Графични страници
PDF файл

ing across over the heads of his lordship and friends were painted the figures of a zany, with his cap and bells, and of a harlequin, with his mask and motley coat, and acting his antics; which these observing persons

noticed as a most apt coincidence, as characterizing the scene just about to be acted.

• His lordship rose, and with much dignity stated the object of the meeting ; painted in the most affecting language the deplorable ignorance and miserable condition of the people of Loo Choo, and hoped, that as there were so many other valuable societies, who were busy converting people in all other parts of the globe, the present most respectable assembly would support him in forming this present projected institution, of which he might humbly claim the merit of being the sole inventor.

• A young gentleman with a fiery red head and a stiff collar, instantly rose, as concerted, and having in his own mind sanguine expectations of a good place in church or chapel, begged most respectfully to second his lordship’s most praiseworthy views; showed clearly the imperious necessity that something should be done to relieve the people of Loo Choo; proposed a set of resolutions; and ended by descanting with glowing and

weary eloquence upon the unspeakable piety and worth of the noble contriver of the forthcoming society. A second, a third, a fourth, a fifth, and a sixth, rose successively, and speechified, with little variation, in the same strain. One undertook to answer the objections of scoffers and profane persons, by showing how much the Loo Choo people were in need of a cargo of pious youths, and took upon himself to assert most distinctly, that the accounts of various ungodly voyagers were infamously false; these narrators, like most other men who dabbled in literature, being, as he could maintain from his own knowledge, nothing but infidels and atheists at the bottom. In confirmation of this, he read a letter from a man in one of the ships which had visited these islands (a man who, though nothing but a common sailor, was filled with piety and the spirit), which flatly contradicted almost every word of the printed accounts of the officers, and asserted that the people in Loo Choo were hungering and thirsting for the word, &c. &c.

* Another man, who was of his lordship’s retinue, spoke a speech, in which he censured strongly the men of this generation for their stingi. ness in the good cause, abused them for spending their odd money in the alehouse, instead of giving it to “the Lord” for the conversion of the heathen, and scolded the ladies until they blushed, for wantonly adorning their bosoms with gold chains and precious stones, so long as there was a stone in the temple of God's house that remained to be built up. But as there are never wanting persons in the world who will see things in righteous men which ought not to be seen, there were persons present who had the profanity to observe, that this good man (who was a broken trader, and travelling agent for several rich societies,) wore himself a great goggling brooch in the frill of his shirt, and had a bunch of gold seals hanging to his fob, each of which was almost the size of a smoothing iron.

But, to be brief, they all agreed in glorifying the good cause, and lauding the chairman and each other in the most fulsome and even im

pious terms. A praised B, who in return praised A, and included C, who next glorified D, and that worthy man E, who was quite overpowered by his feelings when he thought upon the virtues and piety of the whole, and also of his incomparable friends F and G; and so they went through the whole of the men on the elevated seats, like the “ babbling echo.” But the chorus of praise was still his lordship himself, who was the theme of universal admiration, as the greater among the lesser lights. Some most pleasant wit was sported by a young gentleman with a white hand and strongly smelling of musk, who still turned to the ladies as he spoke in the most graceful manner, and made them merry at the expense of the Loo Choo people and their describers; the latter of whom, he said, with that perversion of mind which ever accompanies the want of spiritual light, had ignorantly praised the condition of people who had no money and little zeal about religion, and who were even destitute of weapons of warfare, either spiritual or temporal, whereby they might contend withal. Another man, of a grave age, and bearing a most religious look, said many edifying things in praise of the good work, as he showed the incalculable service his pious lordship had done for the world, as a leading man in the great society for the conversion of the Jews, which, it was well known, had made so many sincere converts, at so small an expense, and he rejoiced to think that that noble society having taken in hand to forward the millennium, it was just coming on (as our wise men clearly saw), and was in fact almost daily expected.

• The resolutions that had been read in favour of the Loo Choo people were all adopted with enthusiasm, office-bearers were appointed, and money was subscribed. Mr. Creevy was milked of a guinea on the occasion, and charity sermons were planned for all the churches and chapels that would aid in furtherance of this great work. The company separated in the best spirits, most of the speechifiers to a dinner, made and provided in the cause of the Antipodean Society, at which even Mr. Creevy was to have a seat, besides dining, as he was invited to do, with the paper-dealer on the following day, previous to the important labours of the fair. Meantime my Lord Överly's secretary was despatched off to the county town, to have the proceedings duly set forth in the newspapers ; and thus these important transactions were got through with the utmost unanimity, and scarcely a murmur was heard of disapprobation or dissent.

• There was murmuring, however, on an obscure seat near the door ; but the murmur was not heard, nor was ever meant to be audible. It was not loud, but deep, and deep-seated, and deeply impressed. It came, mingled with heavy sighs and sorrowful moralizing, from a thin wan-looking widow, with five children, who had many relatives and acquaintances among the foremost of the meeting. Lord Overly's friends they all were, but they were now no friends to her, or her fatherless orphans, although her deceased husband had been, as she believed, the friend and the dupe of most of them for many years ; and her acquaintance was, unfortunately, with scarcely any other sort.

• She confessed to herself that she had attended the meeting simply from curiosity, or that painful feeling that leads one in misfortune to

probe into, and trace out, what mankind are capable of, and what are the excuses framed out of the human heart to evade the common calls of humanity, by selfish narrow-mindedness, vanity, and hypocrisy. Nearly two years she had struggled to maintain her fatherless charge ; her comfortable relatives could not afford to assist her. Three of her infants were to go the workhouse next week, and that would break her heart; but she had a curiosity to know what they, who could not afford a little help to the widow and children of a relative or acquaintance, could give to the antipodeans of Loo Choo, who, she understood, had manifested no wish to import English religion.'

• But who cares for the murmurs and secret sorrows of the poor widow and the fatherless children? The world is occupied with the public religion of such as my Lord Overly. Reader! moralize, if you will-our tears are almost exhausted !! Vol. II.

Pp 156–171.

Our readers will have had enough of the Sectarian; and some of them may be ready to wonder why we have devoted so much space to such despicable ribaldry. We have several reasons to give. The first is, that we really deem the work highly instructive, though the instruction is not such as the Writer designed to impart. His immediate object was, doubtless, to spin out three volumes; and his choice of a subject and a title, was prudently regulated by a modest estimate of his own powers, and the necessity of producing something that would sell. The work has sold, -has been praised as a work of talent, only “ a • little too severe upon sectarians ’; and Mr. Andrew Picken ranks among the promising writers of the Colburn school. Little as he may value our praise, we must add, that we think far more highly of his abilities and his capabilities, than this work would warrant. The Author of the beautiful tale of Mary Ogilvie must be a man of considerable native talents, of keen sensibilities, and redeemable feelings. We are willing to impute to profound ignorance of religion and the religious world, the caricature he has exhibited ; and the instruction which we derive from his work is this.

In the first place, it lets us see, under what aspect what is called sectarianism, pharisaism, evangelicalism, presents itself to the class-we do not say whom the Writer represents, but for whom he writes, and the feelings of bitter aversion with which they regard religious people. On whose account ought this chiefly to be deplored ? Surely not on theirs who are the objects of this mortal hatred. The hater is always most to be pitied. Whatever he may have it in his power to inflict upon others, he bears within himself an element of misery far greater than any external causes can produce. And as to writers who can stoop to become panders to the malignity of the infidel and the revelry of the licentious,-it is at their own peril and to their own infinite degradation and damage. It is theirs to curse: but

to bless, is the only part that becomes those who are the in• heritors of a blessing. Many such persons, however, may justly be regarded as acting under the perverting influence of a capital mistake. Better information, if it did not cure their dislike of the holy requirements of the religion of Christ, would at least restrain them from much of the misrepresentation and impiety with which they are chargeable. They do not mean to assail Religion, for whose name they have an indefinite rèspect; but, having no personal acquaintance with her heavenly lineaments, it is not surprising that they should wound her unawares. Their consternation would doubtless be mingled with surprise, were the voice which struck Saul of Tarsus to the ground, to address them with,-" Inasmuch as ye did to the least, the weakest of my disciples, ye did it unto me.”

And how blameable soever may be the prejudice, or ignorance, which leads this class of persons to take so false and injurious a view of religion and religious persons, so long as they are under the delusion which leads them to believe the lie, their aversion is not unreasonable. That which they impute to religionists,—hypocrisy, sectarianism, intolerance, display, covetousness, egotism, cant,-is odious; and these qualities are occasionally found co-existing with the semblance of high religious profession. Many individuals are the victims of a false association of ideas with regard to Religion, originating, perhaps, from fome unfavourable circumstances in their immediate connexions in early life. And having since receded further and further from the society of the good, they have not had the opportunity of disabusing themselves; while, at every retrogressive step, those motives acquire additional strength, which induce the man of pleasure to think ill, and to speak ill, of those who go not with him to the same excess of riot or of recklessness.

It is difficult for religious persons adequately to conceive of the powerful barrier which the simple opposition of tastes, the result of different habits of life, creates between them and their calumniators and opponents. In nothing are persons more intolerant, than in matters of taste; that is to say, in regard to each other's likings and dislikings. Religious people have their distinguishing tastes and habits, apart from their essential principles, and which they have as good a right to indulge, as the worldling has to enjoy his less innocent gratifications. But, unhappily, the clashing of opinions and principles, does not drive men so irreconcileably apart, as a discordance of tastes. This evil can never be remedied by that awkward and disgracefulcompromise which the Scriptures term conformity to the world; but it deserves to be borne in mind, that some of the ridicule and obloquy which genuine Christianity encounters, is occa



sioned by her speaking the accent and having the air of a foreigner.

Had not the Writer of the present work made the doctrines and precepts of Christ specifically the subject of his profane ridicule,—had he confined himself to burlesquing Bible Society meetings, or to inveighing against sectaries and ultra-religionists, -we could have found still further excuse for him. The picture which the Novelist has drawn of the evangelicals, and of the religious world in general, scarcely differs, even in its colouring, from that which has been given in works of a far graver character. We do not now refer to such miserable party bigots as Norris, O'Phelan, and the early assailants of the Bible Society, but to slanderers of loftier pretensions. By the representations of Irving, Haldane, Andrew Thomson, M'Neile, and others of their stamp, the Novelist might substantiate, so far as such evidence would avail him, the worst that he has imputed to the religious world and its leaders on the score of display, hypocrisy, pride, folly, and dishonesty. In this point of view, the work before us is highly instructive. We dare say, the Author reads and admires the Edinburgh Christian Instructor; and as he comes from the North, he is probably an occasional attendant at Regent Square. From Mr. Irving, he would learn the folly of flinching from the world and fleeing into any narrow religious

circle.' By the same Christian Teacher he would be warned against the pharisaical contemners of the material creation',the religious separatists, whose ' discipline flows out of pharisaic 'pride, and is made perfect in pharisaic cruelty, which is still

worse than the condition of publicans and sinners.' On the same authority he would learn, that none are so rude and riot

ous against any one who does not row in their boat, as are the ' people commonly called the Religious World '; that the great end of public meetings and speech-makings is, to raise money; and that 'the covetousness of the religious societies of the reli'gious world passeth all bounds, and is only to be found paral• leled by the zeal of the begging friars, seeking alms to enrich

their over-grown and luxurious convents. All this, and much more of the same kind, the Novelist would hear from the Orator referred to; and can we be angry at finding such representa tions assumed as true in works of fiction, which are the theme of indignant declamation from the pulpit? The Author is to be blamed for making mockery of Religion, but he does not betray her to the scornful world with a kiss.

But possibly, the Sectarian and the other dramatis persone are coloured from life and experience', and the Author might rest his defence upon the truth of the libel. We say at once, that we have no doubt of there being individual characters who

« ПредишнаНапред »