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MR. HAWKINS BROWN.
William Wilberforce, Esq., and the patent Christians of Clapham.* We shall by this expedient enjoy the same opportunity for cruelty and injustice, without being exposed to the same risks; we will compel them to abjure vital clergymen by a public test, to deny that the said William Wilberforce has any power of working miracles, touching for barrenness or any other infirmity, or that he is endowed with any preternatural gift whatever. We will swear them to the doctrine of good works, compel them to preach common sense, and to hear it; to frequent bishops, deans, and other high churchmen; and to appear (once in the quarter at the least) at some melodrame, opera, pantomime, or other light scenical representation; in short, we will gratify the love of insolence and power; we will enjoy the old orthodox sport of witnessing the impotent anger of men compelled to submit to civil degradation, or to sacrifice their notions of truth to ours. And all this we may do without the slightest risk, because their numbers are (as yet) not very considerable. Cruelty and injustice must, of course, exist; but why connect them with danger? Why torture a bull-dog when you can get a frog or a rabbit? I am sure my proposal will meet with the most universal approbation. Do not be apprehensive of any opposition from ministers. If it is a case of hatred, we are sure that one man will defend it by the Gospel; if it abridges human freedom, we know that another will find precedents for it in the Revolution.
MR. ISAAC HAWKINS BROWN.
THEN comes Mr. Isaac Hawkins Brown (the gentleman who danced so badly† at the court of Naples), and asks, if it is not an
"The Clapham Sect" is the subject of an eloquent article by James Stephen, in the Edinburgh Review for July, 1844. The designation was given to an eminent circle of friends -" men whom the second generation of the Evangelical party acknowledged as their secular chiefs"-who met at the villas at Clapham, in the neighbourhood of London, occupied by Henry Thornton, William Wilberforce, and Granville Sharpe. Thomas Clarkson, Zachary Macaulay (father of the historian), Mr. Stephen (father of the reviewer), Isaac Milner, Dean of Carlisle, and Charles Simeon of Cambridge, were honoured members of the society to which Perceval the minister, "the evangelical Perceval," as Smith styles him, was also, in a measure, attached. t In the third year of his present majesty, and in the thirtieth of his own
miscarry, like the queen. It may be
anomaly to educate men in another religion than your own certainly is our duty to get rid of error, and above all, of religious error; but this is not to be done per saltum, or the measure will very easy to dance away the royal embryo of a great kingdom; but Mr. Hawkins Brown, must look before he leaps, when his object is to crush an opposite sect in religion; false steps aid the one effect as much as they are fatal to the other; it will require not only the lapse of Mr. Hawkins Brown, but the lapse of centuries, before the absurdities of the Catholic religion are laughed at as much as they deserve to be; but surely, in the meantime, the Catholic religion is better than none; four millions of Catholics are better than four millions of wild beasts; two hundred priests, educated by our own government, are better than the same number educated by the man who means to destroy us.
EXAMPLE OF SCOTLAND.
If the great mass of the people, environed as they are on every side with Jenkinsons, Percevals, Melvilles, and other perils, were to pray for Divine illumination and aid, what more could Providence in its mercy do than send them the example of Scotland? For what a length of years was it attempted to compel the Scotch to change their religion? horse, foot, artillery, and armed prebendaries, were sent out after the Presbyterian parsons and their congregations. The Percevals of those days called for blood; this call is never made in vain, and blood was shed; but, to the astonishment and horror of the Percevals of those days, they could not introduce the Book of Common Prayer, nor prevent that metaphysical people from going to heaven their true way, instead of our true way. With a little oatmeal for food, and a little sulphur for friction, allaying cutaneous irritation with the one hand, and age, Mr. Isaac Hawkins Brown, then upon his travels, danced one evening at the court of Naples. His dress was a volcano silk with lava buttons. 1 Whether (as the Neapolitan wits said) he had studied dancing under St. Vitus, or whether David, dancing in a linen vest, was his model, is not known; but Mr. Brown danced with such inconceivable alacrity and vigour, that he threw the Queen of Naples into convulsions of laughter, which terminated in a miscarriage, and changed the dynasty of the Neapolitan throne.-Author's Note.
holding his Calvinistical Creed in the other, Sawney ran away to his flinty hills, sung his psalm out of tune his own way, and listened to his sermon of two hours long, amid the rough and imposing melancholy of the tallest thistles. But Sawney brought up his unbreeched offspring in a cordial hatred of his oppressors; and Scotland was as much a part of the weakness of England then as Ireland is at this moment. The true and the only remedy was applied; the Scotch were suffered to worship God after their own tiresome manner, without pain, penalty, and privation. No lightnings descended from heaven; the country was not ruined; the world is not yet come to an end; the dignitaries, who foretold all these consequences, are utterly forgotten; and Scotland has ever since been an increasing source of strength to Great Britain. In the six hundredth year of our empire over Ireland, we are making laws to transport a man, if he is found out of his house after eight o'clock at night. That this is necessary, I know too well; but tell me why it is necessary? It is not necessary in Greece where the Turks are masters.
You cannot imagine, you say, that England will ever be ruined and conquered; and for no other reason that I can find, but because it seems so very odd it should be ruined and conquered. Alas! so reasoned, in their time, the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian Plymleys. But the English are brave; so were all these nations. You might get together a hundred thousand men individually brave; but without generals capable of commanding such a machine, it would be as useless as a first-rate man-of-war manned by Oxford clergyman or Parisian shopkeepers. I do not say this to the disparagement of English officers; they have had no means of acquiring experience; but I do say it to create alarm; for we do not appear, to me, to be half alarmed enough, or to entertain that sense of our danger which leads to the most obvious means of self-defence. As for the spirit of the peasantry, in making a gallant defence behind 'hedge-rows, and through plateracks and hen-coops, highly as I think of their bravery, I do not know any nation in Europe so likely to be struck with panic as the English; and this from their total unacquaintance with the
science of war. Old wheat and beans blazing for twenty miles round; cart mares shot; sows of Lord Somerville's* breed running wild over the country; the minister of the parish wounded sorely in his hinder parts; Mrs. Plymley in fits; all these scenes of war an Austrian or a Russian has seen three or four times; but it is now three centuries since an English pig has fallen in a fair battle upon English ground, or a farmhouse been rifled, or a clergyman's wife been subjected to any other proposals of love than the connubial endearments of her sleek and orthodox mate. The old edition of Plutarch's Lives, which lies in the corner of your parlour window, has contributed to work you up to the most romantic expectations of our Roman behaviour. You are persuaded that Lord Amherst will defend Kew Bridge like Cocles; that some maid of honour will break away from her captivity, and swim over the Thames; that the Duke of York will burn his capitulating hand; and little Mr. Sturges Bournet give forty years' purchase for Moulsham Hall, while the French are encamped upon it. I hope we shall witness all this, if the French do come; but, in the meantime, I am so enchanted with the ordinary English behaviour of these invaluable persons, that I earnestly pray no opportunity may be given them for Roman valour, and for those very un-Roman pensions which they would all, of course, take especial care to claim in consequence. But whatever was our conduct, if every ploughman was as great a hero as he who was called from his oxen to save Rome from her enemies, I should still say, that at such a crisis you want the affections of all your subjects in both islands; there is no spirit which you must alienate, no heart you must avert; every man must feel he has a country, and that there is an urgent and pressing cause why he should expose himself to death.
John, fifteenth Lord Somerville, 1765-1819. He was eminent for his interest in agricultural affairs, and the author of several publications on those subjects. His family residence was in Somersetshire, but he had a seat on the Tweed, near Abbotsford, where he enjoyed the warm friendship of Sir Walter Scott, who called him, his "master in the art of planting." Scott edited the family history, "The Memorie of the Somervilles," of which Lockhart says: "as far as I know, the best of its class in any language."
↑ There is nothing more objectionable in Plymley's Letters, than the abuse of Mr. Sturges Bourne, who is an honourable, able, and excellent person; but such are the malevolent effects of party spirit.—Author's Note. Sturges Bourne, the protégé and political friend of Canning, had, at several times, a seat in the cabinet. He died in 1845, at the age of seventy-six.
IDLE FEARS OF POPERY.
As for the enormous wax candles, and superstitious mummeries, and painted jackets of the Catholic priests, I fear them not. Tell me that the world will return again under the influence of the small-pox; that Lord Castlereagh will hereafter oppose the power of the court; that Lord Howick and Mr. Grattan will do each of them a mean and dishonourable action; that anybody who has heard Lord Redesdale† speak once will knowingly and willingly hear him again; that Lord Eldon has assented to the fact of two and two making four, without shedding tears, or expressing the smallest doubt or scruple; tell me any other thing absurd or incredible, but, for the love of common sense, let me hear no more of the danger to be apprehended from the general diffusion of Popery. It is too absurd to be reasoned upon; every man feels it is nonsense when he hears it stated, and so does every man while he is stating it.
A RED-HAIR DISQUALIFICATION.
I HAVE often thought, if the wisdom of our ancestors had excluded all persons with red hair from the House of Commons, of the throes and convulsions it would occasion to restore them to their natural rights. What mobs and riots would it produce? To what infinite abuse and obloquy would the capillary patriot be exposed? what wormwood would distil from Mr. Perceval, what froth would drop from Mr. Canning; how (I will not say my, but our Lord Hawkesbury, for he belongs to us all), how our Lord Hawkesbury would work away about the hair of King William and Lord Somers, and the authors of the great and glorious Revolution; how Lord Eldon would appeal to the Deity and his own virtues, and to the hair of his children: some would say that red-haired men were superstitious; some would prove they were atheists; they would be petitioned against as the friends of slavery, and the advocates for revolt; in short, such a corrupter of the heart and the understanding is the spirit
*Afterward Earl Grey.
John Mitford, Lord Redesdale, brother of Mitford the historian of Greece, was Lord-High-Chancellor of Ireland; raised to the Peerage in 1802. He died in 1830, at the age of eighty-one.