Obrazy na stronie

Church, 1853; a History of the Thirty-nine Articles, 1851; and Sermons, 1853. DR E. HAROLD BRowNE, the Norrisian Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, has also given an Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, 1850; a work on the Prophecies, 1836; &c. DR JoHN JAMEs BLUNT (1794– 1855), Margaret Professor of Divinity, was a volumimous and popular writer—his chief works being arguments on the Veracity of the Books of Moses, the Gospel and Acts, &c.; a History of the Church during the Three First Centuries, Sermons, &c. The REv. WILLIAM GooDE, rector of Allhallows, London, has been a vigorous opponent of the Oxford Tractarians, and author of other theological works –The Gifts of the Spirit, 1834;. The Established Church, 1834; The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 1842; &c.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

the book which had so much interested me in the day of my fall. It had, it seems, been reclaimed by the good old man who had sent it to me, and who doubtless concluded that I should have no more need of books in this life. He was wrong; for there has been nothing in this life which I have needed more. I asked for this book with much earnestness, and was answered by signs which I could not comprehend.

‘Why do you not speak?' I cried. ‘Pray let me have the book. This seemed to create some confusion; and at length some one, more clever than the rest, hit upon the happy expedient of writing upon a slate, that the book had been reclaimed by the owner, and that I could not in my weak state be allowed to read. “But,' I said in great astonishment, ‘why do you write to me; why not speak? Speak, speak!’

Those who stood around the bed exchanged significant looks of concern, and the writer soon displayed upon his slate the awful words—‘YoU ARE DEAF | Did not this utterly crush me? By no means. In my then weakened condition nothing like this could affect me. Besides, I was a child; and to a child the full extent of such a calamity could not be at once apparent. However, I knew not the future—it was well I did not; and there was nothing to shew me that I suffered under more than a temporary deafness, which in a few days might pass away. It was left for time to shew me the sad realities of the condition to which I was reduced.

The deaf boy, after his recovery, was placed in the workhouse, until some employment could be found for him. He was put apprentice to a shoemaker, who used him with great cruelty, but an appeal to the magistrates procured his release from this tyranny; and being assisted, in his nineteenth year, to publish a volume of essays and letters, friends came forward, and he was enabled to follow out his strong bias for theological literature. He spent ten years in travelling and residing abroad, the result of which appeared in his Biblical criticism and illustrations, and in his account of the Scripture Lands, 1850. On his return to England, in 1833, he wrote for the Penny Magazine a series of papers called The Deaf Traveller, and ever afterwards was actively engaged in literature. He edited The Pictorial Bible, the Journal of Sacred Literature, and the Cyclopadia of Biblical Literature; also a valuable work, Daily Bible Illustrations. Two small volumes, entitled The Lost Senses, one on deafness and the other on blindness, were produced by Dr Kitto, and are interesting from the facts and anecdotes they contain. He concludes that the blind are not so badly off as the deaf. “It is indeed possible that, so far as regards merely animal sensation, the blind man is in a worse condition than the deaf; but in all that regards the culture of the mind, he has infinitely the advantage, while his full enjoyment of society, from which the other is excluded, keeps up a healthy exercise of his mental faculties, and maintains him in that cheerful frame of mind, which is as generally observed among the blind, as the want of it is among the deaf. A pension of £100 was settled upon Dr Kitto by the government. He went abroad to recruit his health, which had been injured by too close application, but died at Canstadt, near Stuttgard, in his fifty-first year.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the professors at the Independent College, Birmingham. Mr Rogers officiated for some time as minister of an Independent congregation, but was forced to relinquish his charge on account of ill health. He has been a contributor to the Edinburgh Review, and a collection of his various papers has been published under the title of Essays: Contributions to the Edinburgh Review, three volumes, 1850–55. In 1856, Mr Rogers published an Essay on the Life and Genius of Thomas Fuller, with Selections from his Writings. He has also contributed some short biographies to the new edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Learned, eloquent, and liberal in sentiment, Mr Rogers is an honour to the Dissenting body. The Eclipse was written in reply to Mr F. W. Newman's Phases of Faith, noticed in a previous page. Mr Rogers adopts the plan of sending to a missionary in the Pacific Ocean an account of the religious distractions in this country. All the controversies and new theological opinions, English and German, which have been agitated within the last twenty years are discussed, and a considerable part of the reasoning is in the form of dialogue. The various interlocutors state their opinions fully, and are answered by other partics. Deism is represented by a disciple of Professor Newman, who draws most of his arguments from the Phases of Faith. A new edition of this work being called for, Mr Newman added to it a Reply to the Eclipse of Faith, 1854, and Mr Rogers rejoined with A Defence of the Eclipse of Faith. There is a good deal of vigorous thought and sarcasm in Mr Rogers's Eclipse and Defence, while in logical acuteness he is vastly superior to his opponent. Occasionally he rises into a strain of pure eloquence, as in the following passage:

[The Character of the Saviour.]

And now what, after all, does the carping criticism of this chapter amount to? Little as it is in itself, it absolutely vanishes; it is felt that the Christ thus portrayed cannot be the right interpretation of the history, in the face of all those glorious scenes with which the evangelical narrative abounds, but of which there is here an entire oblivion. But humanity will not forget them; men still wonder at the ‘gracious words which proceeded out of Christ's mouth, and persist in saying, ‘Never man spake like this man.’ The brightness of the brightest names pales and wanes before the radiance which shines from the person of Christ. The scenes at the tomb of Lazarus, at the gate of Nain, in the happy family at Bethany, in the “upper room’ where He instituted the feast which should for ever consecrate His memory, and bequeathed to his disciples the legacy of His love; the scenes in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the summit of Calvary, and at the sepulchre; the sweet remembrance of the patience with which He bore wrong, the gentleness with which he rebuked it, and the love with which he forgave it; the thousand acts of benign condescension by which He well earned for himself, from self-righteous pride and censorious hypocrisy, the name of the ‘friend of publicans and sinners; these, and a hundred things more, which crowd those concise memorials of love and sorrow with such prodigality of beauty and of pathos, will still continue to charm and attract the soul of humanity, and on these the highest genius, as well as the humblest mediocrity, will love to dwell. These things lisping infancy loves to hear on its mother's knees, and over them age, with its gray locks, bends in devoutest reverence. No ; before the infidel can prevent the influence of these compositions, he must get rid of the gospels themselves, or he must supplant them by fictions yet more wonderful! Ah, what bitter irony has


involuntarily escaped me ! But if the last be impossible, at least the gospels must cease to exist before infidelity can succeed. Yes, before infidels can prevent men from thinking as they have ever done of Christ, they must blot out the gentle words with which, in the presence of austere hypocrisy, the Saviour welcomed that timid guilt that could only express its silent love in an agony of tears; they must blot out the words addressed to the dying penitent, who, softened by the majestic patience of the mighty sufferer, detected at last the Monarch under the veil of sorrow, and cast an imploring glance to be “remembered by Him when He came into His kingdom; they must blot out the scene in which the demoniacs sat listening at His feet, and ‘in their right mind;’ they must blot out the remembrance of the tears which He shed at the grave of Lazarus—not surely for him whom He was about to raise, but in pure sympathy with the sorrows of humanity—for the myriad myriads of desolate mourners, who could not, with Mary, fly to him, and say: ‘Lord, if thou hadst been here, my mother, brother, sister, had not died !” they must blot out the record of those miracles which charm us, not only as the proof of His mission, and guarantees of the truth of His doctrine, but as they illustrate the benevolence of His character and are types of the spiritual cures His gospel can yet perform; they must blot out the scenes of the sepulchre, where love and veneration lingered, and saw what was never seen before, but shall henceforth be seen to the end of time —the tomb itself irradiated with angelic forms, and bright with the presence of Him ‘who brought life and immortality to light; they must blot out the scene where deep and grateful love wept so passionately, and found Him unbidden at her side, type of ten thousand times ten thousand, who have “sought the grave to weep there, and found joy and consolation in Him ‘whom, though unseen, they loved; they must blot out the discourses in which He took leave of his disciples, the majestic accents of which have filled so many departing souls with patience and with triumph; they must blot out the yet sublimer words in which He declares himself ‘the resurrection and the life’—words which have led so many millions more to breathe out their spirits with childlike trust, and to believe, as the gate of death closed behind them, that they would see Him who is invested with the “keys of the invisible world, ‘who opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens,' letting in through the portal which leads to immortality the radiance of the skies; they must blot out, they must destroy these and a thousand other such things, before they can prevent Him having the pre-eminence who loved, because He loved us, to call himself the ‘Son of Man, though angels called him the “Son of God. It is in vain to tell men it is an illusion. If it be an illusion, every variety of experiment proves it to be inveterate, and it will not be dissipated by a million of Strausses and Newmans! Probatum est. At His feet guilty humanity, of diverse races and nations, for eighteen hundred years, has come to pour forth in faith and love its sorrows, and finds there ‘the peace which the world can neither give nor take away.' Myriads of aching heads and weary hearts have found, and will find, repose there, and have invested Him with veneration, love, and gratitude, which will never, never be paid to any other name than His.'


A long series of works on theology and mental philosophy—ingenious in argument: and often eloquent though peculiar in style—have proceeded from the pen of MR Is AAC TAYLOR, a retired student residing at Stamford Rivers, near Ongar, Essex. Mr Taylor's father was preacher in an Independent chapel at Ongar, and there the essayist was born about the year 1789. The first, and #"p.


the best of his works, is The Natural History of Enthusiasm, 1829. At that time the belief that a bright era of renovation, union, and extension, presently awaited the Christian Church was generally entertained. Mr Taylor participated, he says, in the cheering hope, and his glowing language and unsectarian zeal found many admirers. The tenth edition of the volume (1845) is now before us. Discord, however, soon sprung up in Oxford; and Mr Taylor, in some papers on Ancient Christianity, published periodically, combated the arguments of the Tractarians, and produced a number of works all of a kindred character, illustrating Christian faith or morals. These are Spiritual Despotism, 1835; Physical The of Another Life, 1839; Lectures on £ 1841; Saturday Evening, 1842; History of Fanaticism, 1843; Elements of Thought, 1843; Loyola and Jesuitism, 1849; Wesley and £ 1851; Home Education, 1852; The Restoration of Belief, 1853; &c. In 1856, Mr Taylor wrote for the North British Review a long critical analysis of the works of Dr Chalmers, which gave great offence to many of the leading supporters of the Review, and led to its suspension for sometime. With cordial admiration of the character and exertions of our great countryman,'Mr Taylor questioned if much of his writing would live. The works of Dr Chalmers, he said, were deficient in method, in condensation, and style; his reasoning was also frequently inconsistent, and his opinions were hampered and restricted by adherence to creed, or to the polemical and systematic theology of Scotland. We shall not enter into the illustrations brought forward by Mr Taylor; but the following passage, of a more general description, appears to be as correct as it is forcibly expressed:

[Character of Dr Chalmers.]

Chalmers, if it were required of us to characterise him in a word, was the man-great in action: he was the man to give a needed and an irresistible impulse to whatever he applied his herculean shoulder. The world, or that world wherewith he concerned himself, he would not, and could not, and he did not leave just what and where it was when first he looked about upon it; for that first glance moved his soul to its depths; moved it, not with scorn—not with malign antagonism—not with a wild, unknowing enthusiasm—not with despondency; but with a hopeful and a reasoning confidence— a calculated trust in the efficacy of those forces—those energies of renovation which, if well employed, and manfully worked, will not fail to bring about a better state of things, more or less complete. Chalmers was the man to give a healthful impulse to all things around him; but he was not the man to give them altogether a new direction. He was just so far the philosopher as an accomplished man must be who concerns himself at all with the things of philosophy; but he was not (as we presume to think) a philosopher in any higher sense; or in any sense that should give him a place of his own among those who have wrought out a scheme of thought for themselves, and for their times. The thought of this present age has not pivoted itself upon Chalmers's mind. He was the philanthropist, eminently so; and his understanding was of that robust order which utterly forbade his giving himself up to any of those vapouring modes of enthusiasm which so often bring all philanthropy into contempt. By an instinct quicker and surer than the guidance of reason—although reason never failed to come up to his aid—he rejected whatever was visionary and impracticable, or not at the moment practical; and by the same instinct, duly sustained as it was by the force of the dialectic faculty, he seized upon'stever was good and right in the main, and also

sound in principle, among things actually existing and constituted, and which may be made available for immediate purposes: these he took up, and upon these he worked with a prodigious energy, and with an industry-rare excellence—commensurate with that energy. Decisively conservative in temper, and reverential too in feeling, his aim was to bring up the things that are as near as possible to their normal state of effectiveness: he laboured to reinstate—to invigorate—to quicken the languid pulse of the social body; to redress—to clear away from it encumbering accumulations. But there he stopped. Wanting almost entirely the analytic faculty—wanting also the severe critical faculty—and wholly wanting that melancholic element which leads minds severely reflective to distrust obvious conclusions, and to scrutinise all things that are offered to their assent—Chalmers sent down his line into no abyss; he himself, as to the dim world of painful speculation, had never trodden a path, like that of Bunyan's Christian, through the Walley of the Shadow of Death. As a most kind-hearted man, his sympathies were awake toward all kinds of trouble, whether of mind, body, or estate; but specially and intellectually he had no sympathy with minds deeper rooted than his own, or more discriminative, or more exact, or more analytic, or more scrupulously honest toward their own misgivings. Such minds, in approaching his, would quickly discover that from him they would not receive the aid they needed. And thus it is as to his philosophic writings. Admirably adapted as they were to effect their immediate purpose—a purpose conservative and confirmatory, as related to the diffuse intellectuality of the times when they appeared, and well adapted too, as they may still be, to meet the same order of intellectuality at this time, or in any time future, they wholly fail to satisfy the conditions of philosophic discussion, such as it has of late years become. It may seem unfair to require of a manof a teacher—that he should forecast the progress of opinion for half a century in advance of his own times; but this at least may be said, that while a writer who touches the boundaries of thought in all directions is likely to anticipate the recurrent theories of times future, he who stops far short of those limits is likely to be numbered with the antiquated at the very next coming on of a crisis in speculative philosophy.

[Dangers of Religion of the Imagination.]

Unless a perpetual miracle were to intercept the natural operation of common causes, religion, not less than philosophy or poetry, will draw enthusiasts within its precincts. Nor, if we recollect, on the one hand, the fitness of the vast objects revealed in the Scriptures to affect the imagination, and on the other, the wide diffusion of religious ideas, can it seem strange if it be found, in fact, that religious enthusiasts outnumber any other class. It is also quite natural that enthusiastic and genuine religious emotions should be intermingled with peculiar intricacy; since the revelations which give them scope combine, in a peculiar manner, elements of grandeur, of power, and of sublimity (fitted to kindle the imagination) with those ideas that furnish excitement to the moral sentiments. The religion of the heart, it is manifest, may be supplanted by a religion of the imagination, just in the same way that the social affections are often dislodged or corrupted by factitious sensibilities. Every one knows that an artificial excitement of the kind and tender emotions of our nature may take place through the medium of the imagination. Hence the power of poetry and the drama. But every one must also know that these feelings, how vivid soever, and seemingly pure and salutary they may be, and however nearly they may resemble the genuine workings of the soul, are so far from producing the same softening effect upon the character, that they tend rather to indurate the heart. Whenever excitements of any kind are regarded distinctly as a source of luxurious pleasure, then, instead of expanding the bosom with beneficent energy, instead of dispelling the sinister purposes of selfishness, instead of shedding the softness and warmth of generous love through the moral system, they become a freezing centre of solitary and unsocial indulgence, and at length displace every emotion that deserves to be called virtuous. No cloak of selfishness is, in fact, more impenetrable than that which usually envelops a pampered imagination. The reality of woe is the very circumstance that paralyses sympathy; and the eye that can pour forth its flood of commiseration for the sorrows of the romance or the drama, grudges a tear to the substantial wretchedness of the unhappy. Much more often than not, this kind of luxurious sensitiveness to fiction is conjoined with a callousness that enables the subject of it to pass through the affecting occasions of domestic life in immovable apathy: the heart has become, like that of leviathan, “firm as a stone, yea, hard as a piece of the nether millstone. This process of perversion and of induration may as readily have place among the religious emotions as among those of any other class; for the laws of human nature are uniform, whatever may be the immediate cause which puts them in action; and a fictitious piety corrupts or petrifies the heart not less certainly than does a romantic sentimentality. The danger attending enthusiasm in religion is not, then, of a trivial sort ; and whoever disaffects the substantial matters of Christianity, and seeks to derive from it merely, or chiefly, the gratifications of excited feeling—whoever combines from its materials a paradise of abstract contemplation, or of poetic imagery, where he may take refuge from the annoyances and the importunate claims of common life—whoever thus delights himself with dreams, and is insensible to realities, lives in peril of awaking from his illusions when truth comes too late. The religious idealist sincerely believes himself, perhaps, to be eminently devout; and those who witness his abstraction, his elevation, his enjoyments, may reverence.his piety; meanwhile, this fictitious happiness creeps as a lethargy through the moral system, and is rendering him continually less and less susceptible of those emotions in which true religion consists.


The REv. THOMAs DALE, canon of St Paul's, and vicar of St Pancras, is author of two volumes of Sermons, the first preached at St Bride, 1830, and the second before the University of Cambridge, 1832–36. The other publications of Mr Dale are–The Sabbath Companion, 1844; Commentary on the Twenty-third Psalm, 1845; The Domestic Liturgy and Family Chaplain, 1846; &c. Mr Dale, while at college in Cambridge, published some poetical narratives, The Widow of Nain, The Outlaw of Tarsus, and Irad and Adah, since collected into one volume, 1842. Mr Dale is a native of London, born in 1797. He was for some time Professor of English Literature at the London University, and subsequently at King's College.

Another canon of St Paul's, and popular metropolitan preacher, is the REv. HENRY MELVILL, author of several volumes of Sermons, and a volume of Lectures delivered at St Margaret's, Lothbury, 1850–52. The latter formed part of the Jones Lectureship, commonly called “The Golden Lecture,’ which was founded by a London citizen in 1614. The annual income of the Golden Lectureship amounts to £416 a year; the patrons are the Haberdashers' Company.

The Bridgewater Treatises form a valuable series of works on the theology of natural history. The

Earl of Bridgewater (1758–1829) bequeathed a sum of £8000 to be invested in the public funds, and paid to persons appointed by the President of the Royal Society to write and publish works on the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God as manifested in the Creation. The works so produced are—The Hand, its Mechanism and Endowments as evincing Design, by SIR CHARLEs BELL, Professor of Surgery in the University of Edinburgh (1774–1842); Geology and Mineralogy considered with Reference to Natural Theology, by DR WILLIAM BUCKLAND, Dean of Westminster (1784–1856); The Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man, by DR THOMAs CHALMERs (1780–1847); The Physical Condition of Man, by DR JoHN KIDD; The Habits and Instincts of Animals, by the Rev. W. KIRBY (1759–1851); Chemistry and Meteorology, by DR. W. PRoUT; Animal and Vegetable Physiology, by DR P. M. RogeT; Astronomy and General Physics, by DR. W. WHEwBLL, Professor of Moral £ The names here given afford sufficient evidence of the judicious administration of the trust. The President of the Royal Society called in to his aid, in selecting the writers, the archbishop of Canterbury and bishop of London, and it is creditable to their liberality and taste that the first of the treatises was assigned to a Presbyterian minister–Dr Chalmers.


The Scottish divines, though enjoying comparatively little leisure from their pastoral duties, have made some contributions to our modern theological literature. DR JoHN BRowN (1785–1859), of the United Presbyterian Church, Theological Professor, &c., was a good Biblical critic and practical theologian. Amidst numerous religious treatises published between 1821 and 1852, his Expository Discourses on the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, the Epistle of Peter, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord, the Sufferings of the Messiah, &c., are warmly commended. DR RALPH WARDLAw (1779–1853), of the Independent Church, Glasgow, was author of Discourses on the Socinian Controversy, 1814, which have been frequently reprinted, and which Robert Hall said completely exhausted the subject. Dr Wardlaw published various sermons and theological essays, and was a learned, able divine, and a very impressive preacher. A life of Dr Wardlaw was published in 1856 by Dr W. L. Alexander. Among the most popular of sermons lately published are those of DR GUTHRIE and DR CAIRD. Thomas Guthrie (born at Brechin, Forfarshire, in 1800) is author of a volume of Discourses from Ezekiel, 1855; Discourses from the Epistle to the Colossians, 1859; Pleas for Ragged Schools; and several tracts against intemperance. Dr Guthrie is the most eloquent of the Free Church preachers. His sermons are marked by poetic imagery and illustration—perhaps too profusely, but often striking, pathetic, and impressive. Dr John Caird, one of the ministers of Glasgow, has published Religion in Common Life, a sermon preached before the Court at Balmoral in 1856, and a volume of Sermons, 1858; these are distinguished for their practical tendency and earnestness, and for a beautiful simplicity and clearness of style. DR RoBERT S. CANDLISH, one of the Free Church ministers of Edinburgh—son of an early friend and correspondent of the poet Burns— is author of an Exposition of the Book of Genesis, 1852; Discourses on the Resurrection, 1858; and other professional treatises, all evincing acuteness and research—a subtle and penetrating intelle, DR JoliN CUMMING, of the Scotch Church, London (born in Aberdeenshire in 1809), has written a great number of religious works—Apocalyptic Sketches, Voices of the Night, Voices of the Day, Voices of the Dead, Expository Readings on the Old and New Testament, and various controversial tracts. He is in theology what Mr G. P. R. James is in fiction— as fluent and as voluminous, but with a larger body of readers and admirers.

DR JoHNTULLocII, Principal of St Mary's College, St Andrews, in 1855 received one of the Burnett prizes for a treatise on Theism, the Witness of Reason and Nature to an All-wise and All-beneficent Creator. The Burnett Prize Essays are published under the bequest of an Aberdeen merchant, John Burnett (1739–1784), who left £1600 to be applied every forty years to the foundation of two premiums for essays on the Being and Character of God from Reason and Revelation. Dr Tulloch, in 1859, published a volume of four lectures, delivered at the Philosophical Institution, Edinburgh, Leaders of the Reformation, or sketches of Luther, Calvin, Latimer, and Knox.

[Decadence of the Ancient Portion of Edinburgh.] [From Guthrie's Sermons.]

There is a remarkable phenomenon to be seen on certain parts of our coast. Strange to say, it proves, notwithstanding such expressions as ‘the stable and solid land, that it is not the land but the sea which is the stable element. On some summer day, when there is not a wave to rock her, nor breath of wind to fill her sail or fan a cheek, you launch your boat upon the waters, and, pulling out beyond lowest tide-mark, you idly lie upon her bows to catch the silvery glance of a passing fish, or watch the movements of the many curious creatures that travel the sea's sandy bed, or creeping out of their rocky homes, wander its tangled mazes. If the traveller is surprised to find a deep-sea shell imbedded in the marbles of a mountain-peak, how great is your surprise to see beneath you a vegetation foreign to the deep! Below your boat, submerged many feet beneath the surface of the lowest tide, away down in these green crystal depths, you see no rusting anchor, no mouldering remains of some shipwrecked one, but in the standing stumps of trees, the mouldering vestiges of a forest, where once the wild cat prowled, and the birds of heaven, singing their loves, had nestled and nursed their young. In counterpart to those portions of our coast where seahollowed caves, with sides the waves have polished, and floors still strewed with shells and sand, now stand high above the level of strongest stream-tides, there stand these dead, decaying trees—entombed in the deep. A strange phenomenon, which admits of no other explanation than this, that there the coast-line has sunk beneath its ancient level.

Many of our cities present a phenomenon as melancholy to the eye of a philanthropist, as the other is interesting to a philosopher or geologist. In their economical, educational, moral, and religious aspects, certain parts of this city bear palpable evidence of a corresponding subsidence. Not a single house, nor a block of houses, but whole streets, once from end to end the homes of decency, and industry, and wealth, and rank, and piety, have been engulphed. A flood of ignorance, and misery, and sin, now breaks and roars above the top of their highest tenements. Nor do the old stumps of a forest, still standing up erect beneath the sea-wave, indicate a greater change, a deeper subsidence, than the relics of ancient grandeur, and the touching memorials of piety which yet linger about these wretched dwellings, like evening twilight on the hills-like some traces of beauty on a corpse. The unfurnished *: begrimed and naked walls, the stifling, sickening

atmosphere, the patched and dusty window-through which a sunbeam, like hope, is faintly stealing—the ragged, hunger-bitten, and sad-faced children, the ruffian man, the heap of straw where some wretched mother, in muttering dreams, sleeps off last night's debauch, or lies unshrouded and uncoffined in the ghastliness of a hopeless death, are sad scenes. We have often looked on them. And they appear all the sadder for the restless play of fancy. Excited by some vestiges of a frescopainting that still looks out from the foul and broken plaster, the massive marble rising over the cold and cracked hearth-stone, an elaborately carved cornice too high for shivering cold to pull it down for fuel, some stucco flowers or fruit yet pendant on the crumbling ceiling, fancy, kindled by these, calls up the gay scenes and actors of other days—when beauty, elegance, and fashion graced these lonely halls, and plenty smoked on groaning tables, and where these few cinders, gathered from the city dust-heap, are feebly smouldering, hospitable fires roared up the chimney.

But there is that in and about these houses which bears witness of a deeper subsidence, a yet sadder change. Bent on some mission of mercy, you stand at the foot of a dark and filthy stair. It conducts you to the crowded rooms of a tenement, where—with the exception of some old decent widow who has seen better days, and when her family are all dead, and her friends all gone, still clings to God and her faith in the dark hour of adversity and amid the wreck of fortune—from the cellar-dens below to the cold garrets beneath the roof-tree, you shall find none either reading their Bible, or even with a Bible to read. Alas! of prayer, of morning or evening psalms, of earthly or heavenly peace, it may be said the place that once knew them, knows them no more. But before you enter the doorway, raise your eyes to the lintel-stone. Dumb, it yet speaks of other and better times. Carved in Greek or Latin, or our own mother-tongue, you decipher such texts as these: “Peace be to this house.’ ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.’ ‘We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’ “Fear God;’ or this, ‘Love your neighbour. Like the mouldering remnants of a forest that once resounded with the melody of birds, but hears nought now save the angry dash or melancholy moan of breaking waves, these vestiges of piety furnish a gauge which enables us to measure how low in these dark localities the whole stratum of society has sunk.


The progress of physical and mental science has been traced with eminent ability in the series of dissertations written for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The various discoveries and distinctions are related with admirable perspicuity, and additional interest is imparted to them by the biographical sketches accompanying each department. Ethical philosophy has been treated by DUGALD STEwART and MACKINTosh, as already stated; and latterly a third dissertation has been added by ARCHBIs Hop WHATELY, exhibiting a general view of the rise, progress, and corruptions of Christianity. Mathematical and physical science was taken up by PROFEssoR JoHN PLAYFAIR (1748–1819), distinguished for his illustrations of the Huttonian theory, and for his biographies of Hutton and Robison. Playfair treated of the period which closed with Newton and Leibnitz, and the subject was continued through the course of the eighteenth century by SIR John LESLIE, who succeeded to Playfair in the chair of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. Sir John (1766–1832) was celebrated for his ardour

« PoprzedniaDalej »