and those secret contemplations which are needful for the individual.'

· He was fully sensible, that an active spirit, and an affectionate concern for the temporal and spiritual concern of others, are qualities excellent in themselves, and indispensable for the good of the Christian commonwealth, and for the extension of Christ's kingdom ; but, in his own case, he was afraid that they absorbed other qualities. He knew that it was not the establishment of schools, the conducting of missions, or the preaching to others, which of themselves constitute the life of the soul: on the contrary, that the strenuous pursuit of great usefulness, often becomes a snare and a pitfall and a covering under which pride lurks. And he felt, with the Apostle, the necessity of bringing himself under subjection, lest, when he had preached to others, he himself might become a cast-away. It was under the infuence of this feeling, that he was inclined to set small value upon his own labours.

No man,' continues Mr. Gilly, in portraying his character, 'ever preached, or insisted upon the main and essential doctrinal points of the Gospel more strongly than he did ; these were put prominently forward in all his sermons, in his conversations, in his correspondence, and in his private diaries ; but at the same time he exacted attention to the ordinary duties of life, with all the strenuousness of one who would admit of no compromise. It was his anxiety to build up the Christian on a foundation where self-dependence, vain-glory, and imaginary merit, were to have no place whatever; and yet every act of his ministry proved that he set a just value on knowledge and attainments. It was his labour of love to show, that whenever any addition is made to our stock of knowledge, we not only gain something in the way of enjoyment, but are laying up a store for the improvement of our moral and religious feelings, and of our general habits of industry. The spiritual advancement of his flock was the great end and object of all his toils ; but no man ever took a warmer interest in the temporal comforts of those about him; and this he evinced by instructing them in the management of their fields and gardens, in the construction of their cottages, and in employing all his own acquirements in philosophy and science for the melioration of their condition. He was not only the apostle, but, as somebody said of Oberlin, “he was also the Triptolemus” of the High Alps.

• To discharge the proper duties of a preacher of the Gospel, was a vehement desire with Netf, strong as a passion ; his heart and soul were in them ; yet he often left this walk, so glorious in his eyes, to follow another track, and to point out those things to the notice of his people, which related to their worldly conveniences. It was his high and lofty ambition, to elevate their thoughts and hopes to the noblest objects to which immortal beings can aspire, and to raise the standard, until they should reach to the fulness of the stature of Christ : and yet he so condescended to things of low estate, as to become a teacher of a, b, c, not only to ignorant infancy, but to the dull and unpliant capacities of adults. Beginning with the most tiresome rudiments, he proceeded upwards, leading on his scholars methodically, kindly, and patiently, until he had made them proficients in reading, writing, and

It was

arithmetic, and could lead them into the pleasanter paths of music, geography, history, and astronomy. His mind was too enlarged to fear that he should be teaching his peasant boys too much. his aim to show what a variety of enjoyments may be extracted out of knowledge, and that even the shepherd and the goatherd of the mountain side, will be all the happier and the better for every piece of solid information that he can acquire.

• Neff was a man of the most ardent and elastic zeal, else he never could have dedicated himself so entirely to the work of a missionary pastor in a foreign country: yet he brought the good sense of a masculine understanding to bear upon all his religious projects: he exercised a degree of prudence seldom witnessed in conjunction with such ardour, and he was constantly checking the ebullitions of his spirit, and tempering his zeal with salutary prudence. The nicest discretion, and the most judicious caution, distinguished his proceedings. This was especially manifested in the selection and training of his catechists. He knew that a few young men, well prepared, would do more good among their countrymen, than a host of undisciplined enthusiasts and ill-taught novices.

• The broad distinctions and uncompromising truths of Protestantism were matters of awful sanctity with Neff; and yet, though he was the pastor of a flock opposed to Popery by all the strong prejudices of hereditary separation, I might almost say of deep-rooted aversion, yet with dogmatical and polemical Protestantism he would have nothing

He made numberless converts from Romanism, not so much by argument and discussion, as by mildly inculcating the true spirit of the Gospel ; not by dwelling on topics of strife, and on points of difference, but on points of universal agreement, and by exhibiting our common Christianity in its most persuasive form, until their hearts melted before the One Mediator and Intercessor, and they said, Your God shall be our God, and your creed shall be our creed.

• He was rigid in his notions of Christian deportment; yet there was a meekness, and a kindness of manner about him, which conciliated all, and convinced them that he had their best interests at heart ; so much so, that perhaps no man was ever more reverenced and loved.'

Pp. 31]-14. A most instructive passage occurs in one of Neff's letters, in reference to the proper way of dealing with Roman Catholics. While he was confined to his bed at Plombiéres, he received several visits from one of the curés, and from some young Romish ecclesiastics. “Had they come for controversy', says this admirable man, 'I should not have been able to receive them ; but

they carefully avoided every thing that could fatigue me, and 'even listened willingly to the few words I addressed to them. • They were surprised to hear a Proíestant speak of the conver

sion of the heart and of spiritual life in the same terms as some • of their most eminent divines.' Most of their prejudices, he adds, proceed from their ignorance of all that concerns true Protestantism ; and they are half disarmed when we speak to them,

to do.

[ocr errors]

without any argument, of that which constitutes the life, the strength, and the peace of the soul.

We cannot lay down the Volume without again tendering our best thanks to the Author of this very interesting memoir, whose piety, candour, and benevolence are unobtrusively, but unequivocally evinced in its pages. To have selected such a subject, does honour to the Biographer; and no one could do justice to the character of such a man as Felix Neff, without becoming in some degree assimilated in feeling to the subject of his portraiture.

Art. III. The Buccaneer. A Tale. In three Volumes. pp. 966.

Price 11. lls. 6d. London, 1832. WE presume that the name of the Author, though not an

nounced on the title-page, is no secret. Yet, had we not been informed upon the best authority, that this tale is the production of a deservedly popular female writer, we confess that we should not have detected the pen of Mrs. Hall. There is a masculine vigour and breadth of style, a dramatic force of conception in the characters, and a range of imagination, not displayed in any of her former writings, and very rarely exhibited by any female author. The power of mind exerted in realizing and depicting scenes with which the writer cannot by possibility have been familiarized, except by the writings of others, is indeed extraordinary. If, in these volumes, Mrs. Hall must be considered as an imitator, it is a pupil's imitation of his master, which does honour to both. In the bold track which Scott first opened, it required almost equal courage and tact to follow. There is much in these volumes that reminds us of the great departed magician, though nothing that can be regarded as servilely borrowed ; and we might almost fancy that he had lent his wand, although it is no longer the same arm that wields it. The hand is slighter, yet not feeble; and if there is not the same force of muscle, there is the strength of excitement. But, in stepping into this magic circle, a female writer of necessity treads dangerous ground. She is required to lay aside as it were the costume of her sex, to assume a masculine voice, and to tread sometimes on the very verge of those proprieties which are the outworks of feminine delicacy. Such characters as the Buccaneer and his associates are rough subjects for a lady's pencil; though bandits, outlaws, and corsairs are very picturesque personages, and have found favour in the eyes of at least the ladies of romance. Mrs. Hall has, upon the whole, acquitted herself in this false position with as few violations of moral decorum as the case would admit of; but, in those parts of the story and dialogue in which such wild and coarse personages are introduced, it is more by what they

do not say, than by what they do, that we gather that they are under the restraints imposed by a lady's presence. There is much less swearing and profane vulgarism than would be perfectly natural, in the conversation of such worthies, or than we should expect to meet with in a tale of a buccaneer; and we give the Author credit for a wish to keep her pages as clear as might be deemed expedient from such dis-embellishments ; but there is quite enough to preclude our bestowing unqualified praise, or indiscriminately recommending the volumes to perusal.

In fact, in meddling with such works, we feel to be almost compromising our grave judicial character. They are a contraband literature, which it is in vain to attempt to prohibit, but which at the same time it is not our business to encourage. In perusing works of this class, we too often find ourselves forced to admire what we cannot approve; pleased, interested, fascinated by the perusal, and dissatisfied with ourselves on reflecting what has so much pleased us. Yet, they form too prominent and characteristic a feature of our literature to be passed over; and the amount of talent and genius lavished upon this class of productions, is indeed astonishing. In no other department, perhaps, is the literature of the day so fertile of talent. Whatever else does not sell, or fails to obtain readers, tales and stories find a market always open and a perpetual demand. And writers are not altogether to be blamed, who, finding that such fancy-works alone ensure a sale, strike into this line of composition. It is well when they can be rendered subservient to useful instruction ; but it is more safe to class them under the head of Amusement, since their efficiency as instruments of mental or moral training is very indirect and limited. The tendency of a tale does not lie in its

moral', but in the company and associations to which the story introduces the reader, in the scenes described and the sentiments suggested in the progress of the tale.

Tried by this standard, we regret that we cannot award much commendation to the work before us. The characters of Dalton, Burrell, Springall, Roupall, and Fleetword may carry a lesson with them; but better by far that that lesson should never be learned from familiarity with such characters, even in imagination. Against the introduction of such a personage as Fleetword, we more especially and strongly object, for reasons of which the Author must be well aware. It is merely because we acquit her of any irreligious intention, that we refrain from employing stronger terms of reprobation. The example of the Author of “ Tales of my Landlord”, is no apology. Nor can we allow any force in the plea, that such ideal characters have an historic verity, and are true to the costume of the age. That obsolete costume, it must be remembered, was not at the time so ridiculous as it now appears; and the selection of such a character can have no other



effect, than to cast ridicule upon the class. There have been Tartuffes, and Mawworms, and Mucklewraths; but this supplies no extenuation of the unfairness and reckless impiety which brings them upon the stage.

The majority of Mrs. Hall's readers will not trouble themselves with considerations of this nature; and from them, she will hear, and deservedly as regards the talent she has displayed, the plaudits of success. We have no wish to mingle with them a harsher note; and having cautioned our readers against mistaking our critical testimony to the literary merit of her performance for unqualified commendation, we shall proceed to give some further account of its subject matter and execution.

The following dialogue will introduce our readers to the Buccaneer and one of the principal personages in the tale, and will indicate the basis of the plot.

• Sir Robert Cecil was standing, or rather leaning, with folded arms, against a column of the dark marble chimney-piece, which, enriched by various carvings and mouldings, rose nearly to the ceiling. The Baronet's hair, of mingled grey and black, had been cropped according to the approved fashion of ihe time; so that his features had not the advantage of either shadow or relief from the most beautiful of nature's ornaments. He might have been a few years older or younger than the sailor who had just entered ; but his figure seemed weak and bending as a willow-wand, as he moved slowly round to receive his visiter. The usually polite expression of his countenance deepened nto the insidious, and a faint smile rested for a moment on his lip. This outward show of welcome contrasted strangely with the visible tremor that agitated his frame: he did not speak'; either from inability to coin an appropriate sentence, or the more subtle motive of waiting until the communication of the stranger was first made.

After a lengthened pause, during which Dalton slowly advanced, so as to stand opposite Sir Robert Cecil, he commenced the conversation, without any of that show of courtesy which the knowledge of their relative situations might have called for : even his cap was unremoved.

"“ I am sorry, Sir Robert, to have come at such a time; nor would I now remain, were it not that my

businessI am not aware,” interrupted the Baronet, “of any matters of business' pending between us. I imagine, on reflection, you will find that all such have been long since concluded. If there is any way, indeed, in which I can oblige you, for the sake of an old servant

«« Servant!" in his turn interrupted Dalton, with emphasis ; “ we have been companions, Sir Robert-companions in more than one act; and, by the dark heavens above us, will be so in another—if necessary.'

· The haughty Baronet writhed under this familiarity; yet was there an expression of triumphant quietude in his eye, as if he despised the insinuation of the seaman. “I think, considering all

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »