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Copies of this letter were enclosed to Bishops Porteus and Horsley, with the former of whom Mr. Bowdler had at that time only a slight acquaintance; the latter was his neighbour, and often met and conversed with him, with a marked kindness and an easy familiarity. The reader may, perhaps, feel some little desire to see the notice taken of the letter by these distinguished prelates, which will also preclude the necessity of making any observations upon it.
66 Fulham House, Nov. 28, 1796.
“ About a week ago I received the favour of your letter, enclosing a copy of one which you had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and which I have read over more than once with great care and attention. The matters of which it treats are undoubtedly of the highest and most serious import, and I shall most assuredly give them all the consideration which they so well deserve, and shall take as early an opportunity as I am able of conferring upon them with the Archbishop. After this, I shall be very glad of an interview with you when I remove to London for the winter, as subjects of this sort are much better discussed in conversation than by letter.
“ In the mean while I may venture to go so far as to saj, in general, that some of the evils you point out are not, in my apprehension, so great or so extensive as you seem to imagine; that several of the remedies you propose are, I fear, impracticable; that more exertions have been made for the removal of these grievances by the bishops and the clergy than you appear to be aware of, and that
they have met with obstacles which have defeated their best endeavours.
“ To instance only in one particular :
“ The necessity of preserving the sanctity of the Lord's day, and of preserving it from all profanation, is a point in which all men, even some who are no friends to religion, seem to be agreed, and in which one should imagine there would be no difficulty to encounter. Yet I know by experience that this is very far from being the case. About ten or twelve years ago I brought a bill into parliament to put a stop to public amusements on Sunday evenings, which about that time were growing much into fashion. The bill passed both houses, though not without a good deal of opposition. But on my expressing a wish that some clauses might be introduced to prohibit the travelling of wagons, stage coaches, &c. &c., and to restrain all persons from exercising their worldly occupations on the Lord's day, I was assured, that if I attempted any thing of that kind it would probably overthrow the whole bill, and destroy all the good effects I expected from it. Since that time attempts have been made to introduce bills to prevent all such enormities by increasing the penalties upon them. But it was found, that no such bills would be suffered to pass; and it was with the utmost difficulty that an act was obtained a few years ago to impower the bakers in London and Westminster to refuse baking on Sundays after one o'clock, that they might at least be able to go to church one part of the day. At this moment I am myself endeavouring to suppress some new profanations on the Lord's day, and applying to the magistrates for that purpose, but very much suspect I shall not be successful.
6 I mention these few facts merely to show, in a very strong case, that what appears to be highly reasonable and
essentially necessary for the support of religion, cànnot álways be accomplished, even by the most strenuous efforts. “ I am, Sir, with great regard, « Your most faithful and obedient servant,
« B. LONDON:”
66 Dear Sir, “I return you many thanks for the communication of your letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, which I have repeatedly perused with great attention, and heartily wish that the practicability of the measures were equal to the importance of the object. I fear the depravity of manners is in many circumstances beyond the reach of law. The maxim “Quid leges sine moribus vanæ proficiunt,” is of a deeper import than at first appears. Laws will be of no effect, and of less effect, I am persuaded, in proportion as they are severe, when the manners are such that the general sentiment holds the object of that severity of the law in no abhorrence. The courts of justice are now enforcing
the laws against gaming with some success. However general the practice of gaming may be, there are hardly any of those who practise it that are not ashamed of it ; and for this reason, that it creates a suspicion of poverty. Laws, therefore, will be successful against this practice; because, however general, it is reprobated by the public mind. But against adultery laws will not be sticcessful, because adultery is not reprobated by the public mind. I doubt whether a new statute upon the subject could be carried. Certainly not one that should make the punishment corporal. I think a law restraining the delinquent party from forming a new marriage before the death of the former consort, might have a good effect. But yet it would de serve serious consideration, whether such a restraint might
not be a, temptation to private murthers. The Jewish lawgiver found it necessary to accommodate his laws, upon this very point, to the hardness of the hearts of the people.
“ I hope that the Curates' act will promote the residence of the parochial clergy; and their residence seems the most likely means to revive the attention of the laity to religious ordinances. 66 I remain, dear Sir,
6 With great esteem, “ Your very faithful and obedient humble servant,
66 S. ROCHESTER.” Deanery, Dec. 8, 1796.
To these letters, both of which are characteristic of the writers, Mr. Bowdler replied in a manner equally marking his own character. It may be sufficient to quote from his answer to the latter:
“ Being fully persuaded that human laws are inefficient, when the divine law has become obsolete, and the morals profligate, my idea was, by some striking public measures, to open the eyes of the people, and draw their attention to the immoralities of the age, and by every possible means to revive the knowledge of the divine law, and the regular practice of the externals of religion; and then to call in. the aid of the civil power, and coerce by penalties those whom better motives could not influence. Every check of gaming must give pleasure to all honest minds. But, I fear, what has yet been done can avail little: it does not go to the root of the evil. We cannot expect our servants to abstain from those vices which we practise. If gaming be
permitted in St. James's, it is in vain to attempt to abolish it in St. Giles's.
“ With regard to adultery, as it was punished capitally by the Jewish law, some think it ought to be so punished among us. But milder penalties may suit these days better. I wish they were such as tended to render the guilty parties contemptible or infamous; for certainly they can avail little, unless the public mind be impressed with a sense of the heinousness of the vice, and of its pernicious effects. But surely such a sense does exist and might be strengthened, if those who have the greatest influence would show a marked disapprobation of this crime.
" I remain, with great respect,
66 Your Lordship's
“ J. BOWDLER."
Another subject soon after presented itself to Mr. Bowdler's attention, and he pursued it diligently for some time. The able and indefatigable author of the “Guide to the Church” having been assailed somewhat rudely by Sir Richard Hill, in what the worthy Baronet was pleased to call an “ Apology for Brotherly Love,” Mr. Bowdler addressed a letter to the former, which led to a short but friendly correspondence. The object of this letter was partly to testify the writer's assent to the principles maintained in the “ Guide to the Church," and partly to recommend the publishing of an abridgement of that work, in order to procure for it a more general perusal. But the corre