remained in commission (nearly three years and a half), and on paying off, the crew, as well as the officers, were disposed to subscribe a larger sum to the Naval and Military Bible Society than I thought it right to take from them.

"I think the effects, as far as they could be traced, were very favourable

to the interests of morality, and the good of the service. Before we sepa rated, desertion had quite ceased, as had the necessity for flogging; habits of drunkenness, and other vicious indulgences, had quite disappeared on board; and the obedience and activity of the crew were highly satisfactory, and had been very favourably noticed. They all volunteered to re-enter in the ship, if she were continued in commission; and I have heard from an excellent officer, who carried a great part of them with him into another ship to which he was appointed, that he still observes in them the same good conduct."

Since this Report was presented, we have understood that the debt mentioned in it has been considerably reduced; but that there is reason to apprehend that no balance will remain in the treasurer's hands at the next anniversary, unless some timely resources are afforded towards providing for the future supply of the sacred volume. Many urgent applications have been received from home and foreign stations, which, for want of the necessary means, have not yet been complied with. We are further informed that during the last year 10,142 copies of the word of God have been furnished. chiefly to individual sailors and soldiers in his Majesty's service; which, with the exception of the years 1816 and 1817, when the British army in France was so amply supplied, exceeds the issue of any former year since the formation of the Society in 1780.

BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY.

The "Monthly Extracts" of the British and Foreign Bible Society continue to bear ample testimony to the extensive usefulness of this and similar institutions throughout the world, as will appear from the following passages taken from some of the recent Numbers.

Domestic.

From the Tenth Report of the Cambridge Auxiliary Bible Society—

"It is with real pleasure your Committee report, that the funds are on the increase, and that they have been so largely supported by the growing liberality of their friends, that they have been enabled to remit to the parent institution, within the year, the sum of 8001. making, with the sum of 5 7301. remitted in former years, a total contri

bution from this Auxiliary Society of 6,5301.

"A corresponding increase has also taken place in the issues of Bibles and Testaments, of which there have been circulated from the depository, during the last year, 1,139; viz. 653 Bibles, and 486 Testaments; being an excess, above the issue of the preceding year, of 274. The total number of copies of the holy Scriptures, which have been circulated by the Cambridge Auxiliary Society since its formation in the year 1811, now amounts to 13,638-a little leaven, indeed, as it may appear, considered in itself, but the precious effects of which may surely baffle all the efforts of our calculation or conjecture, till they shall be revealed with certainty in the great day of account."

From the speech of Lord Ashtown, at the anniversary of the Southampton Branch Bible Society

"The translation of the Bible into our vulgar tongue, and its diffusion among the laity, were the grand objects of our primitive reformers; and its translation into the vulgar tongue of all nations, and its consequent diffusion, are our great objects now. There is not an argument that has been adduced against the Bible Society, that has not been urged with equal force against the first reformers. The necessity of a learned commentary, the incompetency

of the unlearned, the dangers of ignorant enthusiasm, have been dwelt on with all the acumen and all the zeal of polemical divinity. Far be it from me to depreciate the merits of many illustrious divines, who have devoted their time and abilities to elucidate the sacred writings; neither do I wish to discourage, but on the contrary have concurred in, the labours of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, and am a member of a society for publishing religious tracts in the sister kingdom: but the path of salvation, as pointed out in the Bible itself, should be open, as the light of heaven, to all. The impor tant doctrines of revelation, the sublime and simple moral precepts of the Gospel, its pathetic and interesting narratives and parables, set casuistry and criticism at defiance: they sink deep into the heart; the most unlearned reader comprehends them, and feels their force. He forms his rules for faith and practice, not on difficult passages, or insulated texts, but on the general scope and tenor of the Scriptures, on what is every where inculcated-the love and fear of God, faith in Christ, and good will towards men. Has any of us ever known the most illiterate man or woman made worse in any relation of life, as parent, child, brother, friend, or subject, by the perusal of the Bible?" (To be continued.)

VIEW OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS.

FOREIGN.

FRANCE.-Some tumults of a serious nature have taken place in Paris, and also in some other parts of France. On the 24th of February, General Berthon appeared in the market-place of Thouars, with some other officers, and a party of about forty or fifty individuals, and publicly read a proclaination announcing the determination of the confederacy of which he was the head to destroy the dominion of nobles and priests, and to abolish taxes, &c. He invited all who agreed in his project to meet him at an appointed place, and a few persons appear to have joined his standard; but the party were speedily dispersed. The General himself has not yet been taken.-This movement seems to have arisen from the discontents which prevail among the soldiery, who have never ceased to view the Bourbons in connexion

with the humiliating reverses which France has sustained, and which paved the way for their restoration to the throne.-The tumults in Paris have originated in the popular indignation which has been excited by the preaching of certain Jesuit missionaries, who, it is said, have not only revived some of the worst mummeries of Popery, but have laboured to re-establish the exploded doctrines of divine right, unqualified submission, and blind faith. We fear that even under its purest and simplest form, Christianity would be an object of indifference, if not of dislike, to a large portion of the people of Paris; but with the extrinsic and adventitious adjuncts of bigotry, fanaticism, and political servility, it must be doubly revolting to them. The agents in the late outrages have manifested their hostility to the missionaries, by explosions

of fulminating powders, by placing mephitic compositions in several of the churches where the missionaries preached, and by insulting the worshippers on their ingress and egress. The presence of the military has been required to suppress these disgraceful transactions; but the disposition of mind, in which they originated, it will be found much more difficult to subdue. When we speak of these scenes as disgraceful, we do not mean to exempt the government from a share of the reproach. They appear to have acted unwisely in giving their direct countenance to the itinerating ministrations of these missionaries throughout the kingdom, and in the heart of Paris itself; especially as these men affect to treat France as a heathenized land, and in token of its being reclaimed, by their efforts, to Christianity, solemnly plant the Cross wherever they go. Nor do their proceedings outrage only those whose minds have been infected with the impiety and infidelity which were so widely diffused by the Revolution; nor even the still larger number of those who, perhaps unreasonably, think they see in the growing ascendancy of the Jesuits, devoted as these are to the Romish hierarchy, the revival of the power of the priesthood, and the resumption of the tithes and other property of the church. The best and soundest part of the Gallican Church have been equally opposed to them, because they anticipate, from the success of the Jesuits, the re-establishment of the most revolting errors and abuses of the Romish faith and ritual, and the renewed subjection of the human understanding to the gross ignorance and blind superstition of the darker ages. The offence at the present moment is increased by a belief that the missionaries are warmly patronized and favoured, not by the king, but by his family, and especially by his brother, who is generally regarded in France as being at the head of the now dominant party, and who has credit given him, in the general estimation, whether justly or not we pretend not to say, for that degree of uncompromizing bigotry which would lead him to favour the pretensions of the court of Rome, and even to replace in its full vigour, if it were possible, the whole of the ancient ecclesiastical regime. What seems to have given a colour to this severe judgment of the royal family, is the marked aversion with which they have from

the first regarded the schools instituted in France on the system of mutual teaching, and the manifest discouragement with which these schools are now treated by the persons in power, while the rival establishments of the peres de la foi, under Jesuit influence, are particularly favoured. And when it is considered that the New Testament, which began to be liberally introduced into the former, has been excluded from the latter, some idea may be formed of the improbability of diffusing rational and spiritual views of Christianity by means of the favoured system. The attempt, however, to arrest the progress of light in France, can hardly succeed. It may be shut out by one entrance, but it will force its way through others. The distaste felt to the missionaries and their patrons will incline many to read the Scriptures to which they are so hostile. The zeal they display will serve to excite a spirit of exertion in those more sober and rational minds, who are opposed to their bigotry and excess, and who yet desire to see Christianity uni versally diffused. The Protestan. Churches, enjoying as they do rest and toleration, and the Bible Societies connected with them, will also, we trust, do something to prevent the stagnation of moral and religious improvement; and there being a large class of the community who will exercise, notwithstanding all that can be done to restrain it, the right of private judgment, religious light will, by the blessing of God, gradually spread, and its influence will serve to fructify tracks which are now either barren, or are covered with the weeds and briars of scepticism and immorality.

The extent of the late disturbances, owing to the state of the French press, cannot be ascertained; nor are we told how far they have been connected with any prevailing dissatisfaction respecting the character and conduct of the new ministry. It is abundantly clear, however, that the ultra-royalists, who were so unpopular before, have lost none of their unpopularity by being in power, and have even materially increased it by some of their measures, and especially by the law for the regulation of the press, and by their efforts to repress the freedom of discussion in the chamber of deputies, where its members occasionally employ the most outrageous expressions of vituperation against the speakers on the opposition side of the house, not

even scrupling to charge them clamorously with being rebels, and that for language which would be deemed, in our house of commons, not only venial but perfectly constitutional.

SPAIN. We observe with satisfaction the operation of a more moderate spirit in the Spanish Cortes, and a greater degree of order and tranquillity in the capital, and throughout the country, than prevailed a few months ago. The separation of Spanish America, with the exception of Cuba and Porto Rico, from the mother country, seems now to be nearly universal, and will, we doubt not, prove final. Even the Spanish part of St. Domingo has thrown off its dependence, and is likely, it is said, to form an union with the Haytian Republic; an event which is rendered more probable by the nature of its population, a large majority of whom consists of Free Blacks and People of Colour.

PORTUGAL.-Things seem likewise fast tending in the Brazils to a separation from Portugal. The Brazilian troops, in concert with the colonists, have forced the Portuguese regiments employed to garrison the different fortified places to embark for Europe; refusing at the same time to permit some troops, which had arrived from Lisbon, to land. The colony is thus freed from the control of the mother country, and will probably proceed to assert its independence. The Prince Royal is still detained at Rio de Janeiro.

TURKEY.-The same uncertainty seems still to envelop the relations of this country. The newspapers have been sanguine in their anticipations of a peaceful arrangement of the subsisting differences between the Porte and Russia; but the only ground they appear to have for this confidence is, that no authoritative declarations of a hostile character have been promulgated on either side. It is true no hostile manifestoes have as yet indicated the approach of war; but we are greatly mistaken if the quiet but unceasing preparations of both parties do not almost as certainly mark their common expectations, as if war had been loudly threatened.

The refractory Pacha of Albania has at length been delivered up to the Turkish forces employed in the siege of Joannina, and his head sent to the Sultan. The army thus liberated will doubtless be employed against the Greeks, to subdue whose rebellion a powerful effort, it is said, is about to

be made by the Turks. To the report that the Greeks are to be aided by an American squadron, we do not attach any credit.

DOMESTIC.

The plan for the reduction of the five per cents. has been carried into complete effect. For every 100l. of 5 per cent. stock, the holder will receive 105/. of 4 per cents, irredeemable for seven years. The united stock of those who have dissented from the government proposal, amounts only to about 2,600,000., and notice has been given to the holders that they will be paid off at par. Many of them would now,without doubt, be glad to retract their dissent, as, at the present market-price of stocks, they are losers by their determination. The same plan of reduction is to be extended to the Irish 5 per cent. stock.

The debates in the house of commons on various financial questions, and particularly on the Estimates for the year, have been unusually protracted. In addition to the regular opposition of the Whig party, and the pertinacious, and sometimes ill-judged, though on the whole useful efforts of Mr. Hume, to enforce retrenchment, the ministry have had to encounter, on some occasions, the dissent of many of the country gentlemen who have usually supported their measures, but whom the distresses of the agricultural interest, and the universal clamour for a diminished expenditure, have of late rendered more rigid in their notions of economy.

In a debate on a motion of Mr. Calcraft, gradually to abolish the salt tax, ministers succeeded in resisting it only by a majority of four votes, in a house consisting of 334 members. This small majority, amounting almost to a defeat, speaks so strongly the sentiments of the country on the question, that we would hope government will be inclined, before long, to give up this most onerous and impolitic tax, which, besides its interference with many of the most important branches of the national industry, has the farther odium of pressing with unequal severity on those who are least able to bear it.

A more successful effort was made by the regular opposition, strengthened by many country and neutral members, on the motion of Sir Matthew Ridley, for the reduction of two of the six junior lords of the Admiralty. The actual saving, in this instance, was al

lowed to be of but trifling amount; but the offices being considered unnecessary, the house seemed determined to manifest its recognition of the principle of abolishing every superflous appointment. On the division, therefore, 182 voted for Sir M. Ridley's motion, and only 128 against it; being a majority of 54 against ministers.

This motion was followed by another for the reduction of one of the two postmasters-general, each of whom receives a salary of 2500l. a-year, although it could not be denied, that with respect to one of them the office was a sinecure. The motion, however, was negatived by a majority of 25, many of the same country gentlemen who had voted for the reduction of the less questionable appointments at the Admiralty Board opposing the abolition of the second postmastergeneral, although all parties seemed to concur in considering the office, in point of utility, as altogther superHuous. It is difficult to conceive the motive for this sudden change of conduct. We are ourselves disposed to attribute it to the mischievous influence of party spirit, producing a fear of giving undue weight to the opposition, if measures proposed by them, however right and reasonable, should be successively carried against ministers. An alarm of this kind appears to have seized some of the independent country gentlemen immediately after the successful effort of patriotism by which they had extinguished two lords of the Admiralty; and before a week passes, they are found strenuously supporting a perfectly different view of the obligations of Parliament! The principal argument used to defend the second postmaster-general against the economists was, that in these days of increased light, when public opinion, not to say popular delusion, has gained a force unknown to former times, such appointments are absolutely necessary for maintaining the due influence of the crown. Supposing this argument to be just, how came these gentlemen to be insensible to its force, when, a few evenings before, they placed their extinguisher over the heads of two lords of the Admiralty? How came they to overlook it when they concurred, on various occasions, with Mr. Banks in his measures for abolishing useless offices? Do they not see that whatever truth there is in it, applies as strongly (if not much more strongly) against all

those reductions in our naval and military establishments, and in the dif ferent public offices, which have this very year been effected by ministers, as against the abolition of the sinecure appointment of a second postmastergeneral? We are the more anxious to express our opinion of this argument, because it is perhaps the first time it has been distinctly and openly avowed, by public men, that useless and expensive offices are to be retained with the direct view of upholding the influence of the crown in Parliament. And even if such a principle were more constitutional than we think it is, (and for ourselves we regard it as most unconstitutional,) it surely was not very wise to select the present moment for its enunciation. We do not deny that the government ought to possess a large share of influence; but then it should be that legitimate influence which arises from their patronage of offices required by the exigencies of the state, and with a view to the public good; from the collection and administration of a revenue of sixty millions of money; from a large army and navy; from all the multiplied civil and judicial appointments in the United Kingdom, and in our extensive colonial possessions; and from the support of a large share of the in India. With such vast means of patronage of our immense empire fair and legitimate influence, it surely cannot with truth be said, that government have not rewards enough in their gift to carry on the business of the state, or that they are under the necessity, in order to enable them to do so, to resort to the 'awkward, invidious, and expensive expedient of unnecessary official appointments. And do they not, in fact, lose more in one direction by the odium which such questionable modes of increasing their influence excite, than they gain in another by a few votes that may be invariably relied on in the house of commons ?

Great retrenchments have been making,by ministers themselves, in the treasury, and in various other offices under government; and they propose to carry their plans of economy into every department of the state. The king has himself graciously directed a reduction in various parts of his establishment, which will amount to a saving of 30,000l.; and the retrenchments from the civil list, and in the different government offices, are ex

« AnteriorContinuar »