Page images

that irreligious and godless land, will hear a solemn prayer pronounced to the majority of the members reverently standing in their seats. A half crown will not bribe the door keeper of the House of Commons to admit a stranger, while prayers are hurried over by the chaplain; because it is not thought well to have it publicly known, that the speaker and clerk are the only auditors. Established religion,' forsooth, with one bishop, boasting, like Dr Watson, that he never visited his see, because it was so poor; or another, living at Naples for years to retrench, because £20,000 a year would not keep him out of debt at home; or like another Honorable and Right Reverend Father in God, a nobleman, a prelate, driven from his church, for crimes which we cannot allude to. We have a right to make this retort. We are among the last persons, who would trespass against any courtesy, national or individual. But this Reviewer charges the whole American nation with irreligion, and calls individuals by name, repeating the odious libels, which an itinerant miscreant has uttered against them. Let him beware in future. He dwells in a glass house. The American government may be exceeding irreligious, and in consequence exceeding immoral, but the infamous vices of its members, we thank Heaven, have not yet become the scandal of the civilised world; and the American people are not obliged, on their allegiance, to bestow every imposing name of Grace and Majesty, and bow the knee to vermin, who, if they were not the pity, would be the horror of all good and pure minds.

But some' it seems, in the words of an American writer, quoted by this reviewer, 'plead the sufficiency of natural religion, and reject revelation as unnecessary and fabulous, and many, we have reason to believe, have yet their religion to choose.' Say you so? And what did Shaftesbury and Lord Herbert plead, and Bolingbroke, and Toland, and Collins, and Tindal, and Woolston, and Mandeville, and Chubb, and Hume, and Gibbon; and what do Godwin, and Sir William Drummond, and Lord Byron, and, if they are not sorely belied, many of the Edinburgh Reviewers, and Edinburgh Philosophers, plead at the present day? The writings of a few perverted geniuses in France, in the fever of the revolution, have given to the leading men of that country, with those who are willing to take up with every hasty impression, the reputation of hav

[ocr errors]

ing been the apostles of infidelity to the world. It is an entirely false impression, for modern infidelity was taught in England. There have been more distinguished writers in that country against Christianity, than in all others together. We do not speak it rashly, nor without having ourselves verified the remark, that there is no cavil of importance, in the French infidel writers of the last century, which cannot be found in earlier English writers. Moreover, it is equally true that the infidel writings in England, for the very reason that they are less scandalous, are far more dangerous, many of them being, from their nature, such as cannot be excluded from any respectable library, and others composed with a gravity, which secures them access to readers, who would turn away with disgust from the licentiousness of Voltaire. Think but a moment of such books as Bolingbroke's Letters on History, Hume's Essays, and Gibbon's Rome, or of the latter of them alone, a work, which must stand in every English library as long as the language shall last, which must be read by every man of liberal education, and yet which grew out of the idea of accounting for the origin and progress of Christianity by mere human means, and contains the most dangerous attack upon it, that was ever made.

It is the English infidel writers, moreover, who laid the foundation not only for the school of their successors in France, but for the modern German divinity, which in any common acceptation of terms is another form of infidelity. The first lines of that scheme, which was imperfectly shadowed out by Semler, and has been filled up by Eichhorn and his followers, and which, with much variety in details, insists on denying anything supernatural to belong to christianity, may be very clearly traced in the works of Toland and Collins. Will it be said, that if England has brought forth powerful writers to plead the sufficiency of natural religion,' it has brought forth powerful refuters of them? It is not so. Every theologian knows, that a very large majority of the professed replies in England to the infidels are miserable; the productions of feeble men, striving to gain preferment by defending a popular cause. Why does not the church of England, the national church,' with all her princely endowments, her prelacies, her stalls, her colleges, (some of which alone possess a revenue twice as great as that of the state of Mas

sachusetts,) produce some champions of the religion equal to those who have assailed it? Cannot the honors, powers, dignities, and millions of patronage, lavished on this church, raise up a Christian scholar to write the history of Rome or the history of England? Can they produce nothing but Warburton's monstrous paradox, which no man ever believed, and Watson's superficial though judicious pamphlet against Paine, and Paley's compilation from the Unitarian, the Socinian Lardner? In judicious sermons, containing powerful illustrations of single points of the Christian evidences, the modern English church has something to boast, and in the old controversy with the Papists, her earlier divines evinced a world of learning; but she has not a work in any degree entitled to the name of a classical treatise of Christian evidences. Butler's Analogy, indeed, is a work, which, for the grand conception on which it is built, and the power of argument with which it is armed, is alone a monument of modern theology. It is not, however, a work on Christian evidences of which we are now speaking.


Again, In the old states of America no kindly associations are connected with the gloomy and heartless performance of religious worship.' What think ye of this, members of the American Episcopal Church, whose numbers are not much inferior to those of the same church in England; whose bishops Iderive their consecration in unbroken succession from the national church as there established? The village church with its spiry steeple, its bells, its clock, the well fenced churchyard with its ancient yew tree, and its numerous monumental records of the dead, are here utterly unknown.' Read this, traveller in New England, among whose thousand villages there is scarcely one without its steeple and spire; (which, by the way, is not frequent in the English country churches, which generally have low towers ;) there is not one, in which there is not a graveyard decently enclosed. But we have no 'yew trees' in our graveyards, no 'pensive cypresses.' Now that God of nature, who appointed that the dust of man should return to the dust, from which he was taken, has been pleased to withhold the yew tree from our soil, and if this Reviewer really thinks, what he says, that the want of it is a piece of irreligion, he must cast the blame elsewhere. As to the 'pensive cypress,' for which, according to Faux and his


Reviewer, it is in vain to look in the graveyards of this country, we have strong doubts whether it be not equally in vain to seek it in England. We have, it is true, two trees called cypresses; and this Reviewer, who will find nothing in the right place, vilifies us for our cypress swamps. But if by 'pensive cypress' the gentlemen mean, as we presume they do, the cupressus tristis' of the ancients, which was placed before the houses and planted by the sepulchres of the dead, and is still in many parts of the world, then we plead again that the tree will not grow in the open air, in the greater part of North America, and we much mistake if it will in England. An American apologist admitted, that the corpse was no sooner laid in the earth than it appeared to be forgotten; the tear of sorrow and the hand of affection neither bedews nor decorates the sward under which the friend, the parent, or the relative reposes; it is vain to look into the burial grounds of this country for the pensive cypress or the melancholy willow, the virgin weeping over the urn of her departed lover, or the mother hanging over the grave of her departed child.' What sorry pedantry is this; let us fancy to ourselves, as carried into execution, what this wise man desiderates, and would leave us to infer is practised in his own country;-the young women of a sizeable town, who have had the misfortune to lose a lover, out betimes in the churchyard, and a half, or a third of the matrons upon the same errand, weeping over urns or hanging over graves. We can tell this Reviewer, that he libels not us, but his own country, in his intimation, that in this way the English think proper to grieve. Of real life or of the human heart, he could have known nothing, or instead of transcribing this trash, he would have seen in it nothing but poor ribaldry. These images are the growth of a pedant's garret, who thinks that the descriptions of the poets are a mirror of life No man, that ever had or lost a child or a wife, would talk of pensive cypresses, and melancholy willows, and hanging over urns. It is cold monkish nonsense.

And then, it seems, the numerous monumental records of the dead are wholly unknown.' For this assertion, vengeance, if our prophetic spirit deceive us not, will sooner or later overtake the critic who fabricated this slander. Offended Nemesis will cause him to fall in with the first Pentade.' Fall in, did we say? aye, subscribe for it-read it,—and if

after this he declares that epitaphs are unknown in America, we know not what will cure him.

The tomb of Washington is a dog kennel,' a 'potato grave,' a 'pig stye.' The tomb of Washington is, in our judgment, worthy of him who is laid in it; a simple excava tion in God's earth, with bricks enough to form the cavity, and nothing but a green sod and a few native cedar trees above it. It stands a little in front of the plain wooden house where the hero lived, on the bold bank of one of the noblest rivers in the world. What would a rubbish of marble or granite add to a spot like this. Congress once passed a resolution to remove the revered remains to the capital, and deposit them in a national monument. Happy, that no such design was carried into execution. The British soldiers would have wasted it with fire, as they did the library of Congress; and the bones of the Rebel,' as certain of their poets have called him, would have been trampled under foot by the gallant Cockburn's marines. Or if they had escaped that fate, if they had been allowed to rest undisturbed, if a monumental church were erected over them, and a long line of kindred worthies laid by their side, unless the sacred spot were treated with a reverence unobserved toward Westminster Abbey, it would impart no pleasure to a patriotic mind. If Westminster Abbey be now what it was five years ago, there are few spots in London filthier than the outside of poet's corner; a noisome, exposed thoroughfare. Within, we trust we are not wanting in tenderness to the spot where are deposited the ashes of some of the great men of the race from which we are sprung, the poets and orators who have immortalised the language we speak,-but we can truly say, that the rabble of lords and ladies of family thrust in among them, the vile taste of most of the monumental architecture, sculpture, and poetry, add but too much to the disgust, which the dreary entrance has excited.

We must omit the notice we were prepared to take of some more of Faux's tales and his Reviewer's comments. One only we cannot wholly pass over. These worthy colleagues labor hard to establish the lawlessness of America, and one retails and the other swallows various bugbear stories about rowdy juries,' 'regulators,' 'Lynch's law,' and 'violent resistance of civil officers.' Unlucky wights. Know ye the land of the

« PreviousContinue »