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their having laughed at him, and believed him to be in jest, when he professed his belief in the Bible.
Having introduced to Mr. C. some years before, Mr. Davy, (afterwards Sir Humphry) I inquired, with some anxiety, for Mr. D. and expressed a hope, that he, since his removal from Bristol to London, was not tinctured with the prevailing scepticism. Mr. C, assured me that he was not: that his heart and understanding were not the soil for infidelity.* I then remarked, “During your stay in London, you doubtless saw a great many of what are called, the cleverest men, ' how do you estimate Davy, in comparison with these?” Mr. C.'s reply was strong, but expressive. “Why," said he, “Davy could eat them all! There is an energy, an elasticity in his mind, which enables him to seize on, and analyze, all questions, pushing them to their legitimate consequences. Every subject in Davy's mind has the principle of vitality. Living thoughts spring up, like the turf under his feet.” With equal justice, Mr. Davy entertained the same exalted opinion of Mr. Coleridge.
* In corroboration of this remark, an occurrence might be cited, from the Life of Sir Humphry, by his brother Dr. Davy.-Sir Humphry, in his excursion to Ireland, at the house of Dr. Richardson, met a large party at dinner, amongst whom, were the Bishop of Raphoe, and another Clergyman. A Gentleman, one of the company (no very gentlemanly conduct) in his zeal for Infidelity, began an attack on Christianity, not doubting but that Sir H. Davy, as a Philosopher, participated in his principles, and he probably anticipated, with so powerful an auxiliary, an easy triumph over the cloth. With great confidence he began his flippant sarcasms at religion, and was heard out by his audience, and by none with more attention than by Sir Humphry. At the conclusion of his harangue, Sir H. Davy, instead of lending his aid, entered on a comprehensive defence of Christianity, “in so fine a tone of eloquence' that the Bishop stood up, from an impulse similar to that which sometimes forced a whole congregation to rise at one of the impassioned bursts of Bourdaloue, or Massillon.
The Infidel was struck dumb, with mortification and astonish
Mr. C. now changed the subject, and spoke of Holcroft. He stated that H. was
a man of small powers, with superficial, rather than solid talents, and possessing principles of the most horrible description ; a man who at the very moment he denied the existence of a Deity, in his heart believed and trembled. He said that Holcroft, and other Atheists, reasoned with so much fierceness and vehemence against a God, that it
ment, and though a guest for the night, at the assembling of the company, the next morning, at breakfast, it was found that the Infidel had taken French leave, and at the carliest dawn had set off for his own home.
plainly showed they were inwardly conscious there was
a God to reason against ; for, he remarked, a nonentity would never excite passion.
An easy transition having been made to the Bible, Mr. C. spoke of our Saviour, with an utterance so sublime and reverential, that none could have heard him without experiencing an accession of love, gratitude, and adoration to the Great Author or our Salvation. He referred to the Divinity of Christ, as a Truth, incontestible to all who admitted the Inspiration, and consequent authority of Scripture. He particularly alluded to the 6th of John, v. 15. 66 When Jesus perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain alone.” He said it characterized the low views, and worldly-mindedness of the Jews, that, after they had seen the miracles of Jesus Christ, and heard his heavenly doctrine, and had been told that his kingdom was not of this world, they should think of conferring additional honour on him, by making him their King! He departed from these little views and scenes, by night, to a neighbouring mountain, and there, in the spirit of prescience, meditated on his approaching crucifixion ; on that attendant
guilt, which would bring on the Jews, wrath to the uttermost, and terminate their impieties, by one million of their race being swept from the face of the earth.
Mr. C. noticed Doddridge's works with great respect; thought favourably of Lord Rochester's conversion, as narrated by Burnet; spoke of Jeremy Taylor in exalted terms, and thought the compass of his mind discovered itself in none of his works more than in his “Life of Christ," extremely miscellaneous as it was. He also expressed the strongest commendation of Archbishop Leighton, whose talents were of the loftiest description, and which were, at the same time, eminently combined with humility. He thought Bishop Burnet's high character of Leighton, justly deserved, and that his whole conduct, and spirit, were more conformed to his Divine Master, than almost any man on record.
Mr. C. now spoke of the demoralizing nature of Infidelity, and, after some striking remarks, related the following occurrence.
He said that in his visit to London, he accidentally met, in a public office, the atheist, Holcroft, without knowing his name, when H. began, stranger as he was, the enforcement of some of his
diabolical sentiments! (which, it appears, he was in the habit of doing, at all seasons, and in all companies; and thereby he often corrupted the principles of those simple persons whom he could prevail on to listen to his shallow, and worn-out impieties.) Mr. C. declared himself to have felt indignant at a conduct so infamous, and at once closed with the “prating atheist,” when they had a sharp encounter.
Holcroft then abruptly addressed Mr. C. “I perceive you have mind, and know what you are talking about. It will be worth while to make a convert of
you. engaged at present, but if you will call on me to-morrow morning, (giving him his card) I will engage, in half an hour, to convince you, there is no God !” (He little knew the strength of the fortress he was inconsiderately attacking.)
Mr. Coleridge called on Holcroft the next morning, when the discussion was renewed, but none being present except the disputants, no account is preserved of this important conversation; but Mr. C. affirmed that he beat all his arguments to atoms; a result that none who knew him could doubt. He also stated, that instead of his being converted to atheism, the atheist him. self, (after his manner) was converted; for the