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This system of dealing criticism from the pulpit is entirely new, and, among the rest of Mr. Irving's novelties, could not but have an immense effect on the wonder-loving Londoners. To hear the poctical bully who terrified the mighty reviewers of the Scottish capital, boldly denounced, by a simple clergyman, for his bad versification, as well as his profane ribaldry, could not but draw an audience—and what bachannalian peer, or frail fair one, could, for the very soul of them, remain absent from a scene, where it was understood that the amorous Moore was to receive a proper flagellation for his lewd Anacreontics, and his unspiritualized angelic loves? That great disfigurer of history also, who wrote Waverly, it was reported would not be spared for his libels upon the covenanted saints of the murderous days of Claverhouse, nor for the bad style in which he makes auld king Jamie speak Scotch, after having made his mother speak good English.
These, and a thousand other attractions, incident to his person, manners, style of oratory, and mode of announcement, may satisfactorily account for the astonishing popularity of Mr. Irving's public exhibitions.
But he has not trusted to his public exhibitions alone for his fame. These he knew were wind, and would consequently pass like a breeze through the forest. They might make a noise for a time, but that noise would not be lasting. Not so, he believed, would be the fruits of his genius, if he committed them to the immortalizing press. Accordingly, out came“ Four Orations," entitled, " For the Oracles of God;" and an “ Argument, in nine parts, entitled, “ For judgment to come.”
These titles are not greatly indicative of good taste, or splendid imagination, at least we should conceive them not very attractive to the readers of the modern great world. But then, on the same title page, there follow the magical words, “ By the Rev. Edward Irving, minister of the Caledonian Church, Hatton Garden.” This was enough for the reading epicures of Paternoster Row. Had all the rest of the title page been an absolute blank, this would have promised a feast, irresistibly attractive to the imaginations of the book gluttons. The work consequently sells, and all the critics are in a buzz. The small fry of authors are sharpening their pens, and will inevitably daub Mr. Irving's writings into immortality, in spite of the abstruse nature of their titles.
We have met with some extracts from these productions; and, must confess, that their style is as novel and extraordinary for such subjects, as their author is said to be impressive and successful in his oratory. Their is a singular vein of poetry, and striking imagery, in his descriptions, at which, if professor Blair were alive, he would be absolutely shocked, as they most outrageously violate all the established canons of sermon writing. When he describes the joys of heaven, he completely out-metaphors Tom Moore's most rapturous paintings of beatitude; and, as to hell, neither the gloom of Byron, nor the horrors of Dantè, can approach to his terrifying pictures. Of the happiness of heaven, he speaks as follows:
“ Think you the creative function of God is exhausted upon this dark and troublous ball of earth? or that this body and soul of human nature are the master-piece of his architecture ? Who knows what new enchantment of melody, what new witchery of speech, what poetry of conception, what variety of design, and what brilliancy of execution, he may endow the human faculties withal-in what new graces he may clothe nature, with such various enchantment of hill and dale, woodland, rushing streams, and living fountains; with bowers of bliss and Sabbath scenes of peace, and a thousand forms of disporting creatures, so as to make all the world hath beheld, to seem like the gross picture with which you catch infants; and to make the eastern tale of romances, and the most rapt imagination of eastern poets, like the ignorant prattle and rude structures which first delight the nursery and afterwards ashame our riper years.
gain, from our present establishment of affections, what exquisite enjoyment springs, of love, of friendship, and of domestic life. For each one of which God, amidst this world's faded glories, hath preserved many a temple of most exquisite delight. Home, that word of nameless charms; love, that inexhaustible theme of sentiment and poetry; all relationships, parental, conjugal, and filial, shall arise to a new strength, graced with innocency, undisturbed by apprehension of decay, unruffled by jealousy, and unweakened by time. Heart shall meet heart
Each other's pillow to repose divine.
The tongue shall be eloquent to disclose all its burning emotions, no longer labouring and panting for utterance. And a new organization of body for joining and mixing affections may be invented, more quiet homes for partaking it undisturbed, and more sequestered retreats for barring out the invasion of other affairs. 'Oh! what scenes of social life I fancy to myself in the settlements of the blessed, one day of which I would not barter against the greatness and glory of an Alexander or a Cæsar. What new friendships—what new connubial ties--what urgency of well-doing-what promotion of good—what elevation of the whole sphere in which we dwell! till every thing smile in “ Eden's first bloom," and the angels of light, as they come and go, tarry with innocent rapture over the enjoyment of every happy fair. Ah! they will come, but with no weak sinfulness like those three* lately sung of by no holy tongue; they will come to creatures sinless as themselves, and help forward the mirth and rejoicing of all the people. And the Lord God himself shall walk amongst us, as he did of old in the midst of the garden. His Spirit shall be in us, and all heaven shall be revealed upon us.
“God only knows what great powers he hath of creating happiness and joy. For, this world your sceptic poets make such idolatry of, 'tis a waste howling wilderness compared with what the Lord our God shall furnish out. That city of our God and the Lamb, whose stream was crystal, whose wall was jasper, and her buildings molten gold, whose twelve gates were each a silvery pearl—doth not so far outshine those dingy, smoky, clayey dwellings of men, as shall that new earth outshine the fairest region which the sun hath ever beheld in his circuit since the birth of time.
“ But there is a depraved taste in man, which delights in strise and struggle; a fellness of spirit, which joys in fire and sword ? and a serpent mockery, which cannot look upon innocent peace without a smile of scorn, or a ravenous lust to mar it. And out of this fund of bitterness come forth those epithets of derision which they pour upon the innocent images of heaven. They laugh at the celebration of the Almighty's praise as a heartless service-not understanding that which they make themselves merry withal. The harp which the righteous tune in heaven, is their heart full of glad and harmonious emotions. The song which they sing, is the knowledge of things which the soul coveteth after now, but faintly perceiveth. The troubled fountain of human understanding hath become clear as crystal, they know even as they are known. Wherever they look abroad,
* Moore's three lovesick angels.
they perceive wisdom and glory—within, they feel order and happiness--in every countenance they read benignity and love. God is glorified in all his outward works, and inthroned in the inward parts of every living thing; and man, being ravished with the constant picture of beauty and contentment, possessed with a constant sense of felicity, utters forth his Maker's praise, or if he utters not, museth it with expressive silence.”
He who speaks in the following style of the death-bed anticipations of hell, which agitate the wicked, how will he speak of hell itself?
- And another of a more dark and dauntless mood, who hath braved a thousand terrors, will also make a stand against terror's grisly king--and he will seek his ancient intrepidity, and search for his wonted indifference; and light smiles upon his ghastly visage, and affect levity with his palsied tongue, and parry his rising fears, and wear smoothness on his outward heart, while there is nothing but lossing and uproar beneath. He may expire in the terrible struggle--nature may fail under the unnatural contest; then he dies with desperation imprinted on his clay!
“But if he succeed in keeping the first onset down, then mark how a second and a third comes on as he waxeth feebler. Nature no longer enduring so much, strange and incoherent words burst forth, with now and then a sentence of stern and loud defiance. This escape perceiving, he will gather up his strength and laugh it off as reverie. And then remark him in his sleep-how his countenance suffereth change, and his breast swelleth like the deep: and his hands grasp for a hold, us if his soul were drowning ; and his lips tremble and mutter, and his breath comes in sighs, or stays with long suppression, like the gusts which precede the bursting storm; and his frame shudders, and shakes the couch on which this awful scene of death is transacted. Ah! these are the ebbings and flowings of strong resolve and strong remorse. That might have been a noble man; but he rejected all, and chose wickedness, in the face of visitings of God, therefore he is now so severely holden of death.
“ And reason doth often resign her seat at the latter end of these God-despisers. Then the eye looks forth from its naked socket, ghastly and wild-terror sits enthroned upon the pale brɔw--he starts—he thinks that the fiends of hell are already upon bim-his disordered brain gives them form and fearful shape-he speaks to them--he craves their mercy. His tender relatives beseech him to be silent, and with words of comfort assuage his terror, and recall him from his paroxysm of reVOL. 1.-No. 1.
morse. A calm succeeds, until disordered imagination harh recruited strength for a fresh creation of terror; and he dies with a fearful looking-for of judgment, and of fiery indignation to consume him.”
The indifference of the modern Londoners in respect to religion, and their eagerness after the pursuits and pleasures of the world, are lamented as follows:
“ They carry on commerce with all lands, the bustle and noise of their traffic fill the whole earth—they go to and fro, and knowledge is increased—but how few in the hasting crowd are hasting after the kingdom of God! Meanwbile, death sweepeth on with his chilling blast, freezing up the life of generations, catching their spirits unblest with any preparation of peace, quenching hope, and binding destiny for evermore. Their graves are dressed, and their tombs are adorned; but their spirits, where are they? How oft hath this city, where I now write these lamentations over a thoughtless age, been filled and emptied of her people since first she reared her imperial head! How many generations of her revellers have gone to another kind of revelry!-how many generations of her gay courtiers to a royal residence where courtier arts are not !-how many generations of her toilsome tradesmen to the place of silence, where no gain can follow them! How time hath swept over her, age after age, with its consuming wave, swallowing every living thing, and bearing it away unto the shores of eternity! The sight and thought of all which is my assurance that I have not in the heat of my feelings surpassed the merit of the case. The theme is fitter for an indignant prophet, than an uninspired sinful man.”
We shall close these extracts with the remarkable description of the modern bully, which has made its way into so many of the British prints.
“ And here, first, I would try these flush and flashy spirits with their own weapons, and play a little with them at their own game. They do but prate about their exploits at fighting, drinking, and death-despising. I can tell them of those who fought with savage beasts; yea, of maidens, who durst enter as coolly as a modern bully into the ring, to take their chance with infuriated beasts of prey; and I can tell them of those who drank the molten lead as cheerfully as they do the juice of the grape, and handled the red fire, and played with the bickering flanes as gaily as they do with love's dimples or woman's amorous tresses. And what, do they talk of war? Have they