« PreviousContinue »
AGGREGATE MEETING OF UNITARIANS. On Tuesday, June 19th, an aggregate Meeting of the Ministers and Lay representatives of different Unitarian and Presbyterian Congregations, from various parts of the kingdom, who had been previously invited by a general circular, was held in Essex-street Chapel, London. Very full minutes of the proceedings were taken in short-hand on the occasion, the use of which has been courteously offered to the Editor of the Christian Teacher, for the insertion, if desirable, of a fuller account hereafter. But the appearance of the Periodicals of this month before the Coronation, prevents our offering to our readers more than a very brief summary of the discussion which ensued, and of the resolutions which were passed. John Travers, Esq., was unanimously voted into the chair, and the Rev. Dr. Rees was requested to act as secretary to the meeting. The first resolution, which passed with only two dissentients, was strongly declaratory of the importance of preserving untouched the independence of each separate congregation, in all matters relative to its internal organization, and the conduct of public worship. Much discussion arose in connexion with this resolution, which served to bring out the spirit of the meeting, and to manifest the principles by which the great body of Unitarian Nonconformists are actuated. In the course of the debate, the Rev. Mr. Gannett, of Boston, gave an animated account of the strictly independent constitution of the Congregationalist Churches in New England, and of the nature of the associations among their pastors, by which they maintain a brotherly intercourse, and infuse a spirit of earnestness and vitality into their ministry, without interfering with each others' freedom of speech or action. The passing of this first and declaratory resolution was followed by another, expressive of the desirableness of greater union and co-operation among the Churches, consistently with the principles of congregational independency already declared. In consequence of protracted discussion, the day was now so far advanced, that it was found desirable to adjourn the meeting till eleven o'clock on the following Friday.
On that day the Meeting assembled again, when a resolution was moved and seconded expressive of the necessity now existing in the churches, of a more earnest and spiritual development of the religious life, as in itself more important than the propagation of any particular form of theological belief. This motion in its actual form was negatived. At a subsequent stage of the proceedings, after the reading of a communication from the Rev. G. Harris of Glasgow, a resolution was moved and seconded, declaratory of confidence in the principles and objects of the Unitarian Association, expressive of gratitude for its past and present services in the cause of truth and righteousness, and recommending its committee to transmit to the churches in the country, an account of the proceedings at the Aggregate Meeting. This resolution was at length carried unanimously, on condition of its being coupled with another resolution, declaring the compatibility of vital religion with various forms of theological belief, and a sympathy with that principle of the first confessors of Unitarianism in Great Britain, which led them to rely on the simple power of truth, combined with deep devotional earnestness, for accomplishing the purposes of the Gospel of Christ.
With much warm and animated discussion, inevitable among those
who reverence freedom of speech and thought as their peculiar privilege, the most friendly and courteous spirit pervaded generally the discussions of the Meeting, and, in a peculiar manner, marked its termination, proving, as we think it must have done to every impartial observer, that the spirit of freedom may co-exist in perfect harmony with the spirit of love. Among the most gratifying results of the Meeting, must be reckoned the unreserved and cordial expression on the part of highly-cultivated and influential laymen, of kind interest and intelligent sympathy with the labours of the Ministry and the prosperity of the Churches. The drawing closer together the bonds of friendly feeling between ministers and laymen, must prove of inestimable advantage to the cause of truth, piety and virtue. It may be regretted, that time was not left for discussing the propriety of suggesting to separate Churches the desirableness of organising themselves into a more regular congregational form. But this subject will no doubt be kept in view for future consideration. The Meeting may be considered as valuable, in having called forth an earnest expression of feelings and principles, and a free reciprocation of opinion. It is well that this working of the inward life, should freely and fully manifest itself, and express its deepest wants before any systematic organization be attempted. We have no doubt that an impulse has been given to the public mind of Unitarian nonconformity by this Meeting, which will be carried by the parties attending it into their respective spheres of action, and maturely worked out by them according to the different circumstances in which they find themselves placed, into results of enduring efficacy.
ANNIVERSARY OF THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN UNITARIAN ASSOCIATION,
On Wednesday the 20th of June, the anniversary of the Unitarian Association was held at the Gravel Pit meeting-house, Hackney, when an excellent sermon was preached by the Rev. R. B. Aspland, M.A., of Dukinfield, Cheshire. After the business of the Association was concluded, the friends assembled adjourned to a public breakfast, at which S. Amory, Esq., presided.
LONDON DOMESTIC MISSION. On Thursday the 21st of June the anniversary of the London Domestic Mission was held in Jewin-street meeting-house, when a sermon was preached by the Rev. J. J. Tayler, B.A., of Manchester, which, with an appendix containing some detail of facts from the missionaries' reports, was requested to be printed.
OPENING OF THE UNITARIAN CHAPEL, STRANGEWAYS, MANCHESTER.
This chapel, which is a very neat commodious edifice, capable of seating seven hundred persons, with large school-rooms, for daily, Sunday, and infants' schools, library, &c., was opened for public worship on Sunday June 17th, when two admirable sermons were preached, to large congregations, by the Rev. George Harris of Glasgow, that in the morning from John iv, 23, 24, and that in the evening from John XV, 8, after which collections were made towards defraying the debt incurred in the erection of the chapel, amounting to £101. 38. 6d.
ART. I. — GERMANY IN MDCCCXXXI. By John
STRANG, Author of “ Tales of Humour, from the German of Hoffmann, Langbein, Lefontaine, &c.,” “Necropolis Glas
guensis,” &c., 2 vols. 8vo. No kind-hearted man can have lived many years in the world without making it a rule to himself, not to judge by the first impression which a stranger makes when entering a room full of company; nor can a candid critic, of some experience, fail to act with a similar caution in regard to the first opening of certain books, especially those of Tourists. The authors of such works may generally be considered as amateur writers; persons of more or less natural abilities, but not regularly trained to the difficult art of literary composition. They muster courage to appear in print, just as a young person, who has lived in retirement, ventures into fashionable society; and take up the pen under a feeling of restraint, which usually breaks out into an affectation of manner; but they become affected precisely because they are extremely anxious to appear at their ease. Yet, under this wish and determination, they cannot prevail upon themselves to begin a common subject with common phrases; they must say something exquisite in the scanty portion of the first page which our modern printers usually leave to the author.
The work under consideration is not, according to the titlepage, the first production of Mr. Strang; but it seems clear from the opening, that he has not yet overcome the feeling of the anxious débutant. Had it not been for our strict adherence to the rule not to judge by the first touches of the picturesque, in the narrative of a modern Tour, a description of the mouth of the Elbe at sunrise, which stands at the very entrance, with
Vol, I. No. 2.–New Series.
the manifest purpose of inviting readers to proceed, might have been the cause of our losing a great deal of entertainment, and some instruction, by turning away from the work. This fact is not mentioned in the spirit of sarcasm. It is quite certain that, in the present state of good society in these islands, most persons who have frequented it, could write a pleasing narrative of any visit to the not yet over-described parts of the continent, provided that, having taken pains to search for objects worthy of attention, and observed them impartially and with accuracy, they would tell their tale correctly, and unaffectedly; fairly and honestly as they would write to a friend; not with a constant side-glance to Mr. Murray, or some of his brother publishers. But it is this obliquity of vision that occasions the outbreaks of the provoking affectation, in tone and language, which make it impossible to lay down such a book as Mr. Strang's with that feeling of general satisfaction, which, but for these partial blemishes, it could not fail to produce. The importance of avoiding, in writing, whatever, in society, would give a person the slightest touch of mauvais ton, cannot be too much inculcated on authors who bring before the public little else than the substance of the conversation with which they entertain their private friends. Such writers, by means of their publications, may be said to make their way, personally, into the sitting rooms of their readers. The form of confidential letters allows them to be perfectly familiar, without impropriety; but they should constantly bear in mind, that the sentiments, the wit, the language of such unrestrained effusions of cheerfulness, as would be suited to familiar correspondence, are finally to come under the eye of the public. The writer, in such circumstances, must be like an actor on the stage; he may and should be quite at home, if the scene requires it; but he should also remember, that his chamber has walls of glass, and that his confidential words are uttered in a whispering gallery
It has been with us a long settled conviction, that some of our best writers, in the jocular and humorous style, are to blame for setting the example to people of inferior talents to their own, of bringing themselves in complete undress before the public. Losing totally sight of the principle from which arises the interest which one man takes in the habits, feelings, and enjoyments of any individual whatever of his own species, many of our contemporary writers have adopted a bold, indiscriminating egotism. Now, it so happens that nature has given us no sympathy with many of the pleasures which such a style chooses for an exhibition of descriptive power. It was a perfectly disgusting custom of the old court of France, which the Bourbon
family introduced into Spain, to admit people to see the king eating his dinner by himself. Such an exhibition could not but remind the spectators, of a similar one in a menagerie; and there are, we conceive, few persons of refined taste and habits that would submit to be observed during the necessary but unpoetic act of feeding, by people totally unemployed. How is it, then, that it is now the fashion to contrive opportunities in works of light literature, to give us the whole nomenclature of a French Bill of Fare? The source of this impertinence (for so, in most cases, it must be called,) is an affectation of high life. There is, now-a-days, as much vanity in displaying this description of knowledge as used to appear some years back in the pretensions to a knowledge of all the secrets of Almacks. The fashion has set in, and will, it is to be feared, continue to display itself in an awkward and coarse imitation of certain wellknown Scotch Suppers, till the number of those who must make themselves ridiculous, after the fashion of their predecessors, who talked of Lords and Ladies, whose names and family connexions they had learnt from ‘Debrett's Peerage,' shall make it clear, that, in such topics, there is a vulgarity which none but writers of the highest talent can avoid when they venture to touch upon them. As a general rule it should be remembered that, both in life and in writing, few, very few men can venture to exhibit themselves totally at their ease, without the danger of appearing either disgusting, or grossly impertinent, or both. The pleasures of the palate, as such, and apart from the social enjoyments of conversation, have always afforded to satirical writers one of the most effectual means of making a character ridiculous. The most truly fashionable man of antiquity, one, it should be remembered, whose descrimination of good things might shame most of our gastronomes, Horace, when wishing to combine the contemptible with the ludicrous, drew up a picture which some of our modern Apicius's on paper might be suspected of having copied, in perfect ignorance of its aim, as a portrait of themselves. Docte Cati, an uninitiated reader, if not totally out of patience, is tempted to exclaim, with a slight variation,
Ducere me [ad mensas] perges quocumque, memento,
Non tamen interpres tantundem juveris. Faults of this kind do not seem natural to Mr. Strang, whose work abounds in observations full of good sense and discrimination. The affectation of fashionable ease, and taste for negligent undress which appears in the two volumes of his GERMANY, are, we think, imitations of that style, arising, probably, from inexperience in writing, and want of confidence in the