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advert to those less prejudiced and less hostile writers, who having, as I would hope, no political nor moral motive for undermining the order, would rather desire to be considered as among its friends and advocates.” “I understand you,” replied Mr. Stanley, “I believe that this is often done not from any disrespect to the sacred function, not from any wish to depreciate an order which even common sense and common prudence, without the intervention of relie gion, tell us, cannot be set in too respectable a light. I believe it commonly arises from a different cause. The writer himself having but a low idea of the requirements of Christianity, is consequently nei

ther able nor willing to affix a very elevated stand

ard for the character of its ministers. Some of these writers, however, describe a clergyman in general terms, as a paragon of piety, but they seldom make him actup to the description with which he sets out. He is represented, in the gross, as adorned with all the attributes of perfection, but when he comes to be drawn out in detail he is found to exhibit little of that superiority which had been ascribed to him in the lump. You are told how religious he is, , but when you come to hear him converse you are not always quite certain whether he professes the religion of the Shaster or the Bible. You hear of his moral excellence, but you find him adopting the maxims of the world, and living in the pursuits of ordinary men. In short, you will find that he has little of a clergyman, except the name.”

“A sensible little work of fiction,” replied I, “lately fell in my way. Among its characters was that of a grave divine. From the strain of

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Panegyric bestowed on him, I expected to have met with a rival to the fathers of the primitive church. He is presented as a model, and, indeed, he counsels, he exhorts, he reproves, he intructs, —but he goes to a masquerade.” “This assimilation of general piety,” said Mr. Stanley, “with occasional conformity to the practice of the gay world, I should fear would produce two ill effects. It will lower the professional standard to the young reader while he is perusing the ideal character, and the comparison will dispose him to accuse of forbidding strictness the pious

clergyman of real life. After having been enter

tained with the mixture of religion and laxity in the imaginary divine whom he has been following from the serious lecture to the scene of revelry, will he not be naturally disposed to accuse of moroseness the existing divine who blends no such contradictions :

“But the evil of which I more particularly complain,” continued he, “because it exists in works universally read, and written, indeed, with a life and spirit which make them both admired and remembered, is found in the ingenious and popular novels of the witty class. In some of these, even where the author intends to give a favorable representation of a clergyman, he more frequently exhibits him for the purpose of merriment than for that of instruction.”

“I confess with shame,” said Sir John, “that the spirit, fire, and knowledge of mankind, of the writers to whom you allude, have made me too generally indulgent to their gross pictures of life, and to the loose morals of their good men.”

let those declare, if they will speak honestly, who have been accustomed to be excessively delighted with such combinations.” “I am a little afraid,” returned Sir John, “that I have formerly in some degree fallen under this censure. But surely, Stanley, you would not think it right to lavish undue praise, even on characters of a better stamp; you would not commend ordinary merit highly, and above all, you would not I presume, screen the faults of the worthless * “I am as far from insisting,” replied he, “on the universal piety of the Clergy, as for bespeaking reverence for the unworthy individual; all that I contend for is, that no arts should ever be employed to discredit the order.—The abettors of revolutionary principles, a few years ago, had the acuteness to perceive, that so to discredit it was one of their most powerful engines. Had not that spirit been providentially extinguished, they would have done more mischief to religion by their artful mode of introducing degrading pictures of our national instructors, in their popular tracts, than the Hobbes's and the Bolingbrokes had done by blending irreligion with their philosophy, or the Voltaires and the Gibbons by interweaving it into their history. Whatever is mixed up with our a-musements is swallowed with more danger be. cause with more pleasure, and less suspicion than any thing which comes under a graver name and more serious shape.” “I presume,” said Sir John, “you do not mean to involve in your censure the exquisitely keen satires of Erasmus on the ecclesiastics of his day : and I remember that you yourself could never

tead without delight the pointed wit of Boileau against the spiritual voluptuaries of his time, in his admirable Lutrin. Perhaps you are not dis-, posed to give the same quarter to the pleasant ridicule of Le Sage * “We justify ourselves as good protestants,” rejoined Mr. Stanley, “for pardoning the severe but just attacks of the reformer and the poet on the vices of a corrupt church. Though, to speak the truth, I am not quite certain. that even these two discriminating and virtuous authors did not, especially Erasmus, now and then indulge themselves in a sharpness which seemed to bear upon religion itself, and not merely on the luxury and idleness of its degenerate ministers. As to Le Sage, who, with all his wit, I should never have thought of bringing into such good company, he was certainly with held by no restraints either moral or religious. And it is obvious to me, that he seems rather gratified, that he had the faults to expose, than actuated by an honest zeal, by exposing to correct them.” “I wish I could say,” replied Sir John, “that the Spanish Friar of Dryden, and the witty Opera of the living Dryden did not fall under the same suspicion. I have often observed, that as Lucian dashes with equal wit and equal virulence at every religion, of every name and every nation, so Dryden with the same diffusive zeal attacks the ministers of every religion. In ransacking muftis, monks, and prelates to confirm his favorite position That Priests of all religions are the same,

he betrays a secret wish to intimate that not only

“Good men (* said Mr. Stanley. “After reading some of those works in the early part of my life, I amused myself with the idea that I should like to interweave the Character of a Christian among the heroes of Fielding and Smollet as the shortest way of proving their good men to be worthless fellows ; and to shew how little their admired characters rise, in point of morals, above the heroes of the Beggar’s opera. “ Knowledge of the world,” continued he, “should always be used to mend the world. A writer employs this knowledge honestly when he points out the snares and pitfalls of vice. But when he covers those snares and pitfalls with flowers, when he fascinates in order that he may corrupt, when he engages the affections by polluting them, I know not how a man can do a deeper injury to society, or more fatally inflame his own future reckoning.” “But to return to our more immediate subject,” said I, “I cannot relish their singling out the person of a pious clergyman as a peculiarly proper vehicle for the display of humour. Why qualities. which excite ridicule should be necessarily blended with such as command esteem, is what I have never been able to comprehend.” “Even where the characters,” replied Mr. Stanley, “have been so pleasingly delineated as to attract affection by their worth and benevolence, there is always a drawback from their respectabifity by some trait that is ludicrous, some situation that is unclerical; some incident that is absurd.There is a contrivance to expose them to some awkward distress; there is some palpable weak

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