« ZurückWeiter »
of life he would abominate a liar: but, by bis political manæuvres,
he draws hundreds into perjury. Here, then, is a case, in which
our antagonist would deein it vain to appeal to a man's con-
science;" since the practice of the individual whom we have ima-
gined is sanctioned by all around him, and “he indulges in his
practice without any distinct feeling of depravity.” In the suppo .
sition of this case, we have departed from our original train of ideas,
in order to give as fair an aspect to the argument of Miss Edge-
worth and her “partial ” friends as we possibly can. Yet very
little is to be made of the argument. Suppose this patron of the
borough were attacked on the score of prudence or of pride? And
suppose the censor so far prevailing, as to render him to himself
ridiculous, and to reclaim him from his error? Yet would the
principles on which the effect was produced be false. They are
of this world; and, as the world, are mutable.
“ Manners with fortunes, humours turn with climes,
Tenets with books, and principles with lines.
It is the Gospel, only, that goes to the root of all evil. It was
the very intention of the Gospel to sweep away all worldly princi-
ples of conduct, and to substitute' in their room those which will
endure unto the end. He, who commits one sin, can never be
deemed " guilty of all;" unless, in judging of guilt, recurrence be
had to the Motive of action. The Christian motive is, to PLEASE
God. And the man, who deliberately commits one sin which God
hath forbidden, can never, in abstaining from others, seek to
He is, therefore, guilty of all. On the grand motive, therefore, of pleasing God, we must act invariably, if we wish to be accounted the disciples of Christ. And in our whole moral deportment we must refer to our consciences, as informed by the light of Revelation, for an unerring rule of conduct. And if our hearts condemn us not, we may have confidence towards God. “ The modern philosophers" may act " from prudence, or from pride, " that they may have glory of them, and * VERILY THEY HAVE THEIR REWARD. But, for the Christian, let him not have respect unto them, but unto “ his Father who seeth in secret: and his father who seeth in secret, shall reward him openly." That it is time to stop short in what our critics would call a preachment, and what for any good it may operate on the minds or manners of the said critics, we may, we believe, pursue or « let alone, exactly as we like best,
Of the same school with the Edgeworths, is another favoured lady, who is now presented to our notice (vol. viii. 465)- we mean Mrs. Opie. Her - Simple Tales,” in four volumes, are here the subject of criticism. «. We owe some apology to Mrs. Opie (say these gentlemen) for omitting at the proper time to take notice of her beautiful story of the Mother and Daughter; the second volume of which is, perhaps, the most pathetic, and the most natural in its pathos of any fictitious narrative in the language." - This is high panegyric indeed! - which is readily enough accounted for
Mrs. Opie is a philosophist !-"This clue, once found, unravels all
the rest!”- When we, however, assert, that exclusively of Mrs.
Opie’s principles, and the exceptionable morality there insinuated,
or rather exhibited and boldly taught, we were by no means
delighted with the story of the Mother and Daughter, we may be
suspected of a bias on the contrary side, from our Antijacobinicas
tenets. And it may be added, de gustibus non si disputandum.
But if the book contain such beautie we can only consider it as
a greater evil. In proportion to its merits on the score of invention,
or its power of awakening the sensibilities of the heart, we must
lament its existency, and dread its pernicious effects. In confirma-
tion of our opinion, we shall extract from a late publication entitled
“ The Family Picture” a note, in which the author censures a
variety of female productions, and among the rest “ the Mother
and Daughter," not in a general and assertive manner, but in terms
characteristic of the genius and tendency of the writings that are
the subjects of animadversion. The author of the poem professes
himself to be a country-gentleman, appealing to an old college-
friend, the Bishop of ****, on what he deems exceptionable in many
parts of the education both of boys and girls. The lines to which
the note we shall transcribe is appended, are as follows:
" And shall dame Science with her sees and saws
Chill the warm heart, or deaden self-applause?
Shall irksome tasks on youthful pleasures trench
A few familiar phrases of the French?
And • Beauties and Epitomes,' that wear
To feeble minds a fascinating air;
And dainty novels that each palate suit,
Pluck'd at noonday, tho' deem'd forbidden fruit,
These are the blighting seesaws that destroy,
So pitiless, the buds of infant joy!"
On which the poet thus speaks in prose : "I have heard it
observed, that the novels written by the female sex are, in general,
pure' in comparison with others, and may be read with safety.
This position I strenuously deny. I think female authors betray a
greater propensity to vice, though it be often shaded by a spurious
delicacy. In the last age there were some, who, bold in vice,
endeavoured, to immortalise their shame, by writing their own
memoirs —- such were Philips, Pilkington, Vane. Mrs. Manly
wrote the scandalous memoirs, called Atalantis, &c. &c. Mrs.
Centlivre and Behn are notorious for the indecency of their plays.
Since that time, actresses and kept-mistresses have written histories
of their own depravity. But perhaps Mrs. Wolstonecroft was the
only female, who had ever the audacity to become a kept-mistress
upon principle. Mrs. Opie (though not to be classed with any of
the above writers) has now erred greatly in her Mother and
She has drawn both her hero and heroine as amiable characters; and, exposing them to dangers and plunging them in distress, -- all in consequence of the vulgar prejudice that so absurdly operates against concubinage. She has endeavoured to excite our pity in their behalf, to interest our affections in their favour, and for their
as cruel and tyran422 Reviewer's Reviežied. -- Edinburgh Review. sakes to disturb our principles. In short, to vulgar prejudice they die martyrs. Religion, it is true, is called in; but in the form of Quuker. -- I consider • The Mother and Daughter" as a book of a very bad tendency; and Mrs. Opie's insinuations, as more likely to do mischief, than Mrs. Manley's impudenee.” PP. 27, 28.
With respect to the Tales, they “are of very unequal merit,"it seems: and the iale of most merit, it also seems, is that, where Ellen Percival, the daughter of a farmer, is seduced by a French nobleman; is driven by shame and impiety to destroy her bastard child; is of course tried for her life, and deservedly condemned to be hanged'; and on the evening before her execution on the gallows, writes a very moving letter to the said French nobleman.
"It is impossible" (observe our young critics) “ to read this letter without being struck with the tone of natural and gentle feeling which it expresses so admirably.” Then follows the pathetic letter from “poor Ellen Percival."
Such is the specimen and the only specimen of Mrs. Opie's Simple Tales, which the Edinburgh reviewers have laid before the public, in order to secure to them with that public a favourable reception. And do the Edinburgh reviewers really think, that the sympathy thus excited cau bave no immoral tendency? Is it right, that we should feel the interest this tale is calculated to produce, in behalf of a barlot and a mur. deress the murderess of her own child ? Is it becoming in Mrs. Opie? -- Is it not revolting to female delicacy, thus to plead for a vice, the very thought of which used to raise blushes on the cheeks of our daughters, but which Mrs. Opie has, in many instances, endeavoured to soften down by gentie and natural expressions,” and to familiarise to their minds? And, to say nothing more of incontinence, which this lady, doubtless, thinks a pardonable frailty (if at all a frailty), shall the most dreadful of all murders -- shall infanticide be ibus apologised for and the laws of our country be attacked ničal shall all this be done, not only with impunity, but done and gloried in, applauded and admired For shame, Mrs. Opie! For shame, you
self-erected censors you, who in so many places boast of your immaculate purity — even of your Calvinistic ri
Afier an extract so offensive to virtue, could it be expected, that with all the complacency in the world you should have concluded in such terms as follow your review of the “Simple Tales ? "-"We cannot place Mrs. Opie so high in the scale of intellect as Miss Edgeworih; nor are her Tales, though perfectly unobjectionable on the score of morality, calculated to do so much good. Her writings, however, are very amiable and very beautiful; and exhibit virtuous emotions under a very graceful aspect." They certainly exhibit vicious emoțions under an aspect as graceful.
The biext person, that claims our attention, is a female of a far different complexion*, Mrs. Trimmer. Her . Comparative View of the New Plan of Education promulgated by Mr. Joseph Lancaster," &c. &c. had a large space. allotted to in the
of our Review,
* See Edinburgh Review, vol. ix. pp. 177--184,
And to those pages we refer our readers with pleasure and with pride.
Our account of the reception which this lady has met with in the
North, will now, without much difficulty, be anticipated. The
in hospitality, the ruileness with which she is treated, is, indeed, be-
yond all former example. And such prejudiced opinion and glaring
injustice were never, perhaps, before exhibited to the world.
So that we almost recall our words, when vie spoke of anticipation a
for the possibility of such impudence existing as could dictate the
following sentence, can hardly, we think, be imagined.-- This is
a bouk written by a lady who has gained considerable reputation at
the corner of St. Paul's Church yard; who flames in the ran of
Mr. Newberry's shop; and is, upon the whole, dearer to mothers and
aunts, than any
y other author who pours the milk of science into the
mouths of babes and sucklings. Tired at last of scribbling for chil-
dren, and getting ripe in ambition, she has now written a book for
grown-up people," &c. &c.--- In this strain of ridicule, the article
proceeds, without argument, - without method. Surely, though
these critics nay convince the world that they possess some share
of wit, they cannot conceive, that their Journal will be seriously
consulted, as an index to the publications of the day. With those.
who have little principle, and a great deal of ill-nature, the Edin.
burgh Review will long continue a favourite. And we are sorry
(for the honour of human nature) to acknowledge, that a large part
of mankind are of this description.'
Be this as it may
- it is our duty to animadvert on what we think reprehensible, and expose to full view what we deem worthy of reprobation.
Of' “ some small part of Mr. Lancaster's book,” Mrs. Trimmer, it seems, speaks well. But she has no right (say the critics) to speak well!! -“Such a right must be earned by something inore difficult than the writing sixpenny books fo
en! not one of which books, they ever remember to have seen.”—Here may be witbut where is the argument, the justice, or the grammar?* Impertinence, like this, requires no serious confutation. To "the principles on which Mr. Lancaster's school is conducted,” Mrs. Trimmer objects, “that he exalts the fear of man above the fear of God." This objection can never be done away by all the casuistry of the Edinburgh reviewer. The main object, however, for which Mrs. Trimmer has favoured the public with her excellent“ Comparative View," is to set the friends of the Church of England on their guard ; since she has fully proved that the Ecclesiastical Establishment is in danger from the increase of Mr. Lancaster's institutions. ; Mr. Lancaster is himself a*Quaker.
But “I pledge myself” (says he) “not to teach my own creed: I will confine myself to those points of Christianity in which Christians all agree. In order to do this we must subtract from Christianity its characteristic institutions and its most essential doctrines. ; Not a
." is used as a substantive : « Sixpenny books? must consequently be in the genitive case. The sentence should have run, "The writing of sixpenny books." Afterwards, ever (or never) is misplaced.
word must be said of Baptism, or of the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper. So much in favour of Quakerism, which disallows both the
Sacraments!! Thus slyly is Mr. Lancaster proceeding - in silence
and by in perceptible degrees introducing his own persuasion, whilst
he openly professes the utmost impartiality. So that “the sup-
pression of his own creed in common with other crred:.” is a mere
fallacy. And what becomes of that essential doctrine, the Atones
ment? - It were useless to pursue this inquiry. Nothing can be
more clear, than that to bring all his pupils upon a footing in rese
pect to religion, Mr. Lancaster would or must reduce Christianity
to Deism. And the Edinburgh Reviewer has acted very unwisely,
if he wished to have credit as a sound logician, by touching on
this point in a serious way. He ought to have treated it jocosely
and sarcastically, and to have kept his reasons in reserve. All he
says is (how much to the purpose, let any one judge) —" It
appears to us very easy to confine the religious instruction of the
poor, in the first years of life, to those general feelings and principles
which are suitable to the Established Church and to every sect."
As to the first years of life, we have only to answer, that we
prefer to bring up a child in the way in which he should go; and,
when he is old, he will not depart from it.” And what are those
principles and feelings? The reviewer must find great difficulty in
à definition of them. If he be a Quaker, he will tell us, with
friend Lancaster, that feelings cannot be defined. In short, we cans
not do better than refer our critics to their own article of Lessing's
Nathan The Wise." (vii. p. 150.] And we scruple not to pronounce
on Lancaster what they pronounced on Lessing, with the alteration
of a few words only: “ It must be confessed, that he inculcates
the duty of mutual indulgence in religious opinions in a very radi-
cal and effectual way, by arguing the extreme insignificance of all
peculiar systems of faith, or rather, the strong presumption against
any of them being at all worth attending to, or in any respect
better than another. The author's whole secret, for reconciling
Papists, Protestants, Quakers, Calvinists, Arians, Socinians, &c.
&c. to each other, is to persuade them all to renounce their pecu
liar tenets, and to rest satisfied with a kind of philosophical
deism, in which they may all'agree." In Lessing's Play, a poor
Christian woman, having happened to say
Thro? an unexpected path
The Saviour drew his childreri on to him,
Across the tangled maze of human life.”.
She is answered :
“ So solemn that: and yet if, in the stead
Of Saviour, I were to say Providence,
It would sound true."
The creed of Mi. Lancaster appears to be equally liberal and
In the conclusion of this account of Mrs. Trimmer (on which wę have commented enough to prove it to be one of the grossest misje pri centations ever produced to the public eye) -- the critics say: