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Art. VI. The Insane World, 8vo. pp. 304. London, 1818.
f"4flen has the charge of insanity been brought forward by the ^-'enemies of our holy religion against those whose fervent piety and unwearied zeal have distinguished them from the rest of mankind. Thus, when the Divine Redeemer appeared on earth, the cry was raised against him," Thou hast a devil and art mad.1' When, too, the apostle Paul advocated the cause of Christianity in, the presence of Festus, the governor of Judea, and his royal visitors, the Roman Proconsul exclaimed, " Paul, them art beside "thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." Since that period, the same charge has been reiterated and re-echoed a thousand times, and is still repeated daily, by those who are unable to comprehend the motives, or account for the conduct of men of devoted piety and zeal. But the anonymous Author of the present volume, completely turns round upon these anti-religionists, and has taken in hand to prove (heir moral insanity. The task was not difficult, and the proofs he has adduced, are most abundant and convincing. The manner in which he has pursued his object is amusing and instructive. It has indeed few claims to originality, since it is a somewhat close imitation of several works of far superior merit, which appeared a few years since. The Author has not displayed much ingenuity or invention, though the subject would have admitted of both in a high degree; yet, upou the whole, it is a sprightly publication, well adapted to fill up with advantage a leisure hour, and to attract the attention of juvenile readers to subjects of the deepest interest.
In confirmation of the position that 'all men are mad except 'those who possess a new heart and a right spirit,' the Author conducts ns through a great variety of scenes, and introduces us to characters of every description, in all of whom strong symptoms of moral insanity are discernible. In what he denominates the busy world, he points us to husbandmen, manufacturers, tradesmen, and merchants, who are labouring under a greater or less degree of this dreadful malady. He next introduces us to the gay and fashionable world, among whom the disease seems to rage with peculiar violence, and a great part of whom are considered as incurables. The political world furnishes numerous examples of moral insanity, among tyrants, courtiers, statesmen, and conquerors. The literary world seems also to have be«n infected with this mania, particularly the tragedians, poets, and novelists. Nor is the religious world, according to our Author, exempt from this malady, since it contains hypocrites, formalists, zealots, bigots, speculatists, and self-deceivers, all of whom betray undoubted symptoms of moral insanity.
In this latter department our Author feels most at home; here he has evidently drawn his sketches of character from life, and
not a few modern professors of religion may, if they are not wilfully blind, discern their own moral portraiture. In Dr. Stiff, we b,ave portrayed the rector of a large parish, who declaims furiously at a public meeting against Bible, Missionary, and Lancastrian school societies, and seems to be very far gone in that new species of mental derangement, which may be designated bibliophobia, since its distinguishing symptom is, a dread of the top general diffusion of knowledge and the promiscuous circulation of the sacred volume.
As specimens of the Author's style and manner; we shall subjoin two biii'f extracts, in the former of which, an abstract is given of a fashionable anti-mcthodistical sermon, supposed to have been delivered at the chapel of a certain hospital for frail females ; ihe latter relates to the noi-disant rational dissenters.
'Thus we conversed upon the subject till we reached the chapel and were ioon surrounded with a very genteel congregation. The 'minister went through the previous service with becoming reverence j but when he ascended the pulpit I was greatly surprised to hear hig text,which was Ecclesiastes, vii. 16, 17, "Be not righteous overmuch," and so forth.
'Aler -in introduction, which contained an excellent eulogy on Solomon and his writings, he reversed the order of his text, and beginning with the second part, " Be r.ot overmuch wicked," he proposed to consider, first, the dreadful consequences of vice, as shortening the period of human existence, and rendering it miserable while it lasted: this observation seemed to bear upon a certain part of his audience, to whose experience he very pathetically appealed. But I could not help anticipating a difficulty in applying the other branch of his text. Surely, thought I, he will net caution the guilty part of his congregation against being overmuch righteous; this, however, he did, and it seemed to be the principal object of his discourse. "Our nature," said lie, '* is prone to extremes; and having seen the evil consequences of vice, penitents are sometimes apt to give way to an austerity that injures the constitution ; or, which is more common in the present day, to, a religious melancholy, which rejects the innocent pleasures of life; and then, exuggerated notions of sin, and extreme ideas of divine justice, drive them to despair and madness." And here he cautioned Iris frail auditors, lest, upon leaving that asylum they should go among the Methodists, or other enthusiasts. Moral virtue, indeed, he described as every way amiable ; and good works he extolled, as recommending us to the favour of God, and covering a multitude of sins. He commended also a religious disposition, such as would attach them to the Established Church of England ; but " by no means to run into irregularities and excesses, which in all cases are to be avoided, and especially in religion; as they tend to draw people to the conventicle, and, by deserting the church, leave them to the uncovenanted mercies of God — and consequently expose them to melancholy, which often ends in self-destruction.
'Coming out of this chapel we were suddenly greeted with the newshorn, which announced some extraordinary intelligence in the Sunday Papers—an indecency which was new and surprising to us, who, coming from the country, were not used to such violations of public decency.' pp. 212—214.
'After dinner the subject was renewed, and Mr. Twigg (the rational dissenter) observed, he thought the language used by the Church of England not only degrading to human nature, but that it reflected on the divine purity, in forming such depraved and guilty creatures.
'Mr. Gkey. If, Sir, God had formed us guilty, or had implanted moral evil in us, this reasoning would certainly be just; but the doctrine of Scripture and of the Church of England is, that " God made man upright," and that sin was of his own invention :—that the first man corrupted himself by transgression, which, like an evil disease, has been propagated from generation to generation through all his posterity.'
'Mr. Twigg. I confess, Sir, I don't understand this; and I am not willing to receive doctrines at which my reason utterly revolts.
'Mr. Grey. Then I presume, Sir, your creed must lay in a very narrow compass: for there are very few truths of revelation against which our depraved nature does not revolt. What think you of the doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, regeneration, a separate state, and the resurrection of the body?
4 Mr. Twigg. Why truly, Sir, I believe none of them; unless it be the last, and that in a way very different from the vulgar opinion.
'."O shocking! shocking!" cried the old lady (his aunt) •' I am truly sorry, Sir, my nephew adopts such heretical notions. I am afraid he imbibes them from the dissenters, among whom he attends."
« Mr. Grey. They must be dissenters indeed, Madam, who reject all the doctrines of the Gospel. But, I believe, this applies only to a very small number in comparison with the whole body. The Dissenters in general are quite as orthodox as ourselves: it is, I suppose, among the rational Dissenters that this gentleman attends.
« Mr. Twigg. I should be glad, Sir, as you sneer at rational Dissenters, that you would go with me this afternoon. I can answer for your hearing a man as wise, learned, liberal, and eloquent, as ever adorned a pulpit.
'Mrs. Good. Indeed, Sir, I much wish you would; for I should like vastly to hear your opinion of this gentleman, whom my nephew so much extols.
'Mr. Grey. I have strong objections to hearing error and heresy :—but as it seems consistent with my design, for this day I feel half inclined.
'"Well, Sir,'* said I, privately, "I will accompany you; and I think you will gain a point in your favour; for this man must certainly be insane, who denies every thing."
'"But, Mr. Twigg," said Mr. Grey, "if I accompany you this afternoon, to hear your favourite preacher, will you go with me in the evening to hear mine?"
'"Certainly, Sir."—It was now agreed, and there being no time for further debate, we set out to hear thi* " most wise, learned, liberal, and eloquent of all preachers."
* On our being seated we found a very genteel congregation, and were much pleased to hear the preacher open the service with reading a chapter in the Bible. After singing Addison's 23d Psalm, he offered a very eloquent and sublime prayer, which, I perceived by Mr. Grey's countenance, was not altogether to his taste. They then sung again, and the preacher took for his text, John, xix. 5, '' Behold the man." After a slight view of the context, he said, the words were commonly supposed to be the language of the Roman Governor, but as the name Pilate was inserted in italics, and not in the original, they might be better construed as the words of Jesus himself, and infallibly prove, not only that the Romans and Jews considered him only as a man, but that Jesus himself claimed no higher rank.—" He was a man," said the preacher, " sin only excepted," perhaps,—" a man in all respects like unto ourselves."
'Having laid down this proposition as the doctrine of the text, he proceeded to prove it from the reality of his birth, (which he said was in all points like that of other men)—from the ascription to him of human passions, sensibilities and infirmities—and especially from his sufferings and death.—And here, while he enlarged with some feeling on his extreme sufferings, as a martyr for truth and virtue, at the same time he ridiculed the idea of passive, suffering Deity! He then proceeded to the improvement of his discourse in two particulars: 1. The sin and folly of idolizing a mere man whom God hath set forth, like Moses of old, for a saviour and a legislator. And here he took occasion to observe, that the God of Israel hid the body of Moses that the Jews might not worship him; but the Christians persisted in their idolatry, notwithstanding the body of their Jesus was removed to heaven and inaccessible; and trusted their salvation to the merit of his atonement, instead of recommending themselves to the divine favour by a life of innocence and virtue. Secondly, he represented this Christian idolatry (as he called it) as the great obstacle to the fulfilment of the prophesies, in the conversion of Jews, and Turks, and infidels, neither of whom could submit to the absurdity of worshiping a man—a man who was crucified.'
1 Finally, here marked, that Christians were commanded to look to Jesus, and "looking to Jesus" was put for believing in him—but in what character were we commanded to believe in him? As « an incarnate Deity,' as the Trinitarians love to speak ?—a mysterious complex being I—No : but as Jesus himself saitn—" Behold the Man !"'
'The service happily was short, and my friend rejoiced when it was over; and when we came out told us, that his ears had never before been tortured with so much blasphemy.' pp. 218—22-K
From the above extracts, it is evident, that the design of this volume is to maintain the cause of truth and holiness against the prevailing errors of the times; not in a grave didactic form,but by easy dialogue, lively anecdote, and animated description. As such we cordially recommend it to the attention ol' the junior class of our readers.
irt. VII. Memoirt of Madame Manson, explanatory of her conduct, on the Trial for the Assassination of M. Fualdes. Written by Her
; self, and addressed to Madame Enjalran, her Mother. With a Portrait. Translated from the French, and accompanied by an Abstract of the Trial; and a concise Account of the Persons and Events alluded to in the Memoirs, by the Translator. 12mo. 5s. 6d. London, 1818. ,
rHE Translator of this strange and most unprofitable Memoir, takes credit to himself for tendering to ' the English public a most striking and amusing production, combining all the interest attached to an account of real facts and transactions of an extraordinary nature, with the vivid colouring, sudden transition, and picturesque descriptions which distinguish works of fiction.' We are, on the other hand, utterly at a loss o conjecture what can have been his inducement to republish a issue of falsehoods, 'gross, open, and palpable,' and without my other interest than that which they derive from the atrocious •rime to which they refer. The ' wild and original manner,' he ' fascination of language,' ' the energy and vigour of conception,' on which the Editor so placently dwells, we have .ought for in vain, and are quite astonished at what seems to is the excess of his credulity, when he acquits his heroine of all apparent design to deceive.'
We know nothing of this ' extraordinary trial,' excepting from the details appended to the present Memoir, and from an accidental inspection of a few paragraphs in a newspaper; we are therefore not qualified, even if we were inclined, to give a complete and connected statement of the whole transaction; but it appears, in its general outline, to have occurred in the following manner. M. Fualdes, a magistrate of great respectability, aged and wealthy, was in the evening of the 18th March, 1817, forced into a house of ill fame, in Rodez, and there murdered; the body was thrown into the river Aveyron, and found the next morning. After some time, a considerable number of individuals were put on their trial, when it appeared that the horrible deed had been perpetrated by Jausion and Bastide, the principal conspirators, with the assistance of several others who participated either in the murder or in the removal of the body. When the wretched victim was dragged into the house, he was stretched upon the table. He requested a moment to recommend his soul to God; hut his appeal was in vain, his struggles were ineffectual, and the assassins accomplished their infernal purpose by cutting his throat with a butcher's knife. While they were ' bleeding him, as they called it,' the keeper of the brothel held the lamp, and his wife held a vessel to receive the blood, there arc more of these dreadful details, but we shrink