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of this man.
it would not be easy to point out. From the Memoirs, little is to be gathered, except this—that, in his youth, Ignorance had, with him, been the Mother of Devotion ; and that, as age advanced, and knowledge increased, he grew so utterly ashamed of that sort of parentage, that both Mother and Daughter were consigned by him to equal contempt. His conversion from the Romish to the Protestant creed appears to have been little else than the transition from credulity to apathy. On that Pacific Ocean, however, it is probable that he did not remain very long becalmed. The steady current of his meditations and pursuits drifted him gradually away, far wide of the haven where reasonable and accountable man would naturally wish to be ; and it carried him, instead, to those islands of the blessed, where the sapientům templa serena are erected. There he set up his rest. And, from that proud eminence, he seemed to take a malicious delight in looking down upon the tempest-tossed, purblind, or benighted wanderers below, and in turning into sly sport their disastrous blunderings, and even their agonizing struggles. It is, at once, a pitiable and an odious history, this! An honest, benevolent, and generous unbeliever—(if such a thing there be),—would mourn over the supposed delusions of the human race. To Gibbon, they furnished nothing, but an occasion of heartless irony, and disingenuous sarcasm. However, there is no need to anathematize, over again, the impieties
Enough of execration has been vented on them already. There is One who shall judge him in righteousness and in mercy. And, to that One, let the scorner henceforth be left. Neither would we waste more words than needful on his most impure and prurient imagination. We shall, however, produce, once again, the almost exterminating rebuke inflicted by the hand of Porson: and, we are tempted to do so by the remark which it calls forth from Mr. Milman:
Mr. Gibbon's industry is indefatigable ; his accuracy scrupulous ; his reading, which is sometimes ostentatiously displayed, immense; his attention always awake; his memory retentive; his style emphatic and expressive; his sentences harmonious; bis reflections are just and profound; nor does his humanity ever slumber, unless when woinen are ravished, or the Christians persecuted. He often makes, when he cannot find, an occasion to insult our religion, which he hates so cordially that he might seem to revenge some personal injury. Such is his eagerness in the cause, that he stoops to the most despicable pun, or to the most awkward perversion of language, for the pleasure of turning the Scripture into ribaldry, or of calling Jesus an impostor. Though his style is in general correct and elegant, he sometimes draws out “ the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument." In endeavouring to avoid vulgar terms he too frequently dignifies trifles, and clothes common thoughts in a splendid dress, that would be rich enough for the noblest ideas. In short, we are too often reminded of that great man, Mr. Prig the auctioneer, whose manner was so inimitably fine, that he had as much to say upon a ribbon as a Raphael.
A less pardonable fault is that rage for indecency which pervades the whole work, but especially the last volumes; and to the honour of his consistency, this is the same man who is so prudish that he does not call Belisarius a cuckold, because it is too bad a word for a decent historian to use. If the history were anonymous, I should guess that those disgraceful obscenities were written by some 'debauchee, who, having, from age, or accident, or excess, survived the practices of lust, still indulged himself in the luxury of speculation, and exposed the impotent imbecility, after he had lost the vigour, of his passions.-Porson, Letters to Travis.-P. 310.
On this, Mr. Milman observes as follows:
Gibbon showed some forbearance, in his allusion to the bitter-sweet of this criticism. The professor's own habits, and, unless he is much belied, the style of his conversation, laid him open to some retaliation, when he assumed the tone of a moral and religious censor.Ibid.
Well; but, what then? Truth is still Truth, even though she speak by the lips of Balaam, or of Caiaphas. And, seldom has she spoken more home, than she did, in this instance, by the lips of Porson. And, why should any worshipper of Truth seek to blunt the edge of her reproof, by attempting partially to divert the public indignation from the head of the delinquent to that of his perhaps unworthy castigator ? Surely, Mr. Milman is not one of those who will not serve God, if the devil bid them !”
Of the History of the Decline and Fall, considered merely as a literary performance, of course it is needless to speak. It has taken its place among the great monuments of human industry and talent; we might almost add, of genius. For, it argues something like creative power to raise up such a fabric, out of such a vast chaos of materials. Of his other writings, his Letters to Lord Sheffield are the most easy and agreeable; and those of them are more especially interesting which were written when breechless and red-capped Democracy had begun to shoulder the pike, and to unfurl the tricolor. At this period, when the horizon was blackening all around him, he cast many an anxious look from Lausanne to England: to England, "the last refuge of liberty and “ law; England, the sole great asylum of mankind against the opposite “mischiefs of despotism and anarchy.”—“If England," he exclaims, “ with the experience of our happiness, and French calamities, should “ now be seduced to eat the apple of false freedom, we should indeed “ deserve to be driven from the Paradise which we enjoy."—Alas! all that could be done by one man, had been done by himself, to lay waste this Paradise, and to plant there the apples of the falsest of all freedom! If the seeds he scattered, had taken root, and sprung up abundantly, among us, our garden of Eden would have, long since, become a desolate and poisonous wilderness. But, these things were written by him, when the tree was comparatively green. Wbat, then, would he have said, had he lived to see it dry with the fiery breath of godless Frenzy, and ready for the furnace ?—what, if he had beheld the statue of Nature, rising on the ruins of the Bastille ?- what, if he had witnessed the Divinity of Reason, with cheek well rouged, with blood-coloured Phrygian bonnet, and with sky-blue mantle; garlanded with oak, and with the pike of sans-culottic Jove in her hand; heralded by female citizens in sashes of tricolor; followed, in solemn procession, by President and Convention ; seated on the high altar of Notre Dame; and there celebrated, in wild dithyrambic strophè and antistrophè, by a hymn to Liberty ; —"first communion-service of the new religion of Chaumette?" The historian, who relates these matters, is, above every thing, curious to know what Reason herself thought of it all, when she had become ungoddessed again, and went home to supper ?* But our curiosity is, to know what the historian of the Decline of Rome would have thought of it? Which would he have preferred,—the vespers of the barefoot friars, in the Temple of Jove, or the worship of Goddess Reason, in the Cathedral of Notre Dame ? But, again, " When Reason-Worship was guillotined," it was highly proper that a new religion should be provided. And, for this purpose, steps forth, as Pontifex Maximus, Robespierre the Incorruptible, arrayed in such pontificals as the world had never seen before,—“ sky-blue coat, made “ for the occasion; white silk waistcoat broidered with silver ; black “ silk breeches ; white stockings ; shoe-buckles of gold ; and head “ frizzled and powdered to perfection." And, thus equipped for thaumaturgy, he proceeds to the operation of recalling the Supreme Being into existence, by public decree; and, at the same time, of enacting,– also by public decree,--the consolatory principle of the immortality of the soul. An operation surely most necessary; seeing that, when Goddess Reason was no more, there was extant “ no god but one-the People.” And, when the existence of the Supreme Being had been duly and solemnly decreed, by edict of Convention, it was, further, signally becoming, that Atheism and its brood should be, as solemnly, abolished and consumed ; (in effigy of pasteboard steeped in turpentine); and that an incombustible statue of Wisdom should arise from their ashes. How deeply to be lamented that our historian was not spared to see this day! It really would have been curious to know how far it would have consoled him for the piteous decline and fall of Jupiter Capitolinus, and the desecration of his sanctuary by the tread of grovelling and stupid monkery. In all sober seriousness, if Gibbon had lived to witness these gambols of “ triviality run distracted," he would have witnessed little more than the luxuriant and rank development of those very principles to which he had surrendered his own heart and understanding. And, all this, and much more than this, he would have lived to witness, if his own fond anticipations of long life had been realized. For, even when his person was disfigured, and his constitution fatally undermined, by the malady which destroyed him in his 57th year, he had no thoughts whatever of dissolution; but reckoned himself a good life for fifteen, or even twenty, years! How the social prodigies which followed would have affected him, one cannot but be somewhat solicitous to know. Probably he would have stood aghast at the mad revelry of those dark spirits, which the philosophy he worshipped had so potently aided to call up from the deep. But, whether the sight would have moved him to repentance, whether it would have taught him that, where the whirlwind is reaped, the wind must have been sown,-can be known to Him only who searcheth the heart, and rendereth to every one according to his ways.
If, indeed, as Gibbon believed, this life were all, and death an eternal sleep, his own lot upon earth would have been enviable enough. And, after his manner, he himself was thankful for it. In the outset of his Memoirs, he gives to Nature a sort of transitory deification, in order to Carlyle, French Revolution, vol. iij. p. 317, &c.
# Ibid, p. 370. VOL. XXII. NO. V.
provide himself, as it were, with a recipient for his gratitude, such as it was.
My lot [he says] might have been that of a slave, a savage, or a peasant. Nor can I reflect, without pleasure, on the bounty of Nature, which cast iny birth in a free and civilized country, in an age of science and philosophy, in a family of honourable rank, and decently endowed with the gifts of fortune.-P.33.
This reminds one of the consistency of the Epicurean poet, who begins his elaborate Institute of Atheism, by an invocation to Venus, and a petition for her good offices to his distracted country. The rhetorical thankfulness of Gibbon, doubtless, meant about as much as the poetical devotion of Lucretius. For, after all, what was it, but a fortuitous concourse of atoms, that made Gibbon a gentleman, and put money in his purse? The same happy jumble of elements, too, made him a philosopher; and in private and social life, as it would seem, a very agreeable and instructive philosopher. It endowed him with colloquial powers which charmed the circle of his acquaintance. And, it did still better things for him than these. It gave him a turn for friendship; witness his warm attachment to Mr. Deyverdun,' and the terms of confidence and affection upon which he lived with Mr. Holroyd, afterwards Lord Sheffield. It, moreover, made him a kind relative, and an obedient son. And, for all these pleasant and gratifying results of matter and motion together, we, too, are bound to " reflect with pleasure on the bounty of Nature." Only, one cannot help wishing that Nature, while she was about it, had regulated, a little further, the “clinamen principiorum.” The combination of atoms might, in that case, have been vastly more satisfactory than it actually was. We, then, might have had before us the spectacle of a great and eminent writer, disdaining to sully his pages with impurity, or to assail the deepest convictions and feelings of mankind with the unmanly weapons of ridicule and contempt.
In this edition of the Life of Gibbon, Mr. Milman has divided the work into chapters, inserted some additions to the published Correspondence, introduced a few anecdotes, and offered occasional observations in illustration of the volume.
Art. II.--Sermons preached before the University of Oxford, in the
years 1836, 1837. By CHARLES A. HEURTLEY, M.A., Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Oxford : Parker. London : Riving
tons. 1837. Pp. xxiv. 159. Church principles and spiritual religion were long considered, in the world's regard, to be at variance. To be a high-churchman was often treated in common parlance as synonymous with an easy and selfindulgent, if not a worldly life; while piety and methodism stood, at one time, no small risk of becoming, in the language of the day, convertible terms. Things are altered now; and men's ideas, or their nomenclature, must be cast in a new m Id. It is found very possible and very salutary to combine, as it was of old, the warmest religious feelings with the most filial obedience to the Church's authority, and even to fan the flame of devotion to a purer glow, by those very ordinances which have been erroneously thought to damp, if not extinguish it. It was a rash and miscalculating zeal indeed, which overlept the decent bounds of Church discipline in the pursuit of a phantom of spirituality; and too often it arrived at last at schism, if not at heresy. A due observance of rites and discipline, when free from superstition, is so far from checking devotion, that it powerfully aids it. The mind of man cannot climb of itself. It is not the sturdy shrub which rises highest. The delicate and yielding plant, which of itself must trail along the earth, clings to some tall tree, and twines round limb and branch, raising itself higher and higher by each successive grasp, till it reaches even to the topmost pinnacles of the forest, and fings forth its tendrils to float on the pure gales of heaven. What the elm is to the vine, the Church is to the soul,- it assists it to rise towards the skies. And yet it must be confessed, that ordinances may minister to self-deceit. We may be tempted to rest in them; to make them ends instead of means; or, at least, to think we have arrived at the end, while in reality we are treading round the same circle of means, without advancing
Mr. Heurtley's Sermons appear to us to recommend and exemplify the union which should ever exist between churchmanship and spiritual religion,-an alliance which prevents the one from petrifying into form, and the other from running riot beyond the bounds of Scripture and right reason. And it is for this reason, chiefly, that we desire to call the attention of our readers to them; though on many other accounts they will well repay an attentive perusal.
The object of the writer in his third sermon is “to endeavour to shew that the very same blessing which was pronounced upon the house of Rechab, (Jer. xxxv. 18, 19,) might be expected to attend upon obedience to the rules and regulations of our Church, if that obedience were generally rendered by her children.” (p. 65.) After laying down the rational and scriptural principles of obedience in matters of order, he has these remarks, which are worth consideration:
There may be circumstances, in which it is a matter of doubt whether the command given be a lawful command or not. As long, however, as the matter remains doubtful, so long the true course is to obey. We are then only discharged from obedience, when we are convinced in our consciences that we cannot obey man, without at the same time disobeying God.
There is always at least this advantage in obedience under such circumstances, that we are taking the safest course. We are exhibiting that spirit and temper, which are the most acceptable in God's sight: even the very childlike bearing, which is so essential an ingredient in the Christian character; and we are moreover placing ourselves the nearest to the channel in which God's blessings are wont to flow.-Pp. 67, 68.
Nor can it well be doubted but that the blessing of God may be humbly expected on a simple and cheerful observance of the laws of the spiritual community in which we live. Why should rebellion against our prince be a sin against God, and disobedience to the ecclesiastical polity of which we are citizens be lightly regarded ? Bothall the powers that be--are ordained of God.
But, besides, the ordinances of our own Church are precisely of such