Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

which you befriend, may be led, by rejoiced to find genius as great as they the respect in which they hold your had before followed into evil, acting as character and judgment, to suspect, the pillar and cloud which should that this difference, great and evident conduct them into the land of security as it may be, is a matter of much less and faith. What a blow it is to all moment than they had formerly sup- their expectations, when they see that posed ? You know as well as I do, you, who talk in the pulpit as if a how natural a thing scepticism is; clever sceptic were the most dangerous with what a seductive charm it seizes pest that ever was let loose upon som upon the affections of the young, the ciety, can condescend to cater for that vain, and the inconsiderate ; how it banquet, of which scoffers and infidels flatters the self-love of the ignorant, are the principal purveyors ! How can and luils to repose the inquietude of you suppose that these men will turn the slothful. You know how many from the cold blasphemies or impish there are to be found in every city, grins of the old Reviewers, with that who, even after they have recovered horror which every devout and sted. from the delusion of youthful self- fast Christian must feel in perusing sufficiency, and learned to suspect that their writings, when they find, that, some things are too high for the in- in spite of all their grins and all their vestigation of unassisted reason, are blasphemies, those heirs of the maligyet held in fetters by the habits which nity of Gibbon and the scorn of Vol. they have acquired, and arrested at taire are aided and abetted in their the threshold of faith by the phantom impious undertakings by the sincere, of doubts which they have in vain en- the zealous, the manly intellect of deavoured to dispel. Your experience Chalmers ? What, think you, would as a clergyman has, 1 doubt not, made the good men of less sophisticated ages known to you many unhappy indivi- have said to the spectacle of such duals, who thus suffer, by the indeci- alarming inconsistency? Would Milsion of many comfortless years, for the ton have patronised a miscellany confleeting satisfaction of their youthful ducted by Mr Hobbes ? Would Adpride. You have seen such men ; you dison have been the coadjutor of have pitied them ; perhaps it has not Bolingbroke or Shaftesbury? Would unfrequently been your lot to console Johnson have sent forth his essays their weary spirits, and strengthen mingled with those of Hume? I contheir shrinking resolutions. What sider you as both morally and inteleffect, think ye, will it have upon leetually very much the superior of such minds as these, to hear that you Robertson ; but I think you might lend your countenance, and the strength derive a very important lesson, from of your name and genius, to the Edin- contrasting the contempt wherewith burgh Review?--that you are allow- his memory is loaded, with the reing your writings to go forth into the spect which infidels and Christians world, and give their influence to for- alike accord to the firm integrity of ward the success of a work, from Whitaker. * whose treacherous pages it has perhaps : There is only one supposable case been their misfortune to derive not a in which I should think it justififew of those evil impressions which able, or even commendable in you, to are rendering their lives unhappy ?- be a contributor to Mr Jeffrey's Rethat you are become the patron of view. It is this. Since the moment those whom they cannot help cursing this Review was commenced, it has as the misguiders of their youth, maintained a remarkable silence with whose impious jeers have left a poison regard to one very important part of within their breasts, so foul and rank- our national literature.

Our poets, ling, that no after penitence can en- philosophers, historians, travellers, and tirely expel it,-whose derision has wits, have received abundant attenacted as a corrosive pestilence, muti- tion; but little or nothing has been lating and wasting away, within them, ever said about our divines. Two or every thing that is most generous in' three volumes of sermons have indeed feeling, and most sublime in prin- been reviewed ; and these have been ciple? They had begun to reverence thus highly favoured, it would appear, you as the weight in the scale, which was likely to give to the right cause * See Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, its just preponderance. They were vol. iii.

*

.

rather on account of personal regard open and candid manner, I think you to their authors, than from any affec- might safely have quenched all your tion for the subjects of which they scruples, and set your shoulders to the treat. The reviews of these books work, infinitely to your own honour were written, indeed, with a decent and to the benefit of the Review. But air; but the most superficial observer this is not so. The Review still concannot fail to see, that, in discussing tinues to be the organ of infidelity. the literary merits of Moncrieff, Ali- The part which you play is a very son, and Morehead, the critic has humble one. You are only allowed been

very careful to abstain from any to write on subjects unconnected with thing like an eulogy on that peculiar religion : while you are earnestly en-system of faith which it has been, treated to join the camp, the weapons throughout life, the chief object of all in whose use you are most skilful are these good men's endeavours to illus- maliciously kept out of your hands. trate and defend. Your own works You are rather there as a part of the have excited much more attention pageant than as one of the substantial among the literary as well as the combatants. It suits neither your Christian world, than any other reli- interest nor your reputation to maingious compositions of our day, but tain so pitiful a post. It is unworthy not one of them has ever been noticed of you to write in any book, wherein in this Review,-a circumstance which you dare not give full vent to your I attribute not to any unwillingness thoughts on that subject which you on the part of Mr Jeffrey to gratify profess to consider as of paramount and praise you, but to the intensely weight and dignity. I own that there Christian aspect and air of the writings would be some risk of ridicule in the themselves, and the difficulty, or rather attempt to render the Edinburgh ReI should say the impossibility, of as- view a defender of Christianity. But signing to you your due place among the if this be su, if you shrink from the literary men of the time, without say, derision of the men of the world, ing something decided concerning the should you not still more shrink from topics which you have handled so well, their contempt? And contempt, you and from which the chief inspiration may depend upon it, is the best wages of your genius seems unquestionably which some of your present coadjutors to be derived. Now I do not suppose will ever give you for all your complifor a moment, that you could stoop to follow the example of some of your In spite of every thing, you cannot brother authors, and review yourself ; avoid shewing us, who know you, that but I see nothing absurd in imagining even in your assumed character of an that you might very well review and Edinburgh Reviewer, you still preapplaud those who are employed on serve the same ardent love for Christhe same subjects, and animated with tianity which shines with a more the same hopes, which you yourself effectual splendour among the volove and cherish. Had Mr Jeffrey lumes you have published with your said to Dr Chalmers, “ I cannot ven- In one eloquent passage, you ture to say a word with respect to re- even advance and maintain, with no ligion, but I pledge myself to insert ordinary vigour, the principle, that nothing in the Review which can ap- the extended influence of our religion pear hostile to it.

Take you this would of itself be sufficient to remove matter entirely into your hands: you all those evils of pauperism and poorsunderstand it better than

any
of our

rates which at present occupy so much confederacy. The want of religious of the attention of the British legislareviews is the greatest defect of our ture. This is noble, and worthy of Journal; for theological writings have you. But do not imagine that the full always formed a most important part meaning of the writer will ever be of English literature, and even in that guessed at by the majority of those point of view alone, I am sensible that who read the passage. They are so our neglect of them is a radical error. much accustomed to see the terms of Say what you please, and do what you

" the truth,” and “ our holy religion,” please, with this branch of the Review. &c. coupled in this Journal with obLeave me the belles lettres and the vious taunts and gibes against the science, and take you the religion, most sacred mysteries of their faith, &c.” Hail Mr Jeffrey acted in this that they take it for granted the

ance.

name.

a

eulogy of Christianity proceeds merely Pardon me, if I have been betrayed on the grounds of temporal utility, into a warmth of language unsuitable and that the gospel of Jesus is recom- to one who willingly confesses that he mended in England for purposes which is addressing his superior. Be assured would have secured equal enthusiasm that I have no motive in all that I in favour of Mahometanism in Turkey, have said, but a strong zeal, both for or Brahminism in Hindostan. You your reputation, and for the cause of are thus coupled, in the minds of those Christianity. It would be superfluous who know not your character but to tell you, that this is not a period in cannot fail soon to recognise the recur- which Christians might expect to be rence of your very remarkable style, pardoned for deserting, even for a mowith that band of humble wits who ment, the standards around which it have been so long contented to earn is their duty to be rallied. Infidelity the applauding smile of the vulgar, by does not indeed speak so boldly as it jokes filtered and refined from the once did among us; but I fear-I rotten fountains of the Taureau Blanc greatly fear-whether her silence be and the Dictionnaire Philosophique. not ominous, rather of her settled hoga That foreible sweep of language with tility than of her genuine repentance. which you are accustomed to confound I much suspect, that the candour of the enemies of your creed, is asso- Hume is the only part of his garment ciated, in the minds of these strangers, which has fallen upon no disciples. with the ideas of audacious deceit and It is useless to multiply names and unblushing charlatanerie. Your su- facts - but I am sure you internally blime flights are supposed to belong to acknowledge the justness of my posithe same school with the majestic tion, when I assert, that infidelity is exordiums of the Edipus Judaicus; at this moment more extensively difand you are perhaps classed with the fused among the higher orders of Briauthor of that singular performance, tish society,-aye, and taught in a as a man who degrades genius, erudi- manner more dangerous by British tion, and oratory, into the instruments authors, than was ever known, even in of a superstitious and visionary deism. the days when unbelief was the ally

It is needless to explain to you at of open democracy, and the enemies of greater length the dangerous purposes our faith enlisted in their cause all the to which

your
conduct

may be twist- zeal and bigotry of a political insurreced, or the malicious ways in which it tion. In common with many of my may be misrepresented, by the giddy, countrymen I rejoiced in the rise of the superficial, the heartless, the your name, and saw in you a brilliant thoughtless, the faithless, and perhaps luminary likely to dispel much of the the godless readers of this Review. darkness which envelopes the religious Be assured, that however you may be atmosphere of the land. I trust my courted and flattered at head-quarters, forebodings were not in vain. Nay, you will be regarded by the under- I know and feel that you are born to strappers of the array in no other light do great things,—that you are gifted than that of a hireling and dishonoure with very singular talents and feelings, able auxiliary. You will consult well and that these are not more admirfor your own character before you pro- able in themselves, than in their adapceed farther. You will pause before tation to the necessities of the time. you plunge more deeply into the pit Surely you will not allow your name of error. You will hesitate before to be sullied by the breath of calumny, you entangle yourself in such a man- merely that you may gratify your ner, as might render retreat a shame- own vanity or that of Mr Jeffrey.ful, perhaps a fruitless, attempt. You But, indeed, I imagine you have quite will, above all, consider with yourself, mistaken the relation in which your by what means you are most likely to name and character at present stand to prevent your name from being joined, his. He has had his day. The world in the mouths of the public, with is agreed that he is the cleverest of rethose of certain scoffing priests, and viewers, but that he is not, nor ever envious renegadoes, who are already can become, one of the great men desbranded with an everlasting infamy tined to occupy a place in for the share which they have taken

“ That temple where the dead in the guilty triumphs of the Edins Are honoured by the nations." burgh Review,

Your reputation, on the contrary, is

a

not yet settled. You have done much against so formidable a band of transand delighted many, but your works gressors. abound in marks of hurry and false For you, sir, I cannot conclude taste, which all your readers hope to without again assuring you of my love, see removed hereafter. Your writings respect, and veneration. Had I eshave been accepted as the promise of teemed you less, or rated your talents a vigorous genius, new in the occupa- more lowly, I should have spared mytion to which it is devoted ; and all self the trouble of a long address, men are willing to believe that your which many will not fail to consider future exertions may very far surpass as impertinent, but which you yourthose which you have as yet exhibit- self, I feel satisfied, will acknowledge ed. It rests with yourself, whether to be founded in justice and truth. I you may not go down as a British am sensible that you are placed in a classic,-perhaps as the first, or in the delicate situation. The amiable manvery first rank, of our divines. You ners and kindly dispositions of Mr will not facilitate your path to these Jeffrey are known to none better than worthy objects of ambition, or remove to myself. I pity his errors, but I any misgivings which we may have in never cease to entertain a certain lurkrespect to your future career, by mak- ing affection for the man. It is for ing yourself familiar in the hackneyed you to consider how far feelings of walks of secular criticism and political this kind should be allowed to intereconomy. You will do well to devote fere with matters of a higher order, yourself entirely to your profession; with feelings yet more sacred than any you are at present its ornament, but to which acquaintanc ship, or even by its means alone, and in the strength friendship, can give birth. That Mr of its protection, are you destined to Jeffrey is entitled to the warmest love achieve for yourself a literary immor- of those with whom he associates, no tality. You can gain nothing from man who has the least knowledge of Mr Jeffrey ; he may hope for much him and his habits can for a moment from you. You should calculate well doubt. Had he been the only person before you consent to be generous, interested in the Edinburgh Review, when the object is not good, and the I believe the character of that work, return is sure to be insignificant. even in a religious point of view, would

If you become a regular writer in the have been very superior to what it is. Edinburgh Review, you will certainly But although he is the responsible learn to look upon that work with man, and although the world is quite somewhat of the feelings of parental entitled to take him to task for all the partiality. I hint it merely-I may errors of the book, it is well underadd, modestly and hesitatingly—is stood, among them who are near the there no danger for yourself? There fountain of information, that of those is no wisdom so secure that it may be things which have most offended entitled to despise temptation. No either the critical or the religious opiprecept is more safe than that which nions of intelligent readers, comparasays that we should “ flee from dan- tively a very small part has been the

actual production of his own pen. His I have spoken of this Review in situation is, indeed, in my opinion, terms which may appear harsh to ma- very far from being an enviable one. ny, and to some unjust. To those He is obliged to stand and receive the who understand, as you do, the pur- blame of blunders which he has not port and scope of the work, no apo- committed, and of meannesses which logy nor explanation can be necessary. his nature would teach him to despise. To those who are blind enough to be in the vigour of his faculties and of gulled by its external smoothness, or his manhood, he is compelled to bear dull enough to be incapable of pene- the burdens of querulous and despairtrating its hidden treacheries, I shall ing age on the one hand, and of pert, at present say nothing. If any hesi- presumptuous, ignorant boyhood on tate to adopt the opinion which I have the other. Himself a man of brilliant expressed concerning it, let them sig- fancy and happy temperament, he is nify their wishes, and I shall gladly the captain of a set of obtuse imitators present them in a future letter, with and envious pigmies. The lash which such a body of evidence, as, I flatter he himself wields is sharp and cutting, myself, has not often been called forth but the wound which it leaves is only

VOL. III.

[ocr errors]

ger.”

a

х

to."*

in the flesh, and there is no poison in thair iniquitie, baith because hie doith conthe stroke. But his hireling crew of firme thame in thair error by his silence, executioners indulge in their office the and also confirmis utheris to credit thair docmalignant invention of infants, and trine becaus hie opponis not himself thair. the persevering cruelty of savages. You must not think of Mr Jeffrey remain, sir, your very obedient hum

With every good wish and hope, I alone, when you think of quitting the

ble servant,

İDOLOCLASTES. Review. You must take it into con

May 1st, 1818. sideration, that your contributions assist not him alone, but all his confederates. Among these of later years are

HORACE WALPOLE'S LETTERS TO ME to be found some, whom a man of

MONTAGU.T true genius, such as you, cannot but despise ; whom a man of pure morali- So much, both good and bad, has been ty and honour, like Mr Jeffrey, should written concerning Horace Walpole, blush for a moment to admit into any that we are sure our readers would portion of his confidence. You were not easily pardon us should we invite formed by nature for higher things them to any new dissertation upon so than to be the companion and coadju- old a subject.

We are not aware, tor of such reprobates as these. Have however, of any publication which ina care, lest a name which might have troduces one to so perfect a knowledge gone down to posterity in all the ma- of the lord of Strawberry-hill as the jesty of purity, receive any stain from present. In it we are presented with others, with which you are thus com- a complete and unflattering portrait of pelling it to be associated.

him, his thoughts, and occupations. If you have opinions to express up- The last, as our readers well know, on any subject whatever, be assured were in general sufficiently trifling; that the authority of your name in a the collecting of anecdotes about detitle-page, goes at least as far at the parted and forgotten" rags of qualipresent

time as the protecting cover ties," as he himself calls them,-buyof the Edinburgh Review. You are ing, begging, and borrowing bits of not in the situation of a young painted glass,--and flattering himself nameless author, whose lucubrations, that he was making a castle, when he that they may not languish in obscur was only overloading an ill-built cota ty, have need to catch a little second- tage with the gilding and varnishing hand splendour from the established re- of a Dutchman's cabinet.

Horace putation of Brougham, Hazlitt, and the Walpole was indeed a very effeminate Rev. Sidney Smith. You have no need person in most of his tastes, but he was of leading strings, and you should no undoubtedly a man of elegant educalonger allow yourself to be dazzled by tion and much wit.

When young, he baubles. Stand on your own strength, speaks of every thing with the apand there are none who will overlook parent heartlessness of a Frenchman; you. Your mind was not meant to but he seems to have grown much be a parasitical plant,-you were born wiser as he grew older, and throughto grow and flourish in independence. out these letters of his, written with

I shall conclude with a sentence all possible haste, and certainly withfrom the writings of one whom you out the most remote expectation of will allow to have been at least as their ever being made into a book, great a man, and as good a judge of there occur many traces of profound conduct, as any of all your coadjutors feeling and sober reflection, which in this Journal.

would do great honour to heads that “ The Spreit of God,” says the firm and made much greater pretensions to fearless John Knox, “ willeth ws to be gravity and wisdom. These letters sa cairfull to avoyd the company of all that were addressed by him to his friend teachis doctrine contrarie to the treuth of Chryst, that we communicat with thame in See his first letter to Mrs Marjory nathing that may appeir to manteane or de Bowes, ap. M'Crie. fend thame in thair corrupt opinionn, for + Letters from the Hon. Horace Walhie that bidis thame Godspeid, communi- pole to George Montagu, Esq. from the catis with thair syn; that is, hie that ap- year 1736 to the year 1770. Now first pubpeiris, by keiping thame company, or assist- lished from the Originals in the possession ing unto thame in thair proceedings, to fa- of the Editor. 4to, pp. 446. Rodwell and vour thair doctrine, is guilty before God of Martin, &c. London.

a

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »