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among them to know how to read and write. Their traditions point to a Sabæan or Chaldæan origin. In their appearance, manners and general character, they present, like the Chaldæan Christians, a most striking and pleasing contrast to their Mohammedan persecutors, who seem to overspread the East with the curse of an useless and devastating tyranny. It will have been perceived that these worshipers of the Devil adore him simply as an object of dread, and that their worship does not, like that of Grecian divinities, indicate any admiration of his peculiar qualities, or involve any indulgence of evil propensities. It is at least a more intelligible and consistent worship than theirs who profess to adore only an infinitely good Being, yet virtually ascribe to Him the most malignant and merciless injustice and cruelty, and regard Him with terror as a God of wrath and vengeance, rather than with affectionate veneration as a God of love. If we consider what the Yezidis have suffered, it is easy to sympathize with them in their solemn recognition of an Evil Power as dominant in this lower world. It is sad, indeed, to think how often the doctrine of the Devil-worshipers seems to be practically justified by the triumph of evil over good, and the existence of purity and excellence chiefly among the despised and oppressed few. It may perhaps be said that we are confounding cause and effect, and that persecution and oppression have of themselves a chastening and refining influence on the sufferers. This, however, if it be true, is not the whole truth; and there is in the Mohammedan oppressors an ignorant, insolent, ferocious bigotry, which seems to forbid the possibility of any improving change, so far as they are concerned. Anything rather than such zeal! We are glad to find so well-informed and experienced a traveller as Mr. Layard expressing hope for the future. At present it seems that, so far as regards the predominant powers of the districts through which he journeyed, amid all the glory and beauty of Nature's scenery, and the mighty relics and rich associations of the Past, the sad truth remains—" only Man is vile.”
WHY INFANTS OUGHT TO BE DAMNED !
Souther's COMMONPLACE-BOOK. UNDER the tremendous title given above in the recent publication of the poet's Commonplace-Book, an extract is contained which may be profitably perused. It is as follows:
“ Certain it is from the whole tenor of the Scriptures, and in special Revelation xxii. 25,* that those who in the sight of God are dogs, are guilty persons, and to be excluded from heaven, and therefore to be thrust into hell. But whole nations, without any exception, are such (Matthew xv. 26 *); therefore infants, being a part of these nations, deserve to be excluded from heaven and sent to hell.
“None can enter into the kingdom of heaven except they be born again (John iji. 7). But surely this new birth is the gift of God, and a privilege which he may withhold from whom he will; and therefore, without prejudice to his justice, may exclude whosoever hath it not from the kindom of heaven. But none are excluded from it but guilty persons, which I believe none will
* These references betray a sad inaccuracy in some one, author or copier.
deny; therefore infants may well be accounted guilty persons.”—JAMESON'S Verus Patroclus, pp. 147, 148.
The note of admiration at the heading is Southey's own, and he in all probability took the trouble to make this extract simply on account of its excessive folly and mischievous absurdity. This I feel myself at liberty to assert, having heard him express in very strong language his disbelief in the doctrine of the Church of England as to the duration of hell-torments, declaring it to be the only one of the Thirty-nine Articles which he disbelieved, and adding that he would renounce Christianity altogether if it could be proved to him that it included a doctrine so repugnant to God's attributes. As if the editor were ashamed of this extract, he has excluded it from the Index. It is not to be found under “ Infant” or “Damnation."
On opening this newly-published volume, this extract was the first that caught my eye. In the same page (33) is one not a little offensive to the memory of a famous liberal of the last generation–“Baron's Toast, which Hollis circulated."
I have but hastily glanced over the volume, and presume not to pronounce on the general execution of the work; but one long extract I have found, being a large portion of a well-known article in the Eclectic Review of January 1807, which I think Southey could have copied only with the intention of one day pouring on it his vigorous wrath and indignation. In this article (a review of Twiss's Index to Shakespeare), our greatest poet is exhibited as a minister of Satan; and “ thousands of unhappy spirits," it is said, “ will everlastingly look back with unutterable anguish on the nights and days in which the plays of Shakespeare ministered to their guilty delights." And, writing of Shakespeare and Garrick, it is said—“Par nobile fratrum! Your fame shall last during the empire of vice and misery, in the extension of which you have acted so great a part.”
I perceive, too, that the editor has published an extract from a part of a private letter from an unfortunate friend whose mind was diseased, and who perished by his own hand. The extract has no significance except as an indication of insanity, and the name of the amiable writer is exposed at length.
Southey was much displeased with the sons of Mr. Wilberforce, for the use they made of their father's papers, and thought himself ill. treated by them. He little anticipated that his representatives would one day make such use of his literary collections that his name is likely to be smuggled into the service of the worst of causes, and he shewn the promoter of mean and ignorant intolerance, by extracts being given to the world as made by him,--the silent assumption being that they were made from approval or admiration,—when they were most likely intended to be used by him as texts to expose absurdities or mischievous errors. Honouring the memory of a most amiable and upright man, without following him in the changes of opinion which long years had brought, while there was no change in the purity of the affections or the integrity of the will, I protest, though the particular articles are unseen and unknown, against a large portion of the thoughts extracted in this compilation being considered to be those of the extractor.
H. C. R.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. ROBERT ASPLAND.
CHAPTER XXV. In the years 1820 and 1821, the attention of Parliament and of the country was directed to the subject of National Education. To Mr. Whitbread belongs the honour of having been the first to assert in Parliament the principle that Government was bound to provide the people with sufficient means of education. This was in 1807, in connection with a proposal to reform the Poor-law of England. In 1816, Mr. Brougham obtained a Select Committee to inquire into the existing provision for the education of the children of the poor in the Metropolis. In 1818, the Committee was revived, and with extended powers, including an inquiry into the education of the people of all England. The result of the inquiry was a Bill brought into Parliament by Mr. Brougham towards the close of the session 1820. On the understanding that it was not to be pressed during that session to its final stage, but that time should be given to the country to form and express its opinion on the merits of the plan, the Bill was allowed to be read a second time, was committed and reported with the blanks filled up.
The principal features of the plan thus submitted through Parliament to the consideration of the country were these. In order to the establishment of a public school, the proceedings must originate through a presentment on the part of the grand jury at the quarter sessions, or through a memorial signed by the resident officiating minister, or two justices, or five householders. The decision rested exclusively and finally with the justices at sessions. They might, if they saw fit, provide schools, not exceeding three in number, in any district. The salary of the schoolmaster to be not less than £20 or more than £30 per annum, exclusive of a house and garden. The salary and the cost of repairing the school buildings to be defrayed out of the parish rates. Schoolmasters under the proposed Act were to be not under twentyfour nor above forty years of age; to produce certificates as to their character, and to their being members of the Established Church, from the resident minister and two householders of their respective parishes. Parish clerks were declared eligible as schoolmasters, but the officiating minister of the district was ineligible. The choice of the schoolmaster to rest with the ratepayers, but the officiating minister to have a veto on the appointment. The schools to be visited by the ordinary, dean, chancellor or archdeacon. The visitor, where necessary, to have the power of removing or superannuating the schoolmaster. The ordinary to make an annual report of the state of the schools in his diocese, and the officiating minister at all times to have access to the schools of his own parish for the purpose of examining them. With him also rested the fixing of the rate of remuneration to be paid by the scholars, the hours of schooling, the times of vacation, and the appointment of assistant masters. Reading, writing and accounts, to be taught in each school. The Bible to be the only religious book taught. The minister's consent necessary to the introduction of any book in the school. The minister to have the power of directing the passages of Scripture to be taught by the master. The religious worship in the school to consist of Scripture extracts and the Lord's Prayer. The Church Catechism to be taught, and the scholars to attend the parish church. But the children of Dissenters might, by the direction of their parents, absent themselves from the church and the catechetical instruction, without being exposed to punishment, rebuke or admonition.
The Bill also included provisions for the regulation of old endowments, with a view of remedying defects in their constitution or management. As originally drawn and as explained by Mr. Brougham, it imposed upon the schoolmaster a Sacramental test; but Mr. Brougham, early in the discussion that ensued out of doors, expressed his willingness to abandon a clause which he found especially offensive to Protestant Dissenters.
On the merits of this scheme of national education, very different opinions were expressed by the leaders of the Dissenters. Dr. Shepherd (then Rev. William Shepherd), under the combined influence of an ardent zeal for the mental improvement of the great mass of the people, and of strong personal friendship for the author of the Bill, appeared publicly as its defender. As a proof that Mr. Brougham had no design to infringe upon the rights of Protestant Dissenters, he stated that, in an early stage of the plan, he had been consulted as to the regulations which were necessary for their protection, and that in reply he had informed Mr. Brougham that all that could properly be insisted on was exemption from the necessity of attending on the worship of the Established Church, and of learning any Catechism at variance with their several creeds. He thought it right, as the majority of the children and their parents would be members of the Church of England, that attendance on church should be imperative on all but the children of Dissenters. As it was necessary for the master to accompany the children to the parish church, it appeared to him a necessary provision that the master should be a member of the Church of England. The veto given to the officiating minister he thought practically unimportant, and no particular hardship upon Dissenters. To the Sacramental test originally intended to be imposed, Dr. Shepherd strongly objected; but that was abandoned before the author of the Bill received this expression of his opinions. For the sake of educating the mass of the people, Dr. Shepherd argued that Dissenters ought to be willing to make some sacrifices, but alleged that Mr. Brougham's Bill asked for no sacrifice whatever, save “ of unreasonable jealousy and suspicion.”
Others looked upon many of the details of the measure as objectionable, yet, in the hope of its receiving the needed amendments, gave it a general support. Some, in a generous zeal for education, were willing to take the Bill with all its faults, which they confessed to be great, rather than let legislation on this important subject be indefinitely postponed.
Mr. Aspland felt constrained to join the opponents of Mr. Brougham's Bill. In his place at Dr. Williams's Library, as one of the ministers of the Three Denominations, and previously at the Non-con Club, as well as through the press, he stated many grave objections to the Education Bill.* In zeal for the education of the people he was surpassed by none of his friends ; but he was far from being satisfied that
* See Monthly Repository for 1821, and “ Inquiry into the Operation of Mr. Brougham's Bill, as far as regards the Protestant Dissenters. By a Nonconformist." Svo. Pp. 23.
it was desirable that education should be forced by public authority. He observed that the most beneficial moral changes in society had been effected, in opposition even to political power, by private activity and benevolence. But even if the preliminary objection to the interference of the State were not insisted on, he argued that a measure designed for the benefit of the mass of the people would fail of success unless it enlisted in its behalf popular sympathy. Mr. Brougham's scheme he regarded as essentially sectarian, -as avowedly and designedly framed and fitted for a single denomination,-as auxiliary in all its operations to the English hierarchy. In analyzing its details, he found many provisions which were injurious, directly or remotely, to Protestant Nonconformists.
That the power of appointing schools should rest exclusively with justices of the peace was unjust, considering that while Dissenters were generally excluded, the wealthier clergy were generally admitted to the bench. The effect would be, that in many instances it would depend upon the clergyman himself whether a school should be set up in his parish.
The regulations for the choice of the schoolmaster appeared to be framed not with a view to secure the fittest person, but to uphold clerical dignity and power. The choice was circumscribed by the exclusion of every Dissenter, every member of the Church of Scotland, and even of liberal Churchmen whose freedom of opinion was unpalatable to the parish incumbent. The Bill held out in this respect a premium to conformity, while it inflicted a penalty on nonconformity. The class of men whom the Bill invidiously selected and named as eligible, parish clerks, were often singularly unfit for the office of schoolmasters. The clerical veto and the exclusively clerical visitations were unjust violations of popular rights, devised to swell the patronage and increase the power of the clergy. The authority confided to the officiating minister to prescribe the passages of Scripture which the schoolmaster should teach, would in reality nullify the protection offered in other portions of the Bill to the children of Nonconformists. The eager proselytist need desire no other power. By a cento of unconnected texts strung together, the clergyman might artfully provide a system which no Roman Catholic, no Unitarian, no Protestant Dissenter, could allow his children to learn. However desirable the new arrangements for religious instruction to the young might appear to conscientious members of the Established Church, it was unjust to tax the whole community, consisting of a large proportion of Dissenters, for that in which they could have no share. The regulations for religious instruction would produce an undesirable and mischievous division of the pupils into the orthodox and favoured many, and the tolerated but despised few. Mr. Brougham's Parliamentary schools would never become schools for all. There would be no form in them for the children of Jews, and few Roman Catholics would suffer their children to be taught religion by a Protestant parish clerk out of the authorized version of the Scriptures.
The answer given by Mr. Aspland to some portions of a plea for the Bill in the Edinburgh Review, attributed to Mr. Brougham, contains truths of no light importance to Protestant Dissenters.
“ The Edinburgh Reviewer says that the Dissenters have been silent under VOL. V.