Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

extended his researches beyond the truths contained in the Scriptures, and the received opinions of the Anglican church. Like the learned and pious Dr. Jortin, he perhaps thought "that where mystery begins, religion ends;" and in this point of view he always bore ample testimony to the excellence of that faith in which he had been educated. No one, however, was ever more ready or more eager in private to oppugn and refute the doctrines of the catholic church. These he eagerly opposed, both then and throughout the whole of a long and active life, from a variety of causes. First, he deemed many of its observances superstitious; secondly, he abhorred the idea of a connexion with, and a reliance on, a foreign jurisdiction, as this seemed to trench on the independence of his native country; and thirdly, in consequence of auricular confession, and the powers assumed as well as exercised by the priesthood of that persuasion, he considered this system as highly unfriendly to human freedom.

It

may

be imagined by some, on account of the equality of pastors and their uniform bias towards a moderate and well regulated liberty, that he might be inclined to lean to the dissenters. But this was not the case. On the contrary, he admired a hierarchy consisting of an ascending

scale of dignitaries, from a parish priest to a metropolitan, which he deemed best calculated both to incite to, and reward merit and virtue. Notwithstanding the charges afterwards adduced against him, on the score of orthodoxy, no one was more violent against schismatics of all de scriptions; and, whatever may be thought, certain it is, that even his very prejudices were on the side of the church of England; for out of the pale of its faith he never was very ready to admit of any ecclesiastical desert whatsoever!

Mr. Horne had no sooner obtained his living, than he determined to administer every possible comfort to the poor of the populous neighbourhood, by which he was surrounded. He was regular in his attention to the sick, a circumstance accompanied with a double portion of consolation. Not content with praying with those that desired it, he actually studied the healing art, for the express purpose of relieving the complaints of such as were unable to pay for the assistance of an apothecary. To attain this end, he carefully studied the works of Boerhaave, and the best practical physicians of that day; and having learned to compound a few medicines, he formed a little dispensary at the parsonage-house, whence he supplied the wants of his numerous and grateful patients. He was

accustomed, at times, to plume himself on the cures he had performed, and often observed, "that, although physic was said to be a problematical art, he believed that his medical, were far more efficacious than his spiritual labours.”

On the other hand, he mixed with genteel society, enjoyed all its pleasures and advantages, and indeed always entertained a high relish for company and conversation. As he was fond of associating with the fair sex, he endeavoured to render himself agreeable, by complying with the fashion of the times; and it is not to be denied, that he was, at one period, accused of being too fond of cards, and of spending too much of his time at ombre, quadrille, and whist. But it does not appear that he was thereby induced to neglect any of his duties; and although he was sometimes attempted to be stigmatised with the appellation of "the cardinal priest," yet he has never been accused of indulging in games of chance, or playing for any sum, that might impair his fortune, or engender the remotest suspicion of avarice.

As he advanced in years, pursuits of a far different kind engrossed his attention. He had ceased indeed to be a lawyer, but he had become a politician. His vicinity to town enabled him to be speedily acquainted with all the events of

the times, and there is something in the very atmosphere of a great metropolis, that communicates its influence, to a wide circle around it.

Mr. Horne appears, in early life, to have imbibed high and exalted notions of public liberty; and these, operating on a sanguine temperament, produced a degree of zeal, which, before it was corrected by experience, must at times have approximated to political fanaticism. It would be truly curious to trace the origin of those ideas, and thus, connecting cause with effect, make a liberal estimate of the result; but, in the absence of facts, it is only permitted to guess at first causes, by a recurrence to contemporary history.

When he was a boy, the immediate effects of the revolution had not yet ceased to operate; while the new dynasty introduced by it, was still alarmed by the claims of a pretender to the throne. All parties ultimately appealed to the nation, and they who hailed the name of William III as the "great deliverer," or supported the legitimate claims of the house of Brunswick to the crown, alike founded their pretensions on popular rights. It was thus decidedly the interest even of the court, to countenance those principles, whence it derived its strength and stability; and an unhappy breach, which at this

period took place in the royal family, was at least accompanied with this advantage, that it contributed not a little to produce a competition for public favour and approbation.

Pitt and Lyttleton, fostered by the patronage of Frederick prince of Wales, now thundered in the senate in behalf of freedom; and exhibited specimens of eloquence worthy of the classical ages. Bolingbroke, too, under the same auspices, in his animated attacks on the administration of a great but odious statesman*, exhibited the first fine models of political controversy, which were afterwards copied and improved by Burke, and imitated, but not excelled, by Junius. The Bangorian controversy, too, during which a celebrated prelate denied the pretensions of his own order to temporal jurisdiction, had enlightened the minds and sharpened the wits of the nation: in short, liberal investigation, as connected with the pretensions of the reigning sovereign, had become the genius of the age, and could pot fail to have influenced both the mind and the conduct of the subject of this memoir.

A variety of concurring causes might also be adduced, and a multitude of suppositions sug

* Sir Robert Walpole, afterwards created earl of Orford. Dr. Hoadly, bishop of Winchester.

« ZurückWeiter »