網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

philosophy, science, astronomy, astrology, the fine arts, and printing. The Author confines himself chiefly to description ; with the philosophy of the subject he very sparingly interferes. But if he gives but little of the highest sort of light, he gives not much of what is absolutely bad. He has a tincture of the credulity which so long misled our oriental inquirers, respecting the wonders of oriental philosophy; but it is a tincture not very deeply imbibed.

There is one point which we have reserved to the last, because we think it of peculiar importance. It is the grand subject of Religious Liberty, on which the facts adduced in the work before us throw considerable light. The following is a most important fact, because it may be generalized to almost any extent.

. Some superficial writers on the subject of the Muhammedan religion, have commended Muhammed for his toleration ? A few passages in the Koran might indeed make bigotry blush : but such passages do not accurately represent the character of the religion. The truth is, that (like all other reformers) while Muhammed was an humble preacher, he granted liberty of conscience; but when he became a powerful prince, the only choice to those to whom his religion was offered, was submission or tribute. Those portions of the Koran, therefore, which were revealed at Mecca, breathe the language of toleration, while those which were revealed at Medina, speak nothing but persecution.' p. 323. Note.

Tolerant when weak, intolerant when strong! This is a law of nature among those who have an interest in enslaving the minds, and, hence, the bodies of men !

The following is another passage from the work before us, a which we think highly worthy of being peculiarly pointed out to the attention of our readers.

• The zeal of the Muhammedans for proselytism, has for ages been exhausted, and so perfect is the contempt of the Turk for the professors of every religion but his own, that he thinks their conversion not worthy his endeavours. Sometimes, however, a pious Muselman, instigated by zeal or personal attachment to a Christian or a Jew, lifts up his hands and exclaims, “ Great God, enlighten this infidel, “ and graciously dispose his heart to embrace thy holy religion.” When devout persons propose their faith to the acceptance of a youth, whom they esteem for his talents or his knowledge, they do it with an air. of urbanity, and in language of persuasion. The zeal of the missionary is bounded by the rules of good breeding, and a vague answer, or silence, is received as an indication that the subject ought not to be continued. Though a Muselman may pray for the conversion of infidels, yet he is forbidden to implore the divine blessing upon them.

Pray not for those whose death is eternal,” is a precept of the Muhammedan church; and “ defile not thy feet by passing over the graves of men, the enemies of God and his

prophet.

[ocr errors]

if

In every part of Turkey, Christianity is tolerated on certain pe. cuniary conditions, and the insatiable avarice of the Turks is the potent preservative of those Christians and Jews that dwell among them. These infidels are an inexhaustible treasure to the government and to powerful individuals, and protection is dearly purchased. The first effort of Muhammedan education, is to root in the minds of children an abhorrence of Christians and Jews; and infants are taught to distinguish them by the name of Ghiour. The Christians are treated by the Muhammedans, with a cruelty which varies itself in a thousand forms They are interdicted from the

pomp

of

processions, the sound of bells or of psalmody, and every public demonstration of worship. They must erect no new churches, and heavy fines to the government increase the expence of repairing the old. Their public and private buildings are measured by a diminutive standard ; in the streets and baths they must give way to the meanest of the people ; their very dress is coinmanded to be different from that of the Moslems; and in but few cities dare they appear on horseback. If a Christian personally chastises a Moslem, his life is forfeited to the laws; but if a Moslem kill a Christian, the murder may be ransomed. In the courts of law, the evidence of two disciples of Jesus, is equivalent only to the testimony of one believer in the Arabian Prophet. In the greetings of these different people, the word Salam is carefully avoided by the Turks, on account of its affinity to the sacred words, Eslam and Moslem, and happy is the Christian, to the most courteous salutation of his Muhammedan lord, is not added the epithet of infidel or dog.' p. 390—393.

Christianity is tolerated in Turkey: and so are the Dissenters in England. How stands the comparison ? The Christians in Turkey are allowed to exist, nay, to teach their religion under certain restrictions : so are the Dissenters in England! The restrictions under which the Dissenters are allowed to disseminate their religious opinions in England, are less severe than those under which the Christians are allowed to teach theirs in Turkey. Yes; and that is the sole distinction. Yet, with all this name of toleration, no Christian doubts that his brethren live under an actual persecution in Turkey. For the same reason, it is undeniable that every species of non-conformity lies under a species of persecution in England, and, according to the laws, not a very mild species of persecution ; though it is readily acknowledged, and with gratitude, that it has become a very mild one in practice : so much has the spirit of the age compelled practice to depart from the laws, and to improve itself in spite of the laws.

The use of the word toleration, is justly objectionable. There is the spirit of persecution, there is persecution itself implied in the very term. We tolerate something which is bad, when we are not able commodiously to get rid of it. But to treat Dissenterism as something bad, is not only in the spirit of persecution, but is persecution itself: it is evil, and the cause of evil. Dissenterism is a good. It is to Dissenterism that we owe every thing which is good, either in our religious or our political institutions. It was Dissenterism which gave to us many of the best parts of them; and it is Dissenterism alone by which they have been, and are, and will be preserved. Make a law to destroy Dissenterism, to allow no religion to exist but Church of Englandism, and in a few years we should have as confirmed and as mischievous a despotism, as any in Europe.

The style of this work indicates a mind of considerable accomplishments. The Author is an admirer of Gibbon, and and there is too much of the imitation of the bad parts of Mr. Gibbon's style, in his work; but it must be allowed that there is also no small portion of the real elegancies which adorn the pages of that eminent historian. Art. V. Narrative of a Residence in Belgium, during the Campaign

of 1815. And of a Visit to the Field of Waterloo. By an Englishwoman. 8vo. pp. 350. Price 10s. 6d. Murray. London.

1817. ΑΝ N event grand and interesting in itself, and important in

its consequences, cannot be placed in too many points of view, or considered with too much minuteness.

Such an event was the Battle of Waterloo.

The annals of history present nothing that exceeds it in the heroic bravery which it called forth, nothing that would seem calculated to influence more deeply the interests of civilized society.

From the official details of the Commander in Chief, down to the artless and illiterate effusion of the private, who can just scrawl an assurance of bis individual safety, to those whom it may concern ; from the lofty visions of the poet, to the sober reflections of the moralist, from the ingenious theories of the politician, to the practical calculations of the merchant, whatever bas the victory of Waterloo for its foundation and its theme, is certain to rouse attention and invite inquiry. The time will of necessity come, when this great event will be only fainily contemplated through the haze of distance, together with many others once glowing and impressive; but by the present generation at least, it will always be remembered with deep interest.

We are not, however, called upop, in the work before us, to consider the Battle of Waterloo either politically or poetically. Equally removed from the dryness, of mere disqusition, or the dazzling exuberance of ornament, which a work, wherein the imagination claims a chief part, is privileged to wear, the fair Author of the “ Residence in Belgium" presents us a domestic picture of the feelings excited by the Battle of Waterloo, fought in its immediate vicinity, rather than a narrative of the manner in which it was conducted, or reflections upon its general consequences. The lady will, we feel well convinced, forgive us, when we say that one great charm in her work is derived from the sex of the Author. In those whom Milton styles

the fair defect Of nature, weakness is generally an appeal to kindness, and ignorance or misapprehension almost always excusable. Hence, the petty troubles and vexations which it is the lot of travellers of every description to encounter, and which they seem to think it their bounden duty to lay before their readers, assume more the air of serious grievances when they are related by a female, and, as such, awaken more compassion for her, than we feel disposed to bestow on the majority of the gentlemen rovers, who begin to find fault with their destiny, at Dover, and keep on in the same strain of lamentation,

• Where'er they turn, whatever realms they see.' The grander events of life likewise, falling more rarely within the sphere of the actual observation of woman, awaken in her, when an opportunity of contemplating them does occur, a transport of feeling, which men seldom experience, and still more seldom express. Susceptible and enthusiastic from organization, retired and timid through habit, she is at once powerfully alive to impressions of novelty, and eloquent in ber description of its effects. The human soul instinctively loves excitement, and in this particular we do not believe that it allows of any difference in sex, though we are aware that some of the male part of creation have ungallantly charged their softer help-mates with an inpate cruelty of disposition, no way metaphorical, but manifesting itself in the eagerness with which they are occasionally seen to run to witness a sanguinary spectable, whether it be the burning of a widow on the banks of the Ganges, or of a heretic at Lisbon ; a bull-fight in Madrid, or an execution at the Old Bailey. But from the love of excitement, which we have already mentioned, or some other cause, connected in an unseen manner with our good, we are all of us, at times, fond of searching after objects which,

when obtained, we know will certainly inflict a degree of pain. That women, impelled by novelty, may be daily found contemplating, with apparent interest, spectacles from which their softer nature might be expected to shrink, the most devoted champion of the sex will not undertake to deny ; but that they witness them without emotion, nay, that their sympathy does not often amount to anguish almost insupportable, pot its hardiest libeller will venture to affirm.

6

[ocr errors]

In the unaffected account which our fair countrywoman gives us of her feelings and conduct, on finding herself most unexpectedly made a spectator of events in which all Europe was interested, we see at once that spirit of enterprise, that voluntary self-agitation, which uncommon occurrences will always rouse in an enlarged and vigorous mind, whatever be the frame wbich contains it, joined to the quick perception, the melting sensibility, the active tenderness, which are at once the most engaging and the most valuable attributes of the female character.

After a modest preface, the Author commences her narrative with introducing us to her compagnons de voyage, consisting, besides her brother and sister, of a knight, a major, and a merchant. This variety of character in the dramatis persona, is well calculated to display a variety of opinions, and to open increased sources of information respecting passing events. After a due portion of the inconveniences, and · bair-breadth

'scapes' which to travellers seem the afflictions that form part of their dreams of happiness, the whole party enter Ostend, after dusk, by the aid of the Major's cocked-hat, aidede-camp's uniform, and authoritative assurance that they were

going to join the army with speed.' From Ostend to Bruges and Ghent, nothing particular occurs. The lady is very angry with Louis le Desiré, whom she sees at the latter place, for being corpulent, gouty, and uninteresting; and seems to think it a duty in a monarch who has been exiled and dethroned, to appear amiable, and make elegant bows. No doubt many of the French nation are of her opinion. From Ghent the party proceeds towards Brussels, and after the mention of that name, the Author contrives to interest the reader in every step of their route. They enter the city with part of a body of the Brunswick troops, generally called Black Brunswickers, whose sable garbs, horses, and plumes, strike upon the lively fancy of the Narrator, as of ominous appearance. But this sombre idea is soon put to flight by the gay and animated air which Brussels assumes, filled with troops of different nations, descriptions, and dresses, among which our travellers were delighted to see the British soldiers, particularly the Highlanders, laughing and joking, with much apparent glee, with the inbabitants.

Scarcely however do they enter the Hotel de Flandre, and literally they had not yet sat down, when they learn that hostilities had commenced that very afternoon; and the hurry of feeling which this intelligence excites, is well described ;, though we cannot quite concur in the admiration our fair Author expresses of the heroism exhibited by the Duke of Wellington, and most of his officers, in resolving to fulfil their engagement to a ball

« 上一頁繼續 »