Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

good ; but that to the poor is null and void by the statute of Mortmain!”*

In 1768, he made the following Will at Aberdeen, where he remained from April 26th to May 2d. It is in his own hand-writing, and preserved as an autograph by a gentleman at Bradford, in Yorkshire, being found among the papers of Mr. James Oddie, one of the early Preachers.

“ IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN! “ I, JOHN WESLEY, Clerk, revoking all others, appoint this to be my last Will and Testament.

“I bequeath to my brother Charles Wesley, (but, in case of his demise, to the school in Kingswood,) my Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French and German books, (except those in any language in the study at Kingswood school, which I bequeath to the said school, and those in my studies at Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Dublin, which I desire may remain there for the use of the Travelling Preachers,) and all my gowns, cassocks, and bands; To James Morgan, I bequeath my watch ; To my faithful housekeeper, (Ann Smith,) Mrs. Lefevre's ring ;+ To Mr. Peter Jaco, my bureau at London. To him, to the Rev. Mr. William Ley, and to each Travelling Preacher who has them not already, a set of my Sermons, Appeals, Journals, the Notes on the New Testament, and the book on Original Sin ; § To the Rev. Mr. James Rouquet, all my mss. To my dear friend Mary Bosanquet, the set of my works ;|| and to my dear daughter Jane Sınith, the Christian Library, now in my study in London. (Published from 1749 to 1755.)

“I bequeath all my books, which are for sale, with the sole right of reprinting them, (after paying my brother's rent-charge upon them,) to Mr. Melchias Teulon, hatter, Mr. John Horton, silk-dyer, and Mr. John Colliņson, hatter, in trust the one moiety for the keeping of the children of the Travelling Preachers' school; (to be chosen by the Assistants at the yearly Conference ;) the other moiety for the continual relief of the poor of the United Society in London. Only I bequeath to Christian Simpson, at Aberdeen, the books which shall remain with her at the time of my decease. Lastly, I bequeath the residue of my books and goods to my wife, Mary Wesley; and I appoint the said Melchias Teulon, John Horton, and John Collinson, executors of this my last Will and Testament. . “Witness my hand and seal this 27th day of April, 1768, “ Witnesses,

« JOHN WESLEY. 66 WILLIAM SMITH,

“ THOMAS Simpson." “N. B. I particularly desire that there may be no hearse or coach at my funeral, but that some of the members of our society may carry my corpse to the grave.” I (See Works, vol. iv., p. 501.)

* Works, vol. ii., p. 337.

+ In 1769 he published an extract of her Letters on Religious Subjects, 12mo., pp. 106. A second edition, 1773, pp. 111. (See Works, vol. xiv., p. 273.)

He was stationed in London that and the preceding year. (See Minutes, vol. i., pp. 69, 75.)

5 Bristol : Printed by F. Farley, 1757, 8vo., pp. 522. . i Then consisting of fifteen volumes. His own father was strongly opposed to what Blair calls in his Poem, (“ The

Pompous obsequies that shun the day.”

Grave,")

This did not long remain his “last Will ;” for we find the following entry in his Journal, under date of Friday, February 25th, 1771 :—“I revised and transcribed my Will, declaring as simply, as plainly, and as briefly as I could, what I would have done with the worldly goods which I leave behind me.” The necessity for this will appear by a reference to what occurred two days before. Mrs. Wesley (his wife and residuary legatee) had, for what cause he knew not, set out for Newcastle, purposing never to return. He says, Non eam reliqui : non dimisi : non revocabo.*

In April, 1772, he seems engaged in another revision of his Will; for, in a letter to his brother, (inserted in vol. xii. of the Works, p. 129,) he says, “ To whom shall I leave my papers and letters ? I am quite at a loss. I think Mr. Fletcher is the best that occurs now.” In a letter to Mr. Walter Churchey, (ibid., p. 419,) dated June 25th, 1777, he says, “ In my Will I bequeath no money, t but what may happen to be in my pocket when I die.”

The Will proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, is dated February 20th, 1789, with two codicils ; but a Deed of a testamentary nature having been subsequently executed, the Court named it as the third codicil of Mr. Wesley's Will, on which the three executors, Messrs. Horton, Wolff, and Marriott, delivered up their general probate, and received a new one, limited to those particulars which were not mentioned in the Deed.

THOMAS MARRIOTT. City-Road, January, 1847.

“ Hence,” he says, “I entirely disapprove their burying by candlelight, unless on extraordinary occasions.” (Letter to a Curate, p. 15.)

Blair, author of the poem “ The Grave," died just one hundred years ago. A monument is now to be erected to his memory in the church-yard of the parish of which he was Minister. His poem was first printed in London in 1743. (See Chalmers's “ Biographical Dictionary,” vol. v., p. 383.) He was succeeded in the parish by Mr. John Home, whose tragedy of Douglas” is so highly commended by Mr. Wesley. (See Works, vol. ii., p. 411.) Poor Blair could not get the poem published during his life. Dr. Isaac Watts informed him that two booksellers had declined the risk of publication. (Chalmers’s “ Biographical Dictionary,” vol. V., p. 383.)

Dr. Hugh Blair was a member of the same family, whose chief fame was the publication of his Sermons, the first volume of which appeared in 1777; and the fate of them furnishes a singular instance of the vicissitude of literary history. (Ibid., pp. 374, 375.) “ They happened to hit the taste of the age ;” (p. 377 ;) but John Wesley said, in 1787, “I could even now” (aged eighty-two years) « write as flowing a style as Dr. Blair; but I dare not.” (Works.)

* Works, vol. iii., p. 423. “ I did not desert ( leave ') her ; I did not send her away packing'); I will never recall her. (“invite her back ')." (See “ Gospel Magazine” for 1777, p. 234.)

+ Mr. Wesley, in his “ Appeals to Men of Reason,” says, “Money must needs pass through my hands ; but I will take care it shall not rest there. Hear this, all you who have discovered the treasures which I am to leave behind me : if I leave behind me above ten pounds, you and all mankind bear witness against me, that I lived and died a thief and a robber.” “ This,” says Mr. Badcock, “is one of the boldest apostrophes I ever read.” (See Wesley's Works, vol. viii., p. 40; or “ Gentleman's Magazine,” vol. Ixi., p. 284. See a Letter in the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine” for 1845, p. 1168, dated October 6th, 1786 : “ Money never stays with me," &c.

$ In Mr. Valton's manuscript diary, now before me, he makes the following entry, under date, “ Thursday, October 22d, 1791. This morning, the three executors of Mr. Wesley's Will attended at the Commons, where they relinquished all title to the disposing of the books to the Trustees for the same ; and we accordingly administered to the Trust-Deed.” (See Works, vol. iv., p. 502, in a note.)

REMARKS ON THE THIRD EDITION OF SOUTHEY'S

“LIFE OF WESLEY.” *

FROM THE CORNISH BANNER.

MORE than ten years ago, it was commonly reported in literary circles, that the Poet Laureate was preparing a third edition of his “Life of Wesley ;” and, moreover, that it would contain numerous additions and corrections. The accuracy of such a report seemed probable; the author having had leisure to review his opinions, and opportunity to consider the objections which had been made to the original work, by parties who considered that the principles and views of the Methodists were misrepresented, and the character and motives of their Founder aspersed : especially as the work had called forth an elaborate defence of Mr. Wesley's character, from the pen of one of the most profound theological writers and most eminent Ministers of the day. We could not bring our minds to believe, notwithstanding the reports to the contrary which then prevailed, that Dr. Southey contemplated the production of his new edition, without a careful consideration of this defence, coming as it did from so respectable and influential a quarter. We had too high an opinion of Dr. Southey's literary honour, especially towards this later period of his life, to suppose that he would reiterate statements detrimental to the character of Wesleywhile a work was in extensive circulation which professed to controvert those statements—without the most diligent and careful investigation of every objection which it contained : for it was no scurrilous pamphlet, no ephemeral production of an anonymous writer, but a calm, dignified, and eloquent criticism from an acknowledged author, which, at the time of its publication, created no small sensation among Dr. Southey's own friends, and even among the first literary and fashionable circles. t With such views and impressions, we awaited the appearance of this long-promised edition, not without hope that the author had seen cause to alter his opinions, and to award a higher meed of praise to the subject of his memoir. The expectations which we had thus been led to entertain from our judgment of Dr. Southey's character, were cherished and confirmed by private and, as we conceived, authentic information as to his declared intentions, of which we shall have to say more hereafter.

We were therefore not a little surprised and disappointed, to find that there were absolutely no corrections or modifications in the edition before us; and that, so far as the son of our author may be taken as authority for his father's opinions, those opinions were not in the slightest degree affected by the additional information which his researches must have amassed, by

*“The Life of Wesley ; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism. By Robert Southey, Esq., LL.D. Third Edition, with Notes by the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Esq. ; and Remarks on the Life and Character of John Wesley, by the late Alexander Knox, Esq. Edited by the Rev. Charles Cuthbert Southey, M.A., Curate of Cockermouth. In two vols., 8vo., 508, 550. London: Longmans. 1846.”

+ A copy of Watson's “ Observations on Southey's Life of Wesley” is said to have fallen into the hands of George the Fourth, soon after it was published ; and was read by him with considerable interest and avidity. His opinion concerning it was indicated with sufficient explicitness by the remark which he made on finishing its perusal : “Mr. Watson has the advantage over my Poet Laureate.” (Jackson's Life of Watson, chap. xiv.)

the luminous and philosophical strictures of Richard Watson, or by the elaborate essay of Alexander Knox. This is evident, from the editor's preface. At first, we hardly knew what meaning to attach to the expression of “regret that the work has not had the benefit of the author's corrections ;” whether the editor meant “ corrections” of style-literary corrections; or whether, conscious of an alteration in the author's views, he meant “corrections” of judgment—moral corrections. But we were soon relieved from all doubt on this subject. The following paragraph, which we give entire, fully convinced us that the latter supposition was completely out of the question :

« These two additions,”-the Notes of Mr. Coleridge, and Remarks of Mr. Knox,_"I am confident, will be well received by the public, as affording them, with the work itself, at one view, the opinions of three men of no ordinary minds, upon the life and character of a fourth. Somewhat widely indeed do they, on many points, differ in their estimate; and possibly the reader may be inclined to think the Author's judgment of Mr. Wesley, on the whole, the most just and the most impartial one.

The correctness of this inference further appears from the fact, that the charges which were advanced against Mr. Wesley's character in the former editions of the work, remain, in this new edition, unretracted and unalleviated. Dr. Southey's opinion that, “however Wesley may have deceived himself, the love of power was a ruling passion in his mind,” is here perpetuated; (vol. ii., p. 98;) and the following obnoxious paragraph, no less dishonourable to the judgment and charity of Robert Southey, than unjust to the moral character of John Wesley, appears without a single explanatory or qualifying expression :

6 Of Charles Wesley it has been said, by those who knew him best, that if ever there was a human being who disliked power, avoided pre-eminence, or shrunk from praise, it was he: whereas no conqueror or poet was ever more ambitious than John Wesley. Charles could forgive an injury ; but never again trusted one whom he had found treacherous. John could take men a second time to his confidence, after the greatest wrongs and the basest usage: perhaps, because he had not so keen an insight into the characters of men as his brother ; perhaps, because he regarded them as his instruments, and thought that all other considerations must give way to the interests of the spiritual dominion which he had acquired.” (Vol. ii., p. 186.)

We have it, therefore, on the authority of the author's son, the reverend Curate of Cockermouth, that his father's views of Mr. Wesley's character remained substantially the same to the last. No other meaning, we conceive, can be attached to the words, “Possibly the reader may be inclined to think the author's judgment of Mr. Wesley, on the whole, the most just and the most impartial one;” nor can the re-appearance of the above charges, in the body of the work, without a qualifying note, be accounted for on any other supposition.

If this be so, alas for the fair fame of Dr. Southey! After all that has been reported, and all that we have hoped, the present edition of his work exposes him to the charge of uncandid and persevering obstinacy in prejudice and detraction. It is not in our heart to dishonour or molest the dead ; we would ever respect the prayer of Polydorus,

Quid laceras ? Jam parce sepulto.—*

* “Why do you tear me ? Spare one who is buried.”

And in reference to the Laureate himself, whom for many years, notwithstanding some failings, we have been accustomed to honour, we would much rather place an additional laurel on his sepulchre, to the memory of his genius, than violate his honourable rest : but if indeed things are as they would appear, then fiat justitia, ruat coelum.*

We think, however, that we are able to exonerate Dr. Southey, in a great measure, from this charge, and to make it appear that this is not the work which should have been issued in the poet's name. Our evidence for this is minute, authentic, and interesting.

About two years ago, a respected and valued friend, (Joseph Carne, Esq., F.R.S., of Penzance,) who met Dr. Southey when he was in Cornwall, and who subsequently visited him at Keswick, related to us a conversation which he had with the Doctor, on the subject of his “ Life of Wesley ;” in the course of which he declared his intention of making the amende honorable, in the third edition of his work, for his misconception of Mr. Wesley's character. This gentleman, who entertains a high respect for Dr. Southey's literary character, and no less for his candour, has kindly furnished us with the following particulars of the conversation, which with equal kindness he has permitted us to publish:

“ Dr. Southey visited Cornwall in December, 1836, when I first had the gratification of being introduced to him, and of accompanying him to some of the interesting objects in this place and neighbourhood. In walking through the Chapel-street, in this town, we passed a large place of worship, and on my informing him, in answer to his inquiry, that it was the Wesleyan chapel,-(I believe he knew I was a Wesleyan,) he observed, • The Wesleyans, I believe, are very numerous in Cornwall.' I merely answered in the affirmative, and he continued : “I am about to publish a new edition of my Life of Wesley. Some time after the first edition was published, I met with two copies, in which the persons to whom they belonged had written their remarks. One of these persons was Coleridge, the other was Henry Moore,—two very dissimilar characters,' said he, smiling; and I have made some use of the remarks of both. I had also,' he added, 'a long correspondence with Alexander Knox, of Dublin, who laboured strongly to convince me that I had formed a wrong estimate of Mr. Wesley's character in supposing him to have been actuated by ambitious motives ; and I now believe,' said he, that he was right, and in my new edition I shall acknowledge it.'

“In mentioning this circumstance, I do not pretend to be certain of every word; but of the substance and sense of the whole, I am quite certain.”

With the remembrance of such a statement, proceeding from an authority so unquestionable, it will not create surprise if we confess ourselves to have laboured under the conviction, that Dr. Southey's views of Mr. Wesley's character had undergone a considerable change ; and it will not be denied that we had good reason for expecting some intimation of such a change in the edition before us. We were, therefore, not a little puzzled when we read the editor's preface, in which he writes as if fully persuaded that the opinions of Dr. Southey remained unaltered. Of the accuracy of Mr. Carne’s statement, we never entertained a doubt, not even when we read the words, “Possibly the reader may be inclined to think the author's judgment of Mr. Wesley, on the whole, the most just and the most impartial one ;” but we did doubt whether, with this intimation of the author's son

*" Let justice be done, though the heavens fall."

« AnteriorContinuar »