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with any attempt to correct what is amiss in the practice of their less scrupulous brethren. If the Church complains of being deserted for the Conventicle, the complainants may assure themselves that it is not to any speculative preference for this or that modification of doctrine that such desertion is owing; but, to speak in plain terms, to the little consistency which people begin too generally to observe between profession and practice. We have had a frightful experience of what religion has suffered in France from a like cause, and let me hope the lesson may not come too late for a warning to ourselves. *
* Since this was sent to press, I have considered it not irrelevant to insert a statement which was announced by a clergyman in his sermon, in St. James's Church, Piccadilly, on the 19th of August, 1827 — namely, that out of a population of 30,000 which the parish contains, (perhaps he meant only the church-going population), there were this year but 500 communicants, and the greater part women! I make no comment.
If the duty of the church were trustily done, is it probable that the number of methodists added to the swelling list would amount, as it has done this year, to 7993? which appears to be the fact, from a return made from various parts of the kingdom. - Vide Morning Herald, 20th August, 1827.
It is true these topics have no more to do with a tour to Paris than with the discovery of the North-West Passage; but their value, if they could presume to have any, would not be affected by the vehicle in which they are conveyed, any more than by the trifling nature of the incidents which suggested them.
as fully aware as if a son of Aristarchus stood at my
elbow how many good and sound objections might be taken against the temerity of putting forth such a motley mélange of unconnected trifles and grave matter. My book, however, with the usual atrocious obstinacy proceeding from the hope of doing some good, against the clear evidence of all experience to the contrary, would not be restrained from the headlong purpose.
quid miser egi?
* But where, after all, is the use of being anxious about the matter; since, if an author were, in these days, as invulnerable as Achilles, the reviewer would be sure to have him by the heel.
Though much ephemeral matter has been expunged since my return, the notes on the press have been allowed to stand, from a wish to present what I could gather of the state of public feeling, pending the discussion of M. Peyronnet's projet.
Upon the whole, the reader must see there can hardly be a much less inviting undertaking than the present. If any who honour my pages with a perusal should feel sore, I can only apologise in the same way as the man did, in a crowd, to a person in front, on whose heels he was treading, by telling him, for his comfort, that he was standing on the toes of the people behind. Not to write with candour on subjects of this nature would be to compromise the only object of writing at all. All the real friends of the learned professions, I am persuaded, will cordially go along with me. Nothing could compensate to me for giving a worthy man, no matter how deficient his claims in other respects, one unpleasant feeling. If, therefore, any one were to experience a little awkwardness, we must conclude the hat fits; and the tighter the fit, the more he may be expected to complain. In a profession with such an alacrity in sinking” as Physic, I cannot believe that any
honest man would desire to exclude a high rate of liberal education as the general condition of the competency of its professors. Some, without this advantage, I know, have risen to deserved eminence. How much higher, then, might they have reached, had this advantage not been wanting!
I claim, indeed, a large measure of consideration for my remarks on the Church : for who that is the least acquainted with the habits of our more respectable clergy, and especially our dignitaries, can affect to be ignorant of the daily sacrifices they make in visiting the house of mourning in preference to the house of feasting, administering consolation to the widow and the orphan, carrying hope into the prisons, seeking out distress instead of waiting till it seeks, instructing the young in the principles of religion, confirming the more advanced, fixing the wavering, comforting infirmity and age; to whom the tale and tear of misery never appeal in vain ; whose superfluities, above what is barely necessary for carnal consequence, are continually shared with poverty and distress in every form; whose revenues are, in short, only so many public deposits, of which they are the stewards. Who can be acquainted with these things, and suppose I should withhold all due veneration for an Establishment, which, whatever its frailties, is redeemed by so much active practical piety ?
A few words seem called for in reference to the Mechanic Institutions. It is probable I have not allowed them their full meed of desert. If so, it has proceeded · wholly from a misgiving that they are not likely to be kept up unless by a degree of persevering gratuitous energy in their promoters, which can hardly be looked for. Merely the first impulse will not, I think, be sufficient to keep the thing going. There must be a succession of impulses. The people themselves never volunteer more trouble than they can avoid ; and it seems a golden dream to suppose their ardour for knowledge will overcome their vis inertie and the alehouse, if wholly left to themselves.