Page images

tracted notice, secured celebrity, and strongly intrenched her in a fair reputation, the object of her ambition. That she is entitled to a fair character, to the credit of some acts of charity, of a prudent and moral conduct, of strong feelings of piety, and a religious demeanour and profession, I have no wish or intention to deny. The objections I have to make are not altogether against her understanding; it is a meanness of mind and a maliciousness of heart, as they have displayed themselves by overt acts on several occasions in common life. But though I am ready to acknowledge her attainments and abilities, for I deny her genius, it will not certainly be a long time doubtful that her abilities have been considered greater than they are, and that she has imposed on the world, as much in her literary, as in the complexion of her heart.

The allegories, noticed in her 5th vol. and her pious little tracts, were published separately du- ! ring the war with France, of which hundreds of thousands, I rather think millions, have hyberbolically been said to have been sold. The 6th vol. begins with “ Thoughts on the Manners of the “Great." To aim at perfection, to purify the heart, to be separate from the world, is the object which this tract professes to inculcate. The author thinks and writes better from this period than in her preceding volumes. Whether it be really true that she took help I cannot affirm, although I do not. doubt it. Peter Pindar seems sure it is so..

At times she finds of hemp a little wad, .

“ Bids some young Levite spin it:-nothing lotha, “ He adds large quantities of flax, kind lad,

“ And with the mixture fabricates a cloth.” Again—“ Miss Hannah finds a scrap of leather,

.Horse skin-and, slily, to some Crispin goes : “ CRISPIN adds calf skin-puts them both together,

“ And makes a tolerable pair of shoes."

To analyze this chapter is not easy, its manner being altogether immethodical, desultory and abrupt. For the satisfaction of the reader, I will select a few specimens, requesting him at the same time to forget Mrs. Cowley, Mrs. Yearsley, and the Curate of Blagdon.

“ But after all, a fair fame, the support of numbers, and “ the flattering concurrence of human opinion, is obviously “ a deceitful dependance; for as every individual must die * for himself, and answer for himself, both these imaginary “ resources will fail, just at the moment when they could “ have been of any use. A good reputation, even without “ internal piety, would be worth obtaining, if the tribunal “ of heaven were fashioned after the manner of human “ courts of judicature.”

“ Outward actions are the surest, and, indeed, to human "eyes, the only evidences of sincerity, but christianity is a “ religion of motives and principles. The gospel is con“ tinually referring to the heart, as the source of good; it “ is to the poor in spirit, to the pure in heart, that the " divine blessing is annexed.”

“ May I be permitted to say a word on the mischiefs of “ virtue, or, rather, of that shining counterfeit, which, “ while it wants the specific gravity, has much of the “ brightness of sterling worth? Never, perhaps, did any « age produce more beautiful declamations in praise of vira

" tue than the present; never were more polished periods do rounded in honour of humanity. A primitive Christian “ would conclude, that righteousness and peace had there. “ met together.' But how would he be surprised to find " that the obligation to these duties was not always thought « binding, not only on the reader but on their eloquent en« coiniasts themselves. How would they be surprised to “ find that universal benevolence may subsist with partial “ injustice, and boundless liberality with sordid selfishness ! " that a man may seem eager in redressing the injuries of 3 half the globe, without descending to the petty detail of “ private virtues ; and burn with zeal for the good of mil“ lions he never saw, while he is spreading vice and ruin “ through the little circle of his own personal influence!

Notwithstanding the theatre and drama have been so much reprobated by her, Mrs. More could not finish this chapter without alluding by name to the “ School for Scandal!"

The slave trade is mentioned, and a liberal, tolerant spirit, an enlightened candour, begins, it is, said, to be prevalent. This, she says, she wrote before the French revolution and the Blagdoncontroversy ; if written since that dispute, the Curate of Blagdon, at least, would have reason to object to the truth of these observations.

On the religion of the fashionable world, p. 97, she thus writes—

“ Even the most negligent attendant on public worship “must know, that the obnoxious creed, to whose malig“nant potency this general desertion is ascribed by the no“ ble author, is never read above three or four Sundays in the “ year; and even allowing the validity of the objections “ brought against it, that does not seem a very adequate “ reason for banishing the most scrupulous and tender con

"sciences from church on the remaining eight-and-forty “ Sundays of the calendar.”

This lady, who but a short time back boasted of the universal spirit of toleration and liberality that was diffusing itself over the world, who is here endeavouring, without argument, to reconcile tender consciences to the Athanasian creed, brings the neglect of reading it as an article of accusation against the Curate of Blagdon, not that she herself believes the creed, but that, hating the man, she was desirous of including him in every respect within the damnatory clauses.

Some general praise is here also bestowed on the liturgy of the church, furnished no doubt by some “ Levitical lad.”.

The following paragraph (p. 104) is not favourable to christianity..

“ If therefore, in this voluptuous age, when a frivolous “ and relaxing dissipation has infected our very studies, in“ fidelity will not be at the pains of deep research and ela“ borate investigation, even on such subjects as are congenial “ to its affections, and promotive of its object; it is vain to “expect that christianity will be more engaging, either as “ an object of speculation, or as a rule of practice; since it “ demands a still stronger exertion of those energies which “ the gay world is not at the pains to exercise, even on the “ side they approve. For the evidences of christianity re~ quire attention to be comprehended, no less than its doc6 trines require humility to be received, and its precepts “ self-denial to be obeyed.” .

In the paragraph I am just going to transcribe, unamiable içeas are entertained of the divine attributes, and a false judgment of the spirit of christianity.

“ The strong and generous bias in favour of universal os toleration, noble as the principle itself is, has engendered " a dangerous notion that all error is innocent. Whether “ it be owing to this, or to whatever other cause, it is cer“ tain that the discriminating features of the christian reli“ gion are every day growing into less repute; and it is “ become the fashion, even among the better sort, to evade, " to lower, or to generalize, its most distinguishing pes culiarities.”

I have long been of opinion, that H. More's system is not the gospel in its purity. She is an enemy to toleration it is evident; and no true christian can be intolerant. Her christianity, though not popish, is more illiberal, and would persecute as hotly, if she had the power. Toleration is the spirit of christianity. He who loves not his brother, cannot love God. All men, of all nations, are equally dear to him, of whatever complexion. Had the eternal happiness of men depended on assent to a creed, or the knowledge of a system, his justice would have taught them that system, and proposed the creed. Where there is no law, there is no transgression; yet, according to her doctrine, all who do not believe “ pecu“liarities” which they never heard of, are to be excluded from salvation. What the peculiarities" are to which she alludes, I am at a loss to know for certain ; but I suppose she means the system. In the gospel, however, there is no system. It came to teach us, that “ denying ungodliness, we should “live soberly and righteously.” There is no metaphysical disquisition there. It inculcates the purest benevolence and morality in practical life,

« PreviousContinue »