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The Curate now communicates with his Rector, Dr. Crossman, who acts properly; and the schoolmaster is, by the Bishop, ordered to be dismissed. Sir A. Elton, with some non-descripts, come into the lady's ranks, and they rally their forces, and attempt a re-hearing. A day is fixed at Blagdon, where the Curate takes care to have a number of clergymen and very respectable gentlemen of the neighbourhood, to re-examine witnesses, whose integrity Sir A. and his protogée thought proper, but very indecently, to question. It was on the 12th of Nov. 1800, for ever memorable by the strange speech which Sir Abraham made to his witnesses" This is not a court which can take “ cognizance of perjury, nor can any one be called “ to account for what he says here." Sir A. Elton has not denied this, though he has attempted to explain it away as “ innocent when decomposed." This meeting decided in favour of the Curate, on which “ secret accusations” are lodged with the Bishop and Dr. Crossman against him. The inAuence of some other Bishop is said to have been made use of to gain over Dr. Moss, the Chancel lor, to “ raise his father's arm' against the unfor“ tunate Mr. Bere.” The Rector is addressed by Mrs. More and sòme others, his virtue fails him, and he denies his Curate, as he would his master, under similar temptations. The Curate is dismissed by mandate, and the day of his departure fixed by notice given. He is then deserted by the body of his neighbours and brethren; some of whom joined in secret accusations; but a certain number of virtuous characters, who know nothing of tergiversation, adhere to his cause, being that of the church, of established and public instruction, and from sympathy, friendship or abhorrence of injustice, to himself individually. Mr. Bere, finding his Rector and the Bishop inexorable, and his curacy, his living, and his gown about to be rent from him, and his name to be declared for ever infamous, publishes the whole correspondence, by the title of “ Blagdon Contro“ versy.” Sir A. Elton, who by visits to the gentry of the neighbourhood, and other means, had detached all he could from the interests of the Curate, promises, and at last publishes a Letter to Mr. Bere, in defence of H. More, whom, not, withstanding the meanness and wickedness of her “ secret accusations,” which she either durst not or could not, though challenged at the same time with the Bishop, substantiate, he exhibits on the pinnacle of human excellence. The true character of this performance, except the praises of his client, is, that the more we read it the less we know of its object.
Immediately was published a Letter, addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, by the Rector of Chelvey, suggesting a plan of national education, to supersede the necessity for Sunday schools, and warning the country against the probable consequences of non-descript methodism. This book was well calculated to draw the public attention
towards Blagdon; and presently an Expostulatory Leiter, in all the excellence of writing, ascribed to a man of rank and fortune, and another, from a man also of rank and excellence, were published, which at once gave celebrity to the dispute, and, in the end, re-instated the Curate, the license which was given to a disciple of the elect lady being recalled. A short time before this, Mr. Bere had published his Appeal to the Public, in answer to Sir Abraham, on which the Baronet and his book disappeared. Sir A. is returned, but the pamphlet is buried in oblivion.
The wickedness of the object proposed to themselves in this persecution of an innocent man, by Sir A. and H. More, only because he presumed to censure the conduct of the schoolmaster, is al. most incredible. He was to be turned out of the curacy, then tried as denying the Trinity, and to be deprived of his living and stripped of his gown. They declared they had evidence sufficient for this proceeding; and if the public voice had not execrated their conduct, they would have accomplished their design.
Immediately on his re-instatement by Dr. Moss, dispatched to Bath from his father the Bishop, the signatures of nine clergymen were procured by the industry of Mrs. More and her party, who always work secretly and under ground, to con, tradict the Curate in some facts advanced ; and defeated in her original and flagrantly wicked purpose, she now stoops to the mean drudgery of, by
private influence with her friends and acquaintances, to procure advertisements, with as many signatures as possible, to destroy the veracity of Mr. Bere, and to protract animosity in the neighbourhood, attended with the disgusting and shocking circumstances of men, who ought to be respectable, soliciting people to sign backwards and forwards in the same cause! All this while H. More, pretending to be ill, and reported by her friends to be dying, because she was ashamed, on the publication of Mr. Bere's Address to her, to come out and publicly shew herself, is busily engaged, with some help, in preparing “ Animadversions on the Curate's Three Publica* tions."
Of Mrs. More's .“ Animadversions" on the Curate's three books, I promised here to take some notice. That will be but short, and of its brevity my reader will have little reason to complain. The book was chiefly written by Hannah, here she is not altogether a “ Miss Moon," and the other parts by a “ damned poet.” The mother of this book is a woman of imagination, but she imagines mischief, and fabricates and publishes falsehoods of really honest and good men, with the same moral non-chalance and contempt of the evangelical golden rule, with which she would conceive and bring forth a dramatic character in a play. The foster-father has also been sipping and even licking up some drops of the heavenly spring, which have been left as dregs in the cup
of the learned ; but having no natural imagination, if all the paper in the King's printing-office were made into kites, it would not buoy him up one hundred yards the Parnassian hill. His paperkite always comes down with him, and he breaks a leg or an arm, and is sure every time to “be “ damned.” The luckless wight must now try his hand at prose, in hopes of “ working out his “ salvation” among the non-descripts, and by a strange intellectual imbecility in what ought to be a work of facts, truths, demonstration and reasoning, he employs on prose more imagination than ever he could muster before, in the delineation of the characters of a “ damned play,” Reader! what beauty or comeliness, what natural graces can you suppose the offspring produced from the commerce of such minds to possess? In plain English, it is a farrago of falsehood throughout, unworthy of a more particular criticism, unnoticed by every liberal person, from which all turn away with disgust, delivered gratis to, but rejected by, the public, the production of the forlorn paroxysm of defeated malignity, and hostility to the church and rational religion, which has reduced H. More, and her party, to the disgraceful necessity of defending many falsehoods by many others. As she has thus succeeded in getting this minor poet, this praise-God-bare-bones, by madly making a work of argument and fact a work of fiction, and by so doing damn himself in prose, now “ twice 5 damned;" it is not improbable but she may pre