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Women, or Pour et Contre," has taken a higher flight than that of "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy." Even as novelists, there is more of contrast between these writers than of similarity. The arch humour, and endless, though seldom wearisome, digressions of Sterne, as well as his simple and melting pathos, are entire ly peculiar to himself, and constitute the great charm of his unique compositions. Maturin, again, is distinguished by an onward course of narrative, and a stormy wildness of passion. The former, at his pleasure, moves us to laughter or to tears, by means of the perfectly ludicrous or the exquisitely tender scenes which his matchless tact enables him, in all the living lineaments of truth, and in all the circumstantial detail of natural combination, to represent: the latter fixes us in astonishment, or appals us with terror, by means of the strange or the terrible exhibitions created by his irregular but powerful imagination. Perhaps the satiric vein of these two authors has a closer affinity than any of their other endowments; and this relationship is the more apparent, from the circumstance of this dangerous talent's having been employed by both to expose the abuses of religion. If Sterne had the superstition and the intolerance of the Church of Rome to whet the edge of his satire, that of Maturin was sharpened to equal keenness by the pharisaical conduct of the religionists of Dublin, who professed to hold the "scarlet lady" in utter abomination. But, while we admire the facility and the effect with which, in the developement of several of the characters introduced into " Women, or Pour et Contre," he has exposed hypocrisy and dogmatism in all their revolting deformity, we trust that, for his honour as an author, and his comfort as a man, he has not been assisted in his descriptions by personal allusion or party malignity.
But we recur to his Sermons, which we regard as a novelty, not merely in relation to their author as a dramatic poet and a writer of fictitious tales, but also in respect of that class of compositions to which they belong, for they are very unlike any other sermons with which we are acquainted.
These discourses, indeed, bear throughout "the image and super scription" of a man of genius; but of
a man of imagination and feeling rather than of profound thought and intellectual perspicacity. The author is evidently, though we had no other evidence but the volume on our table, a man of originality and of extensive and various literary acquirements, while, at the same time, it is equally evident that the tendency of his mind is not to deep investigation or close discussion; for, in the topics which he takes up in his sermons, he does not reason, but expatiate-often, indeed, with much beauty and elevation of language, with much rich and graceful imagery, and with many appropriate Scriptural quotations and allusions; but he very rarely announces an order of arrangement, or illustrates a proposition by a logical induction. Hence, we think, that, though these Sermons, if well delivered, must have had great effect from the pulpit, the impression, at the same time, could scarcely be any thing else than transient, as the hearers of them were not furnished with well-defined land-marks to assist their recollection or to guide their reflections. The mode of preaching without any formal statement of the topics to be explained, illustrated, or enforced, is, we are aware, not without its advocates, who pretend that the omission is conducive to the elegance of the composition; but we are decidedly of opinion that a lucidus ordo is a great excellence in any species of composition whatsoever, and that, as arrangement is managed by Blair, Alison, and many other eloquent authors of sermons whom we could name, it is a positive beauty in point of taste, as well as of immense advantage to the memory of the hearers. We readily admit that we have an utter aversion to that refinement of division, the object of which is to multiply distinctions-which gives a sermon the hard and ghastly appearance of a skeleton, and which, in many instances, in former times at least, reduced preaching to mere verbal quibbling; but neither do we approve of that mode of preaching which reduces a sermon to an immethodical and rhapsodical harangue-and it is in this respect chiefly that we have any fault to find with the Sermons of Maturin. We have nothing to object on the score of orthodoxy, and the discourses abound with beautiful and pious passages-though we must,
at the same time, take the liberty to state, that, in the perusal of them, we have met with figures, phrases, and allusions, too strong and even gross for the pulpit, at least on this side of the Channel. We might adduce instances, but we rather refer the reader to page 30 and to page 55, as containing glaring examples of what we condemn. There is, we think, also too frequent a recurrence of the term "the Bible," than is consistent with good taste in a sermon. Scriptures, the word of God, or any of the other designations contained in the sacred volume itself, ought, in our opinion, by all means to be preferred in all addresses from the pulpit. Having made these remarks, we shall now introduce the reader to the
volume by which they have been suggested. It contains twenty-two discourses, about the half of which were delivered on particular occasions. The first is of this description, having been preached on the lamented death of the Princess Charlotte of Wales. The text is taken from the 24th chapter and the 16th verse of Ezekiel,-"Son of man, behold I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke." After this alarming intimation, the prophet spoke to the people in the morning, and his wife died in the evening; and by this domestic affliction he was taught to announce to his countrymen, that their sins were about to be visited with punishment, unless they repented and turned unto God. The prophets lived in a state of sacred abstraction from the world and its passions; but of all the prophets, says the preacher, "if individual and domestic feeling were to judge, Ezekiel seems to have been one of the greatest personal sufferers ;" and then he describes that species of affliction in the following piece of genuine pathos:
"Public exigencies, great disasters, rouse and brace the mind of man; he wakes all the energies of his nature to meet them at his utmost need, and perhaps his pride assists him to bear or to hide the awful impressions of their visitation-but domestic suffering breaks the heart-then even man weeps and no one can chide his tears and no one can dry them."
pp. 6, 7. "The desire of thine eyes" may be an Eastern idiom, but still it marks with peculiar emphasis the tender af
fection which the prophet cherished for his wife, and hence the severity of the trial, which called him to leave her sudden death unmourned, and to go in the exercise of his function to call the people to repentance. After an impressive appeal, or rather reference, to the disregard which man, in his prosperity, pays to the calls of God's words, or the procedure of his Providence, he introduces the death of the Princess in this affecting manner:
"We have, within these last few awful days, been taught what death is in all its terrors, in all its anguish, in all its bitterness of present evil, in all its overwhelming and incalculable consequences of future danger and calamity. The destroying angel bore a two-edged weapon, as subtle as it was potent-fine enough to divide the most exquisite ligaments strong enough to sunder the mightiest ties-one edge cut off domestic happiness the other smote to the dust the hopes of a mighty nation."
"If imagination were tasked to devise an event that united the widest extremes of domestic misery and national calamity, that combined all the sufferings of mortali ty with the more tremendous impressions of eternity, imagination itself would faint under the burthen of conceiving a portion God in anguish in terror-and I trust in repentance, as at this day.
of that evil which bows us down before
"The image of a young female about to be bound to existence by a new and delightful tie, about to become a mother, requires scarce an additional feature to interest every heart for its object ;-add to this that she is beautiful, beloved, intellectual, exalted, and virtuous;-add that it is not only the heart of a husband and father that trembles for her safety-that the hearts of millions are throbbing-that the hopes of a mighty nation depend on her and surely our knees would be instantly, eagerly, bent in supplication for the preservation of her inestimable life. Such prayers, doubtless, have been put up by many, without the parade of affected feeling or exaggerated loyalty they have been answered-but not as the supplicants had hoped-she is no more!
She has been smitten in the abundant and accumulated enjoyment of those blessings, any of which, singly, is enough to enrich life, any of which would have conferred happiness on us: youth, health, eminence, felicity, domestic felicity-the best, the only that deserves the name, the sole flower that has been borne unwithered from paradise. Whatsoever things are pure whatsoever things are lovely-whatsoever
things are of good report-if there was any virtue, and if there was any praise,' they all waited on her they all have perished with her. No event of greater horror and anguish ever desolated the short and simple' annals of domestic life: no event, perhaps, of similar importance, has left its awful track on the page of history. But from history, at this moment, we turn with disgust; such events make general truths and remote examples loathsome to the mind of man: at such a moment as this we seek, like Joseph, a place where we may weep, and go to our chambers and weep there." pp. 14-17.
The text of the second discourse is from 1st Thess. iv. 13,-" Sorrow not as them that have no hope;" and is intended as a sequel of the one by which it was preceded-the improvement of the stupendous calamity which had plunged three mighty nations in mourning; and, with this view, the preacher directs the attention of his hearers to that life and immortality which has been brought to light by the Gospel. We give the following passages, as worthy of attention in this point of view.
"Select any individual in your imagination-surround him with every thing that men are accustomed to call fortunate, eminent, or enviable; health, fortune, friends, fame, cultivated intellect ;-add
richer colouring to the picture, add till imagination and desire are exhausted, and when you have finished the portrait, it is the portrait of a finished wretch; if it be that of a being who knows not God,-who is conscious of an immortal spirit within him, but knows neither its destination nor its dignity,-who feels within him those cravings of unsatisfied desire, that render all his present enjoyments hollow, worthless, and unsatisfactory,-that poison them by an indefinite longing after immortality
of which his terror increases with his certainty. But shew me a being crushed to the earth under all the accumulated evils of nature and fortune, one whom the rising sun wakens to light up to suffer, and on whom it sets without bringing him the hope of rest, one whom the world has never regarded but with the averted eye of scorn or of hatred; and that being is blessed, blessed above the lot of mankind,-if God is the stay of his heart, and the consoler of his sorrows, if religion has shed its wine and oil into his wounds,-if, as he toils through the wilderness of sin and suffering, he beholds the promised land bright before him, and knows that his light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Oh, brethren! what
must be the power and blessedness of the religion of Christ, that can make us—frail and feeble beings as we are, bound down with the chains of infirmity-forget them, or feel them not, when we are once brought under its gracious and superior influences! What must be its power, that when it is thus put into one scale can counterpoise all the evils of humanity in the other, and make them in comparison as the dust of the balance !" pp. 33-35..
"The ancients consoled themselves with the thoughts of meeting poets and philosophers in their Elysium; but the Christian's heaven has a brighter company,prophets and patriarchs, saints and martyrs, and she whose crown and palm were so lately given and those whom we loved, and those whom we lost, shall we not hope they are there? The spirits of just men made perfect' are there, all holy, happy, and harmonious; the Son of God is there, 'who loved us and gave himself for us ;' and God himself, whose name is love, whose presence is eternal blessedness! And shall not we seek to be there? Oh yes : let
us seek, and we shall find; let us knock, and it shall be opened."" pp. 39, 40.
The next discourse was preached on the death of Lord Nelson. The text is from St John, ix. 33,—“ If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." As these words were spoken with a direct reference to our Saviour, we feel it something like profanation to apply them to any other person or event whatever. An accommodated text, we grant, may occasionally be extremely beautiful and impressive, especially when there exists an obvious analogy or similarity of circumstances between the primary signification and the adapted sense. This liberty with the language of Scripture ought, however, to be employed but very sparingly, and all those passages relative to the Gospel or its Author ought to form an exception, otherwise there is no saying where the perversion will end, or what evil consequences may ensue.
In this discourse, the preacher, after a long, and apparently not a very applicable, exordium, asserts, in reference to the events both prior and subsequent to the French Revolution, that, everywhere throughout Europe, national guilt preceded national calamity; and, in proof of his position, he particularly mentions Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, and other “victims of French horrors." Then he traces the source of such overflowings of ungodliness as he
describes to France," whose boast it was to set up a standard of depravity to the rest of Europe." In speaking of Britain as the chosen and the honoured instrument of Providence to sustain the righteous cause, he has this fine allusion, which must have appeared peculiarly beautiful and appropriate at the time when it was delivered:
"Our progress in this world should be like the march of the Israelites in the wilderness, and whether God appears in the illumination of his obvious interposition, or surrounded in the cloudy pillar of his darker purposes, still we should be confident that God is with us of a truth. On this spirit, therefore, which sees good in all things, and good of an higher power and character than mere natural things can bestow, I congratulate you my brethMy Christian brethren, it is our privilege, and the more freely we exercise it, the more richly shall we feel its consolations: it secures us from all things by which the world loves to agitate its vapid energies, and make to itself matter of pain and of importance; it secures us from the importunity of selfish hope, the disappointment of querulous sagacity, and the dejection of unbelieving despondency; it accompanies us through life, divesting ca. lamity of danger, and prosperity of presumption, giving to the individual strength to resist the shock that has shaken nations, and to believe and hope where nature trembles and despairs: nor shall its influence be limited to these elements-it shall not desert us in the hour of death, nor in the day of judgment." pp. 61, 62.
Of Lord Nelson he thus speaks: "Blessed be God, who hath given such power to men!-not in the cloister, nor in the cell, nor in those retired and shaded walks of human life that seemed formed for knowledge and converse with divine things-it may be found in the blaze of a battle, and in the life of a hero.
"I speak of the great person whose death has, as on this day, clouded the enjoyment of victory. God only knoweth the heart; but if there be any dependence on those modes by which man makes his thoughts and feelings known to man, he appears to have furnished an example of this spirit unequalled in the history of human nature to have considered himself as called and commissioned for a great purpose, not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts; and to have fulfilled it with that uniform and unmixed ascription of glory to God, which became him who was conscious of his high destination." pp. 69, 70.
We have now a charity sermon for the children of St Audeon's school; the text is taken from Titus iii. 4,"The kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man hath appeared." After having shown that the kindness and love of God is manifested in all his procedure to man, and especially in the plan of salvation by Christ, and applied the subject to the occasion of the assembly and of the sermon, he closes with this artful and eloquent peroration:
"Beloved, I would speak one word more; I would speak of a man, who, had he thus pleaded before you, would have made you alike profuse of your wealth and your tears. In pleading for a public charity, I will speak of him; for did I not, the very stones would cry out'-I speak not of his zeal, his labours; I speak of that eloquence, at the sound of which, as of a mighty rushing wind, the spirit of charity has descended, and sat upon each of the assembly. Let not the decorum of this place be violated, when I add the name of Kirwan. Had he addressed you to-day, guilt would have trembled, and penitence would have wept-every eye had poured forth tears, and every hand been lavish of gold. Beloved, is it the advocate or the cause that moves you ? I have not sought to work on your feelings-1 have stated to you the terrors of the Lord; knowing, that if one soul be brought to repentance, there will be more joy than if mountains of gold were heaped in that aisle.-I have laboured to lay before you those principles which can alone make us turn from dead works to serve the living God; because I know, that at the last day, not actions but motives will be weighed, and that no works are good but those which are the works of love. I have not sought to move you by eloquence, or by passion; for the former I do not possess, and the latter I despise: but I have sought to commend myself to you by manifestation of the truth.'
"I will not add another word. May the Almighty bless the seed that is sown, that it may bring forth fruit to everlasting pp. 94, 95.
The next sermon in order is on the influence of the Holy Spirit; the text from St John iii. 8. From this discourse we select the following extract:
"If it be demanded, how shall a man know whether he is under the influence of divine power, or only a perilous illusion of the imagination, I answer, not by a single act, however good and laudable-not by a strain of feeling, however intense and vivid
-not by any series of devotional acts, however regular and consolatory-but by a conscious change of heart and mind, producing a corresponding change of lifeby a heart dead to the world, and alive to God:-by the whole course and current of life flowing in a new channel, no longer wearing itself in a fretful struggle against the rocks of life, but a placid, steady, onward course to eternity."
pp. 110, 111. From these samples of this volume of Sermons, our readers will be enabled to judge for themselves of their merit; and, as the extracts are taken nearly at random from the discourses as they stand arranged in the volume, they may be regarded as fair specimens of the author's manner of writing and preaching.
The subjects of the other discourses are-The New Year, 1817--On Male and Female Education-On the Love of God-On the New Creation-A Charity Sermon-On Sincerity of Re ligion On Christian Perfection Fast-day, February 5, 1812-On the Example of Christ-On the Atonement On the Promise of the Life which now is-On the Parable of the Prodigal Son-Reasons for Preferring Communion with the Church of England-On the Spirituality of Christianity-On the Offence of the Crossand on the Importance of Searching
These are topics both various and important, and, though none of them be handled in the manner of a thesis, with an array of arguments, illustrations, objections, and answers, yet many pertinent things are said on each of them. In the sermon on Education much hostility is manifested to classical learning. We are the more surprised at this, as the author, in some of his former works, has shown an extensive and intimate acquaintance with the writers of Greece and Rome. To be sure, he has a singular habit at times of alluding to - some of the most disgusting passages of their writings; but, if his own imagination has been disagree ably affected by these, we believe the world in general have derived from the great writers of antiquity no other influences except such as have been favourable both to good taste and sound morality,
REMARKS ON CRAWFURD'S HISTORY OF THE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO. THE fine enthusiasm of Sir William Jones, associated, as it was, with profound scholarship and cultivated taste, gave an impulse to the literary exertion of our countrymen in India, which, in the course of its operation, has produced the most important effects. The researches of the Asiatic Society, instituted under the auspices of that distinguished individual, have shed a tide of light and interest both man and nature" as they exist, or have existed in Asia. This insti
tution has been the means of inducing many persons to observe, and to record their observations, who would otherwise have permitted the favourable circumstances in which they were placed for extending the limits of our knowledge, to pass altogether unimproved.
But the valuable papers, which compose the now numerous volumes of the Transactions of the Society in Bengal, do not comprise the whole of what has thereby been done for the cause of literature and science. It has become the parent of a similar association, which has also begun to publish its Transactions; and it is not too much to assert that it has inspired individuals with the literary armbition, and the confidence requisite for appearing before the world in the character of authors: and hence we have soldiers, and sailors, and merchants, who have spent a portion of their life in the East, claiming our attention from time to time, not merely in regard to their conduct in the discharge of the duties of their respective professions, but chiefly as antiquaries, historians, naturalists, and travellers.
The author before us belongs to
this class: Having, like multitudes of others, gone out to India at an early period of life, his first attempts at authorship were made in the pages of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society; and having been stationed first in Prince of Wales' Island, and afterwards in the Island of Java, in situa
* Containing an Account of the Manners, Arts, Languages, Religions, Institutions, and Commerce of its Inhabitants.
By John Crawfurd, F. R. S. late British
Resident at the Court of the Sultan of Java. With Maps and Engravings. In 3 vols. Edinburgh. Constable and Co. 1820.