Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

These extracts from both books are sufficient to show the nature of Serjeant Heywood's examination of Mr. Rose—the boldness of this latter gentleman's assertions –- and the extreme inaccuracy of the researches upon which these assertions are founded. If any credit could be gained from such a book as Mr. Rose has published, it could be gained from accuracy alone. Whatever the execution of his book had been, the world would have remembered the infinite disparity of the two authors, and the long political opposition in which they lived—if that, indeed, can be called opposition, where the thunderbolt strikes, and the clay yields. They would have remembered also that Hector was dead; and that every cowardly Grecian could now thrust his spear into the i. body. But still, if Mr. Rose had really succeeded in exposing the inaccuracy of Mr. Fox—if he could have fairly shown that authorities were overlooked, or slightly examined, or wilfully perverted — the incipient feelings to which such a controversy had given birth must have yielded to the evidence of facts; and Mr. Fox, however qualified in other particulars, must have appeared totally defective in that laborious industry and scrupulous good faith so indispensable to every historian. But he absolutely comes out of the contest not worse even in a single tooth or nail—unvilified even by a wrong date—without one misnomer proved upon him—immaculate in his years and days of the month—blameless to the most musty and limited pedant that ever yellowed himself amidst rolls and records.

But how fares it with his critic 2 He rests his credit with the world as a man of labour—and he turns out to be a careless inspector of proofs, and an historical sloven. The species of talent which he pretends to is humble—and he possesses it not. He has not done that which all men may do, and which every man ought to do, who rebukes his superiors for not doing it. His claims, too, it should be remembered, to these every-day qualities are by no means enforced with gentleness and humility. He is a braggadocio of minuteness – a swaggering chronologer; —a man bristling up with small facts — purient with dates — wantoning in obsolete wo dull, and haughty in his drudgery; — and yet all this is pretence. Drawing is no very unusual power in animals; but he cannot draw:—he is not even the ox which he is so fond of being. In attempting to vilify Mr. Fox, he has only shown us that there was no labour from which that great man shrunk, and that no object connected with his history was too minute for his investigation. He has thoroughly convinced us that Mr. Fox was as industrious, and as accurate, as if these were the only qualities upon which he had ever rested his hope of fortune or of fame. Such, indeed, are the customary results when little people sit down to debase the characters of great men, and to exalt themselves upon the ruins of what they have pulled down. They only provoke a spirit of ". which places every thing in its true light and magnitude — shows those who appear little to be still less, and displays new and unexpected excellence in others who were before known to excel. These are the usual consequences of such attacks. The fame of Mr. Fox has stood this, and will stand much ruder shocks.

Non hiemes illam, non flabra neque imbres
Concellunt; immota manet, multosque per annos
Multa virim volcens durando saccula vincit,

BISHOP OF LINCOLN'S CHARGE." (E. Review, 1813.)

A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Lincoln, at the Triennial Wisitation of that Diocese in May, June, and July, 1812. By George Tomline, D.D. F.R.S. Lord Bishop of Lincoln. London. Cadell and Co. 4to.

It is a melancholy thing to see a man, clothed in soft raiment, lodged in a public palace, endowed with a rich portion of the product of other men's industry, using all the influence of his splendid situation, however conscientiously, to deepen the ignorance, and inflame the fury, of his fellow creatures. These are the miserable results of that policy which has been so frequently pursued for these fifty years past, of placing men of mean, or middling abilities, in high ecclesiastical stations. In ordinary times, it is of less importance who fills them ; but when the bitter period arrives, in which the people must give up some of their darling absurdities; when the senseless clamour, which has been carefully handed down from father fool to son fool, can be no longer indulged;— when it is of incalculable importance to turn the people to a better way of thinking ; the greatest impediments to all amelioration are too often found among those to whose councils, at such periods, the country ought to look for wisdom and peace. We will suppress, however, the feelings of indignation which such productions, from such men, naturally occasion. We will give the Bishop of Lincoln credit for being perfectly sincere; — we will suppose, that every argument he uses has not been used and refuted ten thousand times before; and we will sit down as patiently to defend the religious liberties of mankind, as the Reverend Prelate has done to abridge them, We must begin with denying the main position upon

* It is impossible to conceive the mischief which this mean and cunning prelate did at this period.

VOL. I. G. G.

which the Bishop of Lincoln has built his reasoning — The Catholic religion is not tolerated in England. No man can be fairly said to be permitted to enjoy his own worship who is punished for exercising that worship. His Lordship seems to have no other idea of punishment than lodging a man in the Poultry Compter, or flogging him at the cart's tail, or fining him a sum of money; — just as if incapacitating a man from enjoying the dignities and emoluments to which men of similar condition, and other faith, may fairly aspire, was not frequently the most severe and galling of all punishments. This limited idea of the nature of punishment is the more extraordinary, as incapacitation is actually one of the most common punishments in some branches of our law. The sentence of a court-martial frequently purports, that a man is rendered for ever incapable of serving his Majesty, &c., &c.; and a person not in holy orders, who performs the functions of a clergyman, is rendered for ever incapable of holding any preferment in the church. There are indeed many species of offence for which no punishment more apposite and judicious could be devised. It would be rather extraordinary, however, if the Court, in passing such a sentence, were to assure the culprit, “that such incapacitation was not by them considered as a punishment; that it was only exercising a right inherent in all governments, of determing who should be eligible for office and who ineligible.’ His Lordship thinks the toleration complete, because he sees a permission in the statutes for the exercise of the Roman Catholic worship. He sees the permission — but he does not choose to see the consequences to which they are exposed who avail themselves of this permission. It is the liberality of a father who says to a son, “Do as you please, my dear boy; follow your own inclination. Judge for yourself, you are free as air. But remember, if you marry that lady, I will cut you off with a shilling.’ We have scarcely ever read a more solemn and frivolous statement, than the Bishop of Lincoln's antithetical distinction between persecution and the denial of political power.

‘It is sometimes said, that Papists, being excluded from Power, are consequently persecuted; as if exclusion from Power and religious Persecution were convertible terms. But surely this is to confound things totally distinct in their nature. Persecution inflicts positive punishment upon persons who hold certain religious tenets, and endeavours to accomplish the renunciation and extinction of those tenets by forcible means: exclusion from Power is entirely negative in its operation — it only declares that those who hold certain opinions shall not fill certain situations; but it acknowledges men to be perfectly free to hold those opinions. Persecution compels men to adopt a prescribed Faith, or to suffer the loss of liberty, property, or even life: exclusion from Power prescribes no Faith; it allows men to think and believe as they please, without molestation or interference. Persecution requires men to worship God in one and in no other way: exclusion from Power neither commands nor forbids any mode of Divine Worship — it leaves the business of religion, where it ought to be left, to every man's judgment and conscience. Persecution proceeds from a bigoted and sanguinary spirit of Intolerance; exclusion from Power is founded in the natural and rational principle of self-protection and selfpreservation, equally applicable to nations and to individuals. History informs us of the mischievous and fatal effects of the one, and proves the expediency and necessity of the other.’—

(pp. 16, 17.)

We will venture to say, there is no one sentence in this extract which does not contain either a contradiction, or a mis-statement. For how can that law acknowledge men to be perfectly free to hold an opinion, which excludes from desirable situations all who do hold that opinion ? How can that law be said neither to molest, nor interfere, which meets a man in every branch of industry and occupation, to institute an inquisition into his religious opinions 7 And how is the business of religion left to every man's judgment and conscience, where so powerful a bonus is given to one set of religious opinions, and such a mark of infamy and degradation fixed upon all other modes of belief? But this is comparatively a very idle part of the question. Whether the present condition of the Catholics is or is not to be denominated a perfect state of toleration, is more a controversy of words than things. That they are subject.

« AnteriorContinuar »