Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

tion has lent her aid, with no sparing tude, the severest trials, and aiding hand, to complete the effect. All the us to perform our duty under them, characters are amiable, and all have are pictures which are always useful reason to be satisfied with their con. to man, and are of peculiar imporduct. Virtue, under the aid of divine tance to the rising generation. The Providence, not only combating with seeds of those moral qualities which misfortune, but, at last, triumphing form the character, are sown much over it; and the power of religion, in more early in life than we generally bracing the mind to meet, with sorti suppose.

a

FROM THE QUARTERLY REVIEW. Memoirs of William Paley, D. L. By G. II. Meadley. pp. 216. To which is added an

Appendix. pp. 168. 1809. THIS biographer appears to be a friend of religious toleration; and also plain sort of a person, not mightily to make us believe that he wished to gifted, indeed, with the talent of wri. abolish, or to relax, subscription to ting; but sufficiently so to tell a com- the articles of our established church. mon story, and make common re. However, we are by no means dismarks. He comes forward with no posed to quarrel with Mr. Meadley, great pretensions, telling us that he and are glad to glean from him some knows his work is very imperfect, little account of Dr. Paley's life. and that his motive for undertaking it It is pleasing to trace the progress was the desire of doing justice to the of a distinguished character to emimemory of Paley. We can believe nence, by the natural buoyancy of that this motive may have been a merit, without any underhand arts, or principal one; but we suspect that mean atlachments to party, or servile one or two others have been acces. cringings to great people. Paley, sory. We surmise that he was partly born in 1743, was the son of a counswayed by a certain desire of making try clergyman, schoolmaster at Giga book; which same desire has further gleswich, in Yorkshire, Educated impelled him to spin out his memoirs, under his father, he gave promise by introducing needless repetitions, rather of fair abilities, than of distinand dwelling too much on trivial cir- guished excellence. His mind was, cumstances-also, to fill up half of a from the first, remarkably active and goodly octayo, by cramming in ana- inquiring. In bodily movements he lyses of Paley's sermons, tracts for- was always singularly clumsy. merly published, &c. In fact, a me

I was never a good horseman," he moir of Paley's life might have been used to say of himself, “and when I folproperly attached to some edition of lowel my father on a poney of my own, on his works; but is far too scanty of my first journey to Cambridge, I fell off matter for a separate publication. seven times. I was lighter then than I am We surmise, moreover, that another now, and my falls were not likely to be e notive, operating on our biographer, would turn his head half aside, and say:

serious. My father, on hearing a thump, was a desire of professing, before the "Take care of thy money, lad.”-p. 5. publick, the sanction of Dr. Paley's

His father, at this time, perceived name, for what he is pleased to call, the germ of his future distinction. the cause of civil and religious liberty. Certain it is, that he takes no

My son," he said, “is now gone to common pains to impress upon us,

college-He will turn out a great manwhat is undoubtedly true:-That this he has, by far, the clearest head I crer

very great indeed-I am certain of it; for excellent man was always the warm met with in my life.”-p.7.

iłe appeared at the University as digested and prepared his great work, a raw, uncouth, unformed sizar, sin- the Principles of Moral and Politigular in dress and manner, not re- cal Philosophy, which appeared in markable for regular, studious habits, 1785. His Horæ Paulinæ followed in but recommending himself by his 1790, and his Evidence of Christianity good humour, social talent, and gene. in 1794. After the latter publication, ral ability. He obtained the publick preferment, the well earned fruit of distinction of senior wrangler, on ta- his services and talents, poured fast king his degree, and had afterwards a upon him. In the space of one year, bachelor's prize adjudged to him for he was presented by different patrons a latin dissertation.

to a prebendal stall in St. Paul's; the For a short time subsequent to his subdeanery of Lincoln; and the vafirst degree, he underwent the drudg- luable rectory of bishop Wearmouth. ery of acting as usher, at a private The latter place was the scene of his school, at Greenwich. Fortunately, declining years. His Natural Theohe soon quarrelled with the school. logy, which appeared in 1802, was master, and, having been elected fel- the only literary work in which he low of the college to which he be- afterwarıls engaged. He made himlonged, fixed his residence in the self practically useful, by carefully university. He spent about ten years performing the offices of a parish of his life engaged in the business of priest; discharging the more active academical tuition. His reputation in duties of a magistrate; and guarding this situation rose extremely high. the moral conduct of his neighbours. He was remarkable for the happy A painful disorder, which visited talent of adapting his lectures singu- the close of his useful life, marked larly well to the apprehensions of his him to be, in the hard task of sufferpupils. He was considered as belong ing, as well as in acting, a firm, sincere ing to what was called the liberal Christian. In 1804, the respect, and party in the university, in politicks the regret of all good men, followed and religion. In 1772, he was invited him to the grave. to sign the petition for relief in the

Paley was, in private life, a cheermatter of subscription to the articles, ful, social, unassuming character; of then presented to parliament. His an equable temper, satisfied with his refusal was conveyed in the jocular present lot, devoid of restless, craving terms, that "he could not afford to ambition. He entered with great zest keep a conscience.” His biographer into the common enjoyments of life. acts, we think, no very friendly part, IIe never assumed an austere characwhen he attributes this refusal to ter of sanctity and stiffness, but was prudential motives, acting in opposi. anxious to promote good humout tion to his real sentiments. Paley was and harmless mirth on all occasions. a man of the most unvarnished ho- His conversation was free and unre. nesty. We are convinced, that his served, wholly untainted with that refusal must have been founded on a pedantick gravity and cold supercilireal disapprobation of the measure ousness, in which superiour talent is itself; of the means adopted in fur. too apt to clothe itself. He was rethering it; or of the persons engaged markable for an extensive acquainin promoting it.

tance with men and manners. He had In 1776, he married, and retired to a strong relish of wit; a copious fund a small living in Westmoreland; but of anecdote; and told a story with was soon advanced, successively, by peculiar archness and naiveté. He was his friend Dr. Law, then bishop of a particular admirer of theatrical perCarlisle, to a prebendal stall, the formances. Even in his latest years, archdeaconry, and chancellorship of he would place himself in a conspithe diocese. In this retirement, he cuous part of a provincial theatre,

when any celebrated performer ar- and grasping genius, nor was he enrived in his neighbourhood.

dowed with a rich and sparkling He appears to have been, at no imagination. His mind was well intime, a regular, profound student. He formed, but not furnished with deep, was able to chain his attention closely extensive, ponderous erudition. We to any particular subject which he do not find him, like a Hoadley, or a had in hand. But his general habit Warburton, opening a vast battery of was, to engage in desultory reading, learning, and bringing forward a coto pursue any train of casual investi- pious store of illustrating matter on gation, and to enlarge his store of the point which he is discussing. His knowledge from every quarter. His distinguishing characteristick is a pemind, in fact, was never idle, always netrating understanding, and a clear, searching for matter of observation, logical head. What he himself comand laying up food for reflection. He prehends fully, that he details lumiwas peculiarly happy in the talent of nously. He never builds a conclusion gleaning information from persons of on unsound or insufficient premises. different habits and professions with He takes a subject to pieces with the whom he conversed.

nice skill of a master, presents to us Such was Paley in the private distinctly its several parts, and exwalks of life. Of his mental talents plains them with accuracy and truth. and acquirements, of his publick prin- He illustrates his meaning with apciples and opinions, the estimate must posite remarks, and much various be drawn from his writings.

allusion. He makes great amends for One very prominent and very the want of abstruse erudition, by a amiable feature of character displayed large fund of various, common-place in his works, is a candid allowance of knowledge, and a thorough acquainthe errours, prejudices, and partiali- tance with men and manners. He has ties of others. Å spirit of liberality, been taxed with a want of originality. fairness, and moderation, tempers all If it is merely meant that he has his opinions. He is never so blindly chiefly taken in hand, subjects in bigoted to what he himself approves, which others have preceded him, the as not to be aware that an opposing charge is obviously true. But still, in bias, or a different cast of thought, the line of discussion which he takes, may cause others to draw conclusions he strikes generally out of the beaten directly the reverse. He is every where track; he pursues new trains of inthe friend to enlightened policy and vestigation; places matters in a new free discussion. In some of his opi. light; lays down new principles, and nions on publick questions, it has been illustrates by new arguments. In fact, his fate to be censured by opposite he has the peculiar merit of being parties. He has gone too far for often truly original, where a common some, and not far enough for others. writer could only have been a tame All, we believe, with few exceptions, and servile imitator. " He is thought have agreed, that he has spoken less original than he really is,” says honestly, opinions weighed maturely; an ingenious writer, * “ merely bethat as he has sought his results cause his taste and modesty, have led coolly, so he has expressed them dis. him to disdain the ostentation of nopassionately; that he has always velty; and therefore, he generally aimed at advancing the great cause employs more art to blend his own of truth, and of lending the best sup- arguments with the body of received port to good government and social opinions, so that they are scarce to order.

be distinguished, than other men, in On his qualifications and talents as the pursuit of a transient popularity, a writer, we have touched already. He did not possess a comprehensive

* Mackintosh.

[ocr errors]

*

have exerted to disguise the most bringing this to notice as an undoubtmiserable common-places in the ed work of Dr. Paley's, we think shape of a paradox.”.

that he suffers his zeal against the But he has left us one work, much church, by law established, to outstrip less generally known and read than it his regard for his friend's reputadeserves to be, which is truly original tion. He is by no means warranted in in its subject, in its construction, and decidedly ascribing it to Dr. Paley. in its details. We allude to his Ho- He produces no direct evidence; ræ Paulinæ. In this, he traces a new does not pretend that it was ever, in species of internal evidence for the any circumstances, avowed; and authenticity of St. Paul's epistles, by merely pleads general report. We observing the undesigned and less must be allowed to suspend, at least, obvious coincidence of allusions and our judgment on the subject. Interexpressions, with the narrative in the nal evidence, we think, is strong acts of the apostle. In his statement against the fact. An acrimonious spi. of the value of this species of argu- rit of controversy pervades the tract, ment he is clear and judicious. In foreign to Paley's general manner. pointing out the several passages At times, there is a puerile flippancy which furnish the proof, he shows a of remark. The argument is, in some most intimate acquaintance with St. parts, directed against all means of Paul's writings, the fruit of patient securing a conformity of faith in the investigation, and most close atten- ministers of any established church, tion. He is singularly ingenious in an opinion which Paley never mainhitting on a casual agreement, where tained, and the bare supposition of a common mind would have over- his holding which is an impeachment looked it. He appreciates with judg, of his understanding. We must conment, the true value of every head of tend, tlrat a discreet friend to his meevidence which he brings. He makes mory, who had no prejudices of his his deduction, just as far as that in- own to gratify, would not have been stance bears him out, and no farther; thus forward to give, on very dispuand, on proper occasions, he presses table grounds, the sanction of his his reasonings with convincing force. name to this production. Thus, he has furnished a mass of On the whole, Paley was an amiamost valuable evidence, which is pe- ble, and a respectable character, in culiarly his own, and which no one all the departments of life; one who else could have invented so well, or taught well, and defended ably, truths traced so clearly. He has given, too, which he firmly believed, and duties an admirable model for similar inves- which he admirably practised. Supetigations on other subjects. Had he riours he has undoubtedly had in produced no other work, his fame those high talents and vast acquirewould have stood on no weak or nar- ments which dazzle and astonish; but row basis.

still a place must be allowed him in Amongst the tracts and papers, the very foremost rank of eminence, with which Mr. Meadley has con- if the consideration of his actual abitrived to swell his volume, is a tract lities be combined with that of their on the question of subscription to the useful application; if his claim on articles published in 1774, in defence the applauses of mankind, be united of a pamphlet of bishop Law's. In with that on their gratitude.

a

FROM THE QUARTERLY REVIEW, Amelie Mansfield. Par Madame Cottin. 3 tom. 12mo. Londres. 1809. NOVELS are read so generally, gard to our own expectations in real and with such avidity, by the young life. But real life is the very thing of both sexes, that they cannot fail to which novels affect to imitate; and have a considerable influence on the the young and inexperienced will virtue and happiness of society. Yet sometimes be too ready to conceive their authors do not always appear to that the picture is true, in those rebe sensible of the serious responsi- spects at least in which they wish it bility attached to their voluntary to be so. Hence both their temper, task. In several novels which we fre. conduct, and happiness may be maquently observe in the parlours of terially injured. For novels are often respectable families, there cannot be romantick; not, indeed, by the relation a doubt, that the warmth of colouring, of what is obviously miraculous or in certain passages, produces, in the impossible; but by deviating, though imaginations of many of their read- perhaps insensibly, beyond the bounds ers, disorders which are far from of probability or consistency. And being sufficiently corrected by the the girl who dreams of the brilliant moral maxims, the good examples, accomplishments and enchanting or the warning events. Of such grie- manners which distinguish the favous misdemeanors Fielding is no- vourite characters in those fictitious toriously guilty. Other writers. also, histories, will be apt to look with from whom better things might have contempt on the most respectable been expected, have stained their and amiable of her acquaintance; pages with indelicate details. But the while in the showy person and flatpractice is a shameful violation of tering address of some contemptible, good manners, and adınits of no ex- and perhaps profligate coxcomb, she cuse; for either the details are super. may figure to herself the prototype fluous, which is most frequently the of her imaginary heroes, the only case; or else the story should be sup- man upon earth with whom it is pospressed altogether, as one which will sible to be happy. Nay, if she should do more harm than good to far the venture to indulge her lover with a greater number of those who will private assignation, she knows from certainly peruse it.

those authentick records that her conBut there is another way in which duct is sanctioned by the example of it may be apprehended that novels ladies of the most inflexible virtue. are frequentiy hurtful. The epic poem She may still plead the same authoand the romance of chivalry transport rity for her justification, if, for the us to a world of wonders, where su- sake of this fascinating youth, she pernatural agents are mixed with the render herself an outcast from her human characters; where the human station and her family. Whatever she characters themselves are prodigies, may give up, she has learned from and where events are produced by her oracles that no sacrifice can be causes widely and manifestly differ. too great for real love; that real love, ent from those which regulate the such as subsists, and ever will subcourse of human affairs. (l'ith such sist, between herself and the best of a world we do not think of compa- men, is adequate to fill every hour of ring our actual situation; to such cha- her existence, and to supply the want racters we do not presume to assimi- of every other gratification, and every late ourselves or our neighbours; other employment. And although from such a concatenation of mar- she may be prevented by fortunate vels we draw no conclusions with re- circumstances, or by the prevalence

« PredošláPokračovať »