any such books; but that it was a trick of our parents to keep us up so many hours of the day together, and hinder us from enjoying our innocent pastime in the open air, and the pleasure of planting little gardens of flowers, and hunting of butterflies and humble-bees."

In reply, it was ably contended, that the notion of a compact was not to be found in or fairly inferred from the Scriptures; that the Egyptians did not produce real, but only seeming transformations; that the various terms employed in the Mosaic law designated characters very unlike the modern witch, and referred to the incantations and jugglings of idolatrous priests; that the witch of Endor imposed upon Saul, and either that Samuel was not raised at all, or by a higher power, to her confusion; and that whatever was the nature of the possessions described in the Gospels, there was not the remotest hint of their having been produced by witchery. Scott is very ample and satisfactory on the provisions of the Mosaic code. He makes every Hebrew term connected with the subject the text of a dissertation on the species of pretended magic which it describes, illustrating each with a profusion of learning, and demonstrating its dissimilarity to the imaginary crime which, in his own days, occasioned so much horror. His work was a well-stored armoury, from which subsequent combatants furnished themselves with weapons of proof. We should not have quitted our subject without attempting an analysis of it, had not our remarks already been too much extended. Sir Robert Filmer has also argued very forcibly the wide difference between the Hebrew and the English witch. The same course of reasoning on the Scriptures is pursued, and with much ability, by Ady, Webster, and Wagstaffe. The "Doctrine of Devils," a violent, outrageous, ill-written, and fanatical work, is remarkable for its advocating the principle, since adopted by the ablest theologians, that only the Deity can work a miracle; and the notion of the learned Jos. Mede and others, that the possessions mentioned in the New Testament were only natural disorders, as lunacy, epilepsy, &c. Notwithstanding this philosophical refinement on the theology of the day, this book is characterized by a worse spirit, by more of intolerance and railing, than any work on the same side of the question; nor is it surpassed, if equalled, in these bad qualities, by those of any of the pleaders for the reality of witchcraft, and the propriety of the sanguinary proceedings adopted against it. Generally, they are animated by a fine spirit of humanity. They write like men attempting to stop the current of a flood of blood, flowing from kindred veins.

"I cannot think (says Wagstaffe, in the conclusion of his Question of Witchcraft Debated) without trembling and horror on the

vast numbers of people that, in several ages and several countries, have been sacrificed unto this idol, opinion. Thousands, ten thousands, are upon record to have been slain, and many of them not with simple deaths, but horrid, exquisite tortures. And yet how many are there more, who have undergone the same fate, of whom we have no memorial extant. Since, therefore, the opinion of witchcraft is a mere stranger unto Scripture, and wholly alien from true religion; since it is ridiculous, by asserting fables and impossibilities; since it appears, when duly considered, to be all bloody, and full of dangerous consequence unto the lives and safety of men; I hope that with this my discourse opposing an absurd and pernicious error, I have not at all disobliged any sober unbiassed person; especially if he be of such ingenuity as to have freed himself from a slavish subjection unto those prejudicial opinions, which custom and education do with too much tyranny impose."

In the same noble tone of a benevolent philosophy, he says:

"If the doctrine of witchcraft should be carried up to a height, and the Inquisition after it should be intrusted in the hands of ambitious, covetous, and malicious men, it would prove of far more fatal consequence unto the lives and safety of mankind, than that antient Heathenish custome of sacrificing men unto Idol Gods; insomuch, that we stand in need of another Hercules liberator, who as the former freed the world from humane sacrifice, should, in like manner, travel from country to country, and, by his all-commanding authority, free it from this evil and base custome of torturing people to confess themselves witches, and burning them after extorted confessions. Surely the blood of men ought not to be so cheap, nor so easily to be shed, by such who, under the name of God, do gratifie exorbitant passions and selfish ends; for, without question, under this side Heaven, there is nothing so sacred as the life of man, for the preservation whereof, all policies or forms of goverment, all laws and magistrates, are most especially ordained: Wherefore, I presume, that this discourse of mine, attempting to prove the vanity and impossibility of witchcraft, is so far from any deserved censure and blame, that it rather deserves commendation and praise, if I can in the least measure contribute to the saving of the lives of men."

This is no philanthropical cant. The notion of witchcraft was no innocent and romantic superstition, no scion of an elegant mythology; but altogether vulgar, repulsive, bloody, and loathsome. It was a foul ulcer on the face of humanity. Other vagaries of the human mind have been associated with lofty or with gentle feelings; they have belonged more to sportiveness than to criminality; they are the poetry interspersed on the pages of the history of opinions; they seem the dreams of sleeping reason, and not the putrescence of its

mouldering carcase; but this has no bright side, no redeeming quality whatever. It only terrified the timid, and gratified the bigot, and pampered the impostor, and destroyed the friendless. There is no taste in its fictions, no dignity in its crimes, no romance in its history. Reading its tale is like listening to the ravings of Bedlam, or visiting the plague-ward of an hospital, or the convict cells of a gaol. It is to the honour of English intellect, that so much talent was displayed for the purpose of writing it down, and not displayed in vain. Scott, and Harsnett, and Ady, and Webster, and Wagstaffe, and Hutchinson, are authors who deserve a high place in the calendar of public benefactors. Not by them alone, not by authorship alone, but as we have seen, by the co-operation of various causes, and by the cessation of some opposing influences, was the evil assuaged; yet is their share of the triumph a glorious one. Scott, more than any individual, deserves to be honoured as the Hercules liberator. His writings were very effective, both at their first publication and long afterwards. Antony Wood, after justly observing, that "the author was very well versed in many choice books, and that his search into them was so profound, that nothing slipped his pen that might make for his purpose," says, that "they did for a time make great impressions in the magistracy and clergy." Voetius tells us, that they were burned, but that the argumentative parts were translated into Dutch, and made not a few converts in the Low Countries, both of the learned and unlearned. Several English editions were printed. Scott lived a retired life at Smeeth, in Kent, where he was enabled to pursue his studies by the liberality of his kinsman, Sir Thomas Scott, of Scott's Hall, whom he commemorated in a poetical epitaph, with historical notes, designed for insertion in the second edition of Hollingshed's Chronicle, but refused by the proprietors, and published in 1740, from Fleming's MS. Collections. He was much addicted to husbandry, and also printed "A Perfite Platforme of a Hoppe Garden, and Necessarie Instruction for the making and mayntenance thereof, &c." This little piece is said to have been very useful; and though the utility be of a different kind from that of his more celebrated work, yet are they not altogether unconnected. Generous diet has been known to restore even a self-condemned witch or wizard. Cardan tells, on the authority of his father, of one Barnard, who was condemned to the stake on his own confession; but a respite of twenty days was obtained for him to try the humane experiment of better living, and in proportion as he was well fed did he talk rationally, and he was ultimately saved. It was consistent and wise in Reginald Scott to improve the culture of hops, for strong ale is a good antidote to superstitious fancies. He thus became a double benefactor to

his country, and particularly to his lovely native county, delivering many from the perils and pains of swimming, shaving, worrying, and hanging; and pouring a richer balm into their cup of life. In this noble liquor, which this protector of persecuted old women taught to raise to a finer flavour, should every man of Kent pledge his memory.

ART. VI.-The Life of the Honourable Sir Dudley North, Knt. Commissioner of the Customs, and afterwards of the Treasury, to his Majesty Charles the Second; and of the Honourable and Reverend Dr. John North, Master of Trinity College in Cambridge, and Greek Professor, Prebend of Westminster, and some time Clerk of the Closet to the same King Charles the Second. By the Honourable Roger North, Esq.

Ea complectitur, quibus ipse interfuit.

4to. London, 1744.

Cic. de Leg. Lib. 1.

This pair of family portraits is by the same hand, and in the same style, as the life of Lord Keeper Guilford, of which curious and entertaining book, an account was given in one of our earlier numbers. There are here the same bold but coarse strokes of description, the same easy and familiar handling of the subject, the same lavishness of homely yet often forcible language, the same simplicity, narrowness, honesty, and prejudice, which distinguished the work to which we have alluded. But the life of Lord Guilford, though checquered by no remarkable events, was fertile of incidents, anecdote, and character. His lordship gradually rose to greatness through the different gradations of the law, had extensive connexions, mingled largely with the world, and was of considerable importance in the state. In the instances before us, the biographer had not the same ample field; for the one brother was neither more nor less than a Turkey merchant, and the other an unambitious scholar.-It can hardly be expected that such men, individually, afford any very striking materials for history; but they were both men of talent, each had his distinctive character; and were the lives of any such men well written, they could not fail to be instructive, and most commonly entertaining.We cannot say we should propose Roger North as a model for the biographer to imitate; but he had the advantage of the strictest and most confidential intimacy with the subjects of his pen, and wrote with a very reasonable share of impartiality.

He has, too, rather a shrewd notion of the discriminative differences in the characters of men, and a broad and dashing pencil when he attempts to hit them off. His strokes are not always effective, and frequently only load his canvas; but, by dint of brandishing his brush with more zeal than skill, and by making desperate dashes in all directions, he often succeeds in completing a staring likeness: so that mostly his pictures are full of an aukward vivacity, and, though instinct with life, appear to be capable only of a cumbrous and unwieldy motion.


It is not, however, in the book before us, that these characteristics of the writer are most obvious, for it presents nothing to be compared with the rich treat to which we invited our readers in the life of Lord Guilford. This work, nevertheless, has its peculiar merits-to say nothing of the amiable spectacle which is presented to us of the youngest of four brothers remaining firmly and tenderly attached to each and all through life, and after their death, spending the last years of his retirement from the world in recording their virtues and describing their actions. Of the six sons of Dudley Lord North, the eldest succeeded to the title, and to far the greater part of no very large estate. appears always to have kept aloof from his brethren, who were left to struggle through the world, and rise to eminence by the force of their own attainments. The second son, Francis, afterwards Lord Keeper Guilford, led the way; in him the others seem always to have found a steady, able, and affectionate friend, assistant, and adviser. For these reasons, and perhaps from the superiority of his talents, he is always styled through these memoirs their best brother. The third son, Dudley, sought his fortunes abroad as a merchant. The fourth son went to Cambridge, and rose in the Church. The fifth son, Montagu, was also a Levant merchant, and in partnership with Dudley, and died abroad. The sixth and last was Roger, who succeeded in the law, was the faithful friend and companion of his brothers, and wrote the lives of them all. We have said all, for Montagu North appears to have had little to distinguish him, and though no separate memoir is written concerning him, that little is mentioned in different parts of the lives of his brothers. This being the relation in which these brothers and these books stand to one another, we think we should be guilty of a piece of injustice, did we neglect the work before us, and thus put asunder those whom nature herself and all kindly affections appear to have joined together.

The lives of Sir Dudley North and Dr. John North, here published together, form a most remarkable contrast. The first was an active, shrewd, bold, and enterprising merchant, who early left his native soil, and only returned to it after various travels and persevering exertions in different countries; the

« 上一页继续 »