« ZurückWeiter »
grand equalizer in degradation. By the time he has consented to place himself in that situation, his “honour,”. at any rate, is hardly worth the trouble of a preference of one weapon to another, and his “ life” is worth-mentioning in to-morrow's newspaper as a thing that went out in a gentlemanly style. In the name, then, of that liberty, so much favoured by the government and tribunals of this Christian country, of violating in this point morality and law, let not the man be forced to take the pains of learning an additional art in order to dispose of his couple of trifles, “ honour and life,” which can be disposed of with less trouble in the mode now in fashion.
The reader will be somewhat surprised to find that this determination to fight duels on all proper occasions, is to coalesce, in the young soldier's mind, with a religion which it shall be worth his while to maintain with an equal constancy of determination. We are not certain, even, whether the same weapons are not, in the last resort, to be employed ; since “all interference with his religious sentiments, whether by ridicule or remonstrance, ” is represented as such “an infringement of his rights and his independence,” as we should suppose he will be bound to resent with lead or steel.
“ As a young officer will early mix with varieties of dissipated company, his religious principles should not trust for their defence to any of those outworks which wit can demolish; he should not be early taught to be scrupulous or strict in the observance of trifling forms; his important duties, and his belief in the essential tenets of his religion, should not rest upon these slight foundations, lest, if they be overthrown, the whole superstructure should fall. When his young companions perceive that he is not precise or punctilious, but sincere and firm in his belief; when they see that he avoids all controversy with others, and considers all interference with his own religious sentiments, whether by ridicule or remonstrance, as an infringement of his rights and his independence; he will not only be left unmolested in his tenets, but he will command general respect. It is of the utmost importance that the early religious impressions made on the mind of a soldier should not be of a gloomy or dispiriting sort; they should be connected with hope, not with fear, or they will tend to make him cowardly instead of brave. Those who believe that they are secure of happiness hereafter, if to the best of their power they live and die doing their duty, will certainly meet danger, and, if necessary, death, with more courage than they can ever do who are oppressed and intimidated by superstitious doubts and horrors, terrors which degrade man, and which are inconsistent with all ideas of the goodness and beneficence of God."
It should seem to be conveyed, in this piece of instruction, that it is in some certain degree at the option of religious teachers what they shall inculcate as religion; and that therefore, in their religious instructions to their military pupils, they can considerably accommodate to the
purpose of producing bravery. We may also learn, that a religion which involves“ terrors” needs not be believed by any of us, soldiers, authors, or critics, any testimony to the contrary in the Bible notwithstanding: As to the phrase “ if they live and die doing they duty, nothing can be more indefinite, or even equivocal; for, according to our author, a military man may die doing his duty though he dies in a duel, or, as far as we see, if he dies in the act of sacking a harmless town, which some atrocious tyrant, or tyrant's tool, has sworn to annihilate.
After so much more than enough on the moral complexion of this long essay on military education, there needs but very few words on its other qualities. In common with the others, it has a certain defect, very sensibly felt by a reader of indifferent memory; that of not prominently marking the several stages and topics in the scheme. But this perhaps could not have been remedied by any other means than a formal division into a number of sections with distinct titles and arguments. The multifarious assemblage of precepts and illustrations includes, we should suppose, almost all the expedients most conducive to excite the spirit and finish the accomplishments of a soldier. Many directions are given for preparing the young hero, from his infancy, for the toils and privations of his future service.
The discipline of stripes must never be applied to him, of whatever perversity or mischief he may be guilty. Every thing must be done by an appeal to his pride, which passion is to be promoted and stimulated in every possible way, as the sovereign virtue of the military character; nor is any prescription given for transmuting it into the opposite Christian virtue just at the extreme moment when he is finally laying down his arms, if he should then be apprehensive that this military character may be an uncouth garb in which to appear in the other world. The proper discipline for creating courage is pointed out; amusements bearing some relation to the operation of war are suggested ; it is advised that the boy be induced to employ himself sometimes in familiar practical mechanics; be early made master of the terms and elements of mathematics; be carefully trained to an accurate use of his eyes, in order to judge of distances and relative magnitudes; be taught drawing; learn some of the modern languages, but not expend much of his time on Latin and Greek. He is to be made conversant with the lives of warriors, and even the stories of chivalry. But the book of mightiest inspiration is the Iliad, of which it was indispensably necessary to mention yet once more, that it sent“Macedonia's madman and the Swede," to draw glorious lines of blood and devastation across certain portions of the surface of the earth, beckoned on by the Homeric ghost of Achilles. The character of this amiable hero has been “fated,” it seems like those of the Christian apostles and martyrs, to meet with detractors among the base-minded moderns.
“Some modern writers have been pleased to call Achilles a mad butcher, wading in carnage ; but all our love for the arts of peace, and all our respect for that humane philosophy which proscribes war, cannot induce us to join in such brutal abuse, such unseemly degradation of the greatest military hero upon poetic record;" and there follows a portion of useful composition on the “ heroic beauties in his character;" in answer to all which it is sufficient to ask, But was he not, after all, “a mad butcher wading in carnage?” There are many excellent observations on an officer's conduct in war, on the proper combination, while he is a subaltern, of subordination with independence of character, on presence of mind, on the mode of attaching soldiers, and inspiring them with confidence, and on that vigour of good sense which, disdaining to be confined to the principles of any school of war, can adapt every operation pointedly to the immediate state of the circumstances. The whole essay is enlivened by numerous historical examples, selected in general with great judgment and felicity.
The remaining Essays are on the education for the Medical Profession, for the duties of Country Gentlemen, for the profession of the Law, and for Public Life, with a short concluding chapter on the education of a Prince. They involve such a multiplicity of particulars, as to be beyond the power of analysis, had we any room left to attempt it. Nor is there any bold novelty of general principles that can be stated as pervading the whole mass; unless, indeed, we may cite, as a novelty, the author's detestation of the political profligacy and low intrigues of what are called public men. in many parts of the book, and is conspicuously displayed in the Essay on the education of men intended for Public Life. And it is quite time it should be displayed by every honest man, since the public mind habitually leans to a forgetfulness or a tolerance of those vices of public men, to which the public interests are made a sacrifice. Thus far is well; but when our author proceeds confidently to remedy all these evils by means of the inculcation of pride, honour, and magnanimity (which is only another name for pride, when it is found in such company), we cannot help wondering through what preternatural splitting of his faculties into a very intelligent part and a very whimsical one, it has happened that the same individual has been in many directions an excellent observer and thinker, but in others a deplorable visionary.
A Dissertation on the Propagation of Christianity in Asia ; in tuco Parts.
To which is prefixed a brief historic View of the Progress of the Gospel in different Nations, since its first Promulgation ; illustrated with a Chronological Chart. By the Rev. Hugh Pearson, M. A. of St. John's College, Oxford. 4to.
A much earlier notice ought to have been taken of this respectable work; but the preventing causes are too insignificant to deserve mentioning in explanation or apology. Indeed, any apology would be impertinent, since the work could not stand in need of any attention or recommendation from humbler critics, after obtaining Dr. Buchanan's prize by the adjudgment of the University of Oxford.
The work has not much of a controversial complexion, having been written previously to the now nearly subsided contest between the friends of Christianity and the advocates of heathenism. These, we think, are not illiberal terms of description, in adverting to that controversy. Nor are they terms unlikely to be employed by the future ecclesiastical historian of these times, provided he happen to find, and have patience to read, a few of the productions, without which he could form no adequate conception either of the depravity or the imbecility displayed on the occasion. There might have been a mode of opposing the Christian designs on India, which should have been very decidedly irreligious, quite sufficiently so to satisfy any reasonably moderate hater of Christianity, and yet should clearly have stopped short of entitling those who employed it to the denomination of advocates of heathenism, Pretending a firm belief in the religion of the Bible, and a profound veneration for it (as indeed has been done by some of the persons alluded to), they might have avowed the utmost abhor: