Page images
PDF
EPUB

a class.

so we would endeavour to keep at a very respectful distance from Dr. Higgins—this, we believe, is the euphonious name of the dignitary alluded to—and, of course, should try to keep at a still greater distance from the less dignified individuals of such

Our answer to all such reviling as we find in this series of lectures is very short, but, to our minds, quite conclusivenamely, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Genuine Christianity produces Christian fruits, both in the clergy and the laity. Ireland is, both in its land and in its people, a splendid soil rendered stagnant and fetid under the dank load of superstition which weighs it down like a nightmare. The Irish soil only wants cultivation to render it capable of supporting ten times its present population, which now annually sees famine staring it in the face. The Irish heart is naturally prone to generosity, tenderness, and every Christian virtue, but it has been maddened into everything Satanic, by political priests and mountebank demagogues. Let the Protestant and the Roman faith be tried by the test of the fruits, even in Ireland; and in the north, or wherever the Protestants have a quiet footing, behold the industry, and quiet, and good neighbourhood which prevail ; while just in proportion as Romanism is more and more the religion of the people, the bogs are undrained, the land untilled, and suspicion of each other and the reign of terror consummate and seal the completion of the Roman ascendancy. It is a paradox—it is most unnatural—that the clergy, who are all of the educated class, should be apostles of barbarism ; every child is taught in his first books that education emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros; but there we behold the educated classes in one most unnatural combination, using all the acquirements they have, only the more to barbarise.

And we would apply the same practical tests everywhere, to our own history in past times. We would point to England, great and glorious under Elizabeth—weak and contemptible under Mary --dwindling just in proportion as Popery was allowed to steal in and paralyze everything under the last of the Stuarts; and spring into vigour and respect among the nations as Protestantism became once more paramount in the house of Orange; and rising still more and more since the Church has become unalterably established in the succession of the house of Hanover, These are only political signs of prosperity, and we scarcely need say, that the higher consideration of the blessings of God on those who honour him is never absent from our thoughts; and that our highest objection to Roman Catholicism is, that it not only brings degradation on man, but offers also dishonour to God.

pro

The Sacred History of Man; with other Poems. By the Rev.

ALFRED SPALDING, B.A. London : Painter, Strand. 1844. We have read this volume with much pleasure. It is the duction of a young man, who tells us, in a simple and touching preface, that it was composed in consequence of the disappointment of his hopes at Cambridge, arising from a failure of health. This statement would at once disarm all criticism, were the poems other than they are; but this volume may fairly court it, and suffer nothing in the encounter; for the whole is written in a truly Christian spirit, and contains only a few of the blemishes into which all young poets must necessarily fall. We like Mr. Spalding's productions so much, that we will point out what we think would, perhaps, be better otherwise; as we should fail in our duty if we did not do our best to push onward a young poet of so much promise. First, then, we would say a word or two against personification. We are quite aware that this is now very common, especially in religious poetry; but still we are oldfashioned critics, and are always ready to break a lance with a capital letter. We think it introduces confusion into the mind of the reader, as well as into that of the writer, presenting a doubtful and nebulous image, instead of the sharp, clear outline of truth. Thus, in the description of chaos, in the first book, which is short, but very good, we rather dislike this personification

“ Disorder sat on Ruin's shapeless throne ;

Confusion backed Confusion,” &c. (p. 7). We prefer our old friend Ovid's method of referring chaos to the definite notion of elemental discord. The idea may not be very sublime, but it is a good example of referring abstract fancies to certain appreciable sources, and pursuing them in accordance with the principles on which that reference was made. The only other blemish we have to notice is the too frequent apostrophizing of the Deity. We allude to this from a certain conviction, that what is meant to be deeply reverential, does constantly produce in some minds quite the contrary feeling ; and this is not the result of any peculiar frame of mind in the reader, so much as a quick consciousness that the language has fallen far short of what it essayed, and is sinking, Icarus-like, from the sky above, to the tumbling waters below. We know it occurs in Milton, and we use that as a still stronger argument; for what he has utterly failed in achieving will hardly be done by inferior, though probably far more reverential minds. have not time to develope our theories farther—we only throw them out as hints to Mr. Spalding, and we feel sure he will take them in the spirit in which they are meant.

The sun

We shall now justify our expressions of high commendation by some passages which will speak for us and themselves. The poem consists of two books, and, to use the author's own words, S has for its subject the "Sacred History of Man', and is designed not so much to relate the facts of man's history in their due order and succession, as to exhibit the results and consequences of those facts in the different relations in which they have, at various times, placed man to his Creator.” We think the following passage very happily exemplifies the author's meaning. The world and all its works might attest the omnipotence of God, but it was reserved for man to praise him—

“ Bright though all nature was, it could not raise
One tuneful note to its Creator's praise ;

that

every morn with robes of light
Decked the glad east, and chased the shades of night,
Rose on a silent world-his brilliant beam
Painted the woods, and glistened in the stream ;
But woke no soul to rapture-none to praise
The bounteous hand which gave those quickening rays.
Then man was formed—for noblest ends designed,
Pure spotless image of the Eternal Mind !
The earth, the heavens, were reared for his abode,

But man himself was formed alone for God.” (p. 16).
The execution, of the Divine sentence when Sin, Death,
Diseases,

« Et nova febrium

Terris incubuit cohors," is described very forcibly in the second book; and the only succour we can look for is pointed out in simple, truthful language.

Among the “ Smaller Poems,” we like the stanzas “ written under feelings of disappointment,” with which we close this short notice :“ Chilled—blighted in her hopes—my soul no more

Pants for those pleasures which were once her joy ;
Spurns each delight that wooed her powers before,

Nor cares for biting grief to find alloy.
“Ah! why so melancholy sad, my soul ?

Why art thou torn with hopeless, vain desires ?
Why let the tempest through thine empire roll,

When thou can still its thunders-quench its fires ?
Lo ! the same voice that lulled the storm to rest,

That laid tost ocean passive at His will,
Can soothe the billows of thy heaving breast,

And to thy troubled heart say—Peace! be still !""

Mesmerism and its Opponents ; with a Narrative of Cases.

By George SANDBY, Jun., A.M., Vicar of Flixton, Suffolk,

London: Longman. 1844. The believers in Mesmerism may find in this volume much to confirm their belief, since the work abounds in cases in which, as it is alleged, relief was experienced by persons who were suffering from disease. Mr. Sandby admits, however, that the individuals to whom Mesmerism was applied were diseased ; so that, as we think, he has himself furnished a solution of the pretended mystery. They were suffering from peculiar diseases; and every one knows that such persons frequently experience sudden relief, especially when the imagination, as in these cases, is concerned. We look upon the whole thing as mere nonsense; and it appears to us that the subject is a very odd one for a clergyman to handle. One chapter in Mr. Sandby's volume we look upon as peculiarly objectionable, namely, chapter vi., in which he alludes to the miracles of the New Testament.

1. On the Choral Service of the Anglo-Catholic Church. Lon

don: Bell. 1844. 2. The Psalter and Canticles in the Morning and Evening Ser

vices of the Church of England, divided and pointed for Chanting ; with Prefatory Directions. By John CALVERT,

Choir-master at the Temple Church. George Bell. 1844. 3. The Seven Penitential Psalms, in Verse; being Specimens of

a New Version of the Psalter. By M. MONTAGUE. 8vo.

Hatchard and Son. 1844. The first of these works is the composition of Mr. Burge, Q.C., one of the benchers of the Temple, who took a prominently active part in the restoration of the Temple Church, and now displays a commendable zeal to promote, so far as he can, the due celebration of divine worship within those time-honoured and nobly-adorned walls. Mr. Burge has collected much agreeable information on the choral services of the Catholic Church from the earliest ages, and gives a succinct catalogue of the most eminent composers of sacred music, for the use of our branch of Christ's Catholic Church. The learned author is an enthusiast on the subject, but he is nobly justified by the examples of Hooker and Herbert. Mr. Barge wishes to revive the use of the compositions of the earlier writers of the AngloCatholic Church music, whose simple but majestic melody and chastened gravity were so well calculated to awaken and serve the most devout feelings. Unhappily, for the last hundred

pre

years and more, these sublime compositions have been mostly thrown aside for those full of ornament and show, intended apparently to excite admiration for the composer or the performer, rather than to help holy aspirations heavenwards. Mr. Burge abhors, and we sympathize with his righteous indignation, the employment of male and female singers from the theatres, as is the custom at the Quebec-street and other fashionable proprietary chapels, for the express purpose of securing a congregation. On the contrary, Mr. Burge recommends a recurrence to the good old plan of a careful selection of the members of the choir, and that none should be chosen whose conduct, character, and habits would not bear the strictest investigation. The old cathedral establishments required the laymen to be exemplary in their lives, of religious and devout habits, of competent learning, at least in the holy Scriptures, and habitual communicants." On no account ought they to be permitted to employ their musical talents at theatres, or other places of public amusement.

A neglect of this moral culture of members of choirs, and the irreverent behaviour of both clerical and lay members during the celebration of divine service, have tended more than any other cause to disparage cathedral service in the estimation of the pious. Mr. Burge deserves the thanks of Churchmen for pointing attention to this subject, and we hope his efforts will be crowned by the Master of the Temple's permitting a daily choral service. The choir-ınaster, Mr. Calvert, complains of the want of it as an impediment to the efficiency of his choir. Mr. Burge expresses a wish for its revival; the funds of the two societies of the Inner and Middle Temple are ample for the purpose, and the treasurers and benchers are willing to dispense them. Why does Master Benson object to that for which so many are longing? Would Richard Hooker, the “judicious,” his predecessor in the mastership, have hesitated and hung back, when laymen so eagerly were pressing forward and tendering means for the performance of the pious work?

We trow not, and respectfully suggest that caution may be carried too far may approach the verge of crime.

The third work on our list connected with Church music presents almost a ludicrous antithesis to the other two. While Mr. Burge and Mr. Calvert advocate the restoration of chanting the prose version of the Psalms, in preference to any modern metrical version of the Psalter, Mr. M. Montague offers specimens of an entirely new one,

66 fitted to the tunes used in churches.” Mr. Montague would have been nearer the mark had he written "used in meeting-houses.” This new candidate

« PreviousContinue »