« 前へ次へ »
relations of the citizens of that country, the churches of Christ are commanded to come out from the world and be separate, and not to touch the unclean thing, and then shall they be the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. The annals of mankind can scarcely equal the hypocrisy of the American churches in this respect. We are not surprised at the discord which prevails among them. During their national existence their professions and their practice have been totally irreconcilable, and we tremble, lest the King of Zion, incensed at their behaviour, should arise to vindicate his honour.
Since the preceding article was written, intelligence has been received from Philadelphia, that the great law-suit between the two litigant parties among the Presbyterians was brought to a hearing on the fourth of March, 1839. Some difficulty was found in obtaining an impartial jury. The main points in legal inquiry were these- Whether the Old School General Assembly of 1838 was constitutionally organized ? Whether the refusal to receive the New School members in that body was lawful—so that the trustees of their funds, and other officers of their church who now claim to be the legal directors and managers of the public property, were constitutionally appointed? The decision of these questions will transfer virtually the whole of the vested funds and property of every kind to the undisputed possession of the party for whom the verdict shall be given, so far as the adjudication in Pennsylvania extends its authority.
The trial continued until March 18, when the jury decided by a unanimous verdict for the plaintiffs, or New School party. A motion, however, was made for a new trial, which, after a ten days' discussion, was granted. One of the remarkable features of the whole proceeding is this, and it is very significant. The Old School party engaged as their advocate Mr. Preston, of South Carolina, who not long since in his place in the Senate of the United States, declared that, if they could catch any man who is in favor of the abolition of slavery in South Carolina, they would murder him in spite of all the laws and power of all the governments upon earth.' It requires no proof to be convinced, that any cause which employs such a defender must be wicked and rotten to its core.
Art. II. The Life of Edward Gibbon, Esq., with Selections from his
Correspondence, and Illustrations. By the Rev. H. H. MILMAN, Prebendary of St. Peter's, and Minister of St. Margaret's, Westminster. London: Murray. 1839. Pp. 455. 8vo.
UR limits will not allow us to do more than present our
readers with a portrait of the celebrated author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. To attempt a review of his works would require a series of articles. The labours of Messrs. Guizot and Milman having been expended upon a new edition, his auto-biography now appears in its due course. Gibbon, in other words, has drawn himself. How few have done this with equal frankness: nor even in the instance before us, is the development complete ; for just so far as infidelity had blinded his eyes, he failed in an accurate discernment of the details at least of his own actual individ:ality. Yet from there being no intention to mislead, the charm of faithful narrative seems to remain unimpaired: and we are enabled to see with perfect distinctness, where the unfortunate subject ceased to read or discern aright the operations of his inner man. He was, indeed, a wonderful person; and always reminds us of the description of Naaman the Syrian; great, honourable, and renowned among his contemporaries,—but he was a leper ! His literary achievements have rarely been paralleled. He plunged into the chaotic materials, which form the history of twelve successive centuries, and arranged them into order and beauty. The tide of time flows through his volumes, like a placid river, reflecting on its surface the deeds of heroes, rising or ruined cities, the costumes and manners of nations, the course of mediæval and modern improvements, the disasters of war, and the arts of peace. It is as though the civilized world passed in a panorama before us. His fine and capacious mind had surveyed all,—studied all, and comprehended all. He marches from age to age, with the air and mien of a conqueror amongst annalists,—with the pomp of one, who felt that he had subjugated vast regions under the sway of the English language :--but, alas! in spite of his mental prowess, he will go down to posterity as a tainted genius,-as one amongst the most bitter enemies to the highest interests of our species, -as one, whose toils will ever be valued in the temple of pure fame,-yet without the gate of which, his name and character must be condemned to abide, as Unclean,-Unclean !
His family was originally from the county of Kent. His grandfather, after losing a large fortune through the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, made another, and purchased considerable
property in Sussex, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, and the New River Company; besides acquiring a spacious house with gardens and lands at Putney, where he lived in decent hospitality. By his last will, an only son, and two daughters, shared his substance. The first, having inherited the paternal mansion, had there by his lady Judith Porten, the future historian, who was born on the 27th of April, 1737, according to the old style. Five brothers and a sister, all younger than himself, died in infancy; and so feeble was his own constitution, that it was for a long while thought impossible to rear him. His aunt, Catherine Porten, proved apparently the instrument of his preservation. She watched over him, with an assiduity and affection, that never tired. A day-school in the neighbourhood, under one John Kirkby, a Cumberland curate, enrolled him for eighteen months amongst its pupils. Great strength of memory attracted early applause for a child, who could multiply and divide by his own head, without paper, slate, or tablet, two sums of several figures ; and it was always thought, that had he persevered in this line of application, he would have acquired fame in mathematical pursuits. A second seminary was provided for him at Kingston upon Thames, where as he expresses it, ' by the common methods
of discipline, at the expense of many tears, and some blood,' he purchased the knowledge of Latin syntax, and was introduced to Phædrus and Cornelius Nepos. His mother died in her thirty-eighth year; so that in the spring of 1748, bis aunt took him altogether under her charge. She was no ordinary woman, either as to discernment or acquirement. Her natural good sense she bad improved by careful study. Her indulgent tenderness lavished the affections of a warm heart upon her forsaken and invalid nephew. The frankness of her temper won his entire confidence, and fostered that growing curiosity, which she spared no pains to direct towards useful objects. She became the real mother of his mind. Pain and languor were often smoothed or soothed by the voice of instruction and amusement. She imparted to him that invincible love of reading, which he afterwards declared he would not exchange for the treasures of India.' She was at once his best schoolmistress, as well as nurse, without the rod of the one, or the vulgar dulness of the other. Her mouth opened itself in parables. The Cavern of the Winds,-the Palace of Felicity,—the Prince Adolphus, overtaken by an Old Man with his scythe, after a dozen pair of wings had been worn out in his pursuit;-these, and a thousand other tales, sweetly, and cheerfully, and appropriately told, no doubt assisted to kindle in him a taste for more important annals. He devoured Pope's Homer, and the Arabian Night's Entertainments; accustomed his ear to the rhythm of poetic harmony in the verses of
the bard of Twickenham ; whilst the death of Hector, the shipwreck of Ulysses, or the adventures of the three Calenders, awakened his earliest emotions of terror or pity. His aunt and himself disputed gravely about the merits of the Trojan war. Virgil gratified him less than the author of the Iliad : nor can we help perceiving in his preference of the Metamorphoses, a result produced by those affected Ovidian graces, inherent in that translation of Homer, which was the boast of the eighteenth century.
Mrs. Catherine Porten, however, soon manifested that her predilections were practical as well as imaginative. Her father had lost his property : and at forty years of age she found herself unmarried, unprovided for, and encumbered with her sickly ward. Not that she felt it to be so, but that officious friends were quick enough to call her attention to it. After revolving several schemes, she nobly decided upon scorning a life of obligation and dependance; and laboriously earned her livelihood by keeping a boarding-house for Westminster boys, in College Street, near the Abbey. Her resolution attracted much attention ; whilst it rewarded her with present income, and future competence. She carried young Edward Gibbon with her, to be at once under her own eye, and at the same time entered as an alumnus of that famous academy, in which Dryden acquired his spirits, and Cowper lost his courage. Here he painfully climbed into the third form.' His riper years were left to acquire the niceties of the Roman, and the rudiments of the Greek language. He mingled little in the sports, quarrels, or connexions of the microcosm around him. He would have sunk prematurely into the grave, again and again, had it not been, humanly speaking, for his excellent aunt. During the holidays, she took him to Bath, for a strange nervous affection, which alternately con• tracted his legs, and produced, without any visible symptoms, the most excruciating pain.' Now and then he was removed to Putney, or to Buriton, in Hampshire, where his father lived, and farmed his own estate ; exhibiting that kind of supreme selfishness, which will let a female relative undergo any trouble whatsoever, so long as 'number one’ is allowed to sleep undisturbed in the embraces of the devil. Neither change of air, pumping, or swallowing quantities of medicine, as well as mineral waters, produced any effect, until he approached sixteen, when fresh physical energies developed themselves in his constitution,—he gathered health daily in spite of doctors, -and bis disorders, instead of growing with his growth, and strengthening with his strength, most wonderfully vanished.' Strange to say, his father, after placing him at Esher, in Surrey, more for the confirmation of his recovery than any mental improvement, carried
him away to Oxford, where he was matriculated as a gentleman commoner of Magdalen College, 'with a stock of erudition that "might have puzzled a professor, and a degree of ignorance, of • which a schoolboy would have been ashamed.'
Rapidly had the lineaments of his intellectual character been assuming their shape and consistency. His first introduction to the historic scenes, which afterwards engaged so many years of his life, arose from his discovering in the library of Mr. Hoare, at Stourhead, in Wiltshire, the Continuation of Echard's Roman Empire. At Bath, he subsequently procured the second and third volumes of Howell's History of the World, which exhibit the Byzantine period on a larger scale. Mahomet and the Saracens then fixed his attention ; and before he was sixteen, such use had he made of intervals between attacks of sickness, that he had exhausted all that could be learned in English of the Arabs and Persians, the Tartars and Turks ; whilst the same ardour had urged him to guess at the French of D'Herbelot, and to construe the barbarous Latin of Pocock’s Abulfaragius. Geography and chronology were not forgotten. Cellarius, Wells, Stranchius, Helvicus, Anderson, Usher, and Prideaux, incited without satisfying an appetite for knowledge bidding fair to become omnivorous. Scaliger, Marsham, Petavius, and Sir Isaac Newton, had their respective systems weighed in his boyish balances: and he had assiduously perused the sixty octavo volumes of the Universal History, as they made about that time their monthly appearance. A lame version of Herodotus, by Littlebury, the valuable Xenophon of Spelman, a pompous translation of Tacitus, by Gordon, a ragged Procopius, done into English in the previous century, together with many crude lumps of Speed, • Rapin, Mezeray, Davila, Machiavel, Father Paul, and Bower,' he swallowed like so many novels; to say nothing about descriptions of India and China, or the Peruvian and Mexican acquisitions by the Spaniards in South America. No wonder the monks of Alma Mater lifted up their hands and eyes at such a gentleman-commoner; who was said to prefer books to either wine or women; or who at all events professed to divide his adorations at Magdalen quite as much between Minerva and the Muses, as between Bacchus and Venus, or the other heathen divinities of the Isis. An ancient fellow survived to inform the present venerable President, Doctor Routh, that he well remembered this incredible phenomenon; and that he once reminded some gay sparks amongst his contemporaries, who were laughing at the freshman's peculiarities, that, “if their heads were entirely scooped,
young Gibbon had brains enough to supply them all. Among the few extracts we can find room for, we venture to give the following;
The college of St. Mary Magdalen is esteemed one of the largest