Imágenes de páginas

Art. X. The History of the Ancient Borough of Pontefract; containing an interesting Account of its Castle, and the three different Sieges it sustained, during the civil war, with Notes, and Pedigrees of some of the most distinguished Royalists and Parliamentarians, chiefly drawn from MSS. never before published. By B. Boothroyd. 8vo. pp. 520.. Price 10s. Crosby. 1807. ..

THIS copious title states the nature of the work before us

correctly; and the purchaser who has perused it, will find no reason to complain of deception. Mr. B. is minister to a dissenting congregation in the town, as well as a printer and bookseller. He has exerted great industry in compilation, and in research after unpublished documents, and particularly has availed himself of a MS. history of the sieges of the castle, during the civil war, which appears to have been kept in the form of a journal, by a principal officer. We have on various occasions commended the diligence which employs itself on the history of counties and boroughs; for we often find that more correct notions of the customs of our ancestors may be obtained from those which are mentioned in such publications, than from more ponderous performances.

Our author commences his narration with the state of the Britons previous to the time of the Romans; he hints at the dominion of that people, at the introduction of Christianity, at the mythology of the Saxons, their conversion, and its consequences. He infers, that this town was of importance in the days of Oswald, who here erected a cross, which Mr. B. accepts as evidence that the inhabitants of this burgh had embraced Christianity. This cross was succeeded by a church, which could not be built earlier than the middle of the seventh, nor later than the eighth century, and gave the name of Kirkby to this town." Now, we have found reason to believe that towns often rose around ecclesiastical establishments; and as this name appears to denote "the town by the church," we incline to think that the church was first built; otherwise the church would have been named after the town wherein it was erected. However that might be, Kirkby was no more than a village; it is included in the Domes lay book, as part of the manor of Tateshall. Its present name Mr. B. inclines to derive from a bridge over the stream called the Wash. The Lacies were lords of Pontefract, till the failure of their male line, when this family was united with the Planta genets; and the earldom of Lancaster, into which it merged, became of the utmost weight and importance in the North. Mr. B. treats this descent with great attention, not forgetting the prediction of Peter, the wise hermit of Pontefract, that King John should resign his crown before the next Ascension day. This proved true, as John, to his indelible. dis

[ocr errors]

grace, surrendered his royalties to the Pope, and, to complete his infamy, deprived both the poor prophet and his son of their lives, in a barbarous manner.

The Duke of Lancaster was one of the most powerful barons of the realm, and exciting the envy of Richard II. was banished; but Lancaster returning, the king was deposed, and perished miserably in Pontefract castle. History says that he was slain by Sir Piers Exton; but there are not wanting authorities in support of the opinion that he was starved to death, partly perhaps through fear of being poisoned. On occasion of the dissolution of monasteries by Henry VIII., most of the religious houses in the north took up arms, and a body of 40,000 men, well furnished with arms, horses, and artillery, made themselves masters of Pontefract castle. This was the famous "Pilgrimage of Grace, for the love of God-for purifying the nobility-to take afore them the cross of Christ, his faith, the restitution of the church, and the suppression of heretics." Pontefract sided with King Charles during the civil war, and its castle was the last that surrendered to the parliament. In consequence of its strength, and vigorous resistance, the l'arliament ordered its demolition. It was, accordingly, reduced to ruin, and it now stands a memento to happier times, of the disorders and turbulence that anciently embittered life. Many of the respectable families, whose ancestors distinguished themselves by their loyalty, prudence, and courage, still remain in the neighbourhood; and to those the volume before us must prove peculiarly interesting. Mr. B.'s account of the castle is followed by his information on the subject of religious houses; the priory and churches; with the ecclesiastics, the friars,

Black, white and grey, with all their trumpery;

Also the charitable institutions, their founders, possessions, and present state. The corporation, and the history of a political parliamentary struggle for freedom in the choice of their representatives, is treated at length; it appears to have occasioned nearly as much contest as the possession of the castle. Happily, if it cost as much money, it cost fewer lives; and at length terminated in the establishment of the rights and liberties of the inhabitants. It lasted from 1768 to 1807. The population of Pontefract, in 1801, was, Families 702. Males 1394. Females 1703. Total 3097.-Inhabited houses 693. Houses not inhabited 48. The population has increased nearly 600 persons since 1764. The number of families was then 538; of persons 2515.

The religious sects in this town are, Catholics, of which many are representatives of the ancient families here, who

have retained their ancient persuasion and principles; Dis senters, Wesleyan Methodists, and Quakers.

The state of morals,' says Mr. B., if not such as the man of piety could wish, is at least not worse than what generally obtains. The lower orders are more refined and polished than in some larger commercial towns, and are even more sober and temperate; not that they are less inclined to the usual vices of the age, but their resources are more limited and confined. The rich and opulent invariably display the virtues of humanity, compassion and benevolence. To the cries of the wretched they are not insensible, but objects of real distress ever meet with the most speedy and generous relief. Improvements in morals, in internal order and government, are still wanting; and a respect for the prosperity of the place, not only prompts, but compels the acknowledgement. The decorum due to the Christian Sabbath is commonly and grossly violated, and as a proper attention to the duties of this day will be found to be the best guardian of private and public virtue, it is to be wished that the respectable part of the inabitants would sanction by their own example, and exert their influence to promote, the general observance of it.'

Decency does not necessarily imply private piety; bat private piety is most surely at a low ebb, where it is not able to controul that open indecorum, which is no less contrary to the laws of the country than to the command of God.

The following ballad, as it is called, composed by Earl Rivers, in Pontefract castle, is too curious to be omitted:

"It seems to have become almost a custom for our eminent men të take their farewell of the world in poetry, like dying swans, who sang most melodiously when nearest their end. This composition shews, among other evidences, the state of the English language at the time; and the kind of metre which then was in repute. It is contained in a History of the Kings of Scotland, by John Ross, the Warwick antiquary. He introduces it in the following terms "Dominus Comes de Rivera Antonius Woodvyle. . . . in tempore incarcerationis apud Pontefractum edidit unum balet in Anglicis, ut mihi monstratum est, quod subsequitur sub hiis verbis: "

Sumwhat musyng and more mornyng

In remembring the unstydfastnes,

This world being of such whelyng

Me contrarieng,what may I gesse?

1 fere dowtles-remediles

ls now to sese-my wofull chaunce,
Lo in this traunce, now in substance,
Such is my daunce.

Wyllying to dye-me thynkys truly
Bowndyn am I, and that gretly,
To be content.

[ocr errors]

Seyng plainly that fortune doth wry
All contrary from myn entens.
My lyff was lent-me to on intent,
Hytt is ny spent

[merged small][ocr errors]

There are several plates annexed to this volume. Those representing the castle are interesting, as they acquaint us with the means of defence adopted before artillery was brought to its present approved state; and as this castle was famous for its strength, we may conclude that it possessed whatever the science of fortification had then suggested, as capable of protracting resistance against a besieging force.

Art. XI. The Regard which we owe to the Concerns of Others. A Sermon, addressed to the Members of the Devon Union, at their Annual Meeting, Exeter, 4th of May, 1808; and published at their Request. By Samuel Greatheed. 8vo. pp. 47. price 1s. Woolmer, Exeter; Williams, Burditt, 1808.

IT is remarkable to what a pitch of religious zeal some men may be excited, whom one should never have suspected of a susceptibility to spiritual and disinterested motives. Of this character were the famous protestant mobs in 1780, the zealous church-and-king men who performed in Birmingham, and indeed the general mass of persecutors in all ages of -the church. In a different order of the same class, are numerous living individuals, not forgetting certain reviewers, whom nothing, we are sure, but the hope of setting aside the missionary exertions, could haye driven to a recognition of the duty incumbent on Christians to propagate the gospel, and to an apparent patronage of village preaching. Hoping to produce a d version in favour of the dominion of ignorance and vice in India, they have ventured even to acknowledge its partial existence in our own country, and to recommend missions at home; and like the advocates for a gradual and a distant abolition, or a regulation, of the slave trade, they are so eager to get rid of the grand and original proposition,that they will submit to any amendment however irksome to their minds, relying on future accidents and contrivances to defeat its operation.

Now the Devon Union is formed precisely on the doctrine here admitted, that there is much to be done at home; and though its members are too sincere in their benevolent intentions to expect patronage from all the asserters of this doctrine, yet they certainly should not expect opposition.

The pious and liberal principles of this Society are, we doubt not, truly expressed in the present discourse; which we would recommend to those, whose tender and candid minds shrink back from all "interference" with the concerns of others; and whose scrupulous consciences may be partly satisfied, we hope, by reflecting on St. Paul's admonition," look not every man on his own things (only), but every man also on the things of others," and on the actions of his life in which it was exemplified. Mr. Greatheed judiciously explains the nature and extent of the duty recommended in these words, enumerates the motives to discharging it, and applies the general remarks to the specific occasion. The detail of this Society's plan is not annexed to the Sermon ; but its principles may be ascertained from the following extract.

• Your aim is to instruct the ignorant, to awaken the thoughtless, to reclaim the profligate, to convert sinners from the error of their ways, to save their souls from death, and to cover the multitude of their sins. You do not hope to accomplish such important ends by your own wisdom or power, but by the blessing of God on your labour; and in the use of means which the Lord hath provided and appointed for the purpose; the knowledge of the Gospel, which, in all ages, has been found the power of God, and the wisdom of God, unto salvation. It is not the peculiar sentiments and forms of one or of another party, that you aim to propagate; but those important doctrines, on which pious people of every party rest their own hope of salvation. While you aim to establish no sect, you likewise set yourselves in opposition to none. All are welcome to co-operate with you: none are censured by you, if they decline to do so. In joining with you, no one is required to relinquish, or disguise the sentiments on which he differs from you in judgement; or to act inconsistently, in the slightest degree, with the dictates of his conscience, or the rules of any society to which he may belong. All are invited to co-operate with you, only for such purposes, and to such degrees, as they can themselves conscientiously and consistently approve: and to exercise toward you only the same candour and affection that you extend to them. I congratulate you, my brethren, on your adoption of a plan, which appears to me congenial to the gospel, conformed to the exhortation in our text, calculated for important and extensive utility, and adapted (perhaps as much as human imperfection and depravity admit) to preclude many evils which have commonly been mingled with efforts to do good. I congratulate you on the success with which it has pleased God already, during the infancy of your institution, to crown your united measures in his service; and on the prospect which it now presents, of increasing solidity and extent.' pp. 29-31.

The discourse abounds with excellent admonitions, on the paramount importance of those doctrines respecting which good men generally agree, on the duty of guarding against selfish motives, on the conduct to be ob served in mutual intercourse, and in reference to strangers. "It is in their practical influence, (says the preacher) that the chief importance of sentiments consists. Good principles are the only foundation of actions that are truly good: but principles can no farther affect the practice, than as they dwell in the mind, correct the affections, stimulate the actions, and form the habits of our lives." He also prepares his hearers to "encounter, after the pattern of Christ, the ingratitude and perverseness of men, for whose spiritual benefit they are co-operating."

[ocr errors]

Till they feel their need,' he observes, of the gospel with which you address them, they will probably treat you as designing hypocrites, deluded enthusiasts, or impertinent intruders. So the Apostles, the prophets, and our Lord himself, were treated, by those for whose salvation they laboured. You have the inestimable advantage of acting under salutary laws, and a mild and equitable government; and on no account would I advise you to relinquish, or to slight, its sanctions. But the enmity of the human heart against the ways of God, and the licentious habits both of the great vulgar and the small, are not always capable of being restrained, by the best human legislature.' pp. 36, 37.

A postscript is added to which we shall refer in the following article.

« AnteriorContinuar »