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position of any length Mr. Lee turned his attention to, was the History of the Syrian Churches in India, a memoir which would do credit to the pen of any historian. High commendations are given to Mr. Crichton's skill in fencing, dancing, singing, music, and drawing. 'To some of these we may have no immediate parallel to produce on the part of Mr. Lee; but it should be observed, that the skill, the neatness, and the ingenuity of Mr. Lee's mechanical performances evince the same quickness of eye, and the same steadiness of hand, that must have been the ground-work of Mr. Crichton's gayer achievements. As to music, Mr. Lee's powers are not problematical : he taught himself to play upon the flute, from an accidental circumstance, with almost intuitive readiness; and when the Shrewsbury volunteers were raised, he qualified himself with equal readiness to be one of their military band. All this time he was a member of a ringing society, and gave private lectures in Gothic architecture. But, if Mr. Lee is thus great in what he possesses, he is not less great in what he does not possess. If he appears inferior to no one in extent or variety of genius, he is without any of those eccentricities with which genius is so often concomitant. When Mr. Crichton gave a public challenge to disputation to the literati of Paris, to one of his advertisements stuck up on the Sorbonne, the following pasquinade was added : • If any one wants to see this monster of perfection, let them inquire at the tavern, or the stews;' but the whole of Mr. Lee's life has been sober, moral, and consistent. He bears his faculties most meekly. The resources of his mind are unapparent till called forth. He sought not polished society; but he mingled in it, when invited, without effort, and without embarrassment; and, without losing any of his humility, he sustains his place in it with ease, and independence. Mr. Lee's learning is without any tincture of pedantry; and his religion is as far from enthusiasm on the one hand, as it is from lukewarmness on the other. Let us bless God then that such talents are so directed. Let us bless God that they are directed in an especial manner to the interests of the Bible Society; and, perhaps, after all the grandeur and simplicity so apparent in the plan of the Bible Society, are the two adjuncts that best exemplify the mind thus devoted to its service."
On the resignation, about two years since, of the Rev. J. Palmer, Mr. Lee was elected professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge, and not having been at college the usual time for taking the degree requisite to standing for the chair, a grace passed the senate to supplicate for a mandamus, which was graciously granted by his present Majesty. The documents on which this favour was bestowed were of no ordinary character - they furnished ample proof of extraordinary attainments, viz. a list of the various oriental works which had been completed by Mr. Lee, or
on which he was then engaged, with copies of attestations from the Right Hon. Lord Teignmouth, Dr. Wilkins, of the East India House Library; from the oriental professor (Shakspeare); from Dr. Jonathan Scott, (of Shrewsbury); from Mahommed Shawlik, of Sheeraz, a Persian gentleman, in England; from Alexander Nicol, A.M., Bodleian Librarian, Oxford; and from Mirzah Khaleel, teacher of the oriental languages at the Honourable East India Company's college, at Haylebury; also from the Syrian Archbishop of Jerusalem, then in London, as to the Arabic and Syriac tongues.
The present occupations of Professor Lee still bear upon the great cause of missions, and his eminent oriental acquirements are devoted, we believe, almost exclusively to the diffusion of knowledge among the heathen. He is now preparing, in Persian and English, the whole controversy of Mr. Martyn with the literati of Persia, with considerable additions of his own, to establish the truth of the Scriptures against the sophisms of the Mahomedans. We ardently hope that a life so valuable will long be spared as an honour to science, an enduring excitement to persevering industry, an ornament to the religion of Christ, and a blessing to the world, commensurate with the highest expectations cherished by the observers of Providence, and the best friends of the human race.
But, it is time to notice the Sermons themselves. Abating some expressions wearing an aspect too mysterious, they have our approbation. Perhaps, considered in the abstract, they were not important enough to print; but, as a specimen of the first published efforts of a mighty genius in theological composition, we esteem them worthy of notice.
Mr. Lee, in the first discourse, answers the most trite and plausible objections against the utility of charity schools; particularly, that instruction is unnecessary for the discharge of the duties of the poor; – that the instructions themselves are dangerous, from which, connected with some observations on the character of the human mind in general as depraved, he infers not only the necessity of instruction, but the impossibility of social existence in its absence.
“ Let the fairest specimen be taken, which is usually that of childhood. It is true a great deal of innocence will appear; and a general want of that hypocrisy and design, which are found only in the progressive iniquity of riper years. But if this proves any thing, it only proves that the subject under consideration is desti
tute of those vices 'with which he is unacquainted: that he has made no progress in those sins, of which he knows nothing; and which the circumstances of the case make it impossible can be otherwise ; that the innocency of mind which he evinces is nothing more than the absence of that knowledge of the world, which, when exerted, marks the presence of hypocrisy and design. On the other hand, though such a subject is not in possession of the iniquity which prevails in the world, yet he is in possession of dispositions fitted to receive it as soon as it may be presented to him : and unless some powerful antidote be administered, either by God or man, it is likely he will receive it in all its plenitude of mischief and ruin.
“ Now if it be asked, What are the dispositions thus evinced ? it may be answered, self-will, -- fretfulness, -dissatisfaction; - with a disposition to cruelty and tyranny; which, when suffered to grow up to maturity, are nothing more than the sources of the misery and distress which are found to harass and disturb society.
“ Now if this be true, it will follow that discipline and instruction are absolutely necessary for every class of society; and for none more so than the labouring classes; for in the upper
circles the force of example, and a regard to reputation, are often sufficient to check many evil propensities; but in the lower classes, one or both of these checks may not exist: on the contrary, the force of example may act in a different direction ; and if to this you add the presence of positive temptations, either from the pressure of circumstances, or some other cause, the consideration becomes doubly important; and the result will naturally be, that without such a system of discipline, the expectations of having good citizens, servants, or subjects, does not fall within the range of human probability.” (pp. 6-8.]
Proceeding to the important situation occupied in society by the lower classes, and noticing the manner in which knowledge is inculcated in our charity schools, the religious truth impressed, and the habit of attending public ordinances, he infers, and we think correctly, the utility of the system. He then combats the opinion that the ability to read has contributed to political disaffection. He contends, that because the practice in the disaffected districts has been for one to read to many, the illiterate have received more poison, because possessed of less skill than the better informed, and he presses the danger which would, probably, arise from any check imposed by the higher orders upon the progress of improvement.
“ If such persons ground their reasons on the practice of former times, in which the untaught catholic or heathen was a loyal and dutiful subject, they should reflect that those times of ignorance
and superstition are now passed away. That the claims of infallibility in the priesthood are now no more acknowledged; and the plenary penalties and indulgencies of Rome have lost their charm; that laws and legislators no longer boast their immediate descent from heaven; and that even the name of power itself has ceased to be terrible ; so that any attempt to bring back days of this description, or to expect a blind obedience from the people, would not fail to be construed as a consummate stretch of tyranny; and would, no doubt, be made cause for dissatisfaction and rebellion, where no such cause previously existed: and thus, instead of being subservient to the restoration of order, would be the most likely means of accelerating confusion and ruin." (p. 11.)
The stale objection, that the spread of disaffection, with every evil work, has increased since the general establishment of schools, is then considered ; and our author wisely contends, that this has been only in appearance. The cause is of another nature - the results of war, called forth by the stagnation of trade. The fact, he justly observes, is that “the evil would really have presented itself, had there not one charity school existed during that period; and, if I am not mistaken, would have existed in a far greater degree."— Were it needful, we might here make many remarks in confirmation of this opinion, in contradiction to Mandeville and his sapient followers; and prove that the more a man reads the less is he likely to fall into error, the sounder will be his morality, and the better, therefore, will he act in every social capacity. It is only necessary to examine the instances of criminality as it respects the open violation of the laws, to perceive that knowledge is incalculably important; whilst the evils resulting from the daily press, and the insidious practices of the disaffected, are increased, tenfold, by the ignorance of the lower classes. Mr. Raikes had three thousand children educated under his auspices, and, on the most diligent search, could find but one name in the calendars. Joseph Lancaster failed in his inquiries for even one in four thousand. Let the supposition of an increased regard to religion, and, especially, its transforming influence, be added to this argument, and its force will be mightily augmented. “ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." There is consistency in the objection from papists, but in the mouths of protestants how great is the absurdity!
But to proceed; Professor Lee, yielding to the sentiment --that although much has been done for the better education of the poor, the added number of schools has not kept
pace with the increase of population - derives thence an argument in favour of the cause for which he pleads.
“ What is to be expected from this surplus of the population ? are we to suppose, that without either precept, or example, they will choose the good, and refuse the evil? Is it not more reasonable to expect, that from the influence of the precept and example which now prevail, they will choose the evil, and refuse the good ? I will not say it is merely probable: but it is morally certain they will. The fear of punishmeut seldom acts upon an incipient sinper, because, in his beginnings, his crimes are generally small; and in an inveterate one, punishment comes too late.” (p. 13.]
He does not hesitate to account for public demoralization, in the great number of children annually brought up in manufactories. His remarks, though very brief, convince us that the sentiments lately advanced in our Journal * accord with his views, and deserve the most impartial and watchful attention of Christian philanthropy. From the foregoing considerations, the desirableness of instructing the lower orders is inferred; and, noticing the bounty of superiors manifested in acts of condescension and pecuniary aid, Mr. Lee presses into his service the consequent reactings of gratitude-the utility of scholarship, as it respects accuracy, ability, and the inducing of confidence the force of early habits — the knowledge of the one thing needful in some measure implanted ; " and an ability to search the oracles of God, whereby alone men can be made wise unto salvation.” (pp. 14, 15.]
We wish this last topic had been more prominently exhibited. It is too important to be the subject of merely a single sentence - it is too closely allied to the avowed business of a Gospel minister to admit surmise that political zeal has eclipsed the impressions of eternity, and the worth of souls - that it can outrival loyalty to the King of Saints, against whom all sinners unpardoned, and unreclaimed, are in a state of open and alarming rebellion. The introduction of the poor to an acquaintance with the records of eternal life appears to us the prime excellence of these institutions; and we feel assured, that the more this great object, as connected with the immortal interests of the young, is recognized, the more operative will be the energy employed, and the more confident may be the anticipation of success. In truth, spiritual necessities are the main principles upon
See Observations on Mr. Owen's Plan for Bettering the Condition of the Labouring Classes, by Dr. Jarrold. INVESTIGATOR, No. II. p. 304, &c.