« PreviousContinue »
the middle of a wilderness, is entrusted to servants. In the wilderness live a vast number of robbers, desirous of surprizing the castle, which was entrusted to his servants by their lord, who took a journey into a far country. The castle is the soul and heart of man. The robbers are the various passions and pleasures of life. The castle at last, like every lady and castle that is besieged, is taken. This is the least valuable of the whole.
VOL V. THIS is a volume of stories, moral and reli gious; but the religion is frequently puritanical, and there is much cant. In these stories, whose general object is laudable, there is nothing more remarkable than the author's facility of producing them, and the address, if it be true, with which she has been able to sell them. But two causes explain this; she had the pay and assistance of administration; and it has lately been observed, that the body of the people is fast methodizing. To be just, however, I have sometimes met in them with some feelings of rational piety, which gave me delight; and I should feel still higher pleasure, did I not know that H. More's heart and writings are, alas! at variance. • When we consider the celebrity of her noisy piety, and the wide spread fame of her stewardship for men of charity, who have both the ability and inclination to bestow, every act of which has,
as by a “ trumpet sound,” been sent from post to post over the nation, and which by mistake has been solely ascribed to herself; when I reflect on what I have read, what I have read or know of her respecting Mrs. Cowley, Mrs. Yearsley, and Mr. Bere, and others who never gave her any provocation, I am tempted to compare her sentiments and writings with her conduct, her head with her heart, her speech with her behaviour, and to enquire, whether her reputation be real or factitious. Let then her acknowledged literary attainments, her professions of moral excellence, her avowed scrupulous integrity, her religious zeal, her mild demeanour, her devotional aspect, her ardent piety, and the numerous little almsdeeds of her stewardship, and the following quotations, be by the reader's judgment weighed against her “ private accusations,” her uncharitable surmises of the conduct and sentiments of others, her exclusion from life eternal of those who differ from her in opinion, her defamation, by inventing and propagating false reports of those with whom she is scarcely acquainted, her general censure of the ministers of religion, her wicked, subtle, artful, and secret plots to assassinate the reputation of the Curate of Blagdon, whom she maliciously purposed to deprive of his bread, and of the means of procuring it any where else, in which she has been detected, and of
which she now stands convicted before the pub·lic, the punishment for which, from the laws of
her country, she hitherto escaped only by her cun
ning and the protection of friends to her designs ; and then, according to his own sense of virtue and vice, apply the epithets of excellent or vile.
“ For he never travelled on a Sunday without such a rea" son as he might be able to produce at the day of judg“ ment.” For though the • SHEPHERD OF SALISBURY “ PLAIN' was so low in the world, this gentleman was not “ above entering very closely into his character, of which “ he thought he should be able to form a better judgment, " by seeing whether his practice at home kept pace with his 16. professions abroad: for it is not so much by observing “ how people talk, as how they live, that we ought to judge “ of their character.” P. 33, 34, vol. 5.
There are frailties and peccadillos, alas ! in all human characters; but the heart that is capable of devising a plot, and attempting to reduce to infamy and want the Curate of Blagdon, a gentleman of refined feelings and attic ideas, as the writer believes, and of strict and scrupulous integrity, whose soul would shudder at the thought of doing so base an act to any other person, united to an amiable partner by mutual affection and esteem; that heart, I say, has more of the flagitious female depicted in tragedy, than the amiable one on which H. More has surreptitiously seized and appropriated to herself. In short, she is a bookmaker, and a methodistical preacher: preachers do not always practise, and authors, whose business it is only to write, think not themselves bound to act the character of their heroes.
“ But the great gift, the mighty bribe,
. ! Is---plodding reader! What d'ye think?
“ Alas! 'tis money--money-chink! In allegories, Mrs. More is by no means happy. The object is, however, apparently good, and criticism therefore loseth her sting. It is her conduct, her“ secret malicious deeds," I would most severely censure; but these will all be reviewed at the GRAND ASSIZES, and “private malice,” as well as private stealing, and “ secret vanity of “mind,” shall be punished by the Supreme Judge, . at whose tribunal no culprit shall be favoured.
In this volume are some other stories and poor allegories, of little value. In the Two SHOEMAKERS, the pious one is made to prosper in his worldly affairs, as she makes all the converted uniformly to get forwards, proving godliness, at least in this world, to be great gain ; and the other, who was wicked, dies as he lived, unhappy.
The good shoemaker, James Stock, is, on a certain occasion, taught to say, “ I must not pre“ tend to call myself a christian, if I do not requite “ evil with good.” Amiable H. More! so ! the Curate of Blagdon admitted you to have a footing in his parish, and in obedience to this rule, you endeavoured he should foot it out of the parish, and you and your disciple take “ his office !" Ergo, you are a non-descript christian ! This is being Yorkshire indeed !
A long dialogue is carried on between the shoemaker Stock, and his man Will, in which Will, though not learned, displays his morality and christian belief; yet Stock tells him (vol. 5,
p. 194, 195) it is not enough, it is not being a christian, something is declared to be wanting ; they reason long in a circle, to prove christianity is something not described; it is not morality, nor virtue, nor doing good, and the dialogue ends, Will being still in the dark, as to what " vital, “ genuine christianity” is. Songs, thought harmless, are here forbidden.
“ Bring the flask, the music bring,
“ Joy shall quickly find us,
“And cast dull care behind us.” are " sensual and devilish," and inconsistent with the austerity of her system. I really think this song may be very innocently sung, much more so, than even mentioning “ the famous ode of Horace.” But Mrs. H. More is much more extensively read in obscenity than I am, for I never heard nor read the song she here mentions, as “ Which is the “ best day to drink-Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, “ Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday?”
“ Drink and drive care away,
“ Drink and be merry;
“To the stygian ferry.”
“ Who teach us to fast and to think.” I have heard once or twice ; but as my religion is “ love,” and “ charity," so I like best a “ love « song;” and Lady Mac Sarcasm tells me, she is not so fond of the “ song of songs," as she hears Mrs. More is! Now, my lady says, Hannah is too