Imágenes de páginas

they belong, they cannot exercise with safety to that community ; people can only have a right to what they legally obtain. Equally idle is it to refer to examples of tolerance in other European countries. England is the most tolerant and liberal nation in the world; far more so, there is reason to believe, than the great and good men of the reigns of William and Anne would now approve: but the history of the Church and State of England bears no analogy to that of any other country in Europe. In their origin, connexion, progress, and present state, they form altogether, as might easily be shown, a case per se, which consequently must be argued on its own grounds, and not judged of by a reference to the example of other nations.-Pp. 128–131.

Our extracts have been large, we must therefore abridge our comments. We sincerely recommend this work to our readers. Though easily read in a morning, and professing to contain nothing original or paradoxical, no new systems, and no new lights, they will find that it comprises matter for long and deliberative reflection, and arguments and inferences which volumes are incapable of refuting.

Art. III.- The Living and the Dead. Second Series. London:

H. Colburn. 1829. pp. xxviii. 328. Price 10s. 6d. We have a horror-it may be a weakness, yet it is grounded on reasons entitled to consideration--of religious novels. They are, we know, a feature characteristic of the lighter literature of the day; and so much admired, that it seems to have become an object of desire to writers who would blush to be considered godly from a godly principle; and volume after volume, more or less affected by this taint of speculative purity, issues from the press without a single warning from the censors of our taste, the critics and reviewers. When it is asserted by one * of these learned Biblicans, that "no ear can remain closed, no heart continue untouched, when the master-spirit of the age becomes the expounder of Gospel truths,”—when another, † in plain contempt of common sense, speaks of Zillahas a sacred performance, and as legitimate in a church as a piece of Handel or Horsley !- that it might be preached from the pulpit !!that it may throw light upon the Scriptures !!!and may even make the searching of them a lighter task !!!!”-surely it becomes a serious consideration, how far such gross and palpable absurdities should be encouraged or allowed. We lift up our voice, feeble as it may be, against such quackery. A novel, innocent in story and pure in language, is a pleasing exercise for the mind that would unbend from graver studies : but where is the merit, where the propriety, of bringing in a canting, hypocritical appearance of religion, as a setoff to the weak inventions or babyish dialogues of a shallow-pated

• Literary Chronicle, on “Religious Discourses,” by Sir W. Scott.
† Spectator.

scribbler ? Surely, to degrade religion to the standard of the world, or to elevate the world to a religious level by the constant adaptation of the Scriptures to a silly or a sinful topic, is, to say the least of it, a mere pretext and excuse for some unworthy and exceptionable end. We detest the system altogether. But let us not be mistaken; it is for the impracticable nature of good so cultivated that we write in terms of censure: doubtless, there be many authors of the class alluded to, who have intended to do, and may so have done, good in their generation ; but for one good object thus attained, twenty evils of necessity arise : and we must neither do evil that good may come, nor set an example which is liable to be perverted at the outset.

This, like the former volume, is much indebted for its materials to the living as well as to the dead ; and puts forth pretensions to truth in its statements, which we may not doubt through courtesy, yet which are liable to doubt through certain offences against the law of consistency, apparent to the eye of an observer. It commences with a preface, vindicating the author from the conflicting opinions of the reviewers of the former volume, and delivering Archdeacon Daubeny from a little puddle of censure into which his memory and name had accidentally fallen. It abounds in anecdotes of Queen Caroline-Bishop Sumner and George IV.-Lord Eldon—the Duke of C- , and the Bishop of Peterborough, said to be true, but by no means praiseworthy as to their location in the performance of a Country Curate.” This is the author's failing: a love of chit-chat, tittle-tattle, &c.' He might surely better employ his time with the anecdotes of ecclesiastical history.

The first and third of the papers following the preface are denominated “a Country Curate's Pilgrimage,” which the author states to be a recital of facts in the history of a Mr. Barnard—the second paper being an episode entitled Lord Llanberris."

The history is brief, for we cannot wade through all the wordy details. Mr. Barnard, a Fellow of Trinity, takes it into his head to resign his fellowship, (because he could not otherwise devote himself to the duties of his profession!) in order to become a country Curate. He consults Bishop Hinchliffe, who thinks him, as we do, a bit of a noodle ; leaves College, and goes to Hornchurch, in Essex, “a parish renowned for discords." This first cure is represented as incurable. The people are stated to have been “highly taught," i. e. above ordinances,” despising the prayers, and looking to the sermon. The two first saints are the wickedest of sinners. Still Mr. B. loved Hornchurch; not, however, because of his chance of usefulness, and his successful ministry, but because of one Adela Loraine, of whom there is given some very interesting twaddle, and some very uninteresting sentimentality. Of her aunt we say nothing, for she deserves it.

Hornchurch was a singing parish; the choir sung almost every thing but the sermon: and their chief affair was Tippoo's Te Deum." The parson and his minstrels disagreed : in dudgeon he consulted the Archbishop, quitted the place, and went to Ashbrook, in Devonshire. Here he fell in with Lord Llandberris, a being, we hope, of the writer's creation ; for we cannot believe, even on the assertion of the reverend author, that such a man ever did exist.

His father marries a beautiful Miss St. Clair, against the wish of his family ;- the brother, Mr. Des Vismes, is indignant at his loss of reversion, and insults the lady; she threatens him with a threat which she fully discharges. The noble couple go to Bordeaux ; there his Lordship dies :--Mr. Des Vismes assumes the title, but is dispossessed by a posthumous child. Des Vismes is ruined, and the threat is fulfilled. The child, now Lord Llanberris, grows up and is educated by Mr. Satterthwaite, who dies suddenly, just after the mother, who left her son an orphan in his minority. Mr. Barnard hears this history of Lord L. on his arrival at Ashbrook. Just after this event a girl is executed for infanticide. He preaches on the subject, but his sermon alarms Lord L. who goes out of church. An accident to his Lordship’s steward throws the Curate and the Baron together. Though the latter likes not the Curate's remarks, he attends the funeral. There he takes cold; and falling ill, with his death illness gives Mr. B. an opportunity of intercourse.

His confession occupies the second paper. It commences with stating that his mother bound him by an oath on her death-bed to hate the Des Vismes, the claimants to the title, and to shelter the Rev. Silas Satterthwaite, his tutor, whom he hated. She dies asserting that he is not Lord Llanberris. Mr. Satterthwaite is represented as an Antinomian, a blasphemer, a drunkard, a Calvinist, an enthusiast, and a seducer. Lord L. and he differ on a question of religion, and a charge is brought by the latter against his depravity. He is ordered to leave the hall by Lord L.

“ Never,' said he; · I have as great a right as you have to reside here; and I leave it not. Lord Llanberris, beware: you are at my mercy. I have nothing to fear from your resentment: you have every thing to dread from mine. Think you my paltry annuity of five hundred a year will impose on me perpetual silence? By no means. The moment I choose to open my mouth, I can prove your mother to have been an adulteress-yourself to be a

“ I could contain myself no longer. Passion obtained the mastery. I struck him fiercely. He fell. These were his dying words—'Monster, you have murdered your FatheR!! "-Pp. 51, 52.

We candidly ask the author for what he takes his readers, when he calls this “truth ?” A coroner's inquest sits on the body, managed by the steward ; the verdict is,Died by the visitation of God.Why are such narrations foisted on the public under fictitious asserVOL. XI. NO. VII.

3 G

tions of truth, secresy as to the individuals meant, &c. ? Such pretence diminishes, not increases, the interest of the fable.

The author having disposed of his Lordship, leaves Ashbrook and accepts the curacy of Lanesborough, which, however, he shortly quits, in consequence of being unable to agree with his rector, as to the method of treating a noble family who used to come to church to insult the clergyman. The rector, Mr. Beveridge, stood in awe of the lady at the Hall. The curate could not tolerate her follies : she was a sportswoman, under the direction of her groom, who laughed at religion, and called herself a churchwoman. We will hear her on these points :

“Mr. Barnard, if that is meant for me as a reprof, all I have to say in reply to it is—I DO MY DUTY TO THE UTMOST; and though, from the incessant demands on my time, I may fail in some respects, I do not apprehend having, on the whole, a balance against me. And really after all, since you compel me to speak so very pointedly, religion is every man's concern with God. I'm a churchwoman myself, of course; but still i do verily believe one religion is as good as another, when men are sincere. I'm exceedingly well-disposed towards the establishment; but, mark me, I've a nervous, an indescribable horror of Calvinism.'

“ Will your ladyship tell me what Calvinism is?" .

“Going to church twice on a Sunday-abjuring the theatre-insisting on the duty of family prayer—talking as you did, but five minutes since, about people's responsibility, and perpetually sermonising upon death-all this is rank Calvinism.'

“But death

• Is I know what you're going to say-is a subject of vital importance ; a main ingredient in a sermon. I admit it. I've looked at him often through a six-barred gate; peeped at him more than once over a high hedge, with a neckbreaking ditch on the opposite side; and a very disagreeable grim-looking personage he is! . But making faces at one's medicine does not render it more palatable; nor can I see any advantage to be derived from such constant reference to what is unavoidable.'

“None in the way of preparation ?

“No, none. Death is an unpleasant something which must be submitted to. But I see no sort of reason for doubting, especially when I compare the life of others with my own, that I shall do very well, when placed under the disagreeable necessity of — But I will talk to Sam. I don't promise you that I can reform him. But I'll talk to him at all events; and severely, if I remember it.'”—Pp. 70, 71.

After this, notice is given at church of music at the Castle on Sunday evenings. Mr. Barnard protests, the rector hesitates how to proceed, and loses his curate. He next tries Yarmouth, in Norfolk, where, under the character of Theakstone, the late Dr. Cooper is, as we suppose, introduced to us. The whims, peculiarities, and conduct of the fictitious character in some degree resemble those of that minister ; but the picture, true or false, is overdrawn, and too highly coloured. Theakstone dies, and Mr. Barnard engages himself to a Mr. Grayburn, rector of Grayburn. Here is a capital story of a hypochondriacal man, of his maiden sister, who had the digestion of a mill-stone, and of Lillycrop, the surgeon in attendance. To recite here the adventures of the hero with this trio, how Miss Clarissa Grayburn took a muslin-dealer for a dentist, and proceeded to consult him on her dentes sapientiæ, we may not stop. We leave this to our readers; but we will extract an anecdote of the writer's talent at taletelling, wishing to give him every encouragement in the eyes of the public, as the best clerical Joe Miller we have lately met with :

In the parish of Cornwood, usage had established an offering, called “a smoke penny," Adeane referred to the terrier; and of course admitted the validity of Mr. G.'s interpretation that it was a penny for every smoke.

Armed with this authority, Adeane trotted round the parish, and collected his smoke pennies with great success, till he reached the dwelling of a Mr. Janus Timbertops, a retired weaver; and, to use Adeane's expression, a rare democrat.

Timbertops was sitting in his little cottage. There were three fire-places in it; and fire in two of them when Adeane arrived, and forthwith laid before him the new reading of the act. “You see, Mr. Timbertops, it is a penny for every smoke. Now it is plain, from your three fire-places, you have to pay three distinct smoke pennies."

“ You come for the smoke penny; there it is," said Timbertops, laying one down with great gravity.

“ Yes, but that is not sufficient.”

"I tell thee I never paid more than a penny, and I never will. Take that's thy due, and fair morning to thee !"

" But I tell you clearly and plainly, Mr. Timbertops,” said Adeane, who had no idea of being beaten by this democrat weaver, “ that I have not yet got my due."

“ There's thy penny; and if thou wantest more, why take it in kind—take it in kind. Help thysel-help thysel.”

This rebuff got wind in the hamlet: the droll idea of taking it - in kind,which so suddenly suggesied itself to the mind of Mr. Timbertops, tickled the fancies of several of the gravest heads in the parish; and the laugh was universally against Adeane.

The smoke penny was never demanded again; and Adeane disappeared, as Mr. Grayburn was pleased to term it, in a cloud. --Pp. 99, 100.

The next curacy was Long Newton, where, in spite of all defects in locality, society, and so forth, the curate found means of comfort, gaining an introduction to Bishop — , we imagine, the late Bishop of Durham. But as usual, there is a sprinkling of anecdotes, with as much reference to that worthy Bishop as they have to the man in the moon. In short, the perusal of this paper convinces us, that the author has scraped together all the anecdotes current in society which he could stumble upon, and, linking them together by a thread of his own spinning, has had the assurance to send forth the book as the fruits of experience in his own public and private affairs. This is not fair: if the book be a novel, real living characters have nothing to do with it; if it be a history founded on fact, the author has overstepped the line of truth. Works of fiction are safe from any charge of deception, because they are known to be fiction; but when a man professes to write truth, and to describe facts, let him be cautious how he perverts the one, and degrades the other. The pilgrimage ends with an account of his meeting with Adela Loraine in the streets of

« AnteriorContinuar »