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am I therefore to refuse the comforts of society, because many tradesmen, in their dealing, set truth and conscience at defiance? Or, will my purchasing such goods of the importer as above stated, leaving to his own conscience to decide on the means he employs in obtaining them, subject me to the charge of being partaker in his sins? Shall I be told, that a receiver is as bad as a thief? or, if so, do you, Sir, consider the two cases as analagous ? It is probable that many people will not see much difference between them, but still the line must be drawn somewhere. It is, indeed, possible that goods so exposed to open sale may have been obtained in the most unobjectionable manner; for instance, of the agents to our ships of war who the
goods at sea, and had them condemned as lawful prizes. After the first or second hand, such goods cannot easily be known from those obtained by other means. Am I then called upon to discriminate between them, scrupulously rejecting the one and accepting the other?
I must beg your pardon, Mr. Editor, for this long intrusion; but, as I doubt not you have many readers in nearly a similar situation with myself, I hope you will not consider the subject unworthy a place in the pages of the Christian Observer. I shall be very happy, on their account as well as my own, to be favoured with your opinion on the case I have stated.
I am, very respectfully, &c. Wapping, December, 1811.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I HAVE lately found, in the hands of one of my parishioners, an original document, issued by the Pope, in the year 1758, against a professional man of this place, for having renounced the errors of the church of Rome. As many of your readers may never have met with so horrid
a specimen of papal excommunication, I will subjoin a copy for insertion in the Christian Observer, if you think it worth observing. I am, yours,
"The Pope's Curse, Bell, Book, and Candle, on a Heretic, at Hampreston.
"By the authority of the blessed Virgin Mary, of St. Peter and Paul, and of the holy saints, we excommunicate, we utterly curse and ban, commit, and deliver to the devil of hell, Henry Goldney, of Hampreston, in the county of Dorset, an inGod, and of St. Peter, whose church famous heretic, that hath, in spite of this is, in spite of all holy saints, and in spite of our holy father the Pope (God's vicar here on earth), and of the reverend and worshipful the canons, masters, priests, jesuits, and clerks of our holy church, committed the heinous crimes of sacri lege with the images of our holy saints, and forsaken our most holy religion, and continues in heresy, blasphemy, and corrupt lust. Excommunicate be he finally, and de- ` livered over to the devil as a perpetual malefactor and schismatic. Accursed be he, and given soul and body to the devil, to be buffeted. Cursed be he in all holy cities and towns, in fields and ways, in houses and out of houses, and in all other places, standing, lying, or rising, walking, running, waking, sleeping, eating, drinking, and whatsoever he does besides. We separate him from the threshold; from all the good prayers of the church; from all sacraments, chapels, and altars; the participation of holy mass; from from holy bread and holy water; from all the merits of our holy priests and religious men, and from all their cloisters; from all their pardons, privileges, grants, and immunities, all the holy fathers (popes of Rome) have granted to them; and we give him over utterly to the
power of the devil; and we pray to our Lady, and St. Peter and Paul, and all holy saints, that all the senses of his body may fail him, and that he may have no feeling, except he come openly to our beloved priest at Stapehill*, in time of mass, within thirty days from the third time of pronouncing hereof by our dear priest there, and confess his heinous, heretical, and blasphemous crimes, and by true repentance make satisfaction to our Lady, St. Peter, and the worshipful company of our holy church of Rome, and suffer himself to be buffeted, scourge ed, and spit upon, as our said dear priest, in his goodness, holiness, and sanctity shall direct and prescribe.
Given under the seal of our holy church at Rome, the tenth day of August, in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight, and in the first year of our pontificate. “ C. R. †” "8th of October, 1758, pronounced the first time.
" 15th of ditto, pronounced the second time.
"22d of ditto, pronounced the third time."
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. As you have taken several opportu nities of directing the attention of your readers to the state of religion among the Irish Roman Catholics, I send you an exact copy of a printed notice, which fell into my hands in the latter end of June last; and I trust that its appearance in the pages of your work will have a tendency to increase that interest in behalf of the uninstructed inhabitants of this kingdom which you have so frequently endeavoured to excite. "It is a pious and salutary thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." -Mac. ii. chap. xii. ver. 3.
At Stapehill there is still a chapel, and a female convent of the order of La Trappe. + C. R., I suppose, must mean Church of Bopic
"PURGATORIAN SOCIETY, "Under the Protection of the most
glorious Name of Jesus.
"The stability of this society depends on the punctual payment of your arrears, the sooner to yield relief to the suffering souls in Purgatory, supply the wants of our distressed clergymen, and for the spiritual and temporal welfare of its members; the three principal points of this laudable institution.
"N.B. Subscriptions received in the school-room of Rosemary-Lane chapel, on the first Sunday of each month, from eleven till two o'clock. "Your arrears are 6s. 6d., being twelve months' subscription, ending
"(Signed, by order),
"J. C. BACON, President. "You are humbly prayed to continue your laudable exertions (so happily experienced since the commencement of this society) in obtaining new subscribers."
The original of this notice is printed on a square piece of paper, folded like a note, with blank spaces left for the sum in arrear, the number of months' subscription due, and the period when they expire; and these are regularly filled up. I obtained it from a dissenting minister in Dublin, who had it from one of his congregation, that had been educat
ed a Roman Catholic,
this, is calculated to excite a great The perusal of such a paper as variety of reflections, which I shall not attempt to anticipate. We are accustomed to meet with many such specimens of the doctrines taught by the priests, and received by the people;
but what must the inhabitants of England think of the state of a religious community, wherein such papers are circulated by the teachers, and such a society supported by the people? Surely darkness covereth the land, and gross darkness the people.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
The Vision of Don Roderick. A Poem. By WALTER SCOTT, Esq. Edinburgh: Ballantyne. 1811. 4to. pp. 122. Price 16s. THAT works of fiction, grounded on historical fact, will generally be less interesting than those which owe their birth exclusively to the imagination, is a remark which we believe to be just; and the truth of which, we think, might easily be admitted without an appeal to experience. For it is obvious, that, in productions of which the object is entertainment, whatever tends to circumscribe the field of invention, must, in the same proportion, rob them of the charm which forms their chief attraction.
If Shakspeare had confined himself to the wars of York and Lancaster, his Caliban and his Ariel would never have been called into being. To have "drawn each change of many coloured life," might still have been his praise; but to "exhaust worlds," and then to "imagine new," are feats beyond the powers of the historical fabulist, because they are not within his opportunities.
Nor does the historical tale possess any advantages sufficient to outweigh this great objection. Even in point of credibility, it has no recommendation; for a partial adherence to fact renders every deviation from it more marked and revolting; and the mind, which, resigning itself to the delights of absolute fiction, can at last almost "hold each strange tale devoutly true," is, in the mixed species of narrative, kept in continual incredulity by the collision between matter of fact and matter of invention.
If these remarks are applicable to all works resting on the joint basis of history and fiction, they are peculiarly so to those in which the his
It is for these reasons, that, among the poets who have undertaken to celebrate the triumphs of their contemporaries, so few have been found competent to discharge the task with credit to their subject or to themselves. While the insignificant contests of border chieftains, or the predatory excursions of an Indian tribe, have been recorded in the noblest strains of the British Muse, our numerous and animating succeases by sea and by land, graced as they are by the lustre of the cause in which they have been obtained, and consecrated by the sympathy of all good men throughout the world, have found no poet* capable of securing to them the immortality which they deserve.
The war in Spain was a subject, therefore, which, with great disadvantages, was still worthy of the powers of Mr. Scott, both in respect of its difficulty, and of the neglect under which it had hitherto laboured from those competent to adorn it with poetry; and we felt, for this. reason, a sentiment of regret, when we collected, both from the size of the work before us, and from the avowal contained in the advertisement, that it was meant to be considered as a slight and subordinate production; the sport, rather than
In making this observation, we do not forget that Mr. Campbell has written some fine stanzas on the Bombardment of Copenhagen; and that the Battles of Talavera is a
piece of considerable merit; but we do not think that either of these productions can be cient to disprove the justice of our remark. considered as of importance or value suffi
the effort, of the author's genius, and not one of those capital compositions, on the basis of which he rests his fame.
It is impossible, however, that Mr. Scott should write without exhibiting some traits of greatness; and if the present poem is not to be classed among his most powerfal performances, it is, at least, such as could have been produced by no other poet of the present day. It possesses (though in a more limited degree than we have elsewhere seen them) the peculiar excellencies which have raised this author above his rivalsan energy without abruptness or constraint, and a rich strain of invention untinctured with extravagance.
The poem opens with an introduction, in which the mountains and torrents of the borders are invoked to aid their bard with inspiration, while he celebrates the recent triumphs of the British army. The mountain spirit directs him to seek a theme among the legends of Spain; and the poet obeys by proceeding to narrate the Vision of Don Roderick.
This tradition is briefly as follows: Don Roderick, the last king of Spain, before the invasion of that kingdom by the Moors, was led, by an ill-starred curiosity, to penetrate into a cave near Toledo, the entrance of which had been closed for ages, and concerning which there was a prophecy, that the king by whom it was opened, "would discover both good and evil things." In this cave he discovered a bronze statue, representing Time, which incessantly struck the earth with a battle-axe, and on the shoulders of which, as well as on the walls of the cave, ap peared inscriptions prophetic of the impending destruction of Don Roderick and his kingdom by the Moors.
These slender materials the creative imagination of Mr. Scott has drawn out into a poem of sixty-nine quarto pages, bending them, at the same time, with great skill, to his
purpose of celebrating the British
The reader is first presented with.
"Long, large, and lofty was that vaulted hall,
of polish'd marble, black as funeral pall,
Carv'd o'er with signs and characters un-
A paly light, as of the dawning, shone
For window to the upper air was none;
The bronze statue, mentioned in the legend, is turned to very good ac count by the ingenuity of Mr. Scott. "Grim centinels against the upper wall,
Of molten bronze, two statues held their
Massive their naked limbs, their stature tall,
This spread his wings for flight, that pondering stood; Each stubborn seemed and stern, iminuta
ble of mood.
Fixed was the right-hand giant's brazen look
Upon his brother's glass of shifting sand; As if its ebb be measured by a book
Whose iron volume loaded his huge hand; In which was wrote of many a falling land, Of empires lost, and kings to exile driven; And o'er that pair their names in scroll expand
Lo Destiny and Time, to whom by Heaven The guidance of the earth is for a season given.
Even while they read, the sand-glass wastes away;
And as the last and lagging grains did creep,
That right-hand giant 'gan his club upsway As one that startles from a heavy sleep.
Full on the upper wall the mace's sweep At once descended with the force of thunder, And hurling down at once, in crumbled heap
The marble boundary was rent asunder, And gave to Roderick's view new sights of fear and wonder." xiv-xvi.
Of these sights of fear and wonder, the first is a dreadful battle between the army of Don Roderick and the Moors, terminating in the defeat of the Spanish monarch, who perishes in flight. Then is exhibited the recovery of Spain by the Christians, and the reign of Superstition, or the period during which, in the language of the poet, the land obeys a hermit and a knight, the ene named Bigotry, and the other Valour.
If such allegorical personages are ever admissible, it is surely in a vision, where the events and personages are all of a shadowy and illusory kind; and where the system of symbolical representation harmonizes with the general character of the piece. Not even in this connection, however, nor under the garb of Spenser's metre, can we find much delight in the personification of abstract qualities. They have been so long known to us in their metaphysical capacity, that it is not
easy to fancy them in any other: following passage the praise of Yet it is impossible to refuse to the highly poetical spirit.
"Valour was harnessed like a chief of old, Armed at all points and prompt for knightly gest;
His sword was tempered in the Ebro cold, Morena's eagle plume adorned his crest, The spoils of Afric's lion bound his breast. Fierce he stepped forward and flung down his gage,
As if of mortal kind to brave the best : Him followed his compauion, dark and sage, As he, my master, sung, the dangerous Archimage.
Haughty of heart and brow the warrior
In look and language proud as proud might be,
Vaunting his lordship, lineage, fights and
Yet was that bare-foot monk more proud thau he:
And as the ivy climbs the tallest tree, So round the loftiest soul his toils he wound, And with his spells subdued the fierce and
Till ermined age, and youth in arms renowned, Honouring his scourge and haircloth, meekly
kissed the ground.
Victorious still in bull-feast or in fight,
Since first his limbs with mail he did invest,
Nor reasoned of the right nor of the wrong, Aud wrought fell deeds the troubled world
But at his bidding laid the lance in rest,
For he was fierce as brave, and pitiless as strong." xxviii.--xxx.
The next scene described is the usurpation of Bonaparte, under the inglorious reign of "a loose female and her minion." The delineation of the French tyrant is rather below what we should have expected from such a poet upon such a theme. The concluding image, however, is just and fine. After introducing the spectre of Ambition, which incessantly "beckons her votary on thro' fight and storm," it is said,