« AnteriorContinuar »
native soil! In another part you witness opulent cities taken by storm; the streets, where no sounds were heard but those of peaceful industry, filled on a sudden with slaughter and blood, resounding with the cries of the pursuing and the pursued; the palaces of nobles demolished, the houses of the rich pillaged, and every age, sex, and rank, mingled in promiscuous massacre and ruin!
DEFENSE OF J. A. WILLIAMS, FOR A LIBEL ON THE CLERGY OF DURHAM,—Brougham.
It is necessary for me to set before you the picture my learned friend was pleased to draw of the clergy of the diocese of Durham, and I shall recall it to your minds almost in his own words. According to him, they stand in a peculiarly unfortunate situation; they are, in truth, the most injured of men.
They all, it seems, entertain the same generous sentiments with the rest of their countrymen, though they did not express them in the old, free English manner, by openly condemning the proceedings against the late queen; and after the course of unexampled injustice, against which she victoriously struggled, had been followed by the needless infliction of inhuman torture, to undermine a frame whose spirit no open hostility could daunt, and extinguish the life so long embittered by the same foul arts—after that great princess had ceased to harass her enemies-after her glorious but unhappy life had closed, and that princely head was at last laid low by death, which, living, all oppression had only the more illustriously exalted-the venerable the clergy of Durham, I am now told for the first time, though less forward in giving vent to their feelings than the rest of their fellow-citizens-though not so vehement in their indignation at the matchless and unmanly persecution of the queen-though not so unbridled in their joy at her im
mortal triumph, nor so low in their lamentations over her mournful and untimely end-did, nevertheless, in reality, all the while, deeply sympathize with her sufferings, in the bottom of their reverend hearts!
When all the resources of the most ingenious cruelty hurried her to a fate without parallel-if not so clamorous, they did not feel the least of all the members of the community-their grief was in truth too deep for utterance-sorrow clung round their bosoms, weighed upon their tongues, stifled every sound-and, when all the rest of mankind, of all sects and of all nations, freely gave vent to the feelings of our common nature, their silence, the contrast which they displayed to the rest of their species, proceeded from the greater depth of their affliction; they said the less because they felt the more!
Oh! talk of hypocrisy after this! Most consummate of all hypocrites! After instructing your chosen official advocate to stand forward with such a defense-such an exposition of your motives-to dare utter the word hypocrisy, and complain of those who charged you with it? This is indeed to insult common sense, and outrage the feelings of the whole human race! If you were hypocrites before, you were downright, frank, honest hypocrites, to what you have now made yourselves-and surely, for all you have ever done or ever been charged with, your worst enemies must be satiated with the humiliation of this day, its just atonement, and ample retribution !
I will imagine one case more, on which you would emphatically express your compassion, though for one of the most daring beings in the creation, a contemner of God, who explodes his laws, by denying his existence.
If you were so unacquainted with mankind, that this
character might be announced to you as a rare and singular phenomenon, your conjectures, till you saw and heard the man, at the nature and extent of the discipline through which he must have advanced, would be led toward something extraordinary. And you might think that the term of that discipline must have been very long; since a quick train of impressions, a short series of mental gradations, within the little space of a few months and years, would not seem enough to have matured such supreme and awful heroism. Surely the creature that thus lifts his voice, and defies all invisible power within the possibilities of infinity, challenging whatever unknown being may hear him, and may appropriate that title of Almighty which is pronounced in scorn, to evince his existence, if he will, by his vengeance, was not as yesterday a little child, that would tremble and cry at the approach of a diminutive reptile.
But indeed it is heroism no longer, if he knows that there is no God. The wonder then turns on the great process, by which a man could grow to the immense intelligence that can know that there is no God. What ages and what hights are requisite for THIS attainment! This intelligence involves the very attributes of divinity, while a God is denied. For unless this man is omnipresent, unless he is at this moment in every place in the universe, he cannot know but there may be, in some place, manifestations of a Deity, by which even he would be overpowered. If he does not know absolutely every agent in the universe, the one that he does not know, may be God. If he is not himself the chief agent in the universe, and does not know what is so, that which is so, may be God. If he is not in absolute possession of all the propositions that constitute universal truth, the one which he wants may be that there is a God. If he cannot with certainty assign the cause of all that he perceives to exist, that cause may be a God. If he does not know every thing that has been done in the immeasurable ages that are past, some things may
have been done by a God. Thus unless he knows all things, that is, precludes another Deity by being one himself, he cannot know that the Being whose existence he rejects, does not exist. But he must know that he does not exist, else he deserves equal contempt and compassion for the temerity with which he avows his rejection, and acts accordingly. And yet a man of ordinary age and intelligence may present himself to you with the avowal of being thus distinguished from the crowd.
THE PRESENT SYSTEMS OF EDUCATION DEFECTIVE.
When we have succeeded in giving to our architects and linguists their due amount of mathematical and literary schooling, with the smallest expense of time and money, have we done all that should be done to fit them for their several pursuits? They have each a nature of their own, which it will be theirs, as the case may be, to improve or neglect; are they, under the existing system, in the least instructed in regard to it? Some things are conducive to, others destructive of, corporeal health: have they been urged to study the organization of the body, and the laws which determine its relations of health or disease, that they may obey those laws, and reap the advantages of obedience? They have natural impulses or feelings, ever urging them to action of one kind or another have we taught them any thing in regard to those feelings, so that they may recognize them in their results. on themselves or others, and may so combine and modify them as to make them ever the ministers of good, rather than of evil? They have intellectual powers :-do they know their range and character, or the laws by which their improvement and discipline is by the Creator's fiat regulated? As members of society, have they learnt the nature of their duties to its other members, in their seve
ral capacities of sons or fathers, friends or strangers? As citizens, have they any knowledge of the modes of operating with advantage on their fellows, of the principles of reasoning, teaching, legislation, &c., in ignorance of which, they must of necessity be perpetually the dupes of their own whims, or of their neighbor's cunning? As beings to whom is addressed what purports to be a revelation from their Maker of his will in regard to them, have they, that they might understand its messages, been instructed to compare them with the character and circumstances of those to whom they have been sent; and have they, by such comparison, been shown, what without it cannot be fully shown, the perfect fitness of the message, the nature of the duties it imposes on them, and the mode in which its advantages may be best conveyed to others? We are not to be understood as saying, that there is literally nothing done in these respects. Our charge is simply this, that what has been done is very little, and that, generally speaking, even our educationists are making no exertions for its increase. If this charge be true,-nay, if any of these branches of education be neglected in our present system, (and surely no one can deny that they are,) then we maintain that to be indifferent to such an extension of the system as will embrace them, and to be all the while indefatigable in our efforts to learn and teach the size and color of a pebble, leaf or spider, is an inconsistency as glaring as any of those, for which we laugh at or condemn our forefathers.
These things ought not so to be. The omission thus almost complete and universal, is a fatal one, and threatens more of mischief to society, than all our other improvements, useful as they are, promise to it of good. We are making all our physical knowledge and education contribute to our ease and wealth, without once asking how that ease and wealth, so highly prized, will in its turn affect ourselves. Other nations have fallen under the effects of wealth: we never inquire how we are to es