« AnteriorContinuar »
of persuasion, with some of Burke on somewhat similar topics. The superiority of the former for the practical purposes for which they were composed cannot fail to be perceived.
• The character of Cicero, in many respects, bore a wonderful resemblance to that of Burke: they resembled each other in versatility of talents, in extent and variety of knowledge, in the unusual degree in which they both conjoined some of the great elements of the philosophical and oratorical characters, and in splendour of imagination. It might be reasonably expected, therefore, that his Orations, as such, would display some of the same excellencies and the same defects. The most casual examination evinces the justice of this representation. They are marked by the same excess of disquisition and reflection ; the same beautiful, but needless, amplification of important truths.
• That Burke's speeches were characterized by the peculiarities which we have attributed to them—that they were deficient in exact adaptation to a particular audience, and the particular occasion-is, in our opinion, confirmed by two circumstances. The first is, that they are read with at least as much interest as they could have been listened to; not to say with more.
This could not have been the case, had the great peculiarities of the “ agonistical ” style, as Aristotle terms it, been preserved. “ Burke's speeches,” says an able critic in the Edinburgh, to whom reference has been already made,“ differ not at all from his pamphlets; these are written speeches, as those are spoken dissertations, according as any one is over-studious of method and closeness in a book, or of ease and nature in an oration.”
• The second circumstance is, that they are read with just as much interest now, and will be throughout all time, as when they were first given to the world. This is because they are not so exclusively adapted to the audience and the occasion as the speeches of the greatest masters of the art ; more especially of Demosthenes himself. They are not calculated for the meridian of the House of Commons merely; they will enchant all posterity. This is attributable to the large infusion of general reasoning and beautiful reflection, of profound speculation and exquisite imagery, they contain; rendering them interesting not only to some men, but to the whole race; and not to one age or country, but to all. The very peculiarities which detract from their merit as speeches, increase their value as political dissertations.
• This is the main reason why readers who are only superficially acquainted with the principles of rhetoric so generally prefer the orations of Cicero to those of Demosthenes. They forget that the qualities for which they chiefly admire the former (and which alone could stir such instant enthusiasm in readers at such remote distance in point of time, and who have no sympathy with the subjects of which they treat) are, after all, those which have the least connexion with his oratorical merits. Upon a careful comparison of the orations of both, however, for the very purpose of analyzing their merits as orations- upon viewing them simply with reference to the audiences to which they were addressed, and the purposes for which they were professedly composed, the illusion vanishes. Not that the orations of Demosthenes can ever become equally interesting in the same sense with those of Cicero or Burke, and simply because they want an equal quantity of matter of universal interest. But as specimens of oratory, they cannot fail to fill an intelligent reader with a far profounder admiration. Their exquisite adaptation, in all their parts, for the purposes which they were designed to accomplish, will appear more and more on each perusal, and their very inferiority as general compositions will be seen to be the necessary consequence of their surpassing merit as orations.
" To attain this critical taste, however, much labour is necessary. The orations of Cicero and Burke are easily understood, and consequently appreciated, and for the very reasons above stated; but to enter into the spirit and appreciate the merits of Demosthenes, his readers must endeavour to transport themselves into a different age ; to become Greeks; to imagine themselves part of his audience ; they must attain a profound knowledge, not only of the language in which the orator spoke, but of the whole history of the
age. • It is an unhappy circumstance connected with the most perfect specimens of political oratory, that they must be less generally read, and less generally admired, than many of an inferior order; while these latter, imbued with the spirit of philosophy, and adorned with all the graces of imagination, will preserve an amaranthine freshness and beauty through all ages.
• Considered in this light, the speeches of Burke are beyond all praise, and justly deserve to be reckoned amongst the most wonderful productions of the human mind.
· The inauspicious effects which Burke's impetuosity of temper had on his influence as a politician, has been already remarked. It interfered not less seriously with his success as an orator.-- The manner, the time, the circumstances, were seldom regarded.
· Of many of the inferior accomplishments of an orator, Burke was almost wholly destitute. His voice was harsh and unmusical ; his pronunciation strongly marked with his native accent; and his manner awkward. To these things the feeble impression which many of his speeches made on delivery must in a measure be attributed.' pp. lix-lxii.
The length to which this article has extended, precludes our noticing the admirable remarks upon Burke's political errors; errors mainly attributable to the ascendancy that his fervid imagination seems to have obtained under the extraordinary excitement of the times. We could not indeed approach the subject without being inevitably drawn into disquisition; and must therefore dismiss these volumes with the expression of our high satisfaction at the convenient and elegant form in which the works of this great English classic are here presented to the public, and strongly recommending them to the study of our readers. We believe it is no secret, that the memoir is from the pen of Mr. Henry Rogers.
Art. II. 1. A Plain Statement of the Trusts and recent Administration
of Lady Hewley's Charities, as now in Proof in the Suit of the Attorney General v. Shore, Esq., and Others. With Remarks on Efforts now making to effect “ A Total Disconnection between Church and State : By Thomas William Tottie. And an Appendix, containing the Catechism of Mr. Edward Bowles. 8vo,
pp. iv, 93. Price Is. 6d. London, 1834. 2. The Attorney-General versus Shore. An Historical Defence of
the Trustees of Lady Hewley's Foundations, and of the Claims upon them of the Presbyterian Ministry of England. By the Rev. Joseph Hunter, F.S.A. 8vo, pp. iv. 80. Price Is. 6d. Lon
don, 1834. 3. A Letter to the Vice-Chancellor of England, in Reply to His Ho
nour's Remarks relative to the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, delivered December 23, 1833, in pronouncing his Judgement in the Case of the Attorney-General v. Shore and Others. By James Yates, M.A., Secretary to the British and Foreign Unitarian Association. 8vo, pp. 88. Price Is. 6d. London,
1834. 4. The Improved Version truly designated a Creed. A Letter to the
Rev. James Yates, M.A., Secretary of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association. Containing an Examination of his Defence of the Improved Version, in his Letter to the Vice-Chancellor on the Case of Lady Hewley's Trust. By Robert Halley, of Highbury College. 8vo. pp. 68. London, 1834.
might have been enumerated, owe their existence to the pending controversy relative to Lady Hewley's Charities. The former two relate chiefly to the legal merits of the question, though other topics are incidentally mentioned: the latter two refer principally to the literary and theological character of the soi-disant Improved Version. It it no part of our intention in the present article, either to affirm or to impugn the legal equity of the Vice-Chancellor's decision in this important case; and we abstain from this the rather as the cause is still pending, and remains for final decision in the higher Courts of Judicature. But there are some positions assumed and maintained by the Unitarian writers who have taken part in this controversy, so extraordinary and so fallacious, that we cannot forbear to bestow
upon transient notice; chiefly, we confess, with the view of inviting the attention of our readers to the masterly and complete refutation of them contained in Mr. Halley's Reply. Before, however, we proceed to this more interesting part of the question, (interesting because the principles of correct interpretation and the cause of Evangelical truth are involved in it, it will be proper to advert
to some of those topics to which we have alladed as incidentally touched upon.
One of these (and it is evidently a question on which the Unitarian defendants are disposed to lay great stress, since it is discussed more or less largely in all the pamphlets issued on their side,) relates to the legitimacy of their Presbyterian descent. While they freely acknowledge that they have scarcely any thing in common with the English Presbyterians of the olden times, it is still maintained, that they are the regular, lineal descendants of those good and holy men, who wrote, and laboured, and suffered so much in defence of the truth of the Gospel. Why so much stress should now be laid on this point, we are at a loss to conjecture, unless it be, that so many endowments are held by them on this tenure, the exclusive possession of which must depend upon their making their title good to the ancient and venerable name of Presbyterians; to which genus if they do really belong, they must be acknowledged to be a very remarkable variety.
We have hitherto never deemed it of much importance to investigate or to determine this point, because we are firmly persuaded, that formerly, as in the present day, the term Presbyterian was absolutely a misnomer; the old Presbyterians, as well as those who, whether justly or unjustly, inherit their title and estates, being, strictly speaking, Congregationalists or Independents. Recourse has been had to a great deal of special pleading, and not a little sophistical and fallacious reasoning, in these pamphlets, to prove that the prominent, the distinguishing feature of Presbyterianism,-the broad line which separates them from Independents, consists in the partiality of the former, and the aversion of the latter, to a national Establishment. For instance, Mr. Tottie, after citing with approbation from Evans's “ Sketch of all denominations,” a passage which asserts that
the members of the Kirk of Scotland are, strictly speaking, the ‘only Presbyterians in England, and that the English Presbyterians, as they are called, adopt the same mode of Church Government with the Independents ;'-goes on to argue, that the founders of the Presbyterian denomination, though opposed to prelacy, were all advocates for a National Church, and would have established one upon the basis of the Solemn League and Covenant, had not their wishes and intentions been frustrated by the machinations and artifices of Sir Harry Vane.—(Tottie's Statement, pp. 45, 50.) Mr. Hunter too affirms, that the Presbyterians, as distinguished from the Independents and Baptists, consisted of persons who were favourable to a national establish
ment of religion, if that establishment could have been settled ' in a form which appeared to them scriptural, and leaving the
ministers at liberty in public prayer, and in the use of certain * ceremonies which were thought to have no support from Scrip
ture, but to be, as the favourite phrase was, relics of Popery.
· This section of the dissenting body was so much the more numerous, opulent, and influential, that it overshadowed the other two denominations; and the term Presbyterian, which had originally comprehended all the discontented party in the Church, (except, perhaps, the few Socinians,) came, as is usual in language, to be used as a specific denomination of the principal section. Their chapels were so much the more numerous, that in the northern counties scarcely any other dissent was heard of,—Gilpin, Frankland, Heywood, Newcome, Dixon, Dawson, the two Wards, and others in the North, having been Presbyterians, and some of them zealous against the peculiarities of the sectaries. These men had no objection to a church as a church, but they wished to see it more Scriptural in its forms, more liberal in its requirements. Ministerial freedom and Scriptural adherence were the main points.
• But, being out of the Church, and persecuted by the State which supported the Church, in the interval between the passing of the Acts of Uniformity and Toleration, some change in this respect may well be supposed to have taken place ; and they who in the unsettled times would have erected guards such as it seems there must be if a national Church is to be maintained at all, were now become the advocates of a most unlimited toleration, as they necessarily must have become, since in no other way could their own opposition to the Church and to the law have been justified. Here they took a lesson from the Independents, and this same principle has remained with them.' Hunter, pp. 15, 16.
Were we now disposed to enter fully into this part of the controversy, we should be prepared to maintain and prove, that whatever may have been the sentiments of the ejected members as to Establishments and National Churches, and whatever their practice in the constitution of the first Nonconformist Churches, Presbyterianism does not really involve the question of civil establishments at all. The ministers and members of the Secession Church in Scotland, though for the most part the most determined enemies of all secular religious establishments, and most zealous advocates of the voluntary principle, are as really and truly Presbyterians as their brethren of the Kirk of Scotland. It
appears to us essential to Presbyterianism, that the Congregations and Churches should not act independently of each other, but that they should be placed under the spiritual government of the Kirk-sessions, presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies of their body. But when have these ever existed in England ? Did not the Presbyterian Churches, as well as those of the other denominations, choose their own pastors without soliciting the approbation, or submitting to the control of any other body ? And where are now the sessions, and presbyteries, and synods, and general Assemblies of the Unitarian, or the so called Pres