Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

neral of the Jesuits with his own weapons. A messenger arrives from Lisbon, bearing dispatches from the minister.

• Ribadeneira opened the letter and read:

•“ A Despot annihilates a DESPOT, and Portugal is saved! Thy king is in fetters ; thy heroes ascend the scaffold; and thy enslaved people shall soon dissolve away in the vastness of their diffusion. Ribadeneira! I respect thy bold ambitious spirit; I thank thee for the lessons thou hast taught me; and I know the courage of thy genius. Oh, man! alike great and criminal, the hour of retribution closes the days of thy triumphs. Look on the face of this youth—he is the son of Santiago--the son of thy murdered brother, and the messenger of thy fate! He precedes the courier to his holiness, who brings the definitive sentence of the courts of Portu. gal, of Spain, and France. Live, and the scaffold is prepared ! Die, and accept the friendship of an enemy!”

He swallows poison, and expires in the presence of the vice-general, and the young Santiago.

The fall of the Jesuits is a tale of other times, which may be thought not to need to be told again : yet as pourtraying a political system, whose genius seenis revived in our age, the author hints that his work ought by no means to be considered as coming forth out of due season.

But where and among whom has this wonderful phenix arisen fronı its ashes ? Often, when describing the mental qualities of Ribadeneira, and the spirit of the Jesuitic government, it is evidently the author's object to direct his reader's attention to the character and schemes of the ruler of France. But, though he does not express himself very clearly on the subject, it should seem to be something different from French politics that he more especially alludes to as affording proof of the existence of Jesuitism in our own times. We copy the following passage, which is to be met with at the end of the notes.

Why were the Jesuits expelled from all the nations of Europe with this indignant and abrupt violence? Because their chiefs were political intriguers, great intermeddlers in state affairs, deluded by excessive vanity and pride, and much too powerful and too rich; properties which ill be. come a MISSIONARY Society!!

As to the complaints which have been brought against the Missionary Society by sone who, we believe, are the avowed friends of Christianity, we shall not, on this occasion, say any thing. However differently the minds of our readers may have been impressed upon that head, there can be but one opinion respecting such an insinuation as this. We consider it, really, as not worth the trouble of an answerteluni imbelle sine ictu.

If the author have not succeeded in producing a work emi. nently distinguished for sublimity and wit, his failure most assuredly has not arisen from any lack of exertion.

( With tortuous act and head aside,' he labours incessantly to hit the mark, vainly striving at the same time to conceal the painful. ness of the effort, and to place himself in an attitude of graceful ease. His style, generally neat, and sometimes elegant, is frequently spoiled by affectation. He is never satisfied with a sentence till he has worked it to the point of an epigrain. In his endeavours to soar and shine,' instead of attaining an elevated and brilliant diction, he perpetually becomes turgid and obscure. It is this enigmatical quality more especially, that puts us out of humour with the present performance. Professed riddle-books excepted, we never read for the purpose of being puzzled: and if this writer do not possess hiinself of other oracular properties besides a propensity to utter dark sayings, he must not expect his admirers to be

very numerous.

Art. VI. Christian Ethics; or Discourses on the Beatitudes, with some

preliminary and subsequent Discourses; the whole designed to explain, recommend, or enforce the Duties of the Christian Life. By Thomas Wintle, B., D. Rector of Brightwell, in Berkshire, and formerly Fellow of Pembroke College. In two vols. 8vo. pp. 540. Price 188. Longman and Co. 1812.

IN reading these volumes we have found ourselves in a condi

tion somewhat like that of a traveller, who, after being enticed into an inn by the inviting assurances swinging at the door, instead of the comfortable entertainment promised him, cannot even procure a sufficiency of wholesome food to satisfy the cravings of nature. From a work assuming the title of Christian Ethics, we had no doubt of obtaining a comprehensive and accurate description of human duty. If we did not anticipate much of the sublime or pathetic, we looked at least for precepts animated with the glow of piety, and enforced by the solemnities of the invisible world. In these most moderate expectations, however, we have met with a total disappoint

The work is entirely devoid of the qualities essential to a treatise of Christian ethics. In the delineation here attempted of human duty, many great virtues, such as justice, the love of God, and charity, have no distinct space allotted them, and are scarcely treated of even in the most cursory manner. The discourses now printed together in these volumes, it will be found, were not originally composed to form a treatise; this was the author's after-thought; and hence, instead of the continuity and coherence of a book on one subject, they have all the independence, looseness, and repetition of separate compositions. Not one virtue is described with the semblance of delicacy and precision. It never assumes a distinct character, nor a proper place. When our author pretends to explain any branch of duty, it is without the least degree of animation. His recommendation of it is frigid to an extreme; and although he has not overlooked the principles of rerelation, yet before he has done with them, they lose much of their energy and lustre, and are very far indeed from being so interwoven and incorporated with his precepts and exhortations, as to operate on the heart.


It will, no doubt, be expected that we should confirm this description of Mr. Wintle's discourses by a few examples. Of bis confusion and inaccuracy the whole work may be taken as an illustration, since such extracts as the following may be found in almost every page.

Our carnal inclinations, or such gratifications as proceed from a too free indulgence to our animal propensities,' p. 46. vol. ii. "To have the heart clean, is the foundation of every virtue.' p. 42. v. ii: 'Toa mind thus prepared,'. [that is by humility, penitence, and meekness) .the main object of pursuit will be in general the practice of universal righteousness and holiness, of which the three principal branches are mercy, purity, and peace,' p. 1. vol. ii. Without noticing the inaccuracy of calling mercy, purity, and peace the principal branches of righteousness, observe the confusion of thought that represents a mind prepared for the prac.. tice of what is fundamental to all virtue, by the possession of three of the most eminent virtues. The following sentence is partly incorrect and partly absurd. The command of the temper is almost utterly extinguished in the sensualist; and the insolence of a licentious tongue often usurps the seat of reason,' p. 48. vol. ii. Our author's reason, as it seems, Bas a position remarkably different from that of other men.

There are several articles of Christian doctrine, on which Mr. Wintle speaks in a manner that we think is by no means' consonant with the articles and homilies. He allows, indeed, the corruption of man's nature by the fall, but yet his language, on many occasions, intimates that he thinks it very slight. For instance, he says, “We are strongly disposed to appetite and passion, and are sometimes very much beated and in. fluenced thereby.' p. 150, vol. ij. “It will be expedient for us to endeavour to recover ourselves into the right ivay by aitempting to acquire such a change in our lives and habits, as may render us not unfit objects of the divine favour.' p. 145, vol.i.' This last sentence, besides that it is objectionable, as giving an erroneous notion of the powers of our nature, turns the view from Jesus Christ as the medium of acceptance with God; and when interpreted by the following passage, must be pronounced unscriptural. Ofa notorious sinner, he says, "It will be well if he can wash away the guilt of his manifold trans

[ocr errors]

gressions by the tears of a most afflicting remorse.' p. 158. vol. i. As if any thing could wash away our guilt but the blood of Christ; or remorse was at all requisite in order to the forgiveness of our sins. Baptism and regeneration Mr, Wintle is pleased to consider as one and the same thing.' p. 150.

We should have given an example of the manner in which our author delincates the character of the virtuous; but not finding a passage brief enough, we must be content to insert the following specimen of his hortatory powers, whicli he has laudably exerted to dissipate the irreligious indifference of the present age.

• Before I quit this subject, I would address myself to two sorts of persons; to those who are fallen from grace, and to those who have reason to think they stand.

To the former, who more properly belong to this Discourse, I would earnestly recommend a deep share of consideration, in order to convince them of the very great danger in which they are placed, and the great difficulty of recovering themselves out of it. It was from want of care and watchfulness, at the first, that they yielded to temptations, and thus committed actual sin. By iso doing their powers of resisting it in future became diminished; so that they more easily yielded to the next assaults with which they were attacked, through the subtlety and malice of the devil: And thus, by the deceitfulness of sin, they were gradually overcome; till at length, from the neglect or omission of salutary duties, and the repetition of transgressions and aggravated crimes, they were so confirmed in habits, inveterate habits, of vice, as to be quite callous and hardened therein. This at least is a natural, and too frequently experienced process: And though we would hope that this height of iniquity has not yet been reached by any that are before me, yet by those who go on in sin it will too probably be soon attained. I scarce need remind them of the uneasiness and misery in which sach a state must involve then in this life, nor of the inexpressible torment, which, if they die in it, must follow in the next.

But, if they value their present peace or their future happiness ; if they fear the disquietude of a guilty conscience, and the sure forebodings of misery; if they are under any apprehensions from the terrors of the Lord, or conceive any hopes from the contemplation of the divine benignity ; let me persuade them to rouse themselves immediately from their lethargy, and to beware of the dismal consequences of sin. Let me prevail on them to listen to instruction, to look into their lives, and take an attentive survey of their past misconduct. This may incline them to resolve to give way no more to negligence and inadvertency, much less to actual offences and presumptuous deviations from duty. They may now be induced to lay hold of all possible means, that may help to redeem the time which has been so wretchedly mispent, to be watchful and circumspect in their future behaviour, and, above all, to pray earnestly for the divine aid and succour to recover them from their deplorable condition, and restore them to the favour of God.' p. 159-163.

That Mr. Wintle has not, in this case, fulfilled the promise

with which he set out, must be placed to the account of his manner. He indulges in a new figure, the reverse of apostrophe. If we have been at the trouble to say any thing about these insignificant discourses, it is solely to prevent the public from being imposed upon by their specious and alluring title.

Art. VII. Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain. By Alexan.

der de Humboldt, With physical Sections and Maps. Translated from the original French, by John Black. 8vo. Vols.' III. and IV.

Price 1l. 185. Longman and Co. 1812. So long an interval had been suffered to elapse after the

appearance of the first portion of this translation (of which we gave a pretty copious analysis in our review for December, 1810), that we began to fear lest a .penury of encou. ragement on the part of English readers, might occasion the delay in completing it. By the publication of the volumes before us, however, the undertaking is at length brought to a close; and we resume our report of it with great satisfaction.

Such of our readers as have honoured our former article with their attention, may recolleet that M. Humboldt has distributed his Essay into an introduction and six sections. The introduction is principally geographical, indicating what the author conceives to be the most eligible means of completing an accurate and comprehensive survey of New Spain, and presenting a detailed account of the inaterials employed in constructing the maps and drawings which accompany. the Essay. Of the books or sections, the first consists of general considerations on the extent of the country, and its geological constitution as influencing the climate, agriculture, commerce, and defensive parts of the coast. It is in this part of his work, too, that M. Humboldt examines, at considerable length, the various points by which a communication between the two seas might possibly be effected. The second book treats of the population of New Spain, pointing out its rapid increase of late years, tracing the causes which have hitherto proved most destructive to the inhabitants, and affording a variety of interesting observations ou their division into castes. In the third book the author presents a minute statistical view of New Spain, as distributed into provinces and intendancies, with the amount of their population in 1803, and tbe extent of surface in square leagues. The fourth book is devoted to the consideration of agriculture and the metallic mines; while the fifth relates to manufactures and commerce, and the sixth contains researches into the revenues of the state, and the military defence of the country.

« AnteriorContinuar »