Imágenes de página

composed. Their constitutional purity is indeed greater than that of states, but their disorders are more fierce. They begin better, but they are likely to end worse. If, because first impelled in their course by a heavenly hand, they fancy that, like the world of Epicurus, they shall roll on bright and undisturbed-then their presumption shall be their ruin. Their real wisdom is to remember their dangers, and, under Divine grace, to struggle against them. And, as a primary step, let them go back to their early records let them look to the rock whence they were hewn'-let them ascertain whether the form first imparted to them has survived the change of season and the rubs of time--whether, in receiving the new polish of human handling, tliey have not lost the original outline. Those churches of Asia, my brethren, once the joy' and

crown of the Apostles, are gone. And they are gone-not so much from any original error in their creed, or defect in their constitution, as because, in the emphatical language of Scripture, they had forgotten their first love. Their crime was apostacy. • Hava ing tasted of the heavenly gift and fallen away, their guilt and obduracy outran even the movements of divine compassion, and it was found'impossible to renew them again unto repentance. They are gone-and the melancholy wanderer amidst their fragments seems to see inscribed upon every wall, and to hear in every echo* Know thou the God of thy father.'

We are glad to observe that the warm attachment of Mr. Cunningham to the unadulterated faith of Scripture, which he looks for and finds in the creed and worship of our national church, has not kindled in him an hostility towards dissenters of any denomination. We have always been disposed to admire that charity, which without surrendering a particle of genuine Christian doctrine, abstains from condemning those who differ from us even in essentials. The church will in vain attempt to bring back her truant children by flagellation; let her rather allure them from the precipice by displaying her genial bosom, and recalling them to that vital source of spiritual sustenance.

Mr. Cunningham's positions, however, respecting that universality which he maintains to be a characteristic feature of our church, are laid down in too short a compass to be as clear as we could wish. We should have been more edified probably, if he had allowed himself more room; and we trust in another edition he will do justice to his own clear conceptions by a fuller developement. One part of this character of universality, however, the preacher, with an eloquence not easily surpassed, makes us clearly understand, and impressively feel—the charity and candour of its principles. This characteristic, with a happy application of it to the charge of a hostile intention in the

institution towards the “Society for promoting Christian Knowledge,” he thus enforces.

“ In the first place I presume humbly, but earnestly, to press upon you the duty, in promoting your own design, of labouring to preserve a spirit of 'mildness and

friendship towards all other religious institutions. If your steady zeal should provoke anger--that very zeal, my brethren, is, under God, the best weapon by which to subdue it; just as the same conductor which calls down the lightning carries it harmless to the ground. Let no injustice of your adversaries provoke you to deserve these calumnies. I am the more anxious to enforce this duty, because some individuals have studiously endeavoured to convict this institution of hostile intentions towards the venerable Society for promoting Christian Knowledge." Need I repel the slanderous insinuation? Is it conceivable we should feel enmity to those who are attempting to accomplish with one hand, nearly the same end at which we are aiming with another? I, for one, am a zealous and affectionate member of that society; and such is my gratitude for the noble works it has done in our own days, and in the old time before us,' that I trust never to carry à stone to any institution which is to be founded upon its ruins, And, in thus saying, I am but expressing, as I believe, your general feeling. You call yourselves brethren with it in the warfare of religion. You consider the separate armies now thronging from all quarters to the banners of the cross, as crusaders in a common cause, as parallel columns pressing onward to the sepulchre of your Lord, Go forward, my brethren. But remember that it is the banner of the cross under which you serve that the Christian soldier has a peculiar character-that his weapons are tempered in a sacred flame -that his triumph often consists in putting up the sword'-and that he is never a conqueror till, under God, he has conquered himself.”

Our want of room forbids us to dwell any louger on this pleasing theme. We will terminate our article with once more expressing our cordial concurrence with the views of this society, as argumentatively and eloquently illustrated by Mr. Cunningham, and declaring that we consider the virtuous promoters of it as well deserving the much abused title of friends to the British constitution in church and state.

Art. XI.-Correspondence of the late Gilbert Wakefield, B.A.

with the late Right Honourable Charles James Fox, in the Years 1796---1801, chiefly on Subjects of classical Literature. 8vo. pp. 232. Printed for Cadell and Davies, London, 1813.

The high intellectual endowments of the two characters at the head of this article, the part they acted on the stage of public life, and above all, perhaps, the yet ill understood motives and principles of action which guided their conduct, conspire to render any production from the pens of Mr. Fox and Mr. Wakefield, and more especially of the former, interesting to the public. Of Mr. Fox's character and distinguished talents, both as an orator and as a scholar, it is much to be lamented that no production of his own, nor scarcely, we might add, the page of history itself, except as connecting his name with that of his great political antagonist, will afford any adequate and lasting memorial to posterity. Whatever may have been the cause of this, and the cause perhaps may lie buried in the latent and essential qualities of his own mind, the effect certainly is to lay his friends and admirers under a strong obligation to seize every prudent opportunity of bringing his name and pretensions more into view; and we cannot but consider it as the discharge of a debt on the part of Lord Holland to have consented, as the advertisement informs us he obligingly did, to give up that tion of Mr. Wakefield's correspondence with Mr. Fox, which has enabled the editor to present us with the whole, in a series nearly uninterrupted, from the year 1796 to the year 1801.

There is something in this particular form of publication which renders it strongly adapted to assist that inquiry into character, which in respect to Mr. Fox engages the curiosity of every contemplative mind. We need not go back to the familiar letters of Cicero and Pliny to be reminded by those interesting'sketches of history and character which they contain, of the attraction which belongs to this species of publication. The recently revived practice (certainly exceeding all just bounds) of publishing private correspondence has afforded sufficient examples of the assistance to be derived from it in estimating more exactly the general weight and worth, as well as the distinguishing characteristics of the several writers. By an insight thus afforded us into the interiour and domestic economy of their minds, we learn with more accuracy to appreciate the pure and refined sentiment of a Cowper; the sterling acquaintance with men


and manners of a Richardson; the vanity of a Seward; the genuine solidity and piety of mind, unspoiled by wit as genuine, of a Carter or a Talbot.

Should we have it in our power to unfold any properties of the mind of Mr. Fox, hitherto less known, (with Mr. Wakefield we are far better acquainted) by the help of the present publication, we should feel ourselves richly repaid : we should rejoice to make this return to the public for having travelled with us through so many pages of dry discussion. - The general reader will perhaps not be sorry that the whole publication is short, containing only 232 not closely printed pages; while the moral inquirer may from this circumstance alone deduce an inference as to the natural indolence and oscitancy of Mr. Fox's habits; an indolence which we cannot but think must often have deprived his friends of the result of his long protracted and retired meditations at St. Ann's Hill, when even his correspondence with so distinguished a character as Gilbert Wakefield, and one so congenial to himself on his two favourite topics of literature and politics, does not, in the course of five years, appear to have extended beyond the limits abovementioned.

Is there not something remarkable too in the choice of subjects in this correspondence? Were the minds of these two great political champions so thoroughly made up, in agreement with each other, upon all questions of civil and social concern, that it was impossible to find between them a single point of difference or of rational and amicable discussion except on literary ground? Or did Mr. Fox in his comparative silence upon other questions of deep and vital importance to the standing interests of humanity, shew a delicate sense of the ratio loci et temporis, and a wish, Atticus-like, to exchange the painful anxieties of public life and a concern for the public weal, then so imminently endangered, for academic ease and learned retirement? Was it that he suspected the prudence of Mr. Wakefield ? was it, in a word, that he wished to hint the advice of a certain old adage to this bold pretender to an universal dictatorship; and tacitly to convey to hiin the answer of Alexander to the intrusive Stoic, who would fain have entertained him with a long discourse on the art of war? Be this as it may, it will be our business to give our readers some general notion of the several extended philological inquiries contained in this correspondence; and then to collect from the occasional topics of a more popular, and, perhaps, more interesting nature, interspersed through the letters, the matter of some concluding observations on the respective characters of the writers.

The correspondence opens with a note from Mr. Fox, dated December 17, 1796, acknowledging the honour done him by Mr. Wakefield, “ a person so thoroughly attached to the principles of liberty and humanity,” in dedicating to him his new edition of Lucretius, of which he had received the first volume. The receipt of the second, accompanied by the Diatribe on Porson's Hecuba, draws from Mr. Fox certain critical inquiries ; which lead, in letters 3, 4, 5, to an investigation of the use of the final y paragogic by the Greek tragedians, resumed again in letters 26, 28, 29. It would be beyond our present purpose to “ decide where such critics disagree,” as Mr. Wakefield, who contends on one side for its uniform omission, and Mr. Fox, backed by Porson, who inclines on the other to its constant reception. Porson is indeed roundly, and with apparent justice, accused of establishing a rule in favour of this paragogic letter, for the sake of differing as widely as possible from Wakefield: an injustice similar to that which it has been said that Sir J. Reynolds exercised towards his contemporary Wilson, in certain censures passed in his lectures upon a practice to which that classical painter was much addicted. It is certain that Mr. Fox, who quotes with approbation the ingenious argument of Porson on the subject, p. 106, quotes also facts, pp. 88, 105, in direct opposition to it, * of the neglect of which, he rightly observes, that he (Porson) ought to be told.” What follows from Mr. Wakefield on this question produces no small shock to every critic's nerves, and agitates the very centre of philological orthodoxy.--"Owners of MSS.” says Mr. Wakefield in p.114,“ have perpetually corrected them, as we see at this day, according to their own fancy; and if Porson, for example, had them all

, in time he would put in the y throughout; and these MSS. might go down as vouchers for the practice of antiquity.” The unfortunate differences between ihese almost equally unfortunate men is well known. Porson was in the habit of treating bis rival with a contempt which the self-sufficiency of Wakefield could ill brook. To his numerous challenges Porson returned nothing but a haughty silence, and was only once heard to threaten, that if Wakefield continued his attacks he should in return “ look into his Silva Critica.” It will not be an uninteresting quotation from these letters if we give the following retaliatory opinion of Mr. Wake, field, which may also serve as some clue to the origin of the above mentioned differences.

“ I have been furnished with many opportunities of observing Porson, by a near inspection. He has been at my house several times, and once for an entire summer's day. Our intercourse would have been frequent, but for three reasons; 1. His extreme irregula.

« AnteriorContinuar »