Page images

about whose destruction and banishment from this world, she declares herself much alarmed. But of that, I think, there is little danger, when so notoriously holy a person as herself encourages his practices and reign, by “ inventing falsehoods;" under the pretence of illness, confines herself to write, correct, instruct, and entreat all whom she. can influence or move, to come forward, to“ make “the Curate of Blagdon a liar;" endeavours to ruin the reputation of others who have never provoked her, by publishing, with the cunning and artfulness of the black monarch himself, libels and calumnies. There is no danger, while “ such excellent per“ sons” faithfully serve him, that his infernal majesty shall be dethroned or guillotined. H. More is a rara avis indeed; and, notwithstanding her preaching, is one of his chief ministers, for he has servants of all denominations. . I have heard of many authenticated facts, and which, were they not well authenticated, would be altogether incredible, considering the character she has assumed. They will, I am told, soon see the light. The clergy are exhorted to plead the cause of the deyil, and not to forget or neglect any opportunity of bringing his name forward in their sermons. Her words are (p. 313)

“ May I, with great humility and respect, presume to “ suggest to our divines that they would do well not to lend " their countenance to these modish curtailments of the “ Christian faith ; nor to shun the introduction of this doc“ trine (the devil) whenever it consists with their subject “ to bring it forward."

The published works, avowed by Mrs. More, and of which I have here given an account, end with a chapter on the “ Duty and Efficacy of Prayer," of borrowed and transcribed excellence, and it concludes with the following petition :

“ She earnestly implores that Being, who can make the “ meanest of his creatures instrumental to his glory, to bless " this humble attempt to those for whom it was written, may “ she, without presumption, entreat that this work of Chris“ tian Charity may be reciprocal, and that those who peruse “ these pages may put up a petition for her, that in the great “ day to which we are all hastening, she may not be found “ to have suggested to others what she herself did not believe, “ or to have recommended what she did not desire to prac“ tise? In that awful day of everlasting decision, may both " the reader and the writer be pardoned and accepted, not " for any work of righteousness which they have done," “ but through the merits of the GREAT INTERCESSOR."

Upon this, I have only to remark, that during the two last years which I have passed at Bath, Bristol, and the neighbourhood, I have read every thing on the Blagdon controversy, of which I shall subjoin a cursory review; I have made enquiry into the facts, and real characters of the different parties, and with deep regret I lament, on account of the former credit and character of H. More, that that dispute had ever existed. Alas! alas ! alas! The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

[ocr errors]





By the consent of Mr. Bere, the Curate, and at the request of H. More, a Sunday school was established at Blagdon. The teacher, H. Young, agreeably to Mrs. More's avowed plan, did not confine himself to the instruction of children, but extended it to adults. Reading and writing were not only taught, but his lessons extended to preaching and prayer, in an extempore manner. Experiences were narrated, confessions heard, scriptures were expounded by ignorance, sudden and epileptical conversions had taken place, and many extravagancies practised, disgraceful to true religion, and offensive to decency. The individual temper also of the teacher is proved to have been that of a meddler in domestic and private affairs. Of these eccentricities information was given to Mrs. More, which she acknowledged in too imperious and consequential a manner. Here is Mrs. More's first fault. Eccentricities are continued and justified.

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 Chancellor, to " raise his father's arm against the unfor'sc tunate Mr. Bere.” The Rector is addressed by Mrs. More and some 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 cer: tain 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, notwithstanding 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.

« PreviousContinue »