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of this system began very early to be the Greek text, founded on the most obscured. In order to bring in Jews extensive comparison which it is possible and Heathens, many rites and usages for any individual to make, without purwere adopted with reference to aucient suing a still more energetic system of or established customs; and hence the personal investigation. A second series Liturgy of the Catholic church became of illustrations of bis design appears in greatly corrupted. Many prelates and another work, which comprises a Biblearned men in Germany, active and lical Tour made over Europe with the distinguished friends of the Catholic

same view. church, have often declared their opinion The grand result is his New Testa. to this effect. Who does not know and ment itself, for which 600 MSS, not esteem the labours of Werkmeister, known to Griesbach, have been made Winter, Pracher, Huber, Selmar, Busch, tributary, and which is now in the course Brunner, &c?"

of publication. It is understood that The proposed reforms they describe very important results are to be looked under three heads.

for froin this highly praiseworthy and 1. They intreat that the bishop would laborious undertaking; aud we shall cercause a Psalm-book to be prepared and tainly lose no time in making our readers generally circulated, to be used by. Ca. acquaiuted with it as soon as it reaches tholics in all their religious services, our hands. According to the tenor of their remarks, this Psalm-book would be similar in its objects to those commonly employed by

PRUSSIA. Protestants. In some parts of Germany The Catholics.-Germany supplies a the Catholics already use such books.

striking refutation of what has been so 2. They most earnestly argue in favour often advanced of late, that the character of having the Liturgy read in the ver.

of the Catholic religion never changes. nacular tongue.

Silesia, the richest and most industrious 3. They petition for a general re- province in the Prussian dominions, convision of the Mass-book, for the omission tains about two millions of inhabitants, of many things which are useless, un of whom about one half are Catholics. meaning, or unsuitable, and for the The proportion of Catholics was someallowance of more time for preaching. what greater when Frederick wrested that

fine province from Austria. It may natu. Dr. Scholz.

rally be supposed that the Priests were

by no means pleased with the change Dr. Scholz, the professor of theology which placed over them a Protestant in the University of Bonn, has been Sovereign; and those who have acquired pursuing a novel inode of cultivating his their notions of policy in the English biblical studies, in which he is deservedly school, will naturally suppose that he eminent throughout Germany.

succeeded in retaining possession of SileHaving determined to pursue a course sia by a system of rigour towards the of travels, having for their principal ob- Catholics, and by securing the devoted ject an inquiry for all materials necessary attachment of the Protestants by vesting to the most extensive collation of MSS., them with an ascendancy over the Cathohe has made a journey from Trieste to lics. This, however, was vot the policy Alexandria, and thence through Egypt, of Frederick. He made vo distinction Palestine, and Syria.

between Protestants and Catholics.

By The results of his observations, of a providing for the instruction of the people, sort secondary to his main pursuit, but by freeing them from numerous abuses, highly interesting on every topic of an. by improving the administration of juscient literature, customs, arts, and lan- tice, by restraining an insolent Aristoguages, have been published by him in cracy within due bounds, he soon gained the form of a volume of travels.

the affections of the Silesians, who hare Well skilled, not only in the Greek, long been among the most devoted of all but in the different Eastern tongues the Prussians to their Government, and adapted to his favourite pursuits, Dr. during the war of liberation, particularly Scholz every where prosecuted his Bibli- distinguished themselves by their enthucal studies with the greatest industry, and siasm and their bravery. This system of was peculiarly active in his examination kindness and impartiality has been com. and collation of MSS.

pletely successful in extinguishing all jealThis book of travels then gives the busy between Catholies and Protestants. clue to one branch of his resources for They live on the best terms with each his grand desigu of a new edition of other. The Catholics have made no scru

ple of accepting Bibles from the Protes. specific distinctions, with an account of tants, and reading them. The Prince their metamorphoses, times of appearBishop of Breslaw, having lately inter- ance, localities, food, and economy. fered to prevent the reading of these Miss Edgeworth has in the press a Bibles, was disobeyed. The Catholic volume of Dramatic Tales for Children, clergy of Silesia, so far from sharing the intended as an additional volume of Paviews of their Bishop, have united in rents' Assistant. demanding a reformation of the whole Mr. Isaac Taylor, Jun., is printing a Ritual, more especially of the Missal, by concise History of the Transmission of substitating German for Latin, &c., so Ancient Books to Modern Times; or, an as to suit it to the wants of the pre- Account of the Means by which the Gesent age; and threats are held out, that nuiveness and Authenticity of Historical if their demands are refused, they will Works especially, and Ancient Literature all go orer to the Protestants.

in general, are ascertained.

Memoirs, including correspondence and Oaths by the Menonites. other remains, of Mr. John Urquhart, Berlin, March 28.-In order that the

late of the University of St. Andrew's, Menouites dwelling in the Prussian do

are preparing by the Rev. Wm. Orme. minions may be freed from making Oaths

Sir Isaac Newton's Two Letters to Le at variauce with their religious principles,

Clerc; the former containing a Dissertahis Majesty the King has ordered as fol.

tion upon the Reading of the Greek Text, lows :

1 John v. 7; the latter on I Tim. ch. iii. “If a Menonite is called on to swear

ver. 16, are announced as about to be an oath as a party, or to be heard as a published from authentic MSS. in the witness, or is nominated to an office in

Library of the Remonstrants in Holland. which the taking an oath is necessary,

Mr. William Carpenter will shortly he most by a certificate from the Elders,

publish a Natural History of the Bible; Teachers or Presidents of his congrega

or, a descriptive Account of the Zoology, tion, shew that he was born in the Me. Botany, and Mineralogy of the Holy ponite sect, or that at least a year before Scriptures : compiled from the most authe commencement of the process or the thentic sources, British and Foreigu, and Domination to office, he has belonged to adapted to the use of English readers, that religious society, and that he has illustrated with numerous engravings. hitherto led an irreproachable life.—TO

Mr. Sweet is preparing a work on the this attestation the common formula of most ornamental and curious Plants the Menonites must at the same time be which are natives of New Holland and added. The affirmation by means of a

the Sonth-Sea Islands. shake of the hand, which is the form

The Bishop of Strasbourg, late Bishop followed by them,'has equal force with of Aire, lately published a Reply to Fa: the actual swearing of an oath ; and who- ber's Difficulties

of Romanism,

which was ever abuses this form in confirmation of av answer to a former work of the Bian untruth, shall receive the punishment shop's, entitled Discussion Amicale. A

translation of both these works is an.

nounced. LITERARY NOTICES. Mr. Samuel W. Burgess will shortly

publish Sacred Hours; consisting of seMr. Scaun, of Beverly, is writing a lect Pieces in prose and verse. History of that place, to be published The Author of the “ Cigar" has nearly under the title of Bevariæ.

ready for publication, The Every Night Dr. T.F. Dibdin is engaged on a traus- Book, or Life after Dark. lation of Thomas à Kempis's Imitation of A Life of Morris Birkbeck, written by

his Daughter, is in the press, and will Mr. J. Graves has announced, as in the appear in a few days. press, the History and Antiquities of the in the press, The Desolation of Eyam, Town and Honour of Woodstock, include the Emigrant,'a Tale of the American ing Biographical Anecdotes, &c.

Woods; and other Poems. By William Mr. J. F. Stephens has issued propo- and Mary Howitt, Authors of the Forest sals for publishing, in monthly parts, Minstrel. embellished with coloured figures of the

The Rev. John East, A.M., has in the Tare and interesting species, British En- press, The Sea-Side ; a series of short

or a Synopsis of Indigenous Essays and Poems, suggested by a temInsects, containing their generic and porary residence at a Watering-Place.

of perjury.”

Jesus Christ.

tomology,

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NEW PUBLICATIONS.

Academic Unity, being the Substance and for the first time printed from MSS. of a General Dissertation contained in in the British Museum. To which are the Privileges of the University of Cam- added, numerous Contemporary Illustrabridge, as translated from the original tions, consisting of Royal Letters, Poems, Latin, with various Additions. By G. and other Articles descriptive of Public Dyer. 8vo. 78. boards.

Events, or of the Manners and Customs Au Essay on the Limits of Human of the Metropolis. 4to. 21. 2s. boards. Knowledge, designed, from a Considera Ancient Scottish Ballads, recovered tion of the Powers of the Understanding, from Tradition, and never before pubto promote their most legitimate and lished; with Notes, historical and exadvantageous Exercise. By W. H. Ba- planatory: and an Appendix, containing thurst, M. A., Rector of Barwick in the Airs of several of the Ballads. Post Elmet, &c., &c. 8vo. Is. 6d. sewed. 8vo. 78. 6d. boards.

Morell's Elements of the History of Ou Idolatry, a Poem. By the Rev. Philosophy and Science, from the earlies: William Swan. 12mo. 58. boards. Records to the Commencement of the A Widow's Tale, and other Poems. Eighteenth Century. 128. boards. By Bernard Barton. 12mo. 58. 6d. bds.

Allbat's Elements of Useful Kuowledge Old English Sayings, newly expounded, in Geography, Botany, Astronomy, &c. : in Prose and Verse. By Jefferys Taylor. with Eight Engravings. 12ino. 48. 6d. 12mo. 45. boards. half-bound.

Memoirs of the Life of Mr. Robert Memoir of the Geology of Central Spence, late Bookseller, of York. By France; including the Volcanic Forma- Richard Burdekin, 12mo. 3s. tions of Auvergne, the Velay, and the Whittemore's Historical and Topogra. Vivirais. By G. Poulett Scrope, F. R. S. phical Picture of Brighton and its Envi, F.G.S., &c. 4to. Boards. 31. 38. rons, and Visitor's Guide; embellished

Illustrations of Ornithology. By Sir with Eighteen beautiful Eugraviugs on William Jardine, Bart , F R.S.E. F.L.S. Steel and Copper. 38. M. W. S., &c., and Prideaux John Selby, Harry and Lucy's Trip to Brighton; a Esq., F.L S. M.W.S., &c. Part I. Royal pleasing Description of the Amusements 4to. 11. 11s. 6d. boards ; large paper, and Scenery of this popular Watering21. 128. 6d.

place, for Children ; with Fourteen En. A Chronicle of London, from 1089 to gravings. 18. 6d. 1483 ; written in the Fifteenth Century,

CORRESPONDENCE. The Conductors have again been obliged, by the influx of interesting matter, to exceed their prescribed limits. They have to acknowledge the receipt of numerous Communications, for which they hope to find room hereafter. The recommendation, of sending Unitariau Missionaries to Treland, would, they think, be more suitably arldressed to the Committee of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association.

The Conductors would rather court than repel Communications to the Poetical, or, as oue Correspondent is pleased to call it, the “ Rhyming,” department of their work : but they would, once for all, observe, for the information of some who are disposed to favour them with papers of this class, that correct grammar and an intelligible meaning are as essential requisites to good poetry as to good prose.

ERRATA.
Page 233, line 5, for Emerg, read “Emery."

234, line 35, for Theodocie, read “ Theodocée."
241, line 4, of the quotatiou from Juvenal, for tibicini, read “ tibicine."
264, for J. T. Clarke, read “T. T. Clarke."
282, line 7 from the bottom, for it is, read “ this."
297, col. 2, line 23 from the bottom, for resort, read “ revert."

THE MONTHLY REPOSITORY

AND

REVIEW.

NEW SERIES, No. VI.

JUNE, 1827.

REMARKS ON MR. BENTHAM'S VIEW OF THE EVIDENCE FOR

IMPROBABLE AND SUPERNATURAL FACTS.

Mr. Bentham's Treatise on Judicial Evidence, as arranged by his ingenious and skilful editor M. Dumont, is one of the most valuable contributions to this department of practical logic which the present age has produced. Its intrinsic merit entitles it to a very high rank, and the reputation of the author (a reputation which we may venture to predict will be much more general and firmly established when the questions of party politics shall have passed into oblivion, with which alone, in the minds of many, his name is at present associated) cannot fail to secure to such a work a powerful and lasting influence on the sentiments of mankind. The practical rules which are laid down are, in most cases, excellent, and founded upon correct principles; and many important general questions are discussed with great ability and judgment. Among others, the chapter on the morality and expediency of Oaths displays the hand of a master, and has, I think, exhausted the subject

. It is impossible that so complete and unanswerable an argument should be altogether without its effect on the public mind. For a while, it is true, the prejudices on which the present practice is founded will continue to prevail apparently unchecked; but we should consider, and it is a circumstance most essentially conducive to the happiness and improvement of the human race, that these, like all other prejudices, are affections of mortals, while the work in which they are exposed is immortal

, or at least must endure and be the object of increasing attention as long as political science and the laws of the human mind shall continue to In proportion to the general excellence of such a work, and the benefit

may be derived from other parts of it, is the mischief of which it may be the instrument if any considerable or important part is erroneous; and in this case, the more we admire the performance as a whole, the more we feel it to be our duty to expose the fallacy of such reasonings as may be likely

This character I cannot but apply to one very elaborate discussion, in which the author proposes to lay down rules for estimating the evidence adduced in favour of 'improbable and impossible facts , including among these such facts as claim to be supernatural. The

2 D

be studied among men.

which

to mislead the unwary.

VOL. I.

tendency, unquestionably, and, I fear it must be added, the intention, of this dissertation, appears to be to weaken the force of historical evidence as applied to those miraculous facts upon which alone the proof of a divine revelation can be founded. It is true that in the outset the author professes to confine his attention to such cases as are likely to be made the subject of judicial proceedings; but when we find him afterwards stigmatizing the Mosaic law, or the historian of the raising of Samuel, as responsible for all the horrible tragedies enacted by modern believers in witchcraft; when we find him representing it as impossible to receive any fact professing to be supernatural upon testimony given after the event has taken place, we cannot but perceive that his principles are capable of a more extensive application. Nor can we read with attention the variety of ingenious and subtle illustrations with which he has accompanied them, without being impressed with the conviction that they were intended to be so applied.

Mr. Bentham sets out with the remark, that, in regard to judicial facts, the term impossible can only mean, in the highest degree improbable. It is presumed that under "judicial facts” are here comprehended only those which are represented as having been accomplished by unassisted human power, otherwise the limitation here introduced involves an assumption of the question in debate. When any supernatural power is concerned, or is alleged to have been concerned, the mere intrinsic improbability of the fact attested has evidently nothing to do with the credibility of the testimony. Provided that such an exercise of supernatural power, in confirmation of a divine commission, is admitted not to be in its own nature impossible or even improbable, we have no further inquiry to make except into the character of ihe testimony,—the veracity of the witnesses, and their opportunity of observing accurately what they profess to have seen and heard.

The only correct and philosophical definition of impossible is, that which involves a contradiction. Whatever does not involve a contradiction may be conceived to take place; and where Omnipotence is concerned, whatever can be conceived to take place may be realized : but where finite or human power alone is in question, the term has evidently a more extensive meaning If the limits within which this power is confined can be exactly ascertained, whatever goes beyond them is, relatively speaking, impossible. To assign these limits with absolute precision is, indeed, impracticable, and this is a circumstance on which Mr. Bentham afterwards lays great stress, for the purpose, apparently, of shewing that, as we cannot say where the eredible ends and the incredible begins, any extraordinary fact or phenomenon inconsistent (at least in the degree in which it is reported to have been observed) with the usual course of things, cannot be relied upon as an evidence of the exercise of supernatural agency. This difficulty, however, does not appear to be of material consequence; because, though we cannot trace the precise line which separates the relatively possible from the relatively impossible, the uncertainty attending the solution of this problem may in general be reduced within very narrow limits; and with reference to every mode of exercising human power we can fix upon some point to which it may be affirmed without fear of contradiction that it has not attained. Thus, in proving an alibi, if the possibility be admitted of a man's travelling two hundred miles in a day, it would be difficult to prove it impossible that he should be found at the distan of two hundred and twenty miles; but we

# Vol. II. p. 168.

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