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The second volume of this work opens with an inquiry into Madame de Stael's System of Morals. More enthusiastic, more brilliant, more eloquent than herself, our Author had still another advantage throughout the argument, insomuch as his notions of morality are drawn from a purer source; but as most of what he says on this subject, has already appeared in liis beauties of Christianity, we shall not dwell longer upon it.
We are next favoured with criticisms on some French poets, whose fame has scarcely reached England, and whose merits appear in a very questionable shape through the stiff and distorted medium in which specimens of their works are presented by the translator. Every where else he has performed his task in a highly creditable manner, but in rendering verse he seems to think that prose transposed is much the same thing. The poet Gilbert may probably be known to some of our readers from being mentioned in Baron Grimm's letters. His genius could not proteet him from want, his fortitude was insufficient to support hiin under suffering, and he died in a hospital, regretting the cultivation of feelings which had only sharpened his perceptions of his own'misery. The vicious had reason to rejoice in his death, for not all his poverty could depress him into a patient witnessing of flagrant immorality. He severely lashed the crimes of the age in which he had the misfortune to live, not sparing the profligate clergy, whose avaricious hands ioo often polluted the altar of the Lord, eager only to secure the offerings thereon. We fully agree with our Author' that a more despicable cha'racter does not exist, than that of a priest, who, considering < Christianity as an abuse, yet consents to feed on the bread of the altar, and lies at once to God and to man:'.
Such was the deplorable success which infidelity had obtained, that it was not uncommon to hear a sermon in which the name of Jesus Christ was avoided by the preacher as a rock on which he feared to split. And what was so ridiculous and so fatal in this name to a Christian orator?-Did Bossuet find that this name detracted from his eloquence ?-You preach before the poor, and you dare not name Jesus Christ-before the unfortunate, and the name of their father dares not pass your lips-before children, and you cannot instruct them that it was he who blessed their innocence. You talk of morality, and you blush to name the author of that which is preached in the gospel ; never can the affecting precepts of religion be supplied by the common place maxims of philosophy. Vol. II. p. 65.
It is not however as a critic or a disputant, that M. Chateaubriand appears to most advantage; in these characters he is always verbose, and often tedious. When his subject is interesting, he keeps it in his hands till we become tired even of excellencies pointed out to us with unnecessary minuteness; and
what is worse, when it is uninteresting, we are not released the sooner. In his remarks on the Life of Christ, by Father de Ligny, there are many excellent observations. He speaks bighly of the English translation of the Bible, and advises his readers to look no where for the character of our Saviour but in the sacred writings, and commends Father de Ligny for confining his life to a simple concordance of the Gospels. In speaking of St. Peter he says :
· St. Mark was a disciple of St. Peter, and many people think that he wrote under the direction of this prince of the Apostles. It is worthy of remark, that he has related the heavy fault committed by his master. That Jesus Christ should have chosen for the chief of his Church precisely theonly one among his disciples who had denied him, appears to us at once a sublime and interesting mystery. There do we see all the spirit of Christianity ; Saint Peter is the Adam of the new law; he is the sinful and repentant father of the new Israelites; his fall teaches us, that the Christian religion is a religion of mercy, and that Jesus Christ, has established his law among men subject to error, much less for the innocent than for the repentant.' Vol. II. p. 169.
The palm of religion,' he says afterwards, thrives always in proportion to the tears which Christians shed, as the verdure of the grass is renewed in a spot of land which has been abundantly watered. It was an unworthy error to believe that the gospel was overthrown because it was no longer defended by the prosperous part of mankind. The strength of Christianity lies in the cottage of The poor, and its basis is as durable as the misery of man upon which it is built.” Vol. II. p. 176.
Our Author does justice to the abilities and private worth of Rollin. He makes some interesting remarks also upon the posthumous papers of Louis the 14th, lately published, wherein that monarch appears to more advantage than when we contemplate him in his younger days as alternately swayed by passion and caprice, or, in his old age, revoking the Edict of Nantz, under the influence of bigotry and superstition, and sending thousands of the most valuable of his subjects to tell their wrongs in a quarter of the globe, which has not yet arrived at that pitch of refinement, which thinks the good of a state necessarily connected with a tax upon the consciences of those who belong to it.
The next article is on men of letters, on which subject M. Chateaubriand is peculiarly entitled to expatiate. : Some of his remarks apply so minutely to his own situation at this moment, that we wish it was in our power to recall bis personal attention to them.
• I wish that men of talents understood better their high destiny ! that they knew how to set a more just value upon the gifts they have
received from Heaven. It is not conferring a favour on them to invest them with the great offices of state: it is they who, in accepting these offices, make an important sacrifice to the country, and confer an essential favour upon it.
. Let others expose themselves to storms, I counsel the lovers of study to contemplate them from the shore. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In a career foreign to their manners and habits, men of letters will find nothing but the ills of ambition, they will experience none of its pleasures. More delicate than other men, how must that delicacy be wounded a hundred times in the day. What horrible things must they have to devour; with what a set of people must they be obliged to live, and even to smile upon them. Always a mark for the jealousies which true talents never fail to excite, they must be incessantly exposed to calumnies and denunciations of every kind. They will find even in the frankness, the simplicity, the elevation of their characters, dangerous rocks on which they may be wrecked; their virtues wilt do more harm than their vices, their genius itself will plunge them into snares, which ordinary men would avoid. Happy, if they find some favourable opportunity for returning into solitude, before death or exile interposes, to punish them for having sacrificed their talents to the ingratitude of courts.' Vol. II. pp. 248–250.
M. Chateaubriand is now himself in the place wherein he sees so many dangers. We trust he will not forget in the withering atmosphere of a court, the noble and sublime feelings which filled his soul in the rude forests of America.And if the changes in the political world should leave him leisure for his own thoughts, we hope the public at large will be the better for some more of his “ Recollections." Art. V. 1. A Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Glou
cester, on the Subject of the British and Foreign Bible Society. By Thomas Gisborne, M. A. Third Edition. 8vo. pp. 39.
Price 1s. Cadell and Davies. 1815. 2. A Reply to a Letter from the Rev. Thomas Gisborne to the Hon.
and Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, &c. Second Edition, with Corrections. By the Rev. Henry Woodcock, Rector
of Michelmersh, Hants. 8vo. pp. 27. Price 1s. Rivingtons, &c. 3. A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Gisborne, M. A. on the Subject of
One lately addressed by him to the Lord Bishop of Gloucester. By
One of the Clergy. 8vo. pp. 24. Price 1s. Rivingtons. 4. A Refutation of the False Assertions against Dissenters, as con. nected with the British and Foreign Bible Society, advanced by the Rev. H. Woodcock, in his Reply to the Rev. T. Gisborne. By John Bullar, one of the Secretaries to the Southampton Branch Bible
Society. 8vo. pp. 64. Price Is. 6d. Longman and Co. London. 5. A Letter to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Lincoln, on the
Subject of the Attack made by his Lordship upon the British and Foreign Bible Society, in his reccnt Charge to his Clergy. By a Clerical Member of the Society. 8vo. pp. 52. Price ls, .6d.
Baldwin and Co. 1815. W e did not intend again to occupy our pages with discus,
' sions relating to the Bible Society. It never was a question for a moinent with any class of religious persons out of the pale of the Establishment, whether that Society, whose sole object is to place the sacred Scriptures within the reach of every individual of the human race, is deserving of universal support. The object, the means, the apparent tendency, the demoustrated effects of the Society, its social influence, its political bearings, exhibited during eleven years of probation and of jealous scrutiny, all concur in entitling it to be considered in the light of a national benefit, as well as a national honour.
At first, indeed, the harmonious concurrence of parties, by which the Institution is distinguished, seemed to secure its character from the imputation of rivalry, and to obviate all fears of opposition from any portion of the Protestant community. The patropage afforded the Society soon after its institution, by the venerable bishop of the diocese within which it originated, not confined to a nominal sanction of the scheme, but displayed in an active interest in the success of the Society, was deliberately and cordially bestowed, as his biographer inforins us, from his perceiving that a design of such magnitude could only be accomplished by the association of men of
all religious persuasions.' " He entertained the hope that it "might operate as a bond of union between contending parties ; - and the more he considered its object, and the longer ex
perience he had of the spirit and principles on which it was ' conducted the inore deeply he was convinced that it me.
rited all the support which the Church of England could "give it."
The opinion and conduct of such a man as Bishop Porteus, together with the support which the Society obtained from several of his Episcopal brethren, was naturally esteemed in some degree as a pledge of the conduct of the Church itself in regard to the Institution; and the happiest auguries were drawn from the conciliating intercourse to which it promised to lead, between the members of different denominations of Christians. It was not long, however, before objections began to make their appearance, in the mild forip of Reasons for not becoming a member of the Society. The Society proceeded, and these objections were urged with greater vehemence. Suspicions grew into apprehensions, apprehensions into charges, and these charges,-repeated, perhaps, till those who advanced them began to fancy the force of assertion might serve instead of proof, into demonstrations.Demonstrations of what? Of a tens
use from hise accomplishedle entertai contending paper
perience he che inore which the
dency, a latent tendency in the Society, to subvert the Church and State!
We have long been of opinion, that too much good writing has been expended in refuting the foolish cavils, and in removing the speculative apprehensions, of the opponents of the Bible Society. We should not attempt, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has aptly remarked, to unravel a cobweb; we should brush it away. With regard indeed to those meinbers of the Society, who were attached to the Church of England, the attitude which they soon found themselves compelled to assume, was that of vindication and defence; and most exemplary has been the condescension with which they have expostulated, and reasoned, and apologized, in answer to the haughty charges of their clerical brethren. The controversy--for the circulation of the Bible has actually given rise to a controversy even among Protestunts-rests exclusively with the members of the Establishment. Among Dissenters, unless we except some of the zealous Socinians, who have feared to trust even their improved version, without the safeguard of Notes ; -- with this exception, it never was a question among Protestant Dissenters, whether it was safe or expedient, or a matter of duty, to place the rule of life and the test of doctrine, in the hands of every individual. We would not say this in the tone of triumph. Dissenters have had nothing to embarrass their decision, no opposing dictates of ecclesiastical authority to bias them, no probabilities of a secular reference to calculate, no cause independent of the Bible to maintain, and we may adid, no prejudices to surmount with regard to the most cordial co-operation with their fellow · citizens and fellow Christians of every name. Where, then,
could be the merit of their conduct? The Rev. Mr. Woodcock avows, that ' If we had no Establishment to consider, " there would be no difficulty: we should all be united.' There would then, he adds in explanation, be no absolute obligation 'to circulate the Prayer-book, no particular object for so
doing. Although, therefore, it does not argue powerfully in favour of the spirit and tendency of an Establishment, that it should have such an effect on the great body of the clergy, we must yet allow considerations of the kind alluded to, to form some apology for the conduct of individuals; to account at least for the indifference of some, the malignant hostility of others, the vague alarms of a third description, the passive obedience of a fourth. And, at the same time, they will tend to illustrate the meritoriousness of the remaining class, who, in spite of all-in spite of alleged danger, of dissuasions of policy, of unkind aspersion, or of remaining prejudice, have manfully come forward in the support of the Bible Society.