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In commencing the “ London SATURDAY JOURNAL," we the world was but the aristocratic frequenters of London, with a are anxious to explain our objects at greater length than we tail of led captains, sharpers, adventurers, and broken younger could do within the limits of an ordinary prospectus. For sons; they were surrounded by a set of camp suttlers, in the this purpose it is necessary to consider in detail the influences shape of tradespeople, who in fact hedged in the world, and aided which have tended to form the character of the present age. in forming the public. Where was the English nation at this We shall, therefore, take a glance at The Past and the Future time? It was not, because, though the elements existed, there -the “Past," with which we are concerned in the present them. When it did show itself, it was only when some striking
was no means of communication—no moral combination among introductory number, being circumscribed within the short but important period of the last hundred years.
event, by its greatness and energy, forced a passage through the difficult channels that then served for intercourse; and being in a great measure ignorant, prejudiced, and unused to power, it
When THE PAST AND THE FUTURE.
showed itself unhappily, and in the shape of mobs."
Daniel Defoe in his old age left politics, and drew upon his About the beginning of the reign of George the Second, the imagination, he found that coarse and vulgar subjects were as aspect of the moral world to a spectator of large mind and acceptable, and as eagerly read, as Robinson Crusoe. He indeed liberal views, must have appeared exceedingly dull and cheerless. endeavoured to make the lowest and most offensive topic a The upper classes were tainted with infidelity and licentiousness, medium for conveying something like a moral; but the only real the lower classes were thoroughly ignorant, depraved, and brutal apology for him is the character of the age, and the necessity he even in their amusements. Government was corruptly adminis- was under of writing for bread, tered; selfishness and formalism pervaded the Church ; the Fancy Defoe revisiting the earth after his sleep of a century Dissenters had lost the high tone of feeling and action which in the grave! He closed a life of untiring literary industry, had characterised them in a previous age, and were compara political strife, and worldly struggle, in 1731. Amongst his multively few, feeble, and discouraged. There was no public spirit tifarious writings are many indications of the far-forward look there was none of that diffusion of intelligence and sympathy he had into the social improvement of his fellow-men. He proof feeling among the people which we now understand as public posed the establishment of a London University, as one of his OPINION. The PEOPLE did indeed exist, but they formed a schemes for rendering the metropolis “the most flourishing city rade, disjointed body, like water hemmed in by embankments, in the universe ;" and at a time when scarcely a thousand lamps but liable to be agitated by any passing breeze, or even to be were hung out (on dark nights only, and till midnight) to make lashed into a storm. But there was no organization, no coherence. palpable the obscurity of London, and when street robbers were The idea of publishing the debates in Parliament would have so audacious as to form a plan for stopping the queen's coach, secmed a most extraordinary proceeding, is well as rash and and robbing her, as she passed from the city through St. Paul's daring, unless at distant periods, and in the shape of an historical church-yard to St. James's, he brought forward a plan by which summary. Public opinion requires prompt conductors, but internal he said, “our streets will be so strongly guarded and so gloriously communication was then difficult and slow. The low state of illuminated, that any part of London will be as safe and pleasant general morality is attested by all the historical records and litera- at midnight as at noonday, and burglary rendered totally impracture of the time. Pope's sparkling wit and sharpest powers ticable.”' Scarcely any civic or social improvement could be of observation ; Fielding's broad humour and coarse feeling ; supposed to startle a man like him. Yet fancy him returning Richardson's maudlin sentimentalism ; and Gay's knight errantry to revisit once more the scenes he loved so well. He looks of thieves ;—all join in bearing testimony to the feeble appreciation around the pleasant suburban village of Stoke Newington, of the delicacy and worth of the female character, and the loose where some of the quiet and happy days of his bustling life were sentiment, that prevailed. The letters of Horace Walpole depict spent; and he exclaims, with a smile, that changes have not vividly the aspect of the times in which they were written, and destroyed identity. All the land-marks of nature are still are quite astounding to readers who form their ideas of the past here ; the fields are still verdant under the influences of sun from the present.
“We read," says the Spectator newspaper, and air ; and in the distance the dome of St. Paul's tells that "such books as Horace Walpole's charming letters, and seeing London still stands where it stood, and that if another Great phrases embracing the world' and the public,' take them in the Fire has swept the streets and alleys, it has, at least, spared the modern sense ; but the public of George the Second's reign is no noble creation of Sir Christopher Wren's! Yes! and man, too, is more the public of the present day, than the groat of Edward the the same; he has changed his costume, but not his nature.
So First is the groat of a modern fourpence. There is a change in the old man yearns to visit Paternoster Row and Fleet Street, the currency of words as of coins. When Walpole speaks of the and to inquire how his books are selling; and as he trudges world of England, it may almost be reckoned upon the fingers ; 1 towards the city, he admires the omnibuses that roll past, though
he fears, from the number of umbrellas, that Englishmen have over the other, and greatly affected the social character of become effeminate. The great increase of London does amaze England. him a little : but much especially he admires those fine pavements and tall lamp-posts, that now are the substitutes of narrow II. The PoliticAL INFLUENCES.—The political spirit made foot-paths, fenced from the carriage way by clumsy posts and its appearance after the religious and sceptical influences had chains. The projecting creaking sign-posts are also all pulled been causing the public mind to ferment. Things wholly separate down; many of the streets are comfortable, broad, and spacious, and distinct were thus mixed up and confounded, for a time, and far cleaner than in his time. “ Man has improved during together. The political spirit has evolved new truths in law and the century I have been asleep; he has improved in external new forms in government, and paved the way for a great alteration appearances and physical comforts—but is he not, after all, the of the balance of power between different classes in society. same moral being, under the same petty influences and low desires, as when I departed hence ?" He enters a coffee-house, as III. Tue Physical INFLUENCES.—These have prodigiously was his wont in his natural days; he looks for Parker's Penny accelerated the force and power of the other influences. New Post, or Fog's Weekly Journal, but the Times or the Morning facts in science have been discovered, or rather new sciences have Chronicle meets his eye. He spreads out the broadside the been founded, new combinations of physical power have been advertisements, the parliamentary reports, the leading articles, effected, the whole material world has been enlarged, the capabiconfound him. There must be some mighty change in society, for lities of man have been enormously increased, and, as one of the better or for worse, he mutters to himself. He runs over column results, there has been a general diffusion of scientific knowledge. after column of what took place the previous night in both Houses of Parliament. “I do not ask,'' he says, “any explana- IV. Under a distinct head we may place the LITERARY INnation of the rationale of all this, by what triumph of opinion Fluences, Extension of Education, &c., which, however or by what law it is accomplished ; all I wish to know is, how powerful, are, in some sort, only auxiliary to the other influences. this mass of type is got together, and printed in a night. The moral fact is beyond me-let me know, for I have had large experience with printers and periodicals, how the mechanical is
I. RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES. While he yet speaks, a traveller tells how he was in The Religious INFLUENCES come first in point of time as Liverpool yesterday, and in New York a fortnight ago. He hears well as importance. The movement may be said to have begun with of a great empire called the United States; of vast colonial the Methodists. Not that Wesley and Whitfield originated the possessions, of a French revolution, of a national debt amount- movement. While they were passing through the religious disciing to nearly 800,000,0001., of a yearly revenue amounting to more pline that shaped their characters and influenced their career,
the than 50,000,0001, of steam and railroads, of the cotton manufac- Dissenters were mourning over the melancholy aspect of affairs, ture, of the increase of population, of Napoleon, and Wellington, holding meetings for the purpose of “engaging in public addresses and Nelson, of Catholic emancipation, reform in Parliament—but to God," and rousing one another to do something to remedy the resolute old man, confounded and affrighted, vanishes from a “the declining state of religion." Doddridge appeared as an world he knows not.
author for the first time in 1730, in answer to an Enquiry into A mighty change has indeed passed over society since Defoe the Causes of the Decay of the Dissenting Interest.”
In his departed. Dull and miserable as was the aspect of moral and “ Free Thoughts” Doddridge does not take so gloomy a view of social improvement, a century ago,to one who could have looked affairs as the author he was answering, for he was then young and with a prophetic eye, the future must bave seemed glorious. A ardent, and entering on his comparatively short career of activity great movement was about to take place; the lower classes were and usefulness. But he admits the necessity there was for about to rise, and to drive upward all above them; the world of exertion, deplored the apathy which prevailed, and pointed out mind was about to expand with irresistible force. The movement means by which it might be roused. There was, in fact, amongst has been accompanied with many evils and much suffering ; pious men, both Churchmen and Dissenters, a general looking revolutions have broken out, and governments have been shaken forward to some revival in religion ; and, thougla the numbers of to pieces ; convulsive throes have agitated the whole structure of such expectants were few, they were influential. The soil was society; on all sides have been heard and seen "voices and therefore preparing for the labours of Wesley and Whitfield; and thunders and lightnings ;” and there has been " a great earth this shaking of the withered leaves may help to explain how quake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty Whitfield was charged with driving fifteen of his hearers mad by an earthquake and so great.” But man now occupies a higher his first sermon-his fervour and his eloquence fell on hearts position ; the evils have been and will be local and transient; the that not only wanted but wished for revival. The tide had begun good, great, extensive, and permanent. To all who take an slowly to flow when Whitfield and Wesley launched upon it. interest in the progress of society, the past is full of instruc- And yet, perhaps, if these men had foreseen all the direct and tion, and the FUTURE of hope, not unmixed with anxiety. collateral results of their agitation of the public mind, they
The influences that have been at work in England during the would have shrunk back in fear. They set in motion a social last hundred years may be thus classified :
as well as a religious revolution; they began the organization
of a public opinion; they set the first great example in this 1. Tae Religious AND THE Sceptical Influences.-We country of the middle classes teaching the hand-working classes perceive a spirit of religious zeal pervading the lower classes and to combine, and then stimulating and guiding them. White gradually ascending, and a sceptical or infidel spirit pervading field might have been the most eloquent or rather effective the upper or thinking classes, and descending to the lower or preacher that ever roused a vast congregation, and Wesley the ignorant classes. These two influences crossed each other, the most prudent manager that ever founded a party—yet Methodism one ascending, the other descending, and after having caused would have melted away like snow in April, but for the organizagreat intellectual excitement, the one in a measure triumphed tion of the people. A moral sense and feeling were infused into a
large body of the hand-working classes; they received work to danger, though not so striking as that of Whitfield's, is also caldo, and thereby their self-esteem and sense of importance were culated to excite much sympathy, from the calm, placid resoluteelevated_each a prime ingredient in the formation of character. In ness with which he faced a mob. But there is something far Wesley's life-time, the government of his society was a patriarchal more interesting in the examples of humbler Methodists, who despotism; and truly affecting was that incident which took place had not the power and tact of Whitfield to protect, nor the over the cold remains of the venerable man, when he who read calmness and character of Wesley to shelter, them. Many of the funeral service changed “brother” into “father," and all them were often rash, indiscreet, and extravagant in their conthe congregation “lifted up their voices and wept.” Since his duct; often brought mischief on themselves ; yet we cannot but death the government has assumed the form of an oligarchy. But sympathise with their patient courage, their resolute persever. it is the infusion of the democratical spirit which has knit Me- ance, and we feel that nothing but an inspiring faith could carry thodism together; and it is the struggle of the democratic and them through their trials and labours. The working classes were, aristocratic elements which has caused breaches in the society. in fact, rencvated by themselves; and those who sneered at cobThe various associations of Methodism, band meetings, love blers, tailors, and tinkers turning preachers, little understood how feasts, prayer meetings, or by whatever name they may be called, powerfully that very circumstance was operating, not merely for are democratic in their nature. The facilities which have existed, the propagation of Methodism, but for the elevation of the great by which the humblest member of the society, if he possess the body of the working classes. gifts, may rise to be a “ruler in Israel," are also of great import- After Methodism had agitated the lower classes, and to some ance in their influence, and belong to the democratic character of extent had pervaded them, it began to ascend. From the very Methodism.
first it was aided and patronized by a portion of the middle What Methodism did for our social character may be gathered, classes, and not wholly despised by a few, though a very few, in some sort, from the persecution which raged against it in its of the lower section of the upper classes. But by the time early career. We can assign a reason for persecution from hea. it had acquired some character, it began visibly to ascend and thens in a heathen country, for their idolatry may have been spread. Some of its most active supporters in upper life were rebnked, their superstition affronted, their prejudices offended, or ladies. Lady Maxwell enabled Wesley to found Kingswood School, the political feelings of the ruling class alarmed. But persecution and continued through a long life to give her exertions and in a professedly Christian country argues a very low state of heart to the cause. But she is far outshone by the celebrated Christian knowledge, a very feeble appreciation of Christian Lady Huntingdon. Both these ladies were driven to take shelmorality. No excuse can be allowed on the plea that the Me.
ter in Methodism by domestic bereavements. So early as 1748 thodists behaved extravagantly, and that they were regarded as Lady Huntingdon had Whitfield preaching in her house at enthusiasts or fanatics. The true Christian ever bears in recol. Chelsea, where, amongst others of the nobility she had galection his Master's example and words, when he rebuked his two thered to hear him, were Lords Chesterfield and Bolingbroke. zealots, “ Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” But that Chesterfield complimented Whitfield “ with his usual courtliness ;" in professedly Christian and Protestant England the Methodists the shrewd, witty, selfish man of fashion praised the preacher as should have been dragged before magistrates as rogues and vaga- he praised Garrick. Bolingbroke was moved; he invited Whitbonds-pelted with stones and beaten with sticks-injured often field to visit him. According to Southey, the restless, unprinto the peril of their lives—besieged, like the angelic guests of cipled partisan, whose intellect was more than a balance for his Lot, in the houses where they had taken refuge, and their hos- moral sense, “ seems to have endeavoured to pass from infidelity pitable entertainers placed in danger-divine worship interrupted to Calvinism, if he could.” Lady Huntingdon did for Calvinistic by indecent outrages—all these things cast a foul blot on our Methodism what Wesley did for Arminian Methodism. She national character, and present a humbling picture of the state of founded Trevecca College, in Wales, and at her death left upwards society. The Methodists were not alone in receiving this treat- of sixty-four chapels built through her means and exertions. ment, though they shared it most largely. Dr. Doddridge, The furious, and, in many respects, most indecently-conducted writing in 1737, tells how a "poor but honest man,” who had controversy between Calvinistic and Arminian Methodism, did induced one of his pupils to come and preach a sermon to a con- considerable good. Controversy is the “safety valve of religious gregation, was shamefully ill-used, and dragged through a horse- zeal ;” but this controversy was more than a safety valve; it was pond, while the congregation was broken up, pelted with "stones, an intellectual steam engine, often worked at high pressure. sticks, and dirt,” and the life of the young student threatened. Hitherto Methodism had only stimulated the feelings, but had
But it was precisely to renovate such a state of society as this not informed the intellect; it had roused ignorance through the that Methodism came. It came to an utterly ignorant popula- medium of the imagination, but had only stirred not instructed tion, whose sports and pastimes were bull-baiting, cock-fighting, the understanding. But in the Calvinistic and Arminian controand drunkenness, and it strove to lift them out of the pit of sen.
versy both parties were compelled to take sides ; they had to suality in which they were sunk. The quarry was rough, and it exercise some portion of thought; they had to choose their did not commit the folly of attempting to hew blocks with razors.
weapons, and to attack or defend ; and though the controversy It selected from among the people rude and untaught men, and, had the usual effect of producing many grievous imputations, firing their hearts with awful hopes and promises and fears, sent many scalding and bitter words, many hot and hasty partisans, them out to persuade their fellows. We may admire the power, it also led to discussion, and discussion leads to truth. The first tact, and heroism of Whitfield, assaulting vice in the very midst religious journals sprang up in England out of this controversy ; of “ Vanity Fair ;" there is something indeed picturesque in the and the “Christian Magazine," the “Spiritual Magazine,” the scene at Moorfields, where the little children, seated round the
Gospel Magazine,' and the “Arminian Magazine," were the pulpit for the purpose of handing the notes sent up to the fruitful parents of a numerous and useful progeny. preacher from "awakened” persons, looked up with streaming While Methodism, in its two-fold character of Calvinistic and eyes as he was struck with missiles, and seemed to wish they Arminian, was spreading through the country, and establishing could bear the blows for him. . Wesley's conduct in the midst of itself, dissent was also rising in extent, influence, and numbers.