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light had already rendered contempti. graded,--he who lived to flatter a ble. Meantime, the cruelties exer- grossly licentious court, readily adoptcised by the Duke of Alvá over the ed the spirit common to those who live Protestant allies of England were quite in open defiance of those pure precepts sufficient to keep up the flame of An- given us in mercy for a rule of life. ti-Catholic indignation. If ever an To them Christian teachers appear as author could plead excuse for convey- ministers of vengeance rather than ing to unpractised minds an impression heralds of the law of love and peace. of intolerant scorn and disgust towards To discover that there are transgresall the ministers of a form of religion sors of that holy law clothed in the which, though much corrupted, was garb of sanctity, affords them an equistill Christian, Shakespeare was that vocal comfort." To drag their guilt author. When drawing the character into open view, gives them a kind of of individuals such as history has malignant pleasure; and to draw the transmitted them, he spares neither conclusion from the decency or austethe worldly craft of Pandulph nor the rity of others, that all who are not oferocious ambition of the Cardinal of pen libertines are hypocrites or narrowWinchester, yet he takes no wanton de- minded fanatics, is among the wretchlight in confounding a whole order in ed pretexts by which the enemies of one indiscriminate censure. On the religion, in all ages, endeavour to hide, contrary, instead of gratifying, as he even from themselves, that it is not might easily have done, the bitter spi- the religious, but religion itself, they rit of the newly reformed and lately hate. What we greatly fear we canoppressed, in the very few appeare not much love. Those who daily ances which individuals of the reli- transgress a law enforced by severe gious orders of the Church of Rome penalties must think with terror of make on his theatre, they compose that law, and with a kind of rancorthemselves with a modest gravity, and ous dislike of those whose duty it is without wantonly quoting and misap- to explain it. plying texts of Scripture, express
When Dryden seized on every therselves in the style of men devo- possible occasion to introduce priests ted to the concerns of a better life. into his comedies, that he might Witness the friar who is the friend show them odious by their vices, or and confidant of the unhappy lovers contemptible by their meanness and in Romeo and Juliet, and that other avarice, he well knew how acceptwho unites in marriage the Countess able such portraits were to a shameOlivia and Sebastian in the comedy less court and a corrupted audience; of Twelfth Night. When the red yet it is remarkable, that, in some gard he pays to historical truth leads of our older plays, where, from him to depict Cardinal Wolsey haugh- the coarse manners of the times, dety, ambitious, and voluptuous, as he cency was little regarded, the decowas, he fails not to do justice to the rum due to this order of men is prenobler qualities which were obscured served. In a tragedy of Ford's, of by the predominating love of power which the subject is very painful, and pleasure. Griffith, so often grant- and, indeed, improper, the brother of ed as an honest chronicler, when he the heroine confesses to a priest a says that he was
guilty passion for a near relation. The “ Lofty and sour to those that lov'd him vered with all the solemn energy of a
priest's reproofs and counsels are deliBut to those men that sought him sweet pure and lofty spirit, conscious of the as summer ;"
mighty responsibility attached to the
charge of immortal souls. There is and adds his testimony to the Cardi- not, perhaps, in the English language pal's liberal patronage of learning, and a finer specimen of the eloquence of noble spirit, receives the praise due to truth flowing from a deep conviction his candour even from the injured of its importance. Even the first of Queen, now raised by affliction to the modern poets, who has of late wanstill higher dignity of a saintiy suf- tonly sullied a great name by the ferer,
Unhappy Dryden,” as Pope nisapplication of his powers, is free truly and tenderly calls him, in re- from this reproach. Much as he deference to the infirmities by which lights in showing the dark side of our his fine genius was defiled and den nature under various forms, he has
not, that I know of, endeavoured, in should wrap in one black cloud of obhis multifarious pictures of life, to loquy the whole of that community make the ministers of religion despic, to which we all, even in these days of able or ridiculous. Even the lost and clear and abundant light, are so much wretched Manfred, all hopeless as he indebted. That many monasteries is of consolation here or hereafter, re- contained such gluttons, drunkards, ceives the counsels of the Abbot with and cheats as the author describes, we a kind of despairing humility and a readily allow; but it is equally true decent form of gratitude. Nor does that many of these were the sanctuathe Abbot, respectable in his good in- ries sincere, though extravagant tentions, and mild in his expostulae and austere, devotion; that in them tions, make a profane and needless learning was preserved, and the useuse of Scripture language. Pains are ful, and even the fine arts, practised taken, in this work, to include in and improved. At the period which one general mass of corruption all who the romance includes, the industry of serve the altar, and to represent them these monks was exercised in preservas profuse in the use of Scripture lan- ing all that remains to us, not only of guage, in which, ignorant as he de- ancient literature, but of the bistory, scribes them, they could not be at all poetry, and divinity of their own rude so well versed as the author. This is times. They were not paid for being a departure from the accuracy with scholars, annalists, or transcribers of which he on all other occasions adapts the Scriptures, nor did any rule of the manners of his dramatis persone their orier enjoin such tasks; yet, to their habits and characters. He notwithstanding the destruction which seems to forget that the Scriptures time, war, and fire have made among were then locked up in the learned the monuments of their literary lalanguages, of which he more than in- bours, there is not a library of any sinuates that his monks and friars note in Europe that does not contain were grossly ignorant. We readily specimens of their patient industry, grant him Friar Tuck, and have no which might be truly styled labours doubt, that, in the times when he of love, as it does not appear that they lived, there might be such friars as derived any temporal benefit from he, and such smooth hypocritical cox- them. Nay, we shrewdly suspect combs as the Prior Aymer, though that the author of this work owes he, indeed, is both overdone and over- much of the knowledge he displays of dressed. This, and more, we could the manners and events of that turbubear, if the author had treated the or- lent period to the annals and other reder with the same lenity that he does mains of certain learned brethren of the community of gipsies, vagrants, the convent, and there still exist and all other despised people, by shows numberless Bibles and missals in the ing that there were ainong them some black letter, transcribed with infinite characters possessing energy, fidelity, care, and illuminated with much laand benevolence, affording a redeem- bour and some taste by these recluses. ing compensation for a whole life of Can any one imagine a drunkard, a error, and even of crime. Even the glutton, or a hypocrite, gratuitously savage oppressor and profligate Both- undertaking a task so tedious and la well is not allowed to go to his place borious ?-a task, too, calculated to an without leaving behind such a me- wake the slumbering conscience of a mento of his better days and better transgressor to all the terrors of retrifeelings as excites pity not unmingled bution. And shall the young and the with tenderness; and while we feel, idle, who have never approached the in this instance, the meltings of hu- genuine sources of knowledge regardmanity, we wonder at the magic spelling that period, but are glad to take of genius that has so soon changed ab- their scanty portion of intelligence horrence to compassion.
in scraps at second-hand-shall this The sins of this proscribed order numerous and thoughtless tribe be were certainly manifold, yet it is won- taught believe, that all who in derful that á mind which, as poor those days were set apart for the serBurns advises,
vice of the Deity, and the instruction
of their fellow-creatures, were sacriGently scans his brother man, legious wretches? Yet, what other More gently sister woman,
impression can remain on any unin
formed mind drawing opinions from tion, and may form very false views this plausible and pleasant source of facts from reading them as history. Should not one meek and pious monk, Much ignorance, and more prejudice, with a countenance “mild, pale, and already prevails in regard to the times penetrating,” have been introduced, in question. Such a torrent of obloinerely for variety's sake, or to form a quy (much of it well deserved) was decent contrast to a groupe which no poured out upon the monks when well-regulated mind can view without the Reformation threw strong light diegust?
on all their misdeeds, that the serWe Presbyterians thought our vices they performed for mankind, selves hardly dealt with when, among and the shelter that the hallowed the numbers of our sect that ap- cloister afforded to the weary wanderpeared on the author's canvas, only er through a troubled life, to the peone respectable clergyman rescued the nitent sinner, the lover of peace, and national faith from the contempt the retired student, seem all forgotbrought upon it by the conduct and ten,-all absorbed in the clamour manners of a parcel of crazy fanatics which fat abbeys and church-lands or mean grovelling characters, with- raised among those who coveted and out an atom of gentleman about them, those who plundered them. Now, it whom he shows us as the representa- deserves consideration, that, in those tives of our national church ; but we days of petty tyranny and universal comforted ourselves with this decent turbulence, fine villas and comfortMorton as a kind of atonement. But, able farms were not. Even the grange in this indiscriminate attack upon a of a Franklin was no abode of quiet, fraternity which, bad as they were, or shelter of protection. Indeed, of comprised some individuals who were such granges as that inhabited by the lights of their own age, and the Cedric, few or none existed after the berefactors of all succeeding ones, Norman Conquest. Setting aside thtre is no exception even for the the wretched cottages of the boors, dead. The chaplain of Front-de- there was only the castle of the Bæut's castle appears to have slept fierce feudal baron, the monastery, with his fathers for some time before or the abbey. The former were the action begins ; but even his spirit too generally the abodes of violence must be waked from its purgatorial and strife. Tyrants themselves, they abode to bear the reproach of the suffered in turn from the capricious drunken orgies in which he shared tyranny of their liege lord, and from when living. As the reverend per- their endless, one might almost say son's merits or demerits do not for- motiveless wars with each other, proward or improve the story, this seems perty was nearly as unstable as the to carry the desire of exposure beyond minds and conduct of its owners. “thevisible diurnal sphere” to very lit That much of this uncertain good tle purpose. We have, again, a Saxon should be vested in the church, was Prince apparently slain for no visible the natural result of a mistaken belief end but that he may be treacherously on both sides. The baron’s glimmermurdered through the conspiracy of a ing ideas of piety, though partaking whole convent of monks, all combined more of fear than hope, could not rein this horrid act of sacrilege. This strain his propensity to strife and liconvent, too, seems to be a creation of cence, yet they were strong enough the fertile genius of the author, pro- when the tumult of life was over, to ducel for the sole purpose of commit- plant thorns in his pillow on the apting this atrocious crime ; and every proach of death. His erroneous beshadow of probability is violated, that lief of atoning for sin by donations to the seeming dead may rise for no the church, was met and seconded by other purpose that can be imagined the exhortations of his confessor. but to expose and detect this detest. This ecclesiastic might, in many inable fraternity. These delightful fic- stances, heartily believe, that what tions (for such they are, notwith- was won by rapine and violence might standing this moral blemish) fall into be better employed in enlarging and the hands of the young and the igno- beautifying those retreats, which, berant, who are scarce aware that so sides affording an asylum to the kinlively a representation of life and dred of their penitent, had ever an manners is a mere work of imagina- open door for hospitality, and an open
hand for charity, where alone the richly dight, cast a dim religious wretched could look for aid and the light." Daily viewing the magnificent persecuted for shelter. These were, remains of our neighbouring abbey, indeed, the only dwellings of peace and pondering on the liberal charities and security in those unhappy times, there bestowed, the cures performand those whose memory we re- ed by brothers that have, as in other proach as lazy monks, had perhaps religious establishments, made the no alternative betwixt the cloistered powers of medicine their particular life and that of lawless soldiers of for- study; and their toils and cares for tune. The wealth of the church others; often I think back on the proved at length pernicious to its primitive fathers of the cloister, and prosperity, and a fruitful source of admire that wisdom of Providence corruption. But at the period of that rendered an order of men, found. which we have been speaking, it ed on principles so repugnant to our created few evils in proportion to the general nature, and to the gospel inmany which it alleviated. We have stitutions, so useful as a barrier against often heard from those who thought utter darkness and ignorance. very little about the matter, the stale complaint of the pleasant and fertile
“And never do my due feet fail
To walk these studious cloisters pale," — lands possessed by the church. For this they cannot be blamed, when where, amidst these solemn ruins, I choice was allowed them, nor was it muse undisturbed till fancy has her to be much lamented, when it is re- fill, and see with my mind's eye, not collected, that abbey lands being the merely “ Abbots purple as
their only domains free from plunder, and vines," but at times the lean ascetic the tenants possessing them the only monk absorbed in sublime contemindividuals of that class free from plation, or buried in transcribing or military service, these were better embellishing some gorgeous missal, or cultivated, and the inhabitants more reverentially copying with painful achappy and tranquil than any others curacy the charter of our salvation. in the kingdom; they were the only Even my father, who was a presbybounds on which property was secure, terian pastor, (not a vulgar or unand the inhabitants undisturbed. learned one,) could allow, with grateEven the great evil, for such it cer- ful justice, that there was piety and tainly was, of bestowing abbeys on fo- learning to be found in convents; and, reigners, was not without its advan- were he still a dweller upon earth, tage. They brought with them in- would have been shocked at this overgenious brothers of their order, who charged likeness of the worst of these introduced or improved painting, fraternities. sculpture, music, gardening, and agri I har thoughts, Mr Editor, of transculture. It is to Italian fathers of mitting these strictures to the author the convent that we owe the art of himself, but was afraid it would apraising fruit trees in the ungenial pear like presumption to pierce the clime of Scotland, and much of the cloud in which he has involved himwealth with which they are reproach- self. This transgression on the good ed was expended on those sacred edi- feelings of his readers is quite an fices which were the chief ornament anomalous deviation from the right of the country, and did honour to its path. We know, from the general taste and its piety; they did, indeed, tenor of the work, that it proceeds “ Bid temples worthier of the God a- from one who needs not to seek an rise." And though it became neces- anodyne for his own immoralities, by sary to dispeople these haunts of su- viewing vice in its most aggravated perstition when religion was reform- form, under the habit of sanctity. ed, and the state of society no longer Neither has he any motive to flatter required these asylums, still the the vices of those who cannot lift the pensive, the poetical, and the imagi- veil that conceals him ; what then native, must regret that the nests of can be his inducement? If it be the these rooks (to use the expression of inordinate love of a joke, few of his our rude reformer) were so entirely readers, whether pious or otherwise, defaced. Even the independent and would choose to purchase pleasantry, the republican Milton felt the so- such as it is, at the expence of the lemn enthusiasm of a poet when disgust which accompanies it. If it wandering where storied windows, be to give a faithful picture of the
prevailing manners of churchmen in just to say, that in her language, that period, it is the want of fideli- heightened and adorned as it is by ty I complain of; a faithful picture the lofty style of the ancient prophets, would include, at least, a few of those there is no incongruity. It suits the who lived above this world while they character, and is not profaned by any were in it, to relieve the mind from undue association. The whole chathe horror awakened by the wretches racter is a just tribute to a sex, among who disgraced, not merely the order, whom the still and patient heroism of but the nature to which they belong- the heart is as frequent and not less ed. So much time and thought as interesting than the sanguinary glothis letter has cost me, would be ill ries of the warrior, rewarded as these bestowed on an ordinary painter of are by that public applause which felife, much more on an ephemeral no- male virtue rarely meets, and female velist. But while I blame, I not on- delicacy carefully shuns. Now, I am ly admire, but greatly approve the so fully convinced of the candour of general scope and tenor of the works the author's mind, and of his patience in question; nay, I most readily ad- under just remonstrance, that I augur mit, that they have already had a a happy result from reproof in its very beneficial influence upon the mildest form, and shall not be surpublic taste. The sound sense, the prised to find his next work not only just and discriminating views of life, free from the blemishes thus comthe lenient gentleness with which the plained of, but abounding in characfaults of all laymen and laywomen, ters, forming a complete antidote to appear merely as shades to promote the evil influence of those already the general effect of his pictures can- specified. Age with him must not not be too much applauded; and the be.“ dark and unlovely” as with other kind and brotherly feeling that he beings. No; he must only with adteaches us to cherish towards our hum- vancing years ascend a higher elevabler brethren of mankind, is admir- tion, and take wider views through a ably calculated to meliorate the tem- clearer atmosphere. Such is the earper and soften the prejudices of those nest wish of his sincere and ardent, who are too much inclined to thinkvice though not blinded admirer, the necessary associate of vulgarity.
J. H. Nonsense may still, perhaps, be eloquence in love, but the general taste is so raised by the perusal of these extraordinary productions, that MR EDITOR, it will no longer pass for eloquence in The wild, but frequently beautiful a fictitious narrative. We have notonly and impressive, superstitions of the peato thank this author for what he has santry of Scotland have often become written, but to laud him for what the subject of remark. Their most others have not written, since even picturesque and characteristic features novel readers have learned to despise have acquired an immortality, and a bombast and false pictures of life. widely extended fame, of late years, We are led to hope, that this source from being embodied in some of the of our profit and delight is by no breathing." lays” of our nation's minmeans dried up; and we likewise strel, and from forming the groundhope, that our ingenious benefactor is work of more than one of his impeaware, that the public are so tho- rishable tales. It is from such reroughly acquainted with his talents cords that posterity will be best able for exposing the faults and follies of to gather a knowledge of those“ myone particular class of society, that sterious influences” which swayed, in they will readily excuse his furnishe no inconsiderable degree, the actions ing any more entertainment of the and opinions of the grandsires of the same kind. And, moreover, that they present generation, but the very reare so thoroughly satisfied with re- collection of which seems to have utgard to his accurate and extensive terly passed away in our large towns, Biblical knowledge, that he will be and is only cherished by the old and most willingly spared the trouble of the romantic, even among our rural producing any more proofs of his population. The politician and the scriptural attainments.
philosopher will probably rejoice at Of his inimitable Jewess, it is but the declining power of these relics, as
EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY.