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seems to attribute every moral and physical evil under which the world has groaned for the last century. Dr. Rennel's admiration of the ancients is so great, that he considers the works of Homer to be the region and depositary of natural law, and natural religion.” Now, if, by natural religion, is meant the will of God collected from his works, and the necessity man is under of obeying it; it is rather extraordinary that Homer should be so good a natural theologian, when the divinities he has painted are certainly a more drunken, quarrelsome, adulterous, intriguing, lascivious set of beings, than are to be met with in the most profligate court in Europe. There is, every now and then, some plain coarse morality in Homer; but the most bloody revenge, and the most savage cruelty in warfare, the ravishing of women, and the sale of men, &c. &c. &c., are circumstances which the old bard seems to relate as the ordinary events of his times, without ever dreaming that there could be much harm in them ; and if it be urged that Homer took his ideas of right and wrong from a barbarous age, that is just saying, in other words, that Homer had very imperfect ideas of natural law. Having exhausted all his powers of eulogium upon the times that are gone, Dr. Rennel indemnifies himself by the very novel practice of declaiming against the present age. It is an evil age —an adulterous age—an ignorant age—an apostate age—and a foppish age. Of the propriety of the last epithet, our readers may perhaps be more convinced, by calling to mind a class of fops not usually designated by that epithet—men clothed in profound black, with large canes, and strange amorphous hats—of big speech, and imperative presence—talkers about Plato—great affecters of senility —despisers of women, and all the graces of life—fierce foes to common sense—abusive of the living, and approving no one who has not been dead for at least a century. Such fops, as vain, and as shallow as their
* Page 318. WOL. I. C
fraternity in Bond Street, differ from these only as Gorgonius differed from Rufillus. In the ninth Discourse (p. 226.), we read of St. Paul, that he had “an heroic zeal, directed, rather than bounded, by the nicest discretion—a conscious and | commanding dignity, softened by the meekest and most profound humility.’ This is intended for a fine piece of writing; but it is without meaning : for, if words have any limits, it is a contradiction in terms to say of the same person, at the same time, that he is nicely discreet, and heroically zealous; or that he is profoundly humble, and imperatively dignified: and if Dr. Rennel means, that St. Paul displayed these qualities at different times, then could not any one of them direct or soften the other. Sermons are so seldom examined with any considerable degree of critical vigilance, that we are apt to discover in them sometimes a great laxity of assertion; such as the following: — ‘Labour to be undergone, afflictions to be borne, contradictions to be endured, danger to be braved, interest to be despised in the best and most flourishing ages of the church, are the per
petual badges of far the greater part of those who take up their cross and follow Christ.’
This passage, at first, struck us to be untrue; and we could not immediately recollect the afflictions Dr. Rennel alluded to, till it occurred to us, that he must undoubtedly mean the eight hundred and fifty actions which, in the course of eighteen months, have been brought against the clergy for non-residence. Upon the danger to be apprehended from Roman Catholics in this country, Dr. Rennel is laughable. We should as soon dream that the wars of York and Lancaster would break out afresh, as that the Protestant religion in England has any thing to apprehend from the machinations of Catholics. To such a scheme as that of Catholic emancipation, which has for its object to restore their natural rights to three or four millions of men, and to allay the fury of religious hatred, Dr. Rennel is, as might be expected, a very strenuous antagonist. Time, which lifts up the veil of political mystery, will inform us if the Doctor has taken that side of the question which may be as lucrative to himself as it is inimical to human happiness, and repugnant to enlightened policy. Of Dr. Rennel's talents as a reasoner, we certainly have formed no very high opinion. Unless dogmatical assertion, and the practice (but too common among theological writers) of taking the thing to be proved, for part of the proof, can be considered as evidence of a logical understanding, the specimens of argument Dr. Rennel has afforded us are very insignificant. For putting obvious truths into vehement language; for expanding and adorning moral instruction; this gentleman certainly possesses considerable talents: and if he will moderate his insolence, steer clear of theological metaphysics, and consider rather those great laws of Christian practice, which must interest mankind through all ages, than the petty questions which are important to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the time being, he may live beyond his own days, and become a star of the third or fourth magnitude in the English Church.
JOHN BOWLES. (E. Review, 1802)
Reflections at the Conclusion of the War: Being a Sequel to Reflections on the Political and Moral State of Society at the Close of the Eighteenth Century. The Third Edition, with Additions. By John Bowles, Esq.
IF this peace be, as Mr. Bowles asserts”, the deathwarrant of the liberty and power of Great Britain, we will venture to assert, that it is also the death-warrant of Mr. Bowles's literary reputation ; and that the people of this island, if they verify his predictions, and cease to read his books, whatever they may lose in political greatness, will evince no small improvement in critical acumen. There is a political as well as a bodily hypochondriasis; and there are empirics always on the watch to make their prey, either of the one or of the other. Dr. Solomon, Dr. Brodum, and Mr. Bowles, have all commanded their share of the public attention: but the two former gentlemen continue to flourish with undiminished splendour; while the patients of the latter are fast dwindling away, and his drugs falling into disuse and contempt. The truth is, if Mr. Bowles had begun his literary career at a period when superior discrimination and profound thought, not vulgar violence and the eternal repetition of rabble-rousing words, were necessary to literary reputation, he would never have emerged from that obscurity to which he will soon return. The intemperate passions of the public, not his own talents, have given him some temporary reputation; and now, when men hope and fear with less eagerness than they have been lately accustomed to do, Mr. Bowles will be
# It is o to conceive the mischievous power of the corrupt alarmists of those days, and the despotic manner in which they exercised their authority. They were fair objects for the Edinburgh Review.
compelled to descend from that moderate eminence, where no man of real genius would ever have condescended to remain. The pamphlet is written in the genuine spirit of the Windham and Burke School; though Mr. Bowles cannot be called a servile copyist of either of these gentlemen, as he has rejected the logic of the one, and the eloquence of the other, and imitated them only in their headstrong violence, and exaggerated abuse. There are some men who continue to astonish and please the world, even in the support of a bad cause. They are mighty in their fallacies, and beautiful in their errors. Mr. Bowles sees only one half of the precedent; and thinks, in order to be famous, that he has nothing to do but to be in the wrong. War, eternal war, till the wrongs of Europe are avenged, and the Bourbons restored, is the master-principle of Mr. Bowles's political opinions, and the object for which he declaims through the whole of the present pamphlet. The first apprehensions which Mr. Bowles seems to entertain, are of the boundless ambition and perfidious character of the First Consul, and of that military despotism he has established, which is not only impelled by the love of conquest, but interested, for its own preservation, to desire the overthrow of other states. Yet the author informs us, immediately after, that the life of Buonaparte is exposed to more dangers than that of any other individual in Europe, who is not actually in the last stage of an incurable disease; and that his death, whenever it happens, must involve the dissolution of that machine of government, of which he must be considered not only as the sole director, but the main spring. Confusion of thought, we are told, is one of the truest indications of terror; and the panic of this alarmist is so very great, that he cannot listen to the consolation which he himself affords: for it appears, upon summing up these perils, that we are in the utmost danger of being destroyed by a despot, whose system of government, as dreadful as himself, cannot survive him, and who, in