Abbildungen der Seite

ence of these praeternatural beings, at least we will cleat out selves from any imputation of having asserted the contrary on unfounded inferences. Let us hear him :

• Of the system of witchcraft; the real defect is not in theory, but in evidencé. A possibility that the bodies of men should ebmetimes be given up to infernal agency is no more to be denied, than that their souls should be exposed to infernal illusions. That such appearances should be exhibited in one age, and withdrawn in anothers, is equally the case with miracles. That they should not extend to all countries is common to them and to revelation itself. But all the modern instances of supposed witchcraft, which I have read of, are discredited either by the apparent fraud or folly of the witnesses. Were I to behold with my own eyes such circumstances as have often been related, or were they to be reported to me by a philosophical observer of perfect integrity on the evidence of his senses, I know not upbit what principles I could refuse my assent to the conclusion that they were feally the effects of diabolical power.'

On this passage, is the following note:

• That these opinions may not be accused of leaning too much to the doctrines of exploded superstition, I will take leave to refer my readers to the following sentiment of a great and enlightened moderu divine. That for any thing we know, he (the devil) may (still) operate in the way of possession, 1 do not see on what certain grounds any man can deny; Bp. Hurd's Sermons; vol. iii. p. 239.'

An old room at Little Mitton so strikes the author's fancy, that he forbids any painter's brush or carpenter's hammer ever to come near it; enforcing his prohibition with the words of God himself in regard to his altar : “ If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast defiled it ; Exodi xx. 2g. We know not on what principles these ludicrous quotations from holy writ can be justified in an Orthodox divine.

Part the second (for this ponderous history is divided into parts, books, and chapters,) is filled with genealogical tables, and extracts from rolls and charters; which, we doubt not, were very accurately drawn up, and are very faithfully extracted. Having turned over these, (for hard indeed would be our lot if it were necessary for us to read them,) we come. to a pious lamentation on the decline of religion, apparent from the modern style in which epitaphs and wills are at present composed : the former consisting only of inflated panegyrics on intellectual attainments or relative virtues, on the profound scholar, the upright lawyer, the affectionare husband, the tender parent, the faithful subject, &c. without any thing like the old priez pour son alme, or the orate pro animâ, which was comfortable and edifying to the reader, and when thus the language of inscriptions seconded that of the pulpit. We fear, however, that, if religion be on the decline, it is not to be recovered by 1


de rol

such methods ; even though the priez were to be repeated as often as in the following epitaph, which we recollect to have somewhere seen:

Bonnes gens, qui par icy passez,
Priez Dieu pour les trespassez ;
Bonnes gens qui passer par icy,
Priez pour ce pauvre homme c'y.
Qui par icy passit, bonnes gens,

A prier Dieu soyez diligens,
Pour un certain maistre Gregoire,

Qui ne muurust que boire." Dr. Whitaker also laments the great and alarming inercase of the Methodists, as being, if not detrimental to religion, ag least highly dangerous to the church by law established; which he calls a power little able to enforce its own rights ; fox, con, tinues he, it must not be dissembled that the government of the English church is at present too much under the influence of Erastian principles, --controlled, that is, by the civil power, in matters purely spiritual.'

Of the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Em pire, the historian of the parish of Whalley entertains no good opivion, with regard to the pucicy and sincerity of his mind; and he calls hini a disingenuous writer. It is somewhat remarkable that, though he mentions Mr. Gibbon only twice, once tu corroborate an assertion of his own, and again where he entirely coincides with him, he should go out of his way to scek these accusations against that celebrated author.

In one place, Dr. W. tells us, that a country of dowagers may fairly be called a country of intemperance ; for, in situar tions of life exempting men from dangerous or from sickly occupations, a sober husband will ordinarily survive a wife.-- We should not be surprized if, in order to ascertain this fact, some person of a speculative turn should consult the parish registers concerning the survivals of the aldermen and the bishops; the latter being temperate and abstinent, and the former reputed to be addicted to good cheer.

At the conclusion of the volume, we find the following ob servation ;

• Those opulent houses, whose property is not to be traced to a feu. dal origin, have been generally raised by the profession of the law. Some indeed have grown to consequence by habits of economy ang gradual accumulation. But a new principle is now introduced, which threatens gradually to absorb the whole property of the district within its own vortex: I mean the principle of manyfactures, aided by the discoveries lately made in the two dangerous sciences of che. mistry and mechanics. 'The operation of this principle is accom, panied with another effect, of which it is impossible to speak but in



the language at once of sorrow and indignation.- Indeed it can only be considered as so much pure, unmixed evil, moral, medical, religious, and political. In great manufactories, human corruption, accu: mulated in great masses, seems to undergo a kind of fermentation, which sublimes it to be a degree of malignity not to be exceeded out of hell.'

The general style of this work is of that turgid species which is too commonly adopted by writers on topographical antiquities; and, in some parts, it so much resembles that of as The His. tory and Antiquites of the antient Villa of Wheatfield, in the County of Suffolk,” first printed in the year 1758*, that we were almost inclined to imagine that we were reading extracts from that celebrated performance. It is scarcely worth while to remark on some minor errors in diction : but the petulance and flippancy with which (especially in his notes) the Doctor treats writers who are engaged in similar pursuits, and who are not inferior to himself in attainments, when they happen to differ in opinion from him, cannot be passed over without observation.

Yet we have an objection of a more serious nature to make. As Protestants, as glorying in being the children of the Reformation, can we behold, without emotions of extreme displeasure, any attempt, however feeble, to detract from the merits of the venerable fathers of the reformed church, under the stale pretext that the monarch by whom they were patronized was not actuated by the purest motives; or because, in the effusions of popular zeal, the monuments of superstition were defaced, and the shrines of idolatry overthrown? Ler the remains of antiquity be preserved, as objects of taste : but surely we have no need to lament that the mansions of ignorance and sloth are deserted, or that the bulwarks of error and oppression are destroyed. The talents and virtues of the worthy patron of Whalley we have long been accustomed, as cordially as our author, to acknowlege and to revere ; knowing, as we do, that he would be an honour to any profession of faith, and-we heartily wish that he were of our's : but no "true Protestant can condescend to do homage to popery, however embellished by private worth, nor consent to sacrifice his religion at the shrine of gratitude.

On the whole, we think that this performance by no means colitributes to remove the ground of Bishop Warburton's com plaint of the decay of our national taste for genuine historical composition, and of the growing prevalence of a vicious appe:ite in its stead; by which any uninformed, senseless heap of rubbish, under the name of an history of a town, society, college, or province; * See Rev. vol. xix. P. 309:


has long since taken from us the very idea of a genuine composition.

The book is decorated with several picturesque views and other plates, which do credit to the taste and skill of the artists by whom they were drawn and engraved,


ART. XII. The History, civil and commercial, of the British Colonies

in the West Indies. By Bryan Edwards, Esq. F. R. S. S. A. Vol. IIl. with Plates. 4to: PP. 500. il. 55. Boards. Stock.

dale. 1801. NOTWITHSTANDING the termination of the war with respect

to ourselves, we still look with some anxiety towards the West Indies ; and the principal contents of the volume before us, referring to a spot now the theatre of devastation and cara nage, cannot fail to excite a considerable degree of interest, The well earned reputation of the justly lamented author, also, will stamp a value on this history, and induce readers to peruse its details with satisfaction and with confidence. It must be with pain, indeed, that we turn our thoughts to this part of the globe, where blood still continues to flow, and where the hos, tility of the climate is even more destructive to Europeans than that of the sword :but, whatever be the state of our particular feelings and sentiments, our unvarying object is truth; and those publications are peculiarly acceptable to us, of which the contents are accommodated to existing circumstances, and enable us to judge with some degree of accuracy respecting the political transactions of the times.

This completion of Mr. Edwards's history of the West Indies * consists, for the most part, of a republication of his Historical Survey of the pestiferous and blood-stained Island of St. Domingo, which we announced in M. R. vol. XXII. p. 77.-186. N.S. The volume was prepared for publication by himself: but, in the words of the editor, 'ere the last sheet was revised from the press, Bryan Edwards was no more !'-and the office of putting the finishing hand, and editing the whole, devolved on his friend, Sir William Young, who has performed his task with perfect delicacy, integrity, and honour; though not, perhaps, in so full a manner as would have completely gratified the curiosity of the public,

The Editor informs us that, when Mr. Edwards perceived his dissolution approaching, he exerted the last remains of strength in preparing a hasty sketch of his life, to be prefixed

• For our account of Vols. 1 and 2, see M, R. Vols. xlv. xv. and avih. N. S.

[ocr errors]

to this volume ; and Sir William offers the following apology for making no addition to that brief memoir :

Those, who knew and were intimate with Mr. BRYAN Edwards, will recognize, in this short account of himself, the energy of mind, the industry, and the truth, which characterized his conversations and his life; but all must allow, and some must object, that much therein is omitted, which has isual and proper place in biography, and which the editor might be presuined, or be called upon, to supply. Some account might be required, of his literary essays and legislative acts, so efficient in the cause of humanity towards the negroes, whilst a member of the assembly in Jamaica.- Some account might be demanded, of this good and independent man, whilst a member of the British parliament ; and, especially, in the posthumous life of a literary man, some accurate detail of his literary pursuits and writ. ings might be expected ; - of Bryan EDWARDS,=of his Correspon. dence, -of his Essays,—and of his conduct in the judicious compilation and elegant recital of the Travels of Mungoe Park,--and, especially, of the origin and progress of the great work here with submitted to the publick.- To these, and other points, the recollection of the reader is thus awakened. The Editor presuines nu farther. He cannot venture to alter, or add to, the sacred deposit committert to his charge,-and now gives it to the publick, as its author left, and willed it, to be given.'

As a testimony of respect to the memory of Mr. Edwards, whose worth we knew and valued, as well as for the gratification of our readers, we shall extract this biographical sketch :

• I was born the 21st of May 1743, in the decayed town of West, bury, in the county of Wilts. My father inherited a small paternal estate in the neighbourhood, of about 100l. per annum; which prova ing but a scanty maintenance for a large family, he undertook, with. out any knowledge of the business, as I have been informed. to deal in corn and malt, but with very little success. He died in 1736, leaving my excellent mother, and six childrer, in distressed circumstances.-Luckily for my mother, she had two opulent brothers in the West Indies, one of them a wise and worthy man, of a liberal mind, and princely fortune. This was Zackary Bayly, of the Island of Jamaica, who, on the death of my father, took my mother and her family under his protection, and, as I was the eldest son, directed that I should be well educated. I had been placed by my father at the school of a dissenting minister in Bristol, whose name was William Foot, of whom I remember enough, to believe that he was both a learned and good man, but, by a strange absurdity, he was forbidden to teach me Latin and Greek, and directed to confine my studies to writing, arithmetic, and the English grammar. I should therefore have had little to do, but that the schoolmaster had an excellent method of making the boys write letters to him on different subjects, such as, the beauty and dignity of truth, the obligation of a religious life, the benefits of good educatiou, the mischief of idleness, &c. &c. previously stating to them the chief arguments to he urged ; and


« ZurückWeiter »