« ZurückWeiter »
In proof of these-charges, we fear we shall be able to produce the most convincing evidence.
In the two volumes now immediately before us, perhaps there occar net many glaring instances of that partiality, or that antipathy, of which we accuse the rash critics of the North.
The eighth volume opens with “War in Disguise; or, the Fraud:s of Neutral Flags *.”
To this pamphlet, indisputably written with considerable elo. quence, the reviewers have allotted no less than thirty-four pages. But it is in a great measure to controvert the author's statements in respect to neutral flags which are to us sufficiently clear, and supported by arguments the most convincing. It is only in transitu that we notice this in the same manner as we shall notice several other political publications, since the subjects of them have been already discussed at full length in our Review.
In " Rainsford's Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti t," we are told, that the writer's “ sentiments appear to be a singular jumble of prejudices against the abolition of the slave-trade, arising evidently from an entire ignorance of the subject." -This is very indecent language. Yet Mr. Rainstord is wrong in many of his positions, often misled by prejudice, and frequently deluded by views that are visionary.
“An Inquiry into the State of the Nation, at the Commencement of the present Administration, pp. 238 6," is, in the opinion of these juvenile gentleinen, a most momentous tract; to convey an adequate idea of which (such is the magnitude of its object, and such the merits of its execution) they found themselves utterly at a loss!! Happy, however, are we (say they) if by our humble efforts we shall succeed in our earnest wish to aid its salutary effects !" Young men, how modest! Ye forget yourselves. For the reason already given, we shall dismiss this pamphlet also, without entering into the argument.
The next political tracull to which we shall advert (though en passant only) respects the Catholic question. It is intitled, « Considerations arising from the Debates in Parliament on the Petition of the Irish Catholics. By Sir Jóho Throckmorton, Baronet." To this treatise we should not desire to draw the attention of our readers, after having so repeatedly and copiously discussed the subject of it, but for a passage in a late charge of Bishop Randolph. The charge is altogether a masterly performance; and his lordship's opinion on the Irish question is expressed with so much force and simplicity-in a style so much resembling what, in our mind, a primitive apostle would have adopted, that we cannot belp trangplanting it in our page. By way of contrast, we shall premise a sentence or two from the Edinburgh Review :--" General declama: tions? (say the critics, as thousands have already said, and still say) " against the love of useless change, and on the folly of attempt ing to mend what is good already, will not do here : in fact, we are not well, as we are; it is a real and positive loss to the commun * See Edinburgh Review, vol. viii. pp. 1, 35. pp. 100, 206.
# pp. 311, 328.
nity as well as to individuals, which the laws.complained against bave occasioned, and which it is at least worth considering if we cannot remove." (P. 312.)<- The system of the popery laws in Ireland, must be looked at as a whole: in their present state, they are folly, caprice, feeble and petulant tyranny," p. 315.--Let us now appeal to the good Bishop of Bangor. "The Catholics" (his lordship justly observes) are already possessed of all common civil rights; and one should think that persons who unfortunately hold tenets so opposite, not only to the ecclesiastical doctrines, but to the. civil
power of the realm, might be content with this indul-gence. They have the full and free enjoyment of their religious worship; at which point, I conceive, toleration ends. I need not apprise you of the danger or the delusions of this religion, of the means which it has of imposing on the multitude, of the influence it gives to its priests, or of its intolerant spirit with regard to those of any other persuasion, on all of whom it peremptorily fixes the brand of heresy, and excludes them from salvation. It is not easy to give; in all respects, to persons so bigotted, the right hand of fels lowship. But I object farther to the giving them an equal share of power, because I conceive that it invades a fundamental principle of the constitution, even that, by which the eivil power incorporates with itself that church of which it most approves : so as to. maintain religion and good order amongst its subjects, by the instrumentality of the same, inviting and encouraging them to uniformity with it.
It is a consequence of such incorporation, that it gives not only establishment, but also superiority and ascendancy to it, so as to maintain its authority, and secure it from the attacks of those, who, by acquiring power, might take advantage of any. sudulen opportunity, or fluciuation of opinion, to weaken or overthrow it. In this view it is, that I think we are all, both clergy and faity, concerned in this question, as we value our happy constitution, and seek to preserve it entire, and unimpaired.” P. 8. i In this country, the incorporation of the civil and ecclesiastical powers, is, unquestionably, most intimate. But, in a more generai sense, religion and politics appear, at present, so closely interwóven, that it is extremely difficult to separate or detach the one from the other, in considering those publications which originate in the genius and character of the times. The ethics of the day are involved, also, in political hypothesis: and we seldom meet a “ modern philosopher under the shape of a moral essayist, a writer of romance, or a novelist, who has not taken bis “colour (or some tincture at least) from national emergencies.
Whether in noticing “ the Leonora *" of Miss Edgeworth, we may slide by an imperceptible transition, from morality into politics, we know not: but we do certainly wish to confine ourselves to a consideration of her ethics, or rather those of her Caledonian knight, to whose shield of base metal we mean to oppose the panoply of truth.
That any production of Miss Edgeworth should be favoured with
* See Edinburgh Review, vol. viii. pp. 206, 213.
an early admission into this critical journal, was of course to be expected. "We are partial, we will confess. (say these admirable: moralists) to Miss Edgeworth; for we think the public very greatly indebted to her; and conceive, she has come nearer the true tone of moral instruction, than any other writer we are acquainted with!!!” Against the greater vices we may declaim from the pulpit or the press : or we may let it alone, exactly as we like best: for no man practises' theni ignorantly; nor can we tell him more about their consequences than he knows already, and has determined to hazard. But the smaller vices, those which make up the profligacy of an individual and the corruption of a people, are committed by thousands front mere carelessness and vanity; or from example and mistaken opinions; and it is to the correction of these, or of such classes of them as have become epidemic in a society, that a moral writer may apply his exertions with some hopes of success.
The first great point is, not to magnify their enormity, and not to be more angry than is permitted to be in real life: the next is, to appear perfectly well acquainted with the world, in which those things are transacted, and to view with perfect good humour all the indulgences and palliations that they meet with from those who witness and perform them, and then to attack them with ridicule instead of reprobation, to show how well they may be separated from all that is liberal and easy, and even from all that is brilliant-and fantastic, and how much they detract from real comfort, and interfere with every scheme of happiness. It is a rash, and for the most part a vain attempt, to think of appealing to a man's conscience, against practices which are sanctioned by all around him, and in which he indulges without any distinct feeling of depravity. 'He will treat all such attempts as foolish preachments, proceeding from despicable ignorance of the world, or ascetic cánt and hypocrisy. The only chance is, to attack him on the score of prudence or of pride, to show that the practices we mean to condemn are foolish and despicable; that they indicate want of talents, or of spirit; and that they are objects of derision and contempt to the more illustrious persons in society. To do this with success, we must neither be too rigorous nor too refined: If we talk either like scrupulous purists, or sentimental innocents, we shall be Jaughed at and neglected. We must assume a certain familiar and secular tone, and rather endeavour to show that we are more knowing, than that we are more virtuous than those we address. It is only in this way that we have a chance of being listened to; and if that great point can once be gained, it does appear to us, that by mixing onr reasons and our ridicule in just proportiori, by making our instances rapid and amusing, and concentrating our proofs into striking and interesting groups, we may produce a considerable effect upon the minds of all who are worth reforming, or give impressions, at least, which after experience may develope into salu. tary conviction. Now it is by assuming this tone, and applying herself to this method of instruction, that we think Miss Edgeworth has deserved well of the community.” PP, 212, 213.
Such is the philosophy of the Edgeworth school which we have exhibited without mutilation, lest we should be charged with No, 130. Vol. 32. April 1809.
a want of candour in our animadversions on it. There is a great
“ Here passes curront; paid from hand to hand,
“ But, while this softer art their bliss supplies,
The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws,
Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause." Such were the French, as described by our charning minstrel : and such are the French still. Alas! what have been the fruits of this honour? Out “ Traveller" could see rising from the bed of corruption various follies --- vanity, ostentation, pride. But had he extended his views farther had he looked a little into futurity with prophetic as well as a poetical eye -- he might "have seen originating, in the same polluted
source, ambition, tyranny, murder, blasphemy, infidelity--in short, vice's in every shape, and death in all its horrors. Wherever, indeed, the code of the Edgeworths gains acceptance, it may operate for a time in keeping up the specious appearance of decency, But from a revolution in general opinions or fashions, a change of circumstances in the individuals, a new and trying situation, or on any violent emergency, what will become of this ephemeral code? Why, truly, it will dissolve into atoms. We call it ephemeral, for, at best, it is calculated only to flutter through life's little day.” It hath respect solely to this life, not to another state of existence : it hath respect to man alone, not to " God, who trieth our hearts."
As the maxims of this school depend upon existing opinions, manners, and usages, so are they not only fluctuating, and temporary, but in a great measure local. For, let the pupils of Miss Edgeworth be transported to Persia or China, and they will find many of her lessons of very little practical use, and be forced to acknowledge, that a conduct which may here expose them to derision or contenipt, may not, in their new situation, be condemned, as either foolish or despicable.
But let, us come to particulars. By these general observations and strictures, we convey no very clear ideas of the subject; but with our antagonists, the Edinburgh eritics, are throwiag is into obscurity. “We may declaim against the greater vices (thev say) or we may let it alone, exactly as we like best.' So much for preaching ! but for the smaller vices, it is to the correction of these, that the moralist may apply his exertions with the hope of success; not, however, by appealing to the conscience, but by ridicule. Now what are the smaller vices? " Those (they say) " which make up the PROFLIGACY of an individual, and the CORRUPTION of a people!"--It should seem, then, that with such vices as make up the profligacy of an individual, and the corruption of a people, preaching and of consequence the Gospel) has nothing to do. This is strange, indeed! For the sake of a little illustration, let us suppose the case of an individual, and ebjerve him in his relative connexions of a country gentleman, for instance. In public and in private he preserves a fair character
i nay, he is esteemed and loved : and so much is he a man of ho. pour, that “his word (as the common expression is) might be taken for his bond," Yet in his intercourse with the neighbouring þorough towns, of which he is a patron, he scruples not to bribe and corrupt his dependents by the lowest artifices. fie is, however, a gentleman: he is an honourable man. In the ordinary commerce