Table of Contents
|Editor/Translator:||Keen, Paul, fl. 2003|
|Editor/Translator Alternative Name:||Paul Keen|
|First Published Date:||1818|
|Genre:||Social and Political Writings|
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1818
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THE YELLOW DWARF,
A WEEKLY MISCELLANY
"A sunning; DWARF we do allowance give
Before a sleeping Lion" —SHAKSPEARE.
Number 7. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1818. PRICT 4d.
POLITICS OF THE DAY.
"With respect to Oliver, it would be found there were great misrepre
sentations. . . . . . Against his moral character there was no imputation."—Speech
of a Mr. Legh Keck. House of Commons, June 23, 1813.
SPY SYSTEM.—Every day new facts are brought to light respecting the getting up of the late Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, and the remaining laws which were aimed against liberty. These disclosures have a double interest; they put in a clearer light the object of the New Police or Spy System, and its effect on the people of England; and they shew still more clearly, if it be possible, the character of the Mouse of Commons. An offer has been made to the House of Commons, by one of its Members, to prove, on the evidence of credible witnesses, that at several places in the country, and during a long course of time, Oliver, the missionary, the delegate, the representative— not the virtual, but the really elected representative—of the Cabinet, has been holding forth encouragement to the commission of treason,—offering money to men to perform acts for which they might have been capitally punished,—giving false accounts of the state of London,—inciting insurrection by assurances of the co-operation of men, the purity of whose motives the people are persuaded of,—and by the ardent anticipation of success. This was all offered to be proved on oath; and to shew that this was not an idle assertion, Mr. Bennet gave a complete history of him. There was scarcely a day, in the busy plotting time of last Spring, on which his operations could not be traced. He demanded that the subject should be enquired into, and that an opportunity should be given to examine the witnesses, together with any others who could be brought forward on the other side. It is a curious thing to see the arguments with which such a question as this was answered. No one could surely say that this was not a subject on which it was desirable that the truth should be known. Whether true or false, charges have been made, publicly, by men who have substantiated them, or are ready to substantiate them, on oath. The thing cannot be hushed up; it is a charge which materially affects the purity of the administration of justice; and the question is, shall the people be satisfied,—not satisfied on a matter of idle curiosity,—but as to the question whether the laws which are professed to be made for their protection, and which they wish to respect, have been made engines to entrap innocent men, to serve the rapacity of petty knaves, or the ambition of great ones; that is, either by shewing that the man who is accused is innocent, or, if he be found guilty, by punishing him, and by making some provision against such atrocities in future. And if it be desirable that the public should be satisfied, how is it that this can be done but by an enquiry,—by collecting together what evidence can be offered on one side or the other,—by comparing it, by sifting it, by weighing it. It was no easy to say that the public ought not to be satisfied, or that enquiry was not the way to satisfy them. The arguments which the Ministers met the question with were chiefly furnished by the Opposition, who, out of their infinite wisdom, often think it best to support a strong cause on the weakest ground. They moved that it be referred to the Secret Committee, to enquire whether any of the spies, who they said might have produced a mischievous effect, had been detected and brought to justice. Now they had always very properly described this Committee as an imposition on the public; so that it was not a little absurd to refer the matter to them. That Committee is either fit for the business entrusted to it, or it is not. If it be, it would hardly be necessary to refer such a subject to them,—they would take care to investigate a matter so nearly connected with the object or pretext of their inquiry;— but if they are not fit for their business, what folly was it to expect to get additional light by virtue of this gentle hint!—why, to use Mr. Canning's words, commit the task of elucidation to the professors of obscurity? If the motion had been acceded to, the Opposition would not have been satisfied; or if they had been, no honest man in the country would have participated in their satisfaction. The country calls for an inquiry of a very different kind from that which this Select and Secret Committee would enter into. The Members of the Secret Committee, too, said that they really never meant to cast any specific imputation upon the conduct of the spies; they only said they might have done harm, because they thought, from the nature of man, it was possible their operations might have had that effect.—Candid souls!—The Ministers justly took this objection to the form of the motion (and they must be hard pushed indeed if they cannot get such an objection); but they could put forth nothing else which deserved the name of an argument. In opposition to Mr. Bennet's statements, in opposition to his offer to bring forward credible witnesses to prove every fact which he had stated,—we have the assertion that Oliver did not afford the encouragement to treason,—a purely groundless assertion; for they refused to support it in the only way which could entitle it to credit. This assertion does indeed prove one of three things: 1st, That they suppose Oliver, to be innocent; 2d, That supposing him to be guilty, they share in his guilt; 3d, That supposing him to be guilty, they think discredit would attach to those who employed him. Now even if they suppose him to be innocent, it by no means follows that he is so; they are not likely to have all the evidence that can be procured, and probably the greater part of that which they have, comes through his own mouth. But it is not at all probable that they believe their own assertion. If they believe Oliver to be innocent, the same evidence which produced the impression on their minds would produce it on others, if they have not adopted this belief rashly and foolishly. This is not a matter of faith; the Ministers do not pretend to inspiration, or to the power of getting at truth except by the ordinary means of the senses. It is not probable, therefore, as they must be desirous of proving
[p. 270] | [Page Image]the innocence of Oliver,—and if it has teen proved to them, they must be able to prove it,—that they believe the assertions which they so confidently make. There is another remark which is just as ludicrous a specimen of the manner of begging the question. The evidence against Oliver, they say, comes from polluted sources! Than, if they have any better, let them give it to the public; and if they have none, on what ground do they assume a superiority? But we have only their assertion that the sources are polluted; and if they be polluted, there is no reason for rejecting the evidence that is derived from it—it is a reason for receiving it with caution. Suppose the Ministers themselves had a witness to offer to any fact which they wished to prove,—suppose he was a person who had been in the habit of undermining a man towards whom he acted publicly with cordiality and apparent friendship,—suppose him to be a man who had denounced his colleague as incapable, and had afterwards served under him, purely for the sake of filching a large sum from the public purse, for little or no benefit to the public,—should we refuse to listen to the evidence of such a man? —Certainly not. His evidence should not be deemed very credible in a case in which his own interest was concerned, but it should be compared with other testimony on the same subject. And are these the men to talk of polluted sources? Did not Lord Castlereagh, in the time of his administration in Ireland, put into the witness-box a person of the name of Reynolds,—a person who had, by his own confession, broken two oaths, committed thefts, and whose nearest relations had accused him of the most atrocious crimes? On the evidence of this man, who has been lately appointed the representative of the King in a foreign port, many gentlemen were brought to the scaffold—aye, though it was then known that he had received money for giving information, and though he has since received a large pension for that service. The men who were thus brought to death were some of them men of exemplary life; yet no one thought of disregarding the evidence of Reynolds, because they declared that they were not guilty. Circumstantial evidence was adduced in support of the informer's assertion; in the end the Jury believed it,—believed not that he was in general a man of high character, but that in that particular instance he spoke the truth. And are not these the men who put into the witness-box Castles, the inimitable Castles,—a man whose crimes we fear to enumerate, lest we should never return from the digression? And are these the men to talk of polluted sources?—they who poured such a torrent of truth and falsehood through the mouth of such a wretch. "We do not blame them for bringing forward Castles,— it was merely injudicious; it was injudicious to found a charge of high treason on evidence so weak; but weak as it was, it was not right that it should be suppressed. But it afforded a striking proof, that a " polluted source" of evidence, whatever mischief it may do under the secret arrest system, can do no harm in a public Court, where cross-examination can go on, where counter evidence can be adduced, and where the Judges and Jury act in the eyes of their countrymen and the world. We should not have wasted so much time on this knavish and foolish ministerial assertion, if we had not observed that on more than one occasion it had been brought forward,—not for its proper purpose,—not to keep the mind unprejudiced, or for the purpose of reducing interested evidence, in all cases, to its proper value, but to stifle enquiry when enquiry may be prejudicial to them; and to persuade us, that from a sincere desire of knowledge and love of truth, we should open our ears to them alone, and shut them against all the world besides. But supposing it proper absolutely to exclude, evidence from polluted sources, what does this assertion amount to? The Ministers send forth a spy, who has a direct interest to promote disaffection, or to misrepresent the temper of the people; he accuses some persons of seditious designs; they are apprehended and dismissed without trial, after suffering what is in reality a severe punishment. They offer to substantiate a charge against Oliver, not only on their credit, but on the oaths of others, of inciting treason,—they wish to have a fair open examination,—and they are told this evidence comes from a polluted source: while the greatest, perhaps the only criminal, is to be believed, not only on his single assertion, but without any examination,—without even hearing the evidence on the other aide. Mr. Wilberforce admitted that, on the Secret Committee, he never heard of those charges which in the House were offered to be substantiated on oath. No doubt, there was nothing from " a polluted source" in the Select and Secret Bags,—nothing but the pure limpid testimony of " the moral" Oliver, the man whose character, according to Mr. B. Bathurst, " is unimpeached, except by those whose designs he had exposed." The Ministers then may send spies to belie and traduce any man in the kingdom, and the men who are thus injured have no remedy, because they are " polluted,"—that is, because these same spies have cast their slime on them. Why, it is as reasonable as if a man who had been robbed, was told he should have no remedy, because he was in such bad company. What an impudent defiance of all common sense is this! Mr. Bonnet might well say, " this won't do with the country." But it cannot be denied that it did very well with the House of Commons,—that is, with the majority of the quarter part (160 out of 658) of these Representatives,— these honest, assiduous servants of the public, who thought the subject of consequence enough to attend in their places. But it is not Oliver alone to whom our attention is called. The spy system is not confined to Lord Sidmouth and Oliver;—the Manchester Magistrates have been at work on a smaller but not less efficacious scale, before Oliver was making his courses from city to city;—the inferior class of spies were making journeys from village to village, and preparing the country for the more extended operations which were to follow. Every one must remember the statement in the Lords' Committee last Session, in which it was said that it had been proposed at some of the meetings of the disaffected to make Manchester a Moscow. It was observed at the time by Lord Grosvenor and others, that it would be absurd to suppose that such a proposition could be made by the men who depended upon these manufactories for their subsistence, and that it was probable that it was made by spies. It was made by spies;—so at least many of the rich inhabitants of Manchester—many of those who would have lost, their property in such a conflagration, offer to prove. Mr. Philips, who presented the Petition, is the possessor of one of the largest manufactories in Manchester, and he is interested at least in wishing to get at the truth. He asserts that three spies, in the neighbourhood of Manchester, repeatedly advised the people to commit acts of violence, produced rockets, exhorted them to burn factories, and instituted that plan of an expedition to London, which many innocently undertook. Remember, this comes from no "polluted source." Mr. Philips would not lend too favourable an ear to those who were accused of an intent to burn his factories. Remember, in the neighbourhood of Manchester no act of violence has been committed; the men who can give evidence against these spies have themselves no penalties hanging over their heads,—they are free of all imputation, It should be remembered, to judge of the mischief these spies might have done, what men they were, in the habit of addressing.—After they had procured the arrest of many of the unfortunate men who assembled peaceably to petition, they went to the friends and relatives of the prisoners,—told them, they saw what was the consequence of petitioning; that nothing but fire and blood would serve their purpose; and exhorted them to rise and take vengeance on their oppressors. That excellent poet Spenser, when he personifies Despair, and represents him as urging a man to suicide, describes him, at the moment when
[p. 271] | [Page Image]he has concluded his arguments, as reaching to the wretch a dagger, that no reflection should counteract his harangue. In the like manner one of these spies presents some of the men whom he had attempted to infuriate, with the materials for setting fire to the factories, Now we can easily conceive that the low knaves whom the Magistrates of Manchester have thought fit to employ, are much too crafty for their masters. But it is not the less necessary, on that account, that the subject should be enquired info. If we cannot have "indemnity for the past," let us have "security for the future." Let the matter be cleared up. But if we may judge from the Ministers' previous conduct, in this also they will refuse enquiry. They seem disposed to bully the public and their accusers. They are too virtuous, too confident in majorities, to need public investigation into their conduct; and as for their underlings—they will answer for them also. Meanwhile their writers attempt to swagger off die matter with the public. The Cornier, on the 15th instant, speaking of the petition presented by Mr. Philips, says, "These things are easily said, and knowing, as we do, the manner in which petitions are manufactured, upon such topics, we shall wait a little for some elucidation as to the history of the present one." And again, "As to the still repeated and still refuted tale, that it was all the work of hired spies and informers, we content ourselves with calling for proofs." The Courier is valiant at small expense; he bawls lustily for proofs, and the Ministers will not let him have them. They know their assertion goes farther with the House of Commons than their proofs would go with the nation. This impudence would be ludicrous, if it were not stale. It is curious to observe the transitory nature of human greatness;—the Green Bag materials crumble away by quick degrees, and we may soon expect to see nothing remain of them but the fustian of which the receptacle was composed.
M'KINLAY's TRIAL[note].—TAMPERING WITH WITNESSES.—We had intended to make some remarks on this subject, but we cannot do better than give an extract from Tom Jones:—
"Mr. Blifil then likewise sent you to examine the two fellows at Aldersgate?' ' He did, Sir.' 'Well, and what instructions did be then give you? Recollect as well as you can, and tell me as near as possible the very words he used.' ' Why, Sir, Mr. Blifil sent me to find out the persons who were eyewitnesses of this fight. He said, he feared they might be tampered with by Mr. Jones, or some of his friends: he said, blood required blood; and that not only all who concealed a murderer, but those who omitted any thing in their power to bring him to justice, were sharers in his guilt: he said, he found you was very desirous of having the villain brought to justice, though it was not proper you should appear in it.' ' He did so?' says Allworthy. ' Yes, Sir,' cries Dowling; ' I should not, I am sure, have proceeded such lengths for the sake of any other person living but your worship.' ' What lengths, Sir?' said Allworthy. ' Nay, Sir,' cries Dowling, ' I would not have your worship think I would, on any account, be guilty of subornation of perjury; but there are two ways of delivering evidence. I told them, therefore, that if any offers should be made them on the other side, they should refuse them; and that they might be assured they should lose nothing by being honest men, and telling the truth. I said, we were told that Mr. Jones had assaulted the gentleman first, and that if that was the truth, they should declare it; and I did give them some hints, that they should be no losers.' ' I think you went lengths indeed,' cries Allworthy. ' Nay, Sir,' answered Dowling, ' I am sure I did not desire them to tell an untruth; nor should I have said what I did, unless it had been to oblige you.'"
Fielding knew the world as well as any Lord Advocate, Advocate Depute, or Procurator Fiscal, Scotland ever possessed. He was a Lawyer and a Magistrate, as well as a judge of human nature; and he knew what course men are likely to take, and have taken, in affairs of this kind. Human nature is much the s(...) in the North as in the South of the island. On the trial of M'Kinley, Campbell gave an account which strongly reminded us of the proceedings of Dowling. In the first place, one of the Crown Lawyers told him, when he was first apprehended, " John, I assure you that I have six men who will swear that you took that oath, and you will be hanged, as sure as you are alive." John persists that he is innocent; but the Lawyer tells him, "John, you will rain yourself if you persist in this way; but if you take the other way, you will do yourself much good." The Lawyer told him the Lord Advocate would come under any obligation he chose, if he would become a witness. After this he is examined by the Advocate Depute, who tells him that his name is on the list of witnesses, and that now was the time for him to determine whether he would be a witness or not. The Advocate Depute also tells him, that he would write to Lord Sidmouth to get him a place m the Excise. This the witness rejects; but afterwards consents to become a witness, on condition of being conveyed, at the public expence, to Prussia, where it seems manufacturers are much wanted. Now is this tampering with a witness? The Lord Advocate and his friends deny that the Exciseman's place was offered; and they say that the rest of the conversation, at which many persons were present, was not " tampeung." They, like the lawyer in Tom Jones, did not tell the witness to give false evidence—not they! Why, for a novel at this time a-day, this would be a stale trick. The imputation stands against the agents of the Crown, on the records of a Court of Justice, and we say, where is the presumption if enquiry be pertinaciously refused? But enquiry was refused; and on the refusal of the House of Commons to investigate the matter, we have been compelled to see what Fielding thinks of it, who is perhaps as good an authority.
"He is the happy man, whose life e'en now
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come;
Who, doom'd to an obscure but tranquil state,
Is pleas'd with it, and, were he free to choose,
Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, the fruit
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,
Prepare for happiness; bespeaks him one
Content indeed to sojourn while he must
Below the skies, but having there his home[note] .
THE REV. DANIEL WILSON, A. M.
THE Chapel, according to St. John, in Bedford-row, is crowded on mornings and evenings by all descriptions of persons, from the lady who sits up to her eyes in rouge and religion, and on a softened seat,—to the poor half-starved devout mechanic, whose cheek has become lank from an excess of faith and a want of food, and who is compelled to stand during the service at a pew door,—looking yearningly to the Preacher, and, "with a greedy ear, devouring up his discourse." Those who are becoming more ardent in their religious feelings than the Church warrants, and who still want the resolution, perhaps from worldly and political motives, to absolve themselves from its orderly services and limited earnestness, find in this goodly building a Priest to their heart's content. Mr. Wilson is a popular man. The devouter adherents to the Established Church approve him, because he has passed through a Bishop's hands fairly, preaches in a Chapel of Ease, and rallies his language and the Scriptures in favour of Kings and Ministerial Powers, and the beauty and serene perfection of our national peace. The Methodists think welt of him, because he draws ghastly pictures over the pages of Scripture,—riots in the jargon of true repentance,—appeals to the passions, the weaknesses, the miseries of mankind,—and trusts to the moment for words to clothe his mechanical enthusiasm in.
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Mr. Wilson ascends his pulpit, sure of his congregation: he knows that whatever he shall say, will be received by his auditors as fine eloquent truths from a dear and virtuous man. He reads his prayer before his sermon in a soft yet confident voice, as though he knew he were speaking before a listening and loving congregation, and had wholly forgot that he was standing before his God. He has evidently an eye to the silent applause of his auditors, for he starts in the most gathered up and guarded manner possible,—never elevating his voice or his hand till time has gained a certain ground. His enthusiasm is hard and appalling, with more of rudeness in it than fervour. He lodges an assertion in the mind, like a bullet, and pauses to observe its overpowering effect. When he becomes vehement, he calls his hands into action, and labours as though he would convince the cushion as well as the congregation; and his features have all the expression of mental superiority, and the confidence of unbounded victory. It has been said by a great moralist, that there is no art to find the mind's construction in the look,— but had he seen the face of this earnest Minister, he would perhaps have blotted out the line. The features of Mr. Wilson are sharp, prominent, and particular: they seem formed to cut their way through all impediments up to a Bishopric. His voice is weak in its upper tones, but full and effective in its lower ones,—which perhaps answers his purpose better than if it were perfect throughout. In his appeals of tenderness,—in his allusions to youth and childhood,—in his reminiscences of beauty and sweetness, a maudlin whine creeps over his tones, as though his voice were nigh fainting with its own gentleness and pity. It dies away divinely, in. a sort of holy aromatic pain. Mr. Wilson has a great command of words, and therefore preaches extempore; that is, he gives the gram and chaff together, and so avoids the trouble of previous preparation. Extempore preaching is a bad thing, in the pulpit as well as in Parliament It should be remembered, that a congregation is listening for advice, explanation, and truth; and how can a Minister say that he will talk to the purpose for an hour together? To be sure, he has a few notes before him, to keep him to the bare subject, —he speaks by the card, or equivocation would undo him. But if he must make notes, why cannot he write a pithy, earnest, and sensible sermon, at once, and not trust to the first things that come uppermost at the hour of trial? Thus, he would be commanding, and not diffuse,—he would be eloquent, and not incoherent. Mr. Wilson keeps his hearers about him for an hour and more, by dint of starts, assertion, pause, and repetition,—and he might give the essence of his discourse in a few minutes. Goldsmith's description of Burke[note] in his Retaliation, might be transferred with great truth to this popular Divine.— We have spoken thus far of Mr. Wilson's manner and physical peculiarities; we shall proceed to say a few words on things of a more serious consequence,—" we mean the matter that he reads, my Lord." If he told grand and awful truths, and appealed independently to the heats of men, without bowing to worldly motives and political views, we should not care if his voice were harsh as that of the bittern in the marsh, and his features sharp as those of a shark. Personal imperfections fade like the mists of the morning before intellectual honesty and moral hardihood. Mr. Wilson, in one of his sermons on True Repentance, paints the following picture:—
"Go, penitent, to the garden of Gethsemane and the hill of Calvary, and see if any sorrow was like that of the dying Saviour. View the surrounding multitude. Mark how they mock the Holy Sufferer. Observe the blessed Jesus, as he is suspended on the accursed tree. Place yourself under the cross with the weeping Mary. The sun is darkened. The rocks are rent,—the graves are opened,—the bodies of the saints arise,— the veil of the Temple is rent in twain. The Son of God expires. At this moment the soldier draws near. The Saviour is dead already. Still he transpierces him, with wanton indignity, with his spear. Look, and look again, at the dreadful scene."
This is nothing less than an appeal to the terrors of mankind, in order to subdue it to a sacred servility. This is a cold sententious display of horrors, to startle the heart into a strange and miserable repentance. Religion should be dressed in smiles, not in frowns;—it should raise and bless the soul, not depress and confound it. We meet with a passage, sequent to the one we have quoted, which carries this terrifying principle to a greater extent:—
"But this is not all. You and I, my brethren, have had a share in this death. It was not so much the soldier that pierced Christ, as our sins. This is the true cause of our Saviour's death."
Mr. Wilson well knows, that if his hearers can be brought to listen to language like this, they will infallibly bow down to the truth and the weight of it. They will thenceforth abandon themselves to comfortless lamentation, and crowd about the author of their religious trouble, as though they felt safe only in his presence. He will halloo them together, and drive them on through the darkness, like a bewildered flock. A poet, a painter, and a priest, show their ingenuity when they severally aim at giving the wretchedness of humanity in their works,—for the English people will go any lengths to be made gloriously miserable. They adore trouble, whether of a poetical or religious kind,—though they prefer the latter, because it is more genuine. It is this same malicious enjoyment of the uncomfortable, that keeps a bad Minister in his place, whether in the Church or in the Government. Again,—they like to have their passions appealed to, and detest and shrink from all attacks upon their reason. It is this innate love of ignorance that has made faith so powerful in the world,—so great an ingredient in all religious things. We witnessed a curious instance of this enjoyment, at hearing of the ignorance of their fellow creatures, in a set of people assembled at a lecture the other evening. The Lecturer read the following lines, among others of Cowper's:—
"Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true,
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew[note] ."
And his audience instantaneously burst into a joyous applause at the Frenchman's ignorance.
Mr. Wilson has thoroughly caught the knack of introducing the perfections of our Government into his holy discourses;— " Fear God, and honour the King," is his motto. If he speaks of religion, he musters up an army of terrors,—but when he come? upon the subject of State governance, "he roars you as gently as a sucking dove,"—talks of national blessings, freedom, and the rewards of merit,—sinks all troubles and embarrassments in a well of honours and emoluments,—and raves vehemently for popular contentment. The following passage from a discourse delivered by Mr. Wilson, and. headed with a text from Timothy,—" Godliness with contentment, is great gain," will let our readers into his style of thinking and speaking, more speedily than we could, by any description of ours:—
"And in these respects, what country can be compared to our own? Where are the laborious classes, which are always the most numerous m every community, placed on so good a footing and so much protected as here? Where are the highest honours and emoluments so easily open to real talent and modest merit as here? Where is the poor man's property guarded with so much care, and his legal rights and freedom defended with such jealousy, as here? Where are all the legitimate ends of government so largely and prominently attained as here? Now, to forget all these and a thousand other blessings,—and, in a season of public calamity, when a wet harvest has increased the embarrassments arising from a bad trade, to, come forward and calumniate the Government under which we live, and to hold a language which would go to overturn all law and authority, is
[p. 273] | [Page Image]just the same as for a man to destroy his plough and fire bis barns, because he thinks be has discovered some trivial defects in them, or because an unfavourable season has shortened his gains."
Thin attempt at taking the onus from the right shoulders and putting it upon those of nature, is in the true cant of religious policy. Here we find the voice of the Court echoing in the pulpit, and sounding up the aisle of a place for the worship of God.—We have taken the lines from Cowper, at the head of this article, because they do not apply;—Mr. Wilson will not be hurt by the reading of them. In a worldly way, he is going the King's high-road,—and, we have no doubt, will come in for the blessings of earth in his future days,—which he may call, if he pleases, the rewards of the life to borne. Caius.
DEFENCE OF THE CLERICAL CHARACTER.
TO THE EDITOR OF TOE YELLOW DWARF.
THE character of an high and important order of public servants is a valuable species of public property; any one therefore who malignantly or wantonly speaks evil of such a class en masse, on any grounds not essential or peculiar to the class of persons, not recognised or allowed by the distinguishing principles that constitute them of that order, is chargeable as a public enemy; since, under false, or at least erroneous pretences, he seeks to deprive the community of a valuable possession in the character of an important class of its members. That these remarks apply to the papers on the Clerical Character in the Yellow Dwarf, is, I think, easily made apparent, by the obvious and solid distinction that may be taken between the vices of the man and of the functionary; for to remark faults or vices that are unquestionably common to all mankind, and to ascribe them to the clerical character, is forgetting or attempting to conceal that the Clergy were men before they were Clergymen, and ascribing that to a principle which is essentially opposite to and inconsistent with it, exclusively of one that has in all ages produced the same fruits.
Now, if there is any thing sound in this distinction, although the members of an order should be shewn to be vicious (and let every one modify, from his own experience, the exaggerated and unsupported charges of this writer), it would not be a fair inference that the order is vicious, or that its members are vicious, as such: because, if the members are condemned by the rule they have incurred, it is not the order, but the old man, that is chargeable with the vices or faults of the individuals.
Now this is so peculiarly the case with respect to the Clergy, that the whole argument of this their bitter reviler proceeds on the assumption, that the Clergy are bound to superior sanctity,— that they know this obligation,—and that so extensively diffused is this knowledge, that all the kingdom expects from them corresponding conduct, and are scandalised at faults in them which pass unnoticed in all other classes of the community. This is confessed by him at the very outset, for he begins by giving the lawyers carle blanche, and cares not that they confound all right and wrong professionally, thinking they may put off the practice with their gowns, and that they, are then fit companions for their fellow creatures.
The merits of the present question would be best ascertained by enquiring what it is that distinguishes the Clergy from their fellow subjects in these realms. Their peculiarity is, that they are paid (inadequately indeed in general, but they are paid) to teach the whole commonalty religion and morality. Now, we know that example is better than precept, therefore there is an implied compact to practice what they teach, and it is only so far as they perform these undertakings that they become the character they have assumed; in all other respects they remain of the mass of the people, with the same hopes and fears, the same principles of action, as guide their fellow men; and if men usurp this sacred office, retaining the principles of the world, and act on them, and on them alone, the office can be no farther answerable than it sanctions such conduct which even this writer does not impute to it Then compare the office, the clerical character (for the man is no farther identified with the office than he acts up to its obligation), with that of lawyers, and if it be an admitted principle with them to let out their talents for hire—to advocate with equal, zeal the cause of all who engage them, be the same true or false; and if assuming this morality with their wigs and gowns, they are fit companions for their fellow men when they are laid aside—if this does not degrade them in the scale of society, although it is essential to the principle whereby they are what they are, with what pretence can the order of the Clergy be branded with crimes which their bond of union most specifically condemns, which as Clergymen they cannot be guilty of, but which as men they may commit like other men?
To heighten his colouring by judicious contrast, our satirist exclaims—" The dress of the bar merely implies a professional indifference to truth and falsehood."—Merely! What would this moralist wish for? Barristers may bury all sense of right and wrong, but they have free leave from this grave Cato, if they will protect him from "a three-cornered well-pinched clerical hat." The nice discrimination that this antipathy indicates pervades the whole of this satire; and he can endure any thing, nay, even Methodists, if they form a part of that "honest and exemplary body of men," the Dissenting Clergy, who, by "a self-evident rule," are better than those of the Establishment; because, being bound to no rule of faith, having each only to please their respective congregations, under penalty of short commons and ultimate dismissal,—having only to please the many-headed monster, the mob of great and small vulgar, that their net has enclosed, they are of course more independent than the Clergy of the Establishment, and therefore more honest and exemplary. But the same thing may be proved to demonstration by reference to their conduct, when, you observe them diverge, like the rays round Apollo's head, fly off to all the points of the compass: can anything be more independent—less framelled by principle—more honest, than this? What suspicion of fraud and conspiracy? What trace of collusion, when one is no more like another, than I to Hercules? And they are exemplary beyond all bounds, for you have examples of all kinds, shades, hues, colours, and denominations—examples of all modes of faith and practice—examples illustrating each other in every point of view, like the prismatic colours, different and even opposite in their hues, but blending into one sweet faultless harmony, when viewed as opposed to our Establishment, which binds its Clergy (what freeman but scorns a chain?) to a definite opinion on man's relation to his Maker and fellow creatures. That "honest and exemplary body of men" (Oh, the sweet and honied accents!) had better look round, and ascertain that they never, by "thought, word, or deed," implied that they were "persons of superior piety and virtue;" since if they did, the person so insulted will be "more inclined to resent than to sympathise with their claim to respect." Honest and exemplary they must all be, who must feel, or profess to feel, that they are on a level with the lowest of the low, in piety and virtue; but woe to their recent blushing honours, should they be flattered into a belief that they deserve any: but above all, they must be careful not to provoke this Jion-like lamb,—this meek persecutor,—this intolerant liberator,—lest their "many excellences," like those of the Established Clergy, "make themselves wings and fly away." For although he will forgive them ah indifference to truth and falsehood,—although they may, like the lawyers, banish all sense of right and wrong,—and still "he will not care to meet you;" yet if you should have the superstition
[p. 274] | [Page Image]to think, that if you were right on a particular point, those that differ from you toto cœlo must be wrong;—if you should be narrow minded enough to imagine, that a professional obligation to dwell and expatiate on the disadvantages of vice and immorality does not very much tend to subdue you to their influence, you will cease to be honest and exemplary, and, with many excellences, be utterly worthless: but above all, they must beware of being distinguished, or distinguishable from others, by any outward and visible sign, for he "hates much more to meet a three-cornered well-pinched clerical hat on a prim expectant pair of shoulders," which, to a morbid sensibility, can suggest that some profess to aim higher than himself, than to be surrounded by those whose garb and appearance allows him "to lay the flattering unction to his soul," that they are no better than himself;—this "honest and exemplary body of men" must beware of all this: for who could bear it?—Who could bear that the Clergy of any denomination should share with literati and lecturers, in the pleasing and profitable office of flattening the superstitious prejudices of credulous audiences, who not being aware that want of principle is an effectual answer to all charges of hypocrisy, endowing the capacious empty breast with a patent of privilege to be all things to all men, if by any means he may gain something: yet this being done in a blue or a brown coat, and the lecturer having "no conventional sign whereby he can," even in imagination, "lay claim to more piety and virtue" than those at whom he is laughing in his sleeve, he must of course feel irritated at any person whom the prejudices of the world have endowed with advantages that he has not: hence his horror of a well-pinched hat,—his aversion to a coat without a cape—Oh, fie!—and his disgust at the undue proportion of black cloth that the Clergy appropriate to their own use. These big and fatal portents having burst on the heads of the Clergy, they will be too woe-begone and harrowed to be very sensible of the other numerous ills their craft is heir to; for with an implied and admitted obligation to all the virtues, they are (therefore, I suppose) slaves to all the vices; bound, even in the opinion of this their enemy, by their profession to "humility," "self-denial," "love of truth," "Christian meekness," and "brotherly love"—(by a fatality as unaccountable, but as certain, as that which pursues Harlequin through the pantomime, and like that too, apparently the end for which the representation is made), the Clergyman, unlike and differing from all other men, is by virtue of his office "an hypocrite," "proud," "bigotted," "selfish," "censorious," and "blind to his own faults"—"intolerant," "impatient of opposition," "insolent to those below, and cringing to those above him"—all this by virtue of his office. "He thinks more of external appearances than of his internal convictions,"—Clergymen, as such, do;—" he is tied down to the opinions and prejudices of the world in every way,"— "alas, poor Yorick!"—" the motives of the heart are clogged and checked at the outset, by the fear of idle censure,"—most potent idleness!—" his understanding is the slave of established creeds and formulas of faith,"—a Clergyman's understanding! who would have thought he had any?—" he can neither act, feel, or think for himself, or from genuine impulse,"—how kind, to do all this for him!—" he plays a part through life,— he is an actor upon a stage,"—all the world's a stage, and Clergymen the actors, "If in this sort of theatrical assumption of character he makes one false step, it may be fatal to him (in his assumed theatrical character, I suppose), and he is induced to have recourse to the most unmanly arts to conceal it, if possible,"—although vices in a clustering swarm obscure his native metal and hypocrisy, that giant vice, runs through all; yet one false step may be fatal to him, unless "his unmanly arts conceal it, if possible." But, strange to tell, Parsons are not drunkards: surely this is a point gained; for having assigned them the whole range of illicit gratification, he does not admit them to the private domain of a large part of those who scorn all lying creeds. Fear not they should beard you in your cups;— no three-cornered hat shall push you from your stools, when your darling sin, and that a little one, is in act. Now, my much-buffeted friends, breathe awhile, for Parsons are not drunkards, but—" they are great eaters "—(Aldermen have no chance with them; and it is conjectured, that the reason why City Chaplains are so much below the average in this substantial qualification, is, from the alloy of Aldermanly intercourse.) "They indulge in all the sensualities that are not forbidden in the Decalogue: they monopolise every convenience they can lay lawful hands on",—(laymen and literati do not so) "and consider themselves as the peculiar favourites of Heaven,—(vicious, gross, sensual hypocrites!—Oh, most lame and impotent conclusion!) and the rightful inheritors of the earth." All this and much more go to make up that compound of many excellences, the Clerical Character. These go(...)gons and chimeras dire are unblushingly ascribed, not to individuals, but to a body of men, whose connections in society unite them with all that is respectable, and I never heard a family reproached with the disgrace of a Clergyman belonging to it;—whose learning and general acquirements entitle them to rank with any body of men in the world;—whose piety and active benevolence every charitable institution in the kingdom will bear witness to;—who as a body, are worse pa d than any liberal profession, and who e temptations to sensuality and indulgence are more effectually limited;—who, as a body, are certainly more free from gross crimes; and who, as to minor ones, associate on the vantage ground of recognising, as a rule of conduct, a high and refined morality, which, although all may, and do, fall short of, the more it is bound upon them by their profession, the more they will approximate towards it. Let this rampant moralist try himself by the standard, to which as a rule of conduct the Clergy cannot demur, and having conformed his practice to that of which he seems to admit the excellence, he will have learnt, at the same time, that to degrade others, is only comparatively to exalt himself; and although he would perhaps rather "reign in hell than serve in heaven," he will find that there is no true happiness without progressive improvement, to which nothing can be more inimical in ourselves and others, than a calumniating, detracting spirit. The Clergy are men,—many of them nothing but men, not Christian Clergymen; that is the office assumed by men; and as the office cannot be realised but by men, neither can the clerical character be seen but when the office is fulfilled.
[To be concluded in our next.]
PRESENT STATE OF THE SLAVE TRADE.
DR. THORPE, late Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, and Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court in that Colony, has just published a Tract on the Slave Trade. The statements he makes upon this important topic are of a nature which should excite immediate attention on all sides; for if they merely approach the truth, the evil, instead of having been mitigated by our Abolition Laws, has been increased by them to a frightful extent. We know nothing of the author: it is possible, judging from certain passages in his book, that he may have some personal resentments to gratify; but he has had peculiar opportunities for obtaining information on the subject, and he comes forward in a manly way, we shall therefore quote some passages from him, which relate to the present state of this abominable traffic. After noticing the meritorious exertions of Granville Sharp, and the unequalled labours of Thomas Clarkson (whose name, we believe, has been studiously kept in the shade by Mr. Wilberforce), Dr. Thorpe briefly describes the history of the Abolition by this country, and then proceeds:—
"Having now endeavoured concisely to lay down all that has been decreed for abolishing the Slave Trade, we must
[p. 275] | [Page Image]examine its present state, to satisfy ourselves if any, or what benefit has arisen, and what likely to arise to Africa, from these laudable prohibitions and benevolent declarations.
"It would be irrelevant to my object, to enter into a detailed account of the estimation in which. Africa was anciently held; her early proficiency in science and commerce is acknowledged; and that her present degraded condition must be solely attributed to the horrid practice of bartering her people, for the luxurious gratification of her chiefs, is as generally allowed, as it is universally commiserated. But it is necessary to give an outline of the extent to which the Slave Trade had been carried on for some time back. As I began with Granville Sharp's exertions in. 1765, to mitigate the sufferings of Africa, so I shall proceed from the same period, with an account of the human beings transported from thence, by that unnatural traffic.
"About the year 1765, sixty thousand Slaves were calculated to have been annually taken from the west coast of Africa, and the greatest portion of them carried, in English vessels, either for British or Spanish colonies, which we then supplied; but war, that increased the calamities of Europe, diminished the miseries of Africa: England commanded the ocean, and drove her enemies from the Slave Trade: however, the Commissioners appointed by Government to survey the west coast of Africa (three years after we had abolished the Trade) reported, that eighty thousand slaves were annually carried away, and divided equally between the Portuguese and Spaniards. At that time the Portuguese were actively embarked in the trade; for the Royal Family, having settled at Rio Janeiro, excited an increased demand throughout the Brazils, and the Havannah merchants considered their fortunes secured by England's abandonment of the Trade; as labourers would diminish m the British plantations, produce must decrease; Cuba was large enough to supply the world with sugar and coffee; new plantations were opened, and the old highly improved; the price of Slaves on the coast of Africa became lower when competition in the market ceased; and as the Americans provided the Spaniards with vessels and navigators, the augmentation in 1810, as officially reported, appears naturally to have arisen.
"The returns I shall now give are for the last year, from persons then resident at the Havannah, in the Brazils, and on the coast of Africa, who have had ocular demonstration of what they affirm, and are ready to support their statements. The calculations transmitted, agree in an average of twenty thousand Slaves brought into the Havannah every three months; also the officers of his Majesty's navy, and masters of merchant vessels, who had been detained there, nearly a month at each visit, assured me, that one vessel a day at least had oome in with Slaves, while they remained at that port. If we suppose each vessel only to carry two hundred and ten persons, their account will nearly agree with the returns I had received from those more stationary, whereas the general cargoes contain from two to eight hundred Slaves; Cuba has also other ports, into which Slaves are brought, particularly St. Julien and Matanzas; the Spaniards supply Porto Rico, the Spanish Main, Honduras, Amelia Island, and the Floridas; therefore, when I compute that the Spaniards in 1817 have carried from the west coast of Africa one hundred thousand Slaves, I cannot be supposed to exaggerate, as the Havannah alone is allowed eighty thousand.
"Respecting Portugal, my accounts from Africa, from the Brazils, from our naval officers, and masters of merchantmen, all agree that the Portuguese flag predominates in the Slave Trade, and that the Portuguese convey their Slaves in a larger class of vessels than the Spaniards. Rio Janeiro, Bahia, and Pernambuco, having greatly increased in population and commerce, an immense number of Slaves are employed in those towns, the Slaves also work the mines, execute all the labour attending husbandry, cultivate the plantations, perform every species of work on shore, and even discharge the duties of sailors, on board those vessels destined to drag their wretched brethren to all the calamities of bondage!
"An enlarged commerce, and the prosperous condition of the planters, have excited emulation and roused enterprise; fresh plantations have been formed, and new schemes of wealth have been carried into effect; besides sugar, coffee, and all the original productions of the Brazils having increased three-fold, spices have been particularly attended to; also one hundred planters, lately imported from China, have been judiciously distributed, and the tea plant is in a rapid state of cultivation; every interested speculation, and every luxurious gratification fancy may generate, increases the demand for Slaves, and additional victims of wealth are rapidly obtained; thousands of Slaves have been sent to Maranon and Cayenne; and as Slaves bring higher prices in foreign markets, a most profitable smuggling trade is pursued by the Portuguese. After a minute consideration of all these circumstances, I have no hesitation in concluding, that one hundred thousand Slaves are annually exported from Africa by the Portuguese.
"We have accounts of French ships going to Spanish ports for passports and papers necessary for the Slave Trade; we know of their being observed and taken on the coast of Africa in the act of Slave-trading, under French colours; we hear of their carrying Slaves to the French colonies in the West Indies; and I have been assured by gentlemen lately arrived from Goree, the French vessels bringing freight to the garrisons of Senegal and Goree, generally take their return cargo in Slaves; that eight of their vessels were known to sail with Slaves, when two French line-of-battle ships and a frigate were lying at Goree, as if to protect the trade for subjects of France. At Senegal, the factors, to avoid the appearance of Slave-trading, will not send their Slaves from the settlement or down the river, bat drive them through the country to the beach seven miles distant, where the surf is so violent, that numerous canoes and boats are swamped, m attempting to convey them to the ships, and hundreds of the wretched Slaves are thus relieved from a world of trouble, by a watery grave.
"We have had abundant proof that Americans get Spanish papers for the Slave Trade at Teneriffe, the Canaries, St. Jago, and other places, and carry it on with great alertness: the Dutch have touched that forbidden traffic; the Mauritius has been deeply implicated; an extensive trade in Slaves is acknowledged to be carried on at Madagascar, and on the south-east coast of Africa; and a regular Slave-market is established at Mocha. By all these different nations and complicated interests, I may safely calculate that at least forty thousand Slaves are annually taken from Africa.
"As it appears that in 1807, about sixty thousand inhabitants of Africa were annually enslaved, and in 1817, two hundred and forty thousand, we may judge of her present deplorable condition, when the very cause of her barbarous and degraded state has increased fourfold; we should recollect the unshaken testimony presented to Parliament, which established her miserable condition before 1807; and we cannot but lament that all the professions for her happiness, and promises for her civilization, reiterated since that time, have been perfectly delusive. The numerous instances adduced in Parliament of cruelty practised on the Slaves in their Trans-Atlantic passage, produced Sir William Dolben's Act, containing the most salutary and humane provisions; and when it is considered that out of sixty thousand Slaves, then annually carried from Africa, England transported nearly the whole of them, the sterling value of those regulations may be justly appreciated; yet after these comforts had been dispensed for twenty years, they were rendered nugatory-by our Abolition Act, every calamity not only renewed but augmented, and protracted wretchedness retailed
[p. 276] | [Page Image]on the Slaves, ever since this diabolical traffic has fallen exclusively into the possession of our most Christian Allies, the Spaniards and Portuguese.
"I stated on Conner occasions many instances that had come to my knowledge of the hardships endured by the Slaves, from being driven for ten and twelve ' moons,' until a profitable market could be found, as our cruizers had rendered their disposal uncertain at the stationary depots. I declared myself ready to prove, that after Slaves had been deposited with a factor for sale, the vessels desined for their reception having been taken, or driven from the coast by our ships of war, they continued undisposed, of, until, all provisions being exhausted, they expired for want of sustenance. I related the case of the ship Caraccas, having eleven hundred Slaves on board when she sailed from Prince's Island, that five hundred of them had died at sea, and one hundred on landing in the Brazils; I mentioned that, after a Slave-ship had lost nearly half her cargo of misery at sea, I had witnessed the wretched remnant landing, absolutely animated skeletons, not like beings of this world, but such as we might suppose had just risen from the dead; I described the sharp-built American schooner, into the hold of which the Spaniards threw those innocent victims of avarice, the hatchway being opened but once a day to convey food in, and drag the dead out, and having interstices for light, which ' served only to discover sights of woe.' I related, that a brig having taken fire in the Rio Pongus, with a cargo of living souls, the master would not permit even the Slaves' irons to be unlocked, so as to afford those hapless creatures a chance of escape, but, while within two hundred yards of the shore, the vessel was burned to the water's edge, and seventy-five were consumed in their fetters. The morning sun exhibited the chared bones still in chains, each skeleton clinging to his miserable companion, as if sympathy in suffering would alleviate this extreme of agony. Although ' in endless night they sleep, unwept, unknown,' we must reflect on these matchless miseries, being recited from one individual's knowledge and observation; we must consider what incalculable scenes of horror thousands of other persons could relate, and recollect how solemnly this nation has been pledged to redress the wrongs of Africa; that nothing can redeem the pledge but an universal abolition, and that every attempt short of total annihilation, only generates fresh sources of wretchedness."
THE GAME OF CHESS.—This game is generally allowed, we believe, to possess as great or greater interest than any other of the sedentary ones. But this is not its only recommendation. There are many people, to whom a certain degree of excitement is necessary, which they procure by various means, and among them, by playing at cards. But one great objection to all games at cards is, that being mainly, or at least in a great degree, dependent on chance, they are so insipid as to require, to make them at all interesting, the additional strong stimulus of money, and that to no fixed amount, but just according to the extent of the gambling spirit in the players. They frequently defeat, besides, their own legitimate object, amusement, by giving rise to all sorts of petty animosities and contentious, die more common, as success or failure cannot be accurately divided between chance and skill. Chess is liable to none of these objections. It is not played for gain, because it supplies sufficient excitements without that aid. Its interest is formed by the multitude of the pieces, the variety and close connection of their movements. Another advantage is, that it is played by the smallest number that can play at any game. The idea entertained by many, that it is an abstruse and difficult game, and requires a great deal of time and study to get a knowledge of it, is perfectly erroneous.
Like any thing else where skill is concerned, it would take some time to excel in it; but that is not at all necessary in order to be amused; and any one, who had played a few games, enough to make him feel interested, would derive as much (or more) pleasure in his progress to farther knowledge, as if he already knew all that he could learn. It is a game that very well suits all countries, but more particularly the very cold or very warm ones: in. the farmer, where out-door amusements must necessarily be few, it is a good fire-side companion; in the latter, the intensity of the heat, for the greatest part of the day at least, makes all violent exercise and even great talking painful, and renders this quiet game very acceptable, whether played in the house or in cool shady places m the open air. A great and often effectual obstacle to some amusements (billiards, for instance) is the expence. It is none to this. The first cost is the whole, and that is so small, that a good and durable set of men and board might be purchased for one pound—a price which could not well be heavy to those who had any time for recreation. The merits of Chess then are these: its cheapness, its adaptation to the climate, the great interest it creates, and its freedom from those ill consequences which attend most other great excitements; it will not, like excessive drinking, insure a headach, or, like great eating, a night mare, to those who indulge in it. It affords room, besides, for a little pleasant politics, and will give cause for triumph, in the various changes of the game, to men of all opinions. The loyal man will delight to see the king trampling upon the hostile plebeians; and how the Jacobin will exult (the Habeas Corpus being restored) when an insolent pawn, regardless of rank and dignity, arrests the progress of a king, or captures a helpless bishop! It has been thought that chess might, by long study and practice, be reduced to a mathematical calculation. This may possibly have been done in Turkey or the East, where the people are fond of it to excess, and frequently play it all day, or by some individuals elsewhere; but it is not at all likely that the inhabitants of this country, considering the coldness of the climate, and the general attention to business, will ever pursue it with much ardour.—We shall take an opportunity some future day to give some anecdotes concerning this game from a book lately published, by Mr. S. Kenny, called a Practical Chess Grammar, a work which will be useful to learners.
JOHN KNOX.—Thevet, writing of the affairs of Scotland, thus speaks of this celebrated Scotch Reformer:—" This Diaphorist, who was fond of dissentions, was not contented to tread in the steps of Luther and of his master Calvin, who had lately redeemed him from the gallies of Capua, in which he had remained three years for his crimes, unlawful amours, and execrable whoredoms, and for his dissolute living, and for having been convicted of parricide and murder, committed on the Archbishop of St. Andrewes;—this Simonist, who had been a Priest before in our Church, and fattened with benefices, which he sold for ready money, seeing he could not prove his cause to be good, fell into the most horrid blasphemy in the world. First, he denied the power of God; he preached openly that virginity was no better than marriage; and he induced many devout wives and religious virgins to prostitute themselves," &c. &c.— Are not people, observes the judicious Bayle, that write with so little judgment, well qualified to make us question the truths they advance, suppose any such escape them?
DUELLING.—A gallant gentleman, when asked by his friends, why one of his established character for courage and good sense would yet answer the challenge of a coxcomb,—he confessed, that for his own sex, he could safely trust their judgment but how should he appear at night before the ladies.!