ページの画像
PDF
ePub

less eminent as a maritime surveyor, were natives of the Orkneys. In morals they seem to be at least on a par with the majority of their fellow subjects. It is not surprising, that, in their mercantile dealings, they should appear to be quite as far North, as any of the inhabitants of Great Britain. In that emulation of refinement as to modes of living, which characterizes the present age, they have made greater advances than might be imagined of so remote a situation . but they retain, apparently, more remnants of heathenish superstition, than their southern compatriots of modern times. This may perhaps be imputed in part, to the strength of their attachment to ancient customs : a disposition which is manifested by their remaining partiality to the Episcopal establishment, which they enjoyed before that of Presbyierianism ; and even to those peculiarities of it which were abolished by the reformation from popery. The spirit of religious dissent, for which Britons are so widely celebrated, has, however, nearly reached the ultima Thule. The recent institution of a congregation of dissenters (Antiburgher Seceders, we believe) at Kirkwall, is attributed by Dr. B. wholly to the disa gust of the incorporate tradespeople, at an interference of the Kirk session with their management of the poor's funds. Instances of individuals separating from an established church, in consequence of personal disputes with their clergy, are not, we believe, uncommon : but this is the first case, that we have heard of, of a separate congregation being instituted solely on that ac. count; and we are therefore inclined to apprehend, that other causes may have concurred to produce this effect; especially on a spot where dissenters (except a few conscientious episcopalians) seem to have been till lately unknown. We hear, however, that a small congregation of Independents has recently been formed in one of the western islands of the group. We regret that the Church of Christ should ever have been split into parties; and we ardently wish, that real religion may so prevail in all, as to preclude mutual enmity among them.

It is with great pleasure, that we quote our author's eulogium on the ladies in these islands; and we hope that it will conduce to the profit, as well as to the entertainment, of our female readers.

- Whatever may be thought of the characters of the men of the first class, there is one respect in which they are peculiarly fortunate; and, that is, in the excellence of their female companions. While women of that rank in some places spend their time in attending to their dress, reading plays and novels, playing at cards and dice, and frequenting public places in parties of pleasure, ours reckon it their glory and happiness to devote their days to the faithful discharge of the relative and domestic duties. While they are young, they look up to the conduct of their mo

thers, thers, which, in most instances, is a model of innocence, industry, and ceconony; and when they arrive at a more mature age, and have been educated, as they generally are, in those branches that become their station, they are proud to follow punctually the example that has been set them. They are on all occasions respectful and obedient to their parents, cheerful in their temper, and contented with their condition; and they are in every respect as affable, as they are innocent and modest in their manners. And when marriage connects them with another family, which, on account of the small number of men, but too seldom happens, they are no less distinguished for their attachment to their husbands, than they are for the prudent management of their houses, and motherly affection for their children. Though their education, as in other places, is inferior to that of the men, their understandings are in general superior. They are alive to all the tender sensibilities, that mark and adorn their sex; and while the other sex, at least some of them, discover a culpable indifference, they shew by their conduct, that they feel, in all their vigour, the warm, though rational sentiments of devotion.' pp. 333, 334,

Alas! Dr. B., if such inestimable blessings as these fail to keep your gentry at home, what success can you expect, from any other motive that has been suggested, to increase the population of these truly fortunate islands ?-Happy would it have been for many of our youths, it, instead of carrying a partner to Gretna Green, they had gone twice the distance, to procure one from the Orkneys! We hope that this bint will not be thrown away: but should any of our young readers adopt it, we doubt whether it will not be an additional measure of prudence, to remain with the object of his choice on a spot so favourable to domestic felicity, rather than encounter the hazard of transplanting her to a different soil.

From so pleasing a subject, we must be excused for briefly reverting to that of Orkneian Antiquities; to which, also, our author has paid due attention. To these, most of the plates that einbellish his work, are to be referred. Among them, area two views of the Cathedral, and the remains of the episcopal palace at Kirkwall; one, of the town and the Earl's palace; and of the castles at Birsa, and Westray ; two views of the upright stones at Stennis; one of the Dwarfie stone at Hoy; and one of that island, and its vicinity. These are designed by Mr. Skene, and other genilemen, whom we suppose to be resident at Orkney; and they are well engraved by Mr. Scott, of Edinburgh. They form elegant and useful accompaniinents to the work. Dr. B. also gives a plan of one of the principal edifices called Picts' Houses ; and a general Map of the Islands, copied from Mackenzie's. This accords so ill with his geographical description, that we have been more perplexed than enlightened, by a close comparison of them. Our author inakes the Pentland (olim, Petland) Firth, twelve miles wide; whereas by Mr. MacVol. II.

kenzie's

H

kenzie's scale, we can hardly make the distance from Duncansby Head to South Ronaldsha, sir miles. There is also no small diversity, both in the measures of particular islands, and in the extent of the group. The latitude of Kirkwall is said by Dr. B. to be 59o. 9'. north : but by the map it is 58®. 58'. 30'. Its longitude is placed by Dr. B. in 2o. 30'. west of Greenwich ; which, luckily, the map cannot contradict, as it deduces the longitude only from the meridian of Kirkwall. Various places, moreover, are named by the author, which are not inserted in the map. The disagreement of maps with the text of the books to which they belong, is a very common evil; and it requires to be more strongly censured, on that account.

On the whole, the public, and more especially the inhabitants of Orkney, are much indebted to Dr. B. for the ample and perspicuous information concerning these islands which he has supplied. It is the more acceptable, as we are not aware that they have been described (except in the statistical account) since the commencement of the last century. We have been surprised to find no reference to Brand ; but of Torfæus and Wallace, our author has made a proper use : and in his Appendix he has published some MS. documents, which afforded him valuable assistance. From his almost total silence on the Shetland Islands, which have always been more intimately connected with the : Orkneys, than might, on account of their distance, be supposed, we are led to hope that he may have meditated a separate history of that cluster ; and we shall be glad to see his labours extended to them. Indeed, we think a history of all the northern British isles, so far as it can be ascertained, a desideratum in English literature. Nothing could better tend to illustrate our early connexions with Scandinavia, the influence of which, both on Britain and Ireland. forms one of our most interesting subjects of historical investigation. Such a work would be a very acceptable counterpart of Mr. Turner's Anglo-Saxon History, which displays a depth and extent of research that are too seldom exhibited, especially by a young author In any future performance of Dr. Barry, we would recommend to him the emulation of so praiseworthy a pattern. By a critical investigation of the Norwegian Sagas, and a general attention to the connexion of contemporary history, he might greatly improve in a subsequent impression, the narrative department of his present work, and by doing so, he would probably much in. crease that interest for its appropriate subject which he has earnestly endeavoured to excite. We heartily wish that the inhabitants of the Orkneys may derive essential and progressive advantages from his patriotic labours.

Art. Art. III. Dr. Priestley's Notes on the Books of Scripture, continued from

Page 14. W E proceed to Dr. Priestley's Comments on the most im

portant of all writings, the records of the evangelists, and the epistolary instructions of the apostles. And, while we readily admit that the annotator has often illustrated an historical fact, or an external circumstance, we are compelled to state, that he 'appears to us, throughout a great part of his work, to have studiously perverted what was plain, and darkened what was perspicuous.

The Notes on the Gospels are arranged according to Dr. P.'s · scheme of a harmony. On this subject, our intelligent readers may recollect that the author's opinions are already before the public, he having long ago stated and defended them, in his Greek and English Harmony, and in his correspondence with the late Primate of Ireland. The hypothesis which he embraced, with regard to the duration of our Lord's ministry, was that which most of the earlier fathers maintained, and which was revived about seventy years ago by Mann; namely, that the public actions of Jesus, from his baptism to his resurrection, occupied little more than the space of one year. Upon this leading principle the sections of the evangelical historians are arranged, in the work before us. To the principle itself, and to the use which Dr. P. has made of it, we should have no invincible objection, did not the Gospel of John present difficulties apparently insurmountable, except by means which no sound rules of criticism will warrant.

Indeed, we cannot but think, that the construction of a complete harmony of the gospels, on a sure basis, is a vain attempt. No one of the evangelists has impressed sufficient marks of time, on all the different parts of his writings: nor can it be certainly proved that any of them intended to confine himself to the strictness of chronological succession in the order of relation. Though it is probable with respect to John, the contrary is demonstrable in the three preceding evangelists. Nor will it be a matter of surprise, if we form a right conception of the nature of that species of composition to which the Gospels belong. It was not the design of the holy evangelists to write Annals, such, for example, as Boswell's Life of Johnson; nor a Diary, as Ed. wards's Memoirs of Brainard; nor a professed and regular History, as Robertson's History of Charles V. Their writings are a peculiar species of biography, deriving its character from the special object which they steadily kept in view. This was to prove the Messiahship of Jesus by three grand arguments--thie complishment of the Old Testament prophecies in him--the

II.

miracles miracles which he performed - and the doctrines which he taught. It is evident, on a careful perusal of these inestimable records, that every relation or anecdote which they comprise, is directed to the establishment of one or other of those great points: and it is easy to conceive, that such a design, constantly present and predominant in the writer's mind, would lead to an arrangement considerably different from the mere order of time.

The Memorabilia of Xenophon approaches closely to the kind of composition adopted by the evangelists. That work relates various parts of the conduct and discourses of Socrates, in a method which the author thought most conducive to his purpose-the proof of his persecuted master's innocence; but he has by no means disposed it in a chronological order. Had the writings of Xenophon and Plato been compared, canvassed, and sifted with all that minute attention and keen acumen, not to say unreasonable captiousness, with which the four Gospels have been treated, difficulties exactly of the same kind would have occurred : and were any one to attempt the construction of a Socratic harmony out of those writings, he would encounter proportionably as many perplexities as christian harmonists find in their endeavours.

Hence we infer, that the formation of a perfect harmony of the gospels, gratifying as it might be to our curiosity, has not been judged by Divine Wisdom necessary for the great purposes of christian faith and knowledge; nevertheless, such a synopsis of these most interesting of all narratives may doubtless be constructed, as will answer every needful purpose of illustration and instruction.

As we have before observed, it is a leading and determined purpose of Dr. P.'s Notes to serve the cause of what is arrogantly termed Unitarianism; and he has certainly kept this purpose in view. To say the least, he is a zealous and resolute advocate. His maxim seems to have been to maintain his cause at all events. Seldom is he at a loss for a gloss, or an evasion, in aiming at the accomplishment of his object. If he meets with a passage whose indubitable reading, and whose obvious, plain meaning, are such as every inbiassed man would pronounce favourable to the Deity and Atonement of Christ, the Doctor is ready with ample stores of metaphorical, eniginatical, and idiomatical forms of interpretation; and stubborn must be that text which will not bend under one or other of his modes of treatment. In some cases, a various reading, though none of the best authenticated, is called in to his assistance. Should this aid fail, some learned critic or other is at hand with a conjectural alteration. Or, if none of these means appear adviseable, the philosophical commentator has in reserve a kind of logical alkali,

« 前へ次へ »