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The West Indians are waxing bolder publications, especially his little historical than ever in their wickedness. Grand works, are such as a Christian parent, Juries have ignored the bills against the who disapproves of even guarded novels, ringleaders in the demolition of the mis- may cheerfully admit into his household. sionary chapels; and pretended “church Of Dr. Clarke we have some very inunions”-most unchristian unions, which teresting memorials lying before us; but no English bishop, we are persuaded, can it were better to defer our notice of this approve-have been formed for ejecting eminently great, learned, and good man, missionaries, and retaining the slaves in till the intended publication of an authenbeathen darkness. There is much more tic memoir of him, which we understand that is revolting and horrible, which we is in hand. must speedily advert to. The question We lament to hear on every side of is not generally known to the British the ill effects which have ensued from the public, in its true bearings, or slavery Beer Act. The principle of that bill we would perish at a single stroke.
thought excellent; both as it tended to The outrages in Ireland continue, and encourage a cheaper and better article of fearful deeds of bloodshed are constantly wholesome beverage, and also to superoccurring. Government is exerting itself cede spirit shops; but there must have with some vigour and success in carrying been some serious defects in the details into execution the late tithe act; but un- of the act, as distinct from its principle. less much more is done, not only must These should be carefully investigated, tithes fall, but the established church, and a well-digested plan drawn up to and Ireland before long be virtually sepa- remedy them before the next session. rated from England. The horrible fami- The chief evil appears to us to be allowliarity of the peasantry with blood, is a ing beer to be drunk on the premises most appalling feature of the state of where it is sold, which is no part of the affairs in Ireland. Let British Protest- principle of the measure, and is rather ants not forget their persecuted brethren in opposition to it. The parochial clergy in their daily prayers : and we venture to will do well to take the matter into serious suggest that pecuniary liberality ougbt not consideration, and to use their efforts for to be neglected, as great numbers of Irish a salutary amendment of the act, without clergymen are plunged into the most dis- going back to the old regulations of untressing state of wretchedness; many are fair and impolitic restriction. The prealmost starving for want of the bare sent system of excess and evil was never necessities of life. We may in a future intended or suspected. Number state some most distressing and Among the witnesses examined by the appalling facts, unless in the mean time House of Commons' Committee upon the friends of religion and Protestantism, dramatic literature was Mr. G. Coleman, shall be induced to turn their attention to the licenser, who it appears has exercised the subject, with a view to see whether his anomalous function with a greater any thing can be done to relieve the exist- degree of propriety than pleases the stageing distresses. Surely our fellow-Pro- managers, actors, the immoral part of the testant Christians in Ireland have as audience, and, we fear, by the cross quespowerful a claim as expelled foreign pa- tions put to him, some of the House of triots and Roman-Catholic refugees. Commons' Committee. He is roughly
The cholera seems, in the mercy of God, handled in the committee for declaring to be abating. It has been the means of that scriptural allusions ought not to be calling forth a spirit of prayer, humiliation, permitted on the stage; that they become and serious inquiry in many places; and profaned, and have an injurious effect upon God has been pleased in numerous in- the public feelings and manners; and that stances, to hear and answer the supplica- colloquial oaths and cursing are indecent tions of his servants.
and immoral. Some member, apparently We have to record the deaths of two vexed at these answers, taunts him with individuals, eminent in their respective bis own theatrical publications, and asks departments of life, but widely different him if he did not himself introduce swear. departments,-Sir Walter Scott and Dr. ing and occasional scriptural allusions. Adam Clarke. Of the former we need With great manliness and right feeling he add nothing to what we have often stated, avows that he did so, but that he was both of his much respected and beloved at that time a younger man and “a carecharacter and his splendid talents; though less immoral author," and that now “he we have never disguised our earnest wish would be very happy to relieve his mind that the latter had been directed into some from the recollection of having written more valuable department of literature those oaths." We copy these notices for than that which occupied so many of his the use of those who still maintain that best years. We are not deeply read in the stage is a school for virtue. What his novels, but the irreverent use of Scrip- must be the state of morals in the “ drature language in some of them, is a trans- matic circles " when a licenser is ridiculed gression which
must distress every for his fastidiousness merely for recomthoughtful mind. They are however, we mending the omission of oaths and irrebelieve, remarkably pure and virtuous in verent Scriptural allusions. The House their sentiments, and some of his other of Commons cross-examiner talks about
some “ very good joke about Eve,” in regions of central Asia. His last occuone of Mr. Coleman's own plays; and pations were devoted to a kindred object. when Mr. Coleman laments it as being in his admirable lectures in the college “ improper," the honourable member by of France, he refuted certain naturalists, his question attempts to defend it, on the who, to overturn the doctrine of final ground that “ the audience are always causes, teach tbat there was originally but struck with it.” We wish, for the sake one kind of animal, a mere chance in the of the ensuing elections, that we knew intinite mutations of matter in eternal the name of the member who thus prefers ages, and that from this have arisen all dramatic effect to public decency.
others, modified by appeteney. Man is The continent of Europe is in a state thus accounted a mere worm, or polypus, of great peril. Holland and Belgium which happens by chance to have been bave not settled their differences; and more developed than his kindred worms, France and England seem likely-most or polypi, and owing all his superiority to unwisely and unjustly in our view—to in- a bappy accident. Cuvier's demonstrations terpose with arms to arrange them. Ger- overturned this absurd theory, and formed many is every where excited, in conse- an excellent course of natural theology, the quence of the measures of the Diet; but more valuable as being the result of inde. no open disturbances have yet occurred. pendent science. His infidel opposers, in Don Miguel and Don Pedro continue in consequence, accused him of being prearms in Portugal, without any decisive judiced, of pbilosophising under preposadvantage hitherto on either side. The session, and being as bigotted as a Papist; alleged death of the king of Spain may, if because he did not believe, for example, true, lead to new disturbances, especially that the giraffe had gradually grown so tall as there seems likely enough to be a civil through many gradations, from wormwar respecting the succession to the bood, by the necessity of browzing on throne. We trust that England will not be high branches; and that the human hand, actively drawn into any of these quarrels. the whale's foot, and the dolphin's fin are
We omitted to mention in our late no- one original member variously modified ; tices of French memoranda, the death of and the brain of man only an improvement M. le Baron Cuvier, who held the re- on that of a bird or fish. Paley thought sponsible office of the direction of the it necessary to refute this doctrine of apaffairs of the Protestants in France. His petency: and for this purpose adduces in loss to science is very great : he was the particular two remarkable instances; the first naturalist of his age; and the strap that binds down the tendons at the Christian part of his countrymen,” says ankle, and the valves connected with the one of his eulogists, “ rejoiced to see in circulation of the blood, which could not the labours which constituted the basis of be generated by appetency, as they achis fame, none of those elements of fra- tually oppose it. But we are not writing gility which mark the conclusions of a history of Cuvier's life or discoveries. science, when opposed to the word of Our readers will not have forgotten the God.” We expressly transcribe this part interesting Obituary of his admirable of the encomium of his Christian friends, daughter, in our volume for 1828, p. 531. because he has been accused in this coun- We forgot to mention some time since try, by some writers who evidently did not that a decree of the grand council of Berne understand him, of contravening the bad reversed the act of the secret council Mosaic account of the creation. M. de of June 1829, by which thirty inbabitants Staël once remarked, that every age, as of the canton, several of them husbands well as individual, has its specific duty; and fathers of families, were banished for and that the duty of the nineteenth cen- the crime of worshipping God according tury is to bring science in all its disco- to their conscience. veries to bear upon religion, and to cor- The Bishop of New York has issued a roborate (if so we may speak) the word circular to the clergy of his diocese in reof God. The researches of Cuvier did ference to the cholera ; with two prayers this. His scientific conclusions relative for the occasion, which are those apto the order in which man was created, pointed last winter by the heads of the coincide with the Mosaic narrative, and church in England. It is pleasing to see refute the objections of other less cau- that our daughter or sister church, while tious or less skilful naturalists. He shews she bas followed her ritual, does not that no authentic tradition reaches beyond think it necessary for the assertion of her the first æra of the Bible ; and he derives independence to disdain to receive from all mankind from one stock, and from the us even an occasional form of prayer.
ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.
SUPPLEMENT TO RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE.
THE DIFFICULTIES OF CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHY.
1o the Editor of the Christian Observer. SEVERAL years ago I was requested to draw up memoirs of a good
man, then lately dead; who, having long filled a public situation, was well known not only in his own extensive circle, but generally throughout the Christian world. There were local and relational reasons why I should undertake the task ; and as I had been on terms of familiar intimacy with the party in question, this circumstance was mentioned as emphatically appointing myself to the office of biographer. The decision of my friends was ostensibly just, as grounded upon personal knowledge of the departed; but this very familiarity presented difficulties which I could not meet. Eusebius (so I will call him) was a holy man; but he had many blemishes, to say the least of them; and such as shewed themselves to the wide world in their milder forms, while they assumed a more determined character of error and inconsistency in the little world of home. Without going into farther detail, you will easily understand a state of embarrassment, which ended in my finally declining an attempt to tell all sides, and yet gratify many who almost idolized his memory.
There were other considerations tending to such an issue. I had read -as all of us have-many obituaries of persons who seemed to shine brighter in death-bed scenes than they ever shone before; and as epitaphs are proverbially a compound of adulation and irony, a like character has often marked the recital of what has passed before posthumuus fame was superadded. Dr. Johnson once said, “ Few persons die without affectation,”- '-a declaration which appears highly offensive and cruel, when first heard; but, if patiently examined by persons capable of analysing our wayward nature, discovered to be the assertion of one who knew mankind, and had sufficient independence of mind to speak the truth, at the risk of creating strong disgust before it could be dispelled by reflection. And what do the insulated events of death prove? Partisans of any cause are elated when their leaders die with coinposure and fortitude ; particularly if they expire under the terrors of
The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel,
Luke's iron crown, and Damiens' bed of steel circumstances of the last hour, which are used up in forming the hero. worship both of the Papal and Protestant world. The cavaliers of the se. venteenth century exulted in the scaffold-anecdotes of the heroism of Laud and Charles I. ; but a few years afterwards the regicides themselves kissed the stake with the spirit of a rival martyrdom. They suffered, says Burnet, " with much firmness and shew of piety, justifying all they had done, not without a seeming joy for their suffering on that account; so that the king CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 371.
was advised not to proceed farther ..... Harrison went through all the indignities and severities of his execution, in which the letter of the law in cases of treason was punctually observed, with a calmness, or rather cheerfulness, that astonished the spectators,” To this may be added the testimony of the high monarchist, Hume: “No saint or confessor ever went to martyrdom with more assured confidence of heaven, than was expressed by those criminals, even when the terrors of immediate death, joined to so many indignities, were set before them.” The story of what seemed to be the supernatural fortitude of Damiens and of Ravaillac, under the most terrific tortures, is well known. I only mention these several examples of - what shall I call them ?-affectation, fanaticism, vain-glory; or submission, confidence, resignation ? Whatever they were, all I wish to insist upon is, the danger of estimating any man's character by what may be said by rote, or by imitation in his final moments, rather than from the tone of his previous life. How much this argument is strengthened by what we read so frequently in the newspapers, about the happy and triumphant deaths of felons at the gallows, need not be particularized. Even Cook the murderer of Mr. Paas has been almost canonized.
Eusebius died suddenly, and of course there was nothing to tell of his death-bed and last sayings; but it is too evident, that what is considered to be an impressive death-scene appears to lay the narrator under a kind of necessity to support the final circumstances of life, by recurring to the party's former opinions and conduct. His temptation is to make too much of these, in order to consolidate a consistent report. I am, indeed, painfully aware of the anxiety we all feel, on summing up the evidence of a departed friend's sincerity, in cases of a dubious character, to interpret even anomalous proofs with the utmost favourableness, and to substantiate the very shadows of religious principle. But no one needs to be offended by such anxiety. It is at once a personal and a Christian feeling. Yet we are not to merge the solemnities of eternity in emotions of human tenderness and sympathy. If an individual seem to die well, we ought to be thankful for this apparent indication of hopeful character and divine support.
But if the death is to be substituted for the life, or the last twenty days for the last thirty years, or if there be a positive disproportion between the high triumphs of death and the unsatisfactoriness of a long profession of religion which shone with a feeble, uncertain, and flickering light,-it may be better to rest on the death-bed hope, than to grope our backward way into preceding glooms, in search of evidences. No one who believes the Gospel of salvation can doubt as to the extent of the exercise of Divine grace; or that God can and does save at the eleventh hour. But this is not the question. Christian biography is chiefly meant to exemplify the influence of Christianity, and thence to teach the infidel world that it is no “cunningly devised fable ;" while it is also intended to confirm and ani. mate believers themselves, not merely in the prospect of their deaths, but in the conduct of their lives. The obituary of an inconsistent or suspicious religionist is frequently a premium upon insincerity. It is observable also, that when the dead are praised, it is often with such indiscrimination and commonness of eulogy as to mean nothing. Of the Earl of Radnor, for example, who died in 1776, Sir James Stonhouse wrote, —"In the conjugal relation, his lordship was indulgent and constant; in his parental, affectionate and judicious; as a member of society, active and benevolent; as a peer of the realm, loyal and independent; as a Christian, uniform and exemplary *.” All this might be true of his lordship; but who does not see that the printer might retain such an encomium in type till the death of the next peer, who should be judged to merit a similar generality of praise ? And this involves another difficulty of religious biography. It is often very proper and edifying to preach a funeral sermon, and to annex an obituary of the deceased in an appendix, for circulation within his own vicinity; but if an exemplary person dies in Northumberland, and another in Devonshire, and if-as is often the fact-the same obituary mutatis mutandis will do for both, it would seem to be inexpedient to send either to the Christian Observer, or any other Magazine, and much more so to manufacture a volume on the occasion. This is not suggested in order to discourage the publication of the lives of good men, but to induce the compilers of such memorials to be discriminative and select in their composition. And it may be here mentioned to their encouragement, that scarcely the most obscure Christian passes through life without leaving some insulated anecdote or incident, or local peculiarity, which so far might make a narrative original. To say, when a pious clergyman dies, that he was a faithful pastor in the pulpit and in the parish, and an excellent Christian in private life, and subscribed to the Bible and Church Missionary Societies, and had a Sunday-school, and distributed tracts, is to add not a tittle to our treasures of biography. 'Twas his—and his—and may be said of thousands ! Only adduce some specific and impressive illustration of general facts, which marked out any given character, and tends to rivet the eye that languidly wanders over paragraphs already written about other men; and twenty lines so acuminated will recur to the memory, when whole pages of mere repetition are forgotten. I remember reading in a country church, the epitaph of a clergyman, which, after the common inscription of name and dates ended thus :— "Whose usual saying was, that a parson should die preaching and praying, and who fulfilled his own words.” I have forgotten even the church where I saw the monumental tablet, as well as the clergyman's name, in fact, every thing but the aphorism, and this has dwelt in my recollection for upwards of five and twenty
* Letters to the Rev. Thomas Stedman. No, X.
“ The words of the wise are as goads. But the greatest difficulty of Christian biography remains behind. Are we to tell the faults of good men; and if so, how are we to tell them ? A faithful chronicler, as such, is surely bound to conceal nothing. In Foster's pungent essay on a man's writing memoirs of himself, we are indirectly instructed how absurd it is to describe the externals of character, while we cover up the interior. All of us naturally come abroad in our holiday dresses, when we ought to be seen in the coarse and dirty habiliments of this work-day world; as a Quaker once said to a lover, courting, friend, in thy every-day clothes.” Few lovers are likely to do this; and few biographers to delineate their subject with the fidelity here implied. The late venerable Mr. Scott, says: “I like much Mr. 's sermon on Mr. but nothing of defect is admitted : it is too unqualified praise : it tends to make me despond; and it led me to say, Some persons will ere long tell lies of me also. I admire Mr. Milner's plan about Mr. Howard : state debtor and creditor. If we have any thing good about us, there is a set off ; and it is best that it should be in some measure stated.” To this his biographer Mr. John Scott, adds :-"I must confess that the rule laid down in the closing sentence, unless its restric
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• An illustration of this is, or was, on the tomb of Donne or Sir Henry Wotton, in something of this kind, “ He was the author of the opinion Disputandi Pruritus Ecclesiæ Scabies ;" an aphorism, by the way, of no great sagacity, and easily abused by any one too indifferent to truth to be willing to defend it. Were the controversial writings of the Reformers an example of ecclesiastical leprosy, or of their anxiety to fortify and garrison the Protestant citadel? Yet the Papists doubtless thought that they must have had a strange itch for wrangling.