網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

may be admitted into a Magazine. It is by its very nature a general storehouse, into which, without incongruity, any thing that can be printed may appear. A sonnet, or a sermon, a mathematical problem, or a congressional debate, a treatise on the longitude, or an inquiry after the author of Waverly, and a thousand other topics equally heterogeneous, are equally admissible,

A Review on the contrary, to be consistent with its character, can do nothing but criticise, or, if it ventures to do any thing more, it must be under the mask of criticism. It must be indebted, if not to the contents, at least to the title page of some book which it forces into its service for the occasion. A Magazine being less restricted, is more wieldy and independent, In it the prevailing manners of the day can be more readily represented, and the passing events more connectedly related. Through its medium the oppressed may complain of his griev. ances, and the accused proclaim his justification. The pathetic tale to soften the heart, the glowing description to warm it; the example and the precept to strengthen virtue; and the welltimed exhortation and solemn warning to check the career of vice; the investigation after truth; the elucidation of the laws of nature, of taste, of morality, and of the social compact--all these, and whatever other topics can either amuse or instruct mankind, may find admission into the pages of a Magazine.

It is for these reasons, that we have preferred giving this unrestricted form to the work we now offer to the American public. We will not reject Reviews. On the contrary, we intend that few of our numbers shall pass into the world without some article of criticism. But we will not bind ourselves to the im. plicit observance of any particular routine of subjects. We have, indeed, an arrangement for the articles we shall insert, in view, and to this arrangement we shall adhere as closely as propriety will admit. When we deviate from it, it shall be only when we conceive it to be our duty either to our readers or ourselves.

We shall leave the further elucidation of our design to the execution of the work; which, we trust, the contributions of that talent which abounds in the country, will enable us to VOL. I.No. 1.

2

render worthy of the patronage we solicit, and conducive to the rising reputation of American literature.

REMARKS ON THE SCOTCH PREACHER, EDWARD

IRVING.

The people of the British capital seem never to be without some object of fashionable excitement. Sights and prodigies are, indeed, the delight of all large and luxurious cities; and of them, London generally possesses its full share. Pugilists, quack doctors, Egyptian mummies, Japanese mermaids, young Roscius's, learned pigs, and every species of monster that the freaks of nature can produce, or the imaginations of men invent, all make their way, some time or other, to that great focus of wealth, dissipation, and extravagant desires. So long as a conjurer, a merry-andrew, or an opera singer, or any other worldly object of attraction continued to excite the admiration, and lighten the pockets of the wonder-loving crowd, the thing would be quite right; it would be perfectly in character, and altogether according to custom. Nay, even if a Burdett dinner, a king's coronation, or a queen's trial, should become the stimulus of the day, there would be nothing strange in it, and we should not think it worth notice. But who can forbear to express surprise, when a minister of the gospel becomes the spectacle ? When the church becomes the scene of fashionable amusement, the place for high life to show-off, and the delectables of the true ton to obtain a delightful squeeze, among the dear crowd, then plain people may surely be permitted to wonder, without being charged with either rusticity or impertinence.

The show of the day is neither an Indian chief, nor a Bonaparte's carriage, nor a Hottentot Venus, nor a Russian czar, nor even a Johanna Southcote. These would be legitimate objects for drawing a crowd, for they are not to be seen every day. But, who can believe it that has not seen it! in this the most fashionable age of the world, and among the most fashionable people in it, the object of wonder, with which all the gay

and the great have become fascinated, is neither more nor less than an individual belonging to a class of men, who, for more than two hundred years, have been well known, and for more than a hundred and fifty, cried down and ridiculed as the most awkward, ungainly, and intolerable bores on earth ; namely, the solemn league and covenant men of Scotland. Yes, reader, Edward Irving, a minister o’ the auld covenanted kirk o' Scotland, a worthy Calvinist, a true representative of the Cargills, the Camerons, the Renwicks, and the Pedens, men who, ever since “ Charles's merry days,” have been held out as objects of scorn and contempt, by all the lovers of gaiety and high life, is now elevated to the pinnacle of fashionable admiration ; and the Caledonian kirk at Hatton garden, the mean and the despised Caledonian kirk! is become the irresistible centre of attraction, the grand theatre of pastime for the miscellaneous myriads of London ! Here the courtier and the cit, the peer and the apprentice, the duchess and the grocer's wife, hasten and become, amidst the enthusiasm and excitement of so novel a scene, all exquisitely jumbled together in perfect equality!

Indeed how can they do otherwise, when, in the true levelling spirit for which his sect was formerly so much detested by the grandees and their parasites, the precious man, without regard to rank or station, enters boldly into communion with the soul of each, investigates freely, and as freely exposes their good and bad qualities, and admits them to heaven, or consigns them to hell, just as he finds they deserve, without waiting to think of their births, honours, or possessions !

Should such a state of things continue but for a few months longer, the stage-players, the rope-dancers, the exhibiters of dwarfs, speaking machines, automaton chess-men, nay, even the keepers of pleasure gardens, and gambling houses, may resign business. Multitudes of Caledonian preachers from beyond the Tweed, will soon smell out the loaves and fishes, and pour southward to assist Mr. Irving in gathering in the golden harvest. Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh, will be kept busy preparing, and sending forth their missionaries to labour in such a splendid and lucrative field. Wo then to Kean and Matthews, Neate and the Gasman, Signor Hengli and Madame Catalini! They should,

without delay, pack up their trunks, and be off to Paris or Dublin, New York or Philadelphia, or any other place, where men and women may continue to be amused in the usual way, for in London they will be no longer in request. Their talents there will be worse than damaged goods, they will not even sell for half price. Covent Garden and Vauxhall will be inevitably deserted; even the Bazaar of Soho will be in danger of losing its customers. If we believe recent accounts, the players have already taken the alarm, and Matthews, no doubt with one of his inimitably long faces, has been heard to deplore the success of his brother actor," of the Caledonian.

What can be the cause of this prodigious revolution in the taste of the London gentry, in relation to their amusements, it is really no easy matter to determine. Can it be because their idol is a Scotchman? The taste of the whole English population has, for several years past, manifested as strong a predilection for every thing Scotch, as their ancestors, only “ sixty years since," did aversion. In the early half of George the third's reign, the name of a Scotchman was, very undeservedly it is true, a term of reproach among their more wealthy and better circumstanced neighbours. Now, the latter can scarcely tolerate any thing, especially in the literary way, but what is Scotch. Scotch novels, Scotch poetry (Lord Byron is half Scotch) Scotch music, Scotch philosophy, Scotch criticism, Scotch superstition, and Scotch sermons, are all the go. It is true, the good English folks do Ireland the honour of importing from thence her statesmen, her warriors, and her orators. But every other deficiency they must bring from the romantic “ North Countrie.”—And that Providence may long furnish them with a plentiful supply of Highland skulls, well stocked wi' pawkie brains, to invent for them those amusements which are so necessary to protect them from their natural hypochondriacs, must be the sincere wish of every one who has, at any time, experienced the torment of “ blue devils."

But, after all, we cannot heartily blame the good Londoners for this new whim of turning religious. If it be a real conversion towards long discarded puritanism, numbers of serious spirits in our castern States, will be rejoiced at it, and with whatever affords them pleasure, we must also be pleased.

Matthews and Kean may lose employment by the change, but then what an opening will be given to the numerous youths of classic lore and elocutory powers, that are yearly drilled at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and old St. Andrews! Nay, the players may not be so ill-fated as we might at first suppose. Their talents are adapted for public exhibition, and they have only to study the Bible and the creed of John Knox, instead of Shakespeare and the rules of Garrick, and then make a display in the pulpit instead of the stage, and all will be again well with them.

Nor will this change be any thing to their discredit, for Mr. Irving, whose manner they will have, of course, to copy, is really a man of talents. By falling into his manner, which their power of mimicry will enable them easily to do, and by enforcing his doctrines and precepts in his gorgeous and poetical style, which they must labour industriously to acquire, they may still be able to live as genteely as ever on the contributions of the public.

The London editors seem latterly to be more engrossed in discussing the merits of this new preacher, than even those of the Spanish question. His triumphs over the powers of worldly vanity and fashionable sin, are more celebrated than those of the Bourbon duke over Spanish freedom.

The editors are, indeed, much divided (but on what question are they not divided ?) as to the propriety of encouraging such a man. Some insist that it will have the effect of bringing back the nation to all the moroseness, formality and bigotry of the Cromwellian times, while others insist, that it will only have the neutralizing tendency of checking the headlong disposition of the age to frivolity and libertinism.

But it is not alone to the revival of orthodoxy, and the resormation of the manners and morals of the age, that Mr. Irving applies his electrifying rhetoric. He has, also, in view, the correction of its literary taste, and has boldly entered the lists with the admirers of Byron, Waverly and Moore. According to him, Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the whole school of the lullaby lake poets, are the only authors who write in the true legitimate strains of natural inspiration.

« 上一頁繼續 »